Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wings of Hope: Interview with Author Hillary Peak

On literary wings, author Hillary Peak joins us today on her book tour to talk about her touching story, Wings of Hope. Please welcome Hillary!

MK: Might I begin by saying what a beautiful book cover you have! Now, if you had to sum it up Wings of Hope in 30 or less words, what would you say?  

HP: Getting to know your parents as people is a turning point in anyone’s life, as is losing a parent.  In Wings of Hope, I explored both. 

MK: What inspired the idea behind your book? 

HP: My father truly lived an amazing life.  When I was pregnant, I wanted to get his stories down on paper to share with my baby.

MK: What has been your greatest pleasure in writing this book?   

HP: Because my father passed away seven years ago, writing about his life gave me a profound sense of closeness to him.  Also, I feel like I was able to get to know him even better.

MK: What is your favorite non-writing pastime? 

HP: Yoga

MK: What message do you hope readers take away from the book?  

HP: That it is always worth it to try and do what you love.  It isn’t worth spending your life doing something that doesn’t inspire you—it is truly better to fail than never to try.

MK: Is there a genre you wish you could write, but haven’t made the plunge? Which one and what appeals to you about it?    

HP: I adore fantasy novels, but I simply do not think like that.  I don’t think I have the ability to create a whole new world.
MK: Why did you choose to be an Indie writer and would you choose to self-publish again?   

HP: I got quite a few rejections saying that my book was great, but they simply didn’t love it enough.  I figured I’d put it out there and see what happened.  I don’t know if I’d do it again.  It is very hard.  Promoting is a million times harder than writing.

MK: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?   

HP: Keep writing.  Every minute you spend writing makes you better.  Each of the novels I’ve written has been better than the one before. 

MK: What are you reading now? Why did you choose that book? 

HP: 50 Shades of Gray—I had to see what all the hype was about.

MK: Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?   
HP: In my “real” life, I’m an education attorney for the government.

MK: What three words would best describe your main character?  

HP: Ambitious, lonely and fun.

MK: When did you write your first book and how old were you?   

HP: After a job I quit after two days, I wrote a chick lit book called, “Cappuccino is the Answer for Job Dissatisfaction.” (I'm smiling right now)

MK: Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen for writing?   

HP: Laptop.  I don’t think I could manage with a notebook and pen.

MK: Is there a book you’ve ever read more than five times? Which book and what drew you back to it?   

HP: The only books I’ve ever read more than once are the Harry Potter series.  I could read them over and over forever.  I love the world J.K. Rowling created.  Her characters are so real.

MK: What do you have in store next for your readers? 

HP: I’m trying my hand at a legal thriller.  It has been a huge new challenge in my writing.  

The Book
The letter said he was dying, that’s all Jules Weinstein knows when she leaves her life in San Francisco and moves to New York City to be with her father. She goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope is a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life. Little does she know that by getting to know her father, she will find herself. While her father struggles with whether his life was meaningful, Jules discovers that her father’s last gift to her is the ability to reach for her dreams. Her journey teacher her that “the goodbye” is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.

Visit Hillary Online!
Website & Blog: www.hillaryepeak.com
Book Available in print and eBook.

Wings of Hope Excerpts
Excerpt 1: 
As we sat at the table sipping coffee, I ventured my first question, “Dad, what were your parents like? You haven’t told me much about them, except that your mother had more brains in her pinkie than you’ve ever had.” I worried I wouldn’t have time to find out all I wanted to know.
He looked up, surprised. “Haven’t I told you about them?”

I shook my head. “But I’d really like to know more about them--especially what they were like.”

A smile spread across his face, “Really? I can’t believe that. My mother would have loved you--eaten you with a spoon. Remember when I took you to Fiddler on the Roof?”
I nodded, not wanting to break the spell by speaking.

I nodded again. That had horrified me, I couldn’t imagine not falling in love, courting, all that comes with the fun of meeting someone special, dressing up to go out, etc. The coffee mug warmed my hands, as I listened enraptured.

