Fantastic Novelist Interview #2: Anita Hughes

Author Anita Hughes is on a roll. Her first novel, Monarch Beach, came out last summer and was a Target Emerging Author Pick. Her next novel, Market Street, comes out March 26, 2013, and Lake Como will be published on August 13th, 2013. And she has young children! But Anita has been a dedicated writer all her life. At age 8, she won a writing contest and was named "One of Australia's Next Best Writers.” I asked her if Monarch Beach was the first novel she ever wrote. AH: Monarch Beach is not the first novel I wrote. When I was fourteen I wrote a novel called The Great Book of Suchness. It was about a young prince who must find the meaning of life in order to save his kingdom. After visiting several Utopian societies that ultimately fail, he comes to the realization that the meaning of life is simply: "Such is life." I wrote the full manuscript, typed it up and sent it (unsolicited) to a legendary children's book editor at Harper & Row. A few weeks later I got a revision letter! Can you imagine? If I had known what a rare thing I held in my hand, I would have fainted. But I had just made the cheerleading squad and I didn't go back to it. I wonder what would have happened if I did.

VP: Your second novel, Market Street, is scheduled to come out less than after your first, in March, 2013. Can you share with us the sequence of writing these two books?

AH: When I sold Monarch Beach to St. Martin's Press, I received a two-book deal. I wrote Market Street after getting the deal. I then wrote another book—Lake Como—which comes out on August 13, 2013. I am very excited to have two books coming out in the same year and I hope my readers will enjoy them both. My books have a common San Francisco theme, and I love exploring female friendships with a lot of humor.

VP: Do you have advice for aspiring writers about how to persist and not lose heart in a difficult market? What helped you to persist and achieve the success of having three books in such rapid succession?

AH: My advice mainly is to write what you love. Even when I don't need to be, I am generally writing. Once I get immersed in the story and develop my characters, there is nowhere I'd rather be than in front of the computer screen. I wrote Monarch Beach because I finally had the time to write (I have school aged children) and I really enjoyed it. When it was finished and I started querying agents, I immediately started another book. I do find it helps to set a daily word count goal. If you write 1,000 words a day, before you know it you have a book. Writing daily also keeps me connected to my characters and the story. I think there is a lot of opportunity in publishing right now, and a lot of wonderful books out there. When I'm not writing (or driving my children around) I am generally reading, so I believe there can never be enough good books.