Rhonda Hopkins


Young Adult Fiction With Heart


For the readers who haven’t yet read your story, tell us what they should know about you.

Charley Cooper:
I’m sixteen and a junior in high school. I live in a small town in East Texas where the citizens are nosy and their main pastime is gossip. It’s hard to keep secrets in Whispering Pines. One of my biggest secrets though is that my family is magical. It’s really important that remains a secret or we could get in trouble. Oh, and I have one more. I have a huge crush on one of my best friends. Awkward…

What do you believe in?

Family. Definitely. I don’t know what I’d do without mine. My mom is great, and she holds us all together. My dad is the chief of police in Whispering Pines. Deanna—well, we call her Dee—my sister, is a genius. No, really. Her IQ is off the charts. My cousin, Danu, is snarky, and she’d kill me if she knew I said this, but she’s like a mini–Grandma Ruby. And Grandma R? Oh geez. She’s funny, irreverent, and sometimes scary as heck.

What haunts you?

Two things really. The first is that I sometimes have visions and can’t always figure out what they mean or how to help, so it keeps me up at night. The second is that my powers are wonky and I’m afraid I’m going to hurt someone by accident until I learn to control them better. And, I keep getting new ones before I can master the ones I have. I feel like I’ll never catch up!

Do you have any phobias?

I don’t think it’s an actual phobia, but I’m scared I’m going to lose my sister. Dee was really sick when she was younger and nearly died. So, I guess this feeling is left over from that part of our lives. I’m always looking out for her and sometimes I think I might be a little overprotective, but I can’t help it.

What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

There was the time when my best friend, Grace, my sister, and I were taking a shortcut through the woods and were nearly kidnapped by guys dumping a body. I was so freaking scared.

Are you lying to yourself about anything?

It wouldn’t really do any good even if I tried. My family and most of the town know pretty much everything about me, so I’d never get away with lying to them or to myself. I’d get called on it in less than a day. So, I’m pretty much an open book. Well, except for that crush on Jackson who’s been one of my best friends since kindergarten. I guess the only lie I’ve tried to tell myself recently was that if I started dating someone else, I’d get over Jackson.

What was your childhood like?

Honestly, I’m extremely lucky and know it. I’ve had a great childhood. Other than that time that Dee was so sick. I’ve got a great family and amazing friends. I wouldn’t trade any of them.

The only thing I regret is that I can’t tell everyone about my family’s magical abilities. But that’s something I can’t do without getting our family in trouble with the Witch’s Council. They’re even more frightening than Grandma Ruby.

Have your actions been the result of freedom of choice or of destiny?

Oh, well… until just recently, I thought the witchy gene had skipped me, so all of my choices were freely made. Within reason, of course. I have parents that lay down the law on a lot of things. Even when they give me the freedom to make my own decisions and deal with the consequences, I hate to disappoint them.

However, I recently began getting those witchy powers I’ve wanted my whole life and now things happen that I have no control over. So, yeah, destiny definitely has a grip on me at the moment.

If you could go back in time and change anything, would you?

I can’t think of anything other than my sister being sick for so long. But then again, I’m not sure I’d change that. She’s fine now. If I changed that, maybe it would change our family dynamic. Maybe we wouldn’t be as close as we are. And, I wouldn’t want to change that.

What does your name mean to you?

My real name is Charlene, and it means “free spirit” or “freethinker”. They named me after my paternal great-aunt. From everything I’ve heard about her, she was definitely a free spirit, exploring the world and having amazing experiences. While her life was exciting, I think I’m more of a freethinker. I love to challenge ideas and form my own opinions. It’s one reason I love journalism so much. Even though it’s just a school newspaper, I can use my articles to give all the facts to help others make informed decisions.

What scars, birthmarks, tattoos, or other identifying marks do you have? What stories lie behind them?

No tattoos. Yet. Maybe one day. I do have a birthmark on my right hip. It’s kind of embarrassing where it is, so very few have seen it. It looks like a crescent moon. I had Dee take a pic of it one day so I could see it better. It’s spooky how well defined it is.

