Interview Marilyn Hilton

» Posted on Mar 29, 2006 in Blog | Comments Off on Interview Marilyn Hilton

Below is an interview I did with Marilyn Hilton, the author of It’s All About Dad and Me. I have a copy I would like to give away. If you would like to be in the drawing for the free copy, please e-mail me at I will draw a winner Saturday morning. If you have a girl or know one between the ages of 7-14, this is a great book for them. You can a purchase this book at

What made you write It’s All About Dad and Me?

A lot of attention is paid to the mother-daughter relationship, but just as important is the one between dad and daughter. I wanted girls to have a book to help them understand Dad better, too. Understanding creates empathy, and empathy develops caring, respect, trust, and love. Dad is a crucial player in the development of his daughter’s self image, self respect, and self worth. He is her first love, and her relationship with him can affect and determine the choices she makes as a teenager and young woman and in searching for a mate.

Girls (and guys) these days have so many influences competing for their attention. As we know, not all these influences are safe, healthy, and good for them. It’s not easy growing from a child to a teenager, and often kids just don’t know what is true, good, and right. The “tween” years (9-12) are said to be the last window of opportunity for dads (and moms) to be the major influence in their children’s lives.

All parents want to guide and teach their children well, but they don’t always have the time or energy to figure out how to do that. These books act as tools for building and strengthening bonds of trust, communication, and love between daughter and dad (and mom) while parents still have daughter’s attention. Of course, the ultimate relationship is the one we have with our Heavenly Father, and these books show girls how God models and blesses the parent-child relationship.

Tell me about your trip to Mexico and building the house there.

Every summer, youth volunteers from our church drive to Tijuana, Mexico, to build a house for a family that has been selected to receive one. A few years ago, my husband went with the group, and when he returned and showed me the pictures he’d taken, I was so moved by what I saw that I signed up to go the next year! As it turned out, a friend and I went as the camp cooks. This was truly a joke because neither of us is adept at (1) cooking for crowds or (2) camping. But by the end of the week, by God’s grace, we were doing both with flair.

We went with 21 teenagers and 3 other adult staff. Each morning we cooks arose to the sound of a rooster crowing somewhere far away, and prepared breakfast for everyone by waning moonlight and burgeoning dawn. After breakfast and devotions, we drove to the worksite, a small lot in a neighborhood of Tijuana. The family we served were at the time living in a little store they operated. They also raised chickens, which scampered underfoot as we worked. On the first day, we cleared and leveled the lot and poured the foundation. On the second day, we built the frames for the walls and roof. On the third day we secured the frames and tar-papered the outside walls and roof and installed windows and a door. On the fourth day, we slapped stucco on the outside walls.

The cooks left the worksite every day at 3:00 to purchase fresh water and ice (because everything at the campsite had to stay cold in the coolers), and then shower and prepare dinner. Our showers were four-gallon water jugs with a hole cut into the top. We would fill the jugs every morning and set them in the sun to warm. After I’d spent a day in the dust and heat, that warm shower from a jug felt better than any I’d ever had! The troops arrived “home” at around six o’clock, showered, and snacked. Then we served dinner and listened to the evening talk, and had some time for s’mores and fellowship before turning in for the night.

On the last day, the family invited us for lunch. (Normally, we brought sandwiches to the worksite and ate them there.) The family prepared the most delicious chicken stew that day. Later that afternoon, we realized they had killed many of their own chickens to make that meal for us. I thought of their generous hospitality and was reminded of the widow who gave her last two copper coins as an offering. You go on a mission trip thinking you’re serving, but somewhere during that time realize you’re being served in a way you can never repay.

It was a wonderful experience, one I’d recommend to anyone, even if you can’t cook or swing a hammer. God will give you what you need in abundance, and I’m living proof. I’ll never forget the spiritual wealth I saw there, and the strong sense of community and family. And I’ll never forget the fun I had being a “kid” again with those great teens!

What other books have your written?

My first book, The Christian Girl’s Guide to Your Mom (published by Legacy Press) helps a daughter understand her mom better–who she is as a person and why she parents as she does. It is one of the wonderful Christian Girl’s Guide series of books for tween girls. The Christian Girl’s Guide to Your Mom is written and formatted exactly like It’s All About Dad & Me, but (as you can tell) for girls and their moms.

Do you have any more books planned in the future?

I’m also writing a fiction series for tween girls, Daphne’s Dayz, a “momlit” novel for women, and a nonfiction book for adults. And several ideas on the back burner! I love the tween years and I love being a mom to my three children, so writing for these audiences is my joy.

One of the things you like to do is aspire young writers. How do you do it? What advice do you want to give them?

I love speaking to school kids about the writing process, the creative process, and how to find and develop story ideas. One of my favorite volunteer activities is to judge the annual Young Authors’ Faire at my children’s school. I have the pleasure of reading all the upper-grade stories and giving encouragement and guidance to the young authors. I’ve seen some amazing talent there!

For advice: Believe in the gift God has given you; write different kinds of things (stories, newspaper articles, poems, essays, and instructions); listen to and learn from the advice of teachers and other writers; read, read, read; and keep a daily diary or journal–and never throw it away. (I made that mistake once and now kick myself for doing it!)

Did you draw from your own experiences to write this book and The Christian Girl’s Guide to Your Mom?

Oh, yes! I might look like a grownup, but inside I’m still eleven years old. Some of the stories came from my own experiences. For example, one story in the Dad book tells about a daughter who tore her father’s favorite sweatshirt and didn’t tell him until she absolutely had to. Her silence brought worse consequences than if she’d told him right away. That didn’t happen to me exactly like that, but when I was about twelve I did something pretty similar. In the end, my dad wasn’t as upset about as I was.

I also drew on my experiences as a mom–and my husband’s experiences as a dad–to our three children (which includes two daughters)–all modified, of course!

What age are you targeting for this book? How best should a girl use this book?

It’s All About Dad & Me is primarily for girls aged 9-12, but a girl as young as 7 or as old as 14 could enjoy this book.

Because the book is broken into 11 chapters by topic, readers can pace themselves by reading/working through it at a chapter a week. Each chapter has the same format: readings, reflections, biblical biographies, crafts, Q&As, interview questions, and the secret life of dads. Ideally, a girl could read the book with her dad, but that’s not a requirement. She can still get a lot from the book by working through it on her own. Another idea is to set up a Bible study group using this book, which (I’ve heard) some girls have done with The Christian Girl’s Guide to Your Mom.

On a side note, although It’s All About Dad & Me and The Christian Girl’s Guide To Your Mom were written for tween girls, I was surprised and very touched to hear from adult women who have used The Christian Girl’s Guide to Your Mom with their middle-aged and elderly mothers. It’s never too late to improve your relationship with your mom or dad, and God has been gracious to let me minister to adults this way.