What Really Inspired Mina Starsiak To Write A Children's Book - Exclusive

What do a home renovator and a children's book author have in common? Much more than one would think — especially when it comes to Mina Starsiak Hawk. As reported by her website bio, the Indianapolis-native first started renovating homes in 2007 when she bought one that needed some serious TLC. She got her mom Karen Laine involved in the project, and soon the duo became so addicted to rehabbing homes in their hometown that they started their own reno company, Two Chicks and a Hammer. 

What happened next? HGTV, of course! The network spotted the hard-working women and gave them their own show: Good Bones. Since first airing in 2015, Good Bones has brought Mina Starsiak Hawk's warm sense of humor, incredible eye for design, and big heart to audiences all over the country. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Starsiak Hawk also opened a brick-and-mortar home furnishings company, Two Chicks District Co. And now, the Jill-of-all-trades is releasing a children's book! Built Together draws adorable comparisons between homes and families — reminding little ones that, just like all houses look a bit different, no two families are exactly the same. Featuring colorful illustrations by Barbara Bongini, Built Together is a beautiful and heart-warming celebration of family, diversity and acceptance.

But how did she jump from renovator, business owner, and reality TV star to author? In an exclusive interview with The List, Starsiak Hawk gave an inside-look at what inspired her to write her children's book.

Mina Starsiak set out to write the type of book that she wanted her son to read

Mina Starsiak Hawk is a proud mom to toddler Jack and baby Charlotte (via House Beautiful). In fact, it was her son, Jack, that inspired her to write Built Together. She revealed that "having kids and just thinking about what I wanted him to be reading, and seeing and around" played a big role in her reasoning behind writing not just any book, but a children's book. 

Her children and her desire for them to be exposed to diversity also inspired the book. "Part of the reason that we chose to live downtown again was the exposure we wanted for him" she explained. "So he sees lots of different kinds of people and whether that's someone homeless on the trail behind a house, whatever." Why is diversity exposure so important to Starsiak Hawk? She wants her kids to not only understand but also to experience that, as she said in the interview, "There's not just one way, or one kind of person or one look in the world."

Mina Starsiak's extended family inspired Built Together

It's no secret that Starsiak Hawk has a big "hodgepodge" family. There's even a YouTube clip in which her and her mom try — and fail — to decipher their complex family tree. "My dad's second wife ... He had two kids with, and then after they divorced, she remarried or almost remarried her first husband that she already had a kid with," she revealed when attempting to explain her family during the interview. "So her first husband and third husband was her and my dad's kid's stepdad ... You can't even make it up!"  

But no matter the challenges that come with her unique family, she loves it. Her family is so important to her that it was a big inspiration for Built Together. "This idea that family comes in so many different shapes ... My step-parents, ex-step-siblings, half-siblings, people that I call aunt and uncle that are just my parents' good friends. People my kids call aunt and uncle that are just my good friends, but that I consider part of my family ... that's the thought."

Mina Starsiak's 100-year-old neighbor makes a cameo in the book

Starsiak Hawk's big family didn't just inspire Built Together — they're in it! The book is full of colorful drawings and sweet words that accurately (and adorably) depict Starsiak Hawk's children, husband, mother, coworkers, friends — and even the 100-year-old woman who lives across the street. "We have the same birthday and she turned 100 on my birthday this year," Starsiak Hawk said, describing her neighbor. "She's everyone's great grandma." Why is she included in the book? Starsiak Hawk explained, "Making the idea of family more about not just blood and your neighbors and your friends, people who need help. People who need empathy."

Starsiak Hawk's husband, Steve, is also in the book. However, as she revealed in the interview, "The hardest thing about writing the book was getting [her] husband's character looking right." She went on to say that Steve kept wanting the cartoon-version of himself to look more manly. "He was like, 'I workout. I work really hard. Can I get a beard. Can I look like I have muscles?'" They eventually got his character (and his character's muscles) up to snuff. 

Built Together is available for purchase on February 2, 2021, and new episodes of Good Bones air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.