What was unique about the setting of your books and how did it enhance or take away from your story?

The small-town of Whispering Pines is part of the Piney Woods of East Texas. Lots of places to hike and then there’s the lake. It’s a fantastic place to live. We also have a weekend festival once a month which brings in tourists and people from neighboring towns.

While it’s usually a quiet place with not much to do, on those weekends, it’s a lot of fun. And a lot of work. My mom usually has a tent set up with things she sells in her local shop like creams, lotions, and alternative healing potions. No one knows my mom puts a little magic into everything except us. They just know her creations make them feel better than anything else they can buy elsewhere.

We all end up pitching in and helping Mom out on those weekends, but we have time to enjoy the festivals, too.

How do you see yourself?

Until my powers began kicking in, I was just a normal teenage girl dealing with school, family, and friends. And, boys. Well, one boy. He’s pretty amazing though.

Now, I’m not sure how to see myself. My Grandma Ruby thinks I’m going to be really powerful. Even more powerful than her, so that’s pretty unnerving as she’s the most powerful witch I’ve ever met. I don’t feel powerful, though. I feel like everything is out of control. Nothing works right and when I tried to call upon fire during practice, I accidentally burned my best friend Grace’s beautiful hair.

Then there’s Jackson, who doesn’t know about my magic. I have to hide it from him. And that makes me feel like he doesn’t know the real me. I’m not sure I’ll feel whole until he knows about everything.

How does your enemy see you?

I don’t have any enemies. Unless, of course, you count the people who I investigate when something goes wrong in our small community. They just see me as a pesky teenager who can’t mind her own business. They’re wrong though. I can’t stand when someone I know is injured or in danger. And I’ll do anything I can to protect them.

How does the author see you?

Oh, well, Rhonda is pretty cool. I think she’d probably like for me to follow her direction more than I do. But it’s just not possible for the most part. I tend to do things my own way and follow my heart. Just ask her about Nate. Ha! That so didn’t work out as she planned. I’m sure she thinks I’m stubborn, but hopefully, she finds me funny and loveable, too.

Why do you think Rhonda chose to write about your story? Do you think she did a good job?

To hear her tell it, she saw the cover for A Witchy Mistake in a premade cover group and the idea just came to her. If you want to know the truth of it, though, I’d been whispering in her ear for a few months at that time. She loves reading paranormal cozy mysteries and young adult books. I’d been encouraging her to combine the two and to tell my story.

When she finally gave in, I think it surprised her by how much she enjoyed writing about me and my friends. She’d been writing darker fiction like zombies and stuff. Then along came Grandma Ruby who is an absolute hoot sometimes and I can tell Rhonda really has fun with her and she enjoys writing about the lighter side of things, too.

What do you think about the ending?

Oh, my story is far from over. We still have a way to go until my series is done. And I’ve heard Rhonda thinking about a spin-off with my sister as the main character in an academy series. I hope she gives it a go. Dee would absolutely make a great leading character.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately? Would you change anything about the story told? Did they miss anything?

Definitely. I have to nag, um; I mean nudge her occasionally to let me out of the box a little. I’m not perfect, nor do I want to be. That would be so boring!

Have you read any of your authors’ other works? Any good?

I read The Gift first just because it’s family-friendly and my mom had rules about what I read earlier. It was a great read! I love the little girl in the story.

Once Mom decided I was old enough to read whatever I wanted, I read The Consuming. That scared me so badly I had to leave the light on for a couple of nights. And then I read Survival and Jenny’s Story. I’ve always loved shows like The Walking Dead, so when I got the chance to read these, I was so excited. And she didn’t disappoint. I know she wants to write more in this series and she plans to. She just needed a break from the darkness for a while, with everything going on in the world. I hope she gets to write more of it soon though because I miss the characters. And Sarah is yelling pretty loudly in Rhonda’s head for more of her story to be told. It’s making the rest of us a little nuts.

Oh my gosh! Grandma Ruby has that look on her face. She’s definitely up to something. I have to go make sure she doesn’t hex someone. Thanks for the interview. I hope you and your readers will visit us in Whispering Pines!