Please welcome Anita Hughes, author of the new novel, Monarch Beach!
Have I Always Been a Writer? by Anita Hughes
I grew up in a family of writers. My father was a journalist at the United Nations in Paris after World War II. My mother was a copy writer at a large advertising agency before her marriage. She went on to write a nonfiction book and regular newspaper columns after my brother and I went off to college.
The written word was close to God in our house, and so was the book. I read everything from an early age – some things like GO ASK ALICE and THE SUMMER of ‘42 under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. I still remember discovering Herman Wouk’s THE CITY BOY and Jacqueline Susann’s VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. Literature was a way of entering countless worlds, studying emotions, feeling grief, joy and pain.
I banged out a couple of novels in high school and brashly sent them off to a New York editor. I received a handwritten note with suggestions for revisions but by that time my immediate world claimed my attention. The word was still holy – I was a columnist on the school newspaper and assistant editor of the literary magazine, but I was also a cheerleader and interested in normal teenage things like clothes and boys.
If I had only known what a coveted piece of paper I had! A New York editor had taken the time to give me notes on my novel. But youth is ignorance as well as bliss and I put the novel and note aside and immersed myself in high school.
During college I again became firmly attached to reading and writing. I studied British literature, took creative writing classes, collected rejection slips from Elle, The New Yorker and Vogue. I attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in English Program and made stabs at writing a new novel.
Then, like my parents before me, real life got in the way. My father gave up journalism in favor of starting a textile mill to support his family. My mother focused her attention on her children and her mother who came to live with us.
I too put writing aside when I got married. I became a mother and did the sales for my husband’s wedding film company. My days were busy and my nights mostly sleepless – spent changing and nursing a succession of babies.
Then one day, my children were old enough to take care of themselves. My husband hired a new sales person and I had hours in the day to fill. The first paragraph of a novel popped into my head while I was in the shower, and I couldn’t wait to get it down.
I wrote the whole novel without telling anyone, after all, my main job was being a wife and mother. So it was the greatest thrill when an agent responded to my query with the words: “You made me laugh, please send the full manuscript.” I had to read her reply twice, and then I eagerly attached and sent.
Since then I have been writing nonstop. I have a three book deal with St. Martin’s Press – two more books will be released next year. I can’t imagine life without my characters and love opening my laptop and immersing myself in their world.
Have I always been a writer? Yes, but this is the first time I will be a published author. Living can get in the way of your dreams, but if they burn within you bright enough eventually they will come to light.