A pastor’s kid, Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a Christian youth camp in southern Wisconsin. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Social Work, she served for a year as a VISTA volunteer in Houston, Texas. Since then, she’s been a preschool teacher, a caseworker for the Texas Department of Human Resources, an assistant to the director of a hospital volunteer program, and a stay-at-home mom.

A graduate of two Long Ridge Writers’ Group courses, Mary has won awards from American Christian Fiction Writers, the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference, and Writers on the Storm. Her first series, Rustic Knoll Bible Camp books, was inspired by her childhood memories of camp life.


What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve loved writing since I was young—writing letters to a favorite cousin, journals, even making up stories based on a friend’s birthday party. After college, I wrote the monthly newsletter for a service organization and several people encouraged me to write for publication. I started out writing non-fiction articles and even wrote a play. But my heart was always in novels, so eventually I switched to fiction.

The Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?

My Divine Detour led to my first three books. I never had any intention of writing for kids. In fact, I wrote the whole first draft of my first book as a story for adults. About the time I started rewriting it, I became involved in a critique group and along about the fifth chapter, one of the women said, “This is a teen novel.” I protested that I didn’t want to write for kids, but she shrugged and said, “Sorry, but this is a teen novel.”

She was right. When I changed it, the story moved so much better and landed me a three-book contract.

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Let’s talk about your new novel, See No Evil (Amazon Digital Services, February 2017). Please tell us about it.

In See No Evil, Steven guards a dark secret.

Dad drilled into Steven that blindness should never be used as an excuse. So when Steven, 17, finds an old triathlon medallion among his dad’s belongings, he’s inspired to follow in Dad’s footsteps, hoping it’ll quiet the guilt he’s carried since his dad died three years ago.

In his final summer at Rustic Knoll Bible Camp, Steven enlists his buddy, Dillon to help him train for the triathlon. He also teams up with long-time friend, Claire to help Rustic Knoll’s beloved Nurse Willie recover from a serious illness, and his feelings for Claire grow beyond friendship. But Dillon sees nothing wrong with accepting sext messages from a girl back home. And when he shows an interest in Claire, Steven feels compelled to protect her while urging Dillon to resist the pull of pornography. Can he win Claire’s heart and keep his friend from falling into a familiar trap without exposing his own shameful past?

What led you to write this story?

Steven is one of the three main characters in all of the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp books, which deal with real life teen issues. Steven is interesting because he’s been blind from a young age, but thanks to his dad’s mentoring, he’s a confident and very capable camper. Initially, I’d planned to have him undergo surgery to regain his sight for his last summer at camp. He was supposed to discover a sexy magazine left in the cabin and realize he had new temptations he’d never had to deal with when he was blind.

But my research led me to decide Steven needed to remain blind. So the challenge was, how to write a story about pornography when the main character can’t see? It was the hardest of the three books to write and I have to give credit for lots of divine inspiration while writing it.

A few fun questions…

When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Dark chocolate. I’ve gotten away from the habit lately (not good for my teeth or my waistline), but I used to nibble on a handful or two of dark chocolate chips while writing. I rarely use caffeine so that was my substitute. For celebrating, I might get a mini Oreo blizzard from DQ.

What Bible passage or story best describes your personal journey of faith?

Great question! My first thought is Jonah, because the Lord usually has to drag me kicking and screaming into any new phase of His plan for my life, and I may spend some time in the belly of the fish until I’m willing to trust Him and accept His will. But maybe the Psalms are more true to my journey of faith. Everything is there in the Psalms—elation and high praise, loneliness and fear, even doubt, but through it all, a faith that clings to the Lord no matter tenuously.

In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?

I’m definitely the girl next door.

I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.

Yes! I’m also a dog lover! Right now, I have Rudy, a rescued Golden Retriever who is probably around 14-15 years old. We’ve had him for eight years and he’s definitely a mama’s boy. I’m pretty sure my phone holds more pictures of him than of my kids.

Thanks, Mary! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Thank you for having me. It’s been fun!

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For more information about Mary, visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Pinterest.

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