“Well, my parents were married like that.”

Rather than actually seeing it, I felt my jaw hit the floor. “You’re kidding!” I exclaimed without thinking.

“Nope.” He shook his head, watching me with amusement.“They’d never even seen one another. Married in a little village in Poland called Tarnapole. It is gone now--burned to the ground by the Nazis, I think.” His eyes misted over, but continued anyway. “My mother got pregnant with your Aunt Rebecca almost immediately. My dad was a barrel maker--and a fine woodworker. He made furniture for people as well. Six months after Rebecca was born, my mother got pregnant again--with Aunt Rachel. The pogroms went on at that time, and getting worse every day from what I gathered from my parents. Money and food were running out. It was quite desperate. My father decided to come to America, make some money with my mother’s brother who already lived here in New York, then send for my mother and the two girls. He left taking nearly two months to get to New York. It was barely three weeks after he stepped onto Ellis Island when World War One started. My mother and your aunts were trapped for the next three years. For a while, my dad could get in touch with them. He sent money, but after about a year, the lines were totally cut off. He didn’t know where they were, if they were even alive. As far as I know, he kept working, saving money. My mother on the other hand, was starving. The pogroms were continuing. The Cossacks were riding through villages, raping women and running everything that moved through with a sword.” He licked his lips, concentrating, clearly thinking about what it must have been like for his mother. My hair stood on end.

“One day, my mother was in the town rather than at their farm when the Cossacks came riding in. One grabbed my mother around the waist and lifted her onto the horse while he was moving. He intended to rape her in the saddle and kill her. She grabbed his pistol from out of the holster around his waist. She shot him dead as they rode.”

My mouth was open and my eyes were far bigger than saucers. My dad laughed at my expression. “I know. Totally amazing--she was an amazing woman. She never told me that story. Her brother told me after she died. I remember saying to him, ‘My Mother?’ I couldn’t believe it.”

“What happened?” I asked mesmerized. “How did she get away with it?”.

He nodded solemnly. “I asked the same question. She rode back to the farm. Her brothers buried the body. They slaughtered the horse and ate the meat—they couldn’t keep it, even though it would have been great for the farm, because it would have aroused suspicion and questions--but it was no longer safe for her or your aunts. People had seen it happen. They knew it wasn’t long before someone turned her in for a loaf of bread.” He bit the inside of his cheek, just a bit; frightened for them even though he knew it turned out alright.
“So she took what she could carry, along with my sisters and started walking to America.”

“Walking? Are you serious?” I literally could not imagine walking thousands of miles.

“Yep. She and my sisters hid in the woods during the day and walked at night for months. Eventually, she joined a refugee line.”

“How long did it take?” I couldn’t imagine. The fear I felt hearing about it was palpable--what must it have been like to go through something like that?

“Two years.”

Excerpt 2: 

“Jules, were you trying to beat your Dad in a friendly game of poker?” Jack teased.

“You know,” Dad looked at me, “Jack only invited me to his poker game once. He never let me come again.” He was grinning slyly.

“Right, we wanted a card shark to play with. You know,” he turned to me again, “your Dad took home two grand the one night we let him play with us?”

“Told you then, it was beginners luck.”

“Hardly. Bill Patterson told me that you killed some guy in a plane over a card game.”

Dad hooted and nearly doubled over. “Did you think that was true?”

“Well, no,” Jack responded glumly, but I could tell he might have believed it.

“I do know what he’s talking about. When Jules was about four, just before her mother and I divorced, we were on a plane coming to New York. We’d flown from Lubbock to Dallas. The weather was terrible—an ice storm if I remember correctly. The plane from Dallas to New York had been boarded, but we were sitting on the tarmac. Hours went by—literally. After three or four hours, they started serving free booze, no food, just booze. The plane got blitzed. Those people were drunker than anyone I’ve ever seen, truly.
I’ll never forget; Jules was starving. My ex was begging the stewardess for some food, crackers, anything. Jules was crying and crying. Eventually, she fell asleep. Her mother and I were exhausted and angry—we were furious they won’t give us anything for our child to eat, wouldn’t let us off the plane and we felt terrible that our four year old had just cried herself to sleep hungry.

