If you need something to read over the summer, Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail will give you a great escape from life on the farm to… life on a different farm, infused with lots of humour and stories about author Danielle Hawkins’ family.
Danielle never thought she’d be a writer – she was focused on becoming a vet and only started writing when she was at home on maternity leave because she wanted a project. But she couldn’t believe how much fun it was and now has five books to her name, getting up early in the morning to write before the day begins on her sheep and beef farm near Otorohanga, and she starts work as a part-time vet.
We asked Danielle a few questions to get to know her a bit more:
- Where do you get the inspiration for your books from?
Inspiration is a grandiose sort of way to describe my writing. I start with a main character who’s quite like me and lives the same sort of life that I do, and give her something dramatic to deal with like a cheating husband or an All Black boyfriend.
- What are you currently watching or listening to?
I’m listening to an audiobook by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project. It’s embarrassing how many self-help type books and podcasts I listen to; you’d think I was deeply troubled and searching desperately for meaning in life. (I’m quite contented, really. Honest.)
- What’s one book you’d recommend to a friend?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer. Read it. It’s absolutely delightful.
- When you’re in a bookshop, do you judge a book by its cover or take the time to flick through it?
I don’t judge by the cover – I know from experience that the author has very little say in the cover and if it’s horrible it won’t be their fault! But I’m not very adventurous with buying books, and I mostly buy books that I’ve already read and know I like.
- Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing or achieving for a long time?
One day I want to walk the Te Araroa walkway, from one end of New Zealand to the other. It’s just hard to find a six-month slot of time – actually, it’s hard to find a two-day slot of time – to run away and do it.
- If you could go on holiday anywhere in New Zealand, where would you go?
The Routeburn track. Or the top of the Coromandel Peninsula. Or the Catlins. Or the Auckland Islands.
- If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose and what would you ask?
Ursula le Guin. Or Sir David Attenborough. Not to ask anything in particular, but just to be in the company of my heroes.
- What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
Pigs have a stomach worm called Macracanthorynchus hirudinaceus. We had to learn to spell it in parasitology class at vet school, and I’m sure it’s taking up valuable space in my brain that could be much better used for remembering something else.
About Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail
Mother, wife, farmer, vet… How hard can it be?
With a husband and two children, 1200 sheep and 400 cattle, farm dogs and pet lambs, pigs bent on excavation and a goat bent on escape, country life is never dull.
In Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail bestselling New Zealand author Danielle Hawkins takes a break from fiction and instead shares her funny, illuminating diary. It describes a rural lifestyle that, while distinctly unglamorous at times, is packed with warmth, humour and colourful characters.
From calving cows to constipated dogs, weddings to weaning lambs, daffodils to ducklings to droughts, not to mention squeezing in the commitments required of a bestselling author, each season brings new challenges and delights.
Danielle is also the author of the bestselling small-town and rural romance novels Dinner at Rose’s, Chocolate Cake for Breakfast, The Pretty Delicious Café and When It All Went to Custard.
Photo credit: Angela Wilson