Thanks to an affable nature accentuated by her signature heart and wit, Mina Starsiak Hawk has built a name for herself since first breaking out onto the scene in 2016 with her HGTV series, Good Bones. In the years following the success of the Indianapolis-based renovation show alongside her mother, Karen Laine, Starsiak Hawk has gone on to star in several projects for the network, open up her own store with her renovation team — Two Chicks & a Hammer — and can now add children's book author to the growing list of projects under her stylishly unique belt.
In an exclusive with the 35-year-old multitalented TV personality, realtor, designer and now mom of two, the Midwesterner shares with PopCulture.com how her debut children's book, Built Together, which celebrates the diversity and acceptance of what family means, was not only inspired by having two children of her own with her husband Steve but the dynamics of her own "crazy" family. Modeling a story on her own experiences with starting Two Chicks & a Hammer with mom Laine; working with her stepfamily; fostering her niece and adopting rescue dogs, Starsiak Hawk invites readers young and old to join her in learning how we are all stronger together.
"Obviously, having kids is a big part of the inspiration. I read so many kids' books... so, I thought it'd be fun to write one. It's the things that I know, which is non-traditional family and construction, and put them together in this cute way," she said in our series PopCulture @ Home, adding how the book was written before her youngest was born. "But, it's that growing up, taking how our family is built and comparing it to how you build a house, like the tools you use."
Adding how the book is a "cute play" on what she knows when it comes to the family, dogs, neighbors and nanny, Starsiak Hawk reiterates the message is one about family being what you want it to be. "Less and less now, it's that traditional mom, dad, two-and-a-half kids," she said. "People seem to appreciate how open our family is about that. We're crazy. We all love each other. We figure it out."
While she jokes she will have to write another book so that her daughter Charlie doesn't feel "less loved," she reveals she has read Built Together to her toddler, Jack, despite him being more interested in the family's furry members. "He's super into animals, so he's more interested in who the dogs are because Frank and Sophie and our brown puppy, Beatrice, that, unfortunately, has since passed away," she said. "But, they're all in it and they pretty much look identical to them. He seems to like it."
Jack's attention to the illustrations of the three family dogs in the book can be attributed to illustrator Barbara Bongini's vivid and charming drawings, which Starsiak Hawk admits set a "really perfect" tone for the "spirit of the book." Working with the publishing company on the artwork, she reveals after being sent a handful of samples from different artists, it was Bongini's that just clicked.
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"It's bright, it's playful — what's the funniest, my character, I saw the first draft of it and I was like, 'Great. I look amazing. My hair is fabulous!' My husband's — there were probably six or seven emails back and forth because he was like, 'Why do I look so dumb? I need a beard. I look silly without a beard. I look like a jerk,'" Starsiak Hawk laughed. "We're going back and forth trying to make his character right. And then, I sent her pictures of the kids and the dogs and the family. So, it's really fun because we have a lot of the local stuff like our Indianapolis cool shirt and IU, and our Two Chicks and a Hammer gear. So, it feels very real."
With Starsiak Hawk's show beaming with a deep appreciation for her community by highlighting local businesses and artists, she ensured that aspect of their life was emulated in the book too. "That's one of the best things that we've been able to do locally with the show," she said. "We get to use so many cool local vendors and cool local gear from The Shop. We use furniture and we use art from a lot of these small businesses, especially right now to get even just a little bit extra face time with people they wouldn't usually. So, being able to even sneak that into the book a little bit, I think, is fun."
The book, now available for pre-order, is well on its way to becoming a bestseller. In just days of Starsiak Hawk announcing the release for Feb. 2, pre-orders sold out on Amazon.com with the new author humbled by the response from fans. "It was really cool," she said. "After I did the first [Instagram] Story about it, how many people reached out wanting to figure out how to get from Canada, U.K., Australia, because it's crazy to think how many countries the show airs in. I don't even know all of them."
She goes on to share that Steve, who happens to be her biggest fan, thinks all "these things are a big deal," and encourages her to let him know about the success consistently unfolding in her career, like when the pre-order sold out. "I think I'm just always moving so fast. It's like, 'OK, I got to do the next thing now. There's not really time to celebrate that other thing.' And so, when I stop and think about it, it is very, very cool and exciting. Yeah, I'm excited!"
With her first children's book already doing so well, would Starsiak Hawk ever consider writing a memoir like some of her HGTV co-stars? Simply put, the reality star says humbly she "doesn't feel old enough" just yet for that chapter of her life. "I don't know enough. I haven't experienced enough to write a memoir, but I feel like there are things that I want to say," she said. "I literally had a Google Drive doc that said ramblings and I would type in it and so, I've been working with a guy to help me and actually have an outline of 15 chapters. It's like in the creative [stages], shopping it around to see if anyone's interested kind of phase, so we'll see."
Built Together is now available for pre-order on Walmart and Amazon Canada. For more digital and in-store retailers, head to Starsiak Hawk's official Instagram page for a complete list. To get the latest scoop on the HGTV star, her show and everything reality TV, stay tuned to PopCulture.com for up-to-the-minute news!