There was no end in sight, so I pulled out the deck of cards I used to entertain Jules. The ex and I started to play gin rummy. Usually, she wouldn’t play with me, but there was nothing else to do.

A guy in the row in front of us starts getting really rowdy. He was laughing, spilling alcohol everywhere. I got up; I was on the aisle. I can remember touching his shoulder, ‘Excuse me, can you keep it down, my little girl just fell asleep. ’

‘What’s your problem buddy? ’ He slurred all his words and talked at the top of his voice. He reeked of alcohol and perspiration.

‘My child is tired and hungry, she’s finally asleep. I’m asking you, keep it down so that you won’t wake her. ’

‘S’not my problem. What the hell do I care if she wakes up? ’

That did it. I grabbed the guy by his necktie, shoved him up into the ceiling of the plane, knocking him out and tossed him into a seat about three rows back. My ex was so stunned, she jumped and all the cards went flying into the air, it looked like it was snowing because she had the full deck to shuffle.

But I’ll tell you, the plane was silent after that—for two hours until we took off. Also, the stewardess came and brought food for Jules. Everyone apologized in hushed tones. It was great.”

April 30 - Introduction at VBT Cafe' Blog
May 1 - Interview & Giveaway at
Kimberly Lewis Novels
May 3 - Review & Giveaway at
Books, Books, and More Books
May 4 - Interview & Review at
A Book Lover's Library
May 8 - Interview & Giveaway at MK McClintock's Blog
May 10 - Guest Blogging at
AZ Publishing Services
May 12 - Guest Blogging & Review at
Jersey Girl Book Reviews
May 14 - Review & Giveaway at
Self Taught Cook
May 16 - Guest Blogging at
Wise Words
May 18 - Guest Blogging with
Cindy Vine
May 21 - Book Feature & Giveaway at
So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
May 21 - Interviewed at
Unnecessary Musings


  1. I like how she summed up her lead character in three words.

  2. Thank you for sharing with us today Hillary!

  3. Great interview! I'm a laptop/desktop writer as well. I think if I had to use a pen and paper I'd never get anything done...or be able to read it. LOL. Good luck with your tour Hillary!

  4. I was reading the bio of an author not too long ago and she's of an older generation and chooses to write out her story on paper and then has it transcribed and her books are long!

  5. Thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate it.

    I don't physically write well enough to write a novel out long hand. I print everything!

  6. This is a great interview. The book sounds great as well.

    I see some comments about typing vs. writing. I tend to do both. When I write a story or any prose, I type it up. My fingers can type at a closer speed to my thoughts than what I can do with a pencil. At the same time, when I'm writing my poetry (which is my main writing form) I grab a notebook and pencil. I don't know if it's because there are less words to right or being able to format the lines all over the page. That's much easier on paper than a word document.

    I enjoy hearing how other people choose to get their writing done. Thank you for sharing all of what you've said :D

    1. That is exactly why I type instead of write, lol. I can type a lot faster than I can write and I have to type fast to get my story down as it's flowing through my mind.

  7. I agree about writing fantasy - I thought about it once before too, but my brain can't quite seem to go in that direction.

    So, is 50 Shades of Gray worth the hype?

    1. I've been reading some paranormal romances lately and I am really feeling like writing my own, lol. But you both are 100% correct that it's difficult to get in that mind set of an alternate world. It should be fairly easy seeing as it can be whatever you want it to be, but at the same time it needs to make some sort of sense:)

  8. I agree with Peaches - I like the three words used to describe the main character. Sounds like a contradictory and interesting soul.

  9. I love fantasy and wish that I had the ability to think outside our own world. I think I am the most awed by writers who can create a place I've never been but feel like I'm there.