Author Anita Hughes Rereads And Reflects On Her Outline When She Doesn’t Have Time To Write

From Monarch Beach to San Francisco, author Anita Hughes takes readers deep inside interesting locations in her women’s fiction. Anita joined us last year when her debut novel, Monarch Beach, was published. I hope she’ll join us again in August when her THIRD novel, Lake Cuomo comes out. To say Anita is disciplined is an understatement. Maybe it’s all that California sunshine coupled with her creativity? I don’t know what her secret ingredient is—but I’m glad she found it ! 

Please welcome Anita Hughes back to Women’s Fiction Writers!  

And to all who celebrate, HAPPY PASSOVER, חַג שָׂמֵחַ (happy holiday)! 

Amy xo

Author Anita Hughes Rereads And Reflects On Her Outline When She Doesn’t Have Time To Write

ImageAmy: Congratulations, Anita! It’s pub day! Market Street is your second novel. Can you share with us how writing and publishing Market Street differed from writing and publishing your debut novel, Monarch Beach? 

Anita: First, Amy thank you so much for having me back! I love your blog and it’s a pleasure to be here. Writing Market Street was different than writing Monarch Beach because as with most first novels, I wrote Monarch Beach for myself. Market Street was the second in my original two book contract so I had an outline and a deadline – two things I didn’t have with Monarch Beach. I found I liked having both these things very much. I have always had a strong work ethic so knowing I had to write Market Street made it even more enjoyable. (No one in my family could say I was just goofing off writing!)

Amy: Now you’re a multi-published author. How do you write? Outline? By the seat of your pants? A combination? And how do you separate one story from the other when you’re writing one, promoting one, and possibly editing another?

Anita: Now, since I have to provide my editor with an outline, I always write an outline, and again I really enjoy it. I keep a word document of my outline on my phone and I read it quite regularly – it gets me right back in the story and I can reflect on it when I don’t have time to write.

I’m always writing so that is the story and characters that is in my head. The book I am promoting has a life of its own – almost like when you give birth, your children become their own people – so with promoting Market Street I feel like I am sending my characters into the world, but they are very much their own people with their own story. The book I’m working on is still mine to nurture.

Amy: Do you have a favorite character in Market Street?  What about this character makes him/her your favorite?  

Anita: In my mind I call Market Street a “Cassie and Alexis novel” because I love them both, but I am very pleased that early reviewers such as Kirkus Reviews singled out Alexis for praise. I love her – she is really funny and for some reason she has stayed in my head for a long time.

Amy: You set your novels in beautiful locations—Monarch Beach, San Francisco, and your third novel (coming out in August) is set in Lake Cuomo. Do you visit these places to do research?

Anita: I love setting my novels in beautiful locations – when I was writing Lake Como I felt like I was going there every day. I live in Monarch Beach and lived in San Francisco for many years so I know both places very well. I have only visited Lake Como once as a child, but I adored it. I looked at a lot of pictures online – I wanted to soak up the details and make my readers feel like they are there.

Amy: The term women’s fiction, and some of us who embrace it, take a lot of flack. What are your thoughts on the label women’s fiction? And, to you, what falls under that genre?

Anita: I don’t have a lot of thoughts on labeling because I read everything. If I enjoy a book I will probably read everything by that author – regardless of the genre. I think any books written about women and their choices and dilemmas can fall under the heading: there are so many amazing women’s fiction authors out there and so many great books.

Amy: What’s your best advice for writers of women’s fiction?

Anita: Write the book you want to read. When I get up in the morning I want to get back to my manuscript because I miss my characters and want to find out what happens next. If I feel that way, hopefully my readers will feel the same.

Again, thank you for having me Amy!

Image 1Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia. At the age of eight, she won first prize in a nationwide writing contest sponsored by THE AUSTRALIAN, Australia’s most prestigious newspaper. She graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program. She lives at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, where she is at work on her next novel. For more information please go to www.anitahughesbooks.com.

You can also find Anita on Facebook and Twitter.

Debut Author Anita Hughes Says: Write Every Day And Enjoy Your Story

I’ve known author Anita Hughes for months now! Not only are we publishing cousins with St. Martin’s Press, but she’s one of my Book Pregnant compatriots.  If you haven’t read about Book Pregnant, I’ve posted links at the end of this interview.  But first things first! Please welcome Anita Hughes — and her beach read about life, love, and family — all on a beautiful beach — to Women’s Fiction Writers! (yeah, yeah, I’m an em-dash addict, what can I say?)

Amy xo

Debut Author Anita Hughes Says: Write Every Day And Enjoy Your Story

Amy: Your debut novel, Monarch Beach, is set where you live — on a beach in California. So, tell us a little about the story, and if this book is about you. If it’s not, how did the idea for the story come to you?

Anita: Monarch Beach is about a young San Francisco heiress whose perfect life falls apart when she finds her French chef husband wrapped around his (female) sous chef. She accepts her widowed mother’s invitation to spend the summer in the Presidential Suite of the St. Regis, Monarch Beach. Over the summer she makes important decisions about her future. The story is not about me but it is definitely a story close to my heart. I actually live with my family in a villa on the grounds of the St. Regis. Six years ago we lost our home in Northern California in a flood and took up residence in the hotel, and then in a villa. It was a time of great upheaval and loss but being in the hotel – surrounded by so much beauty and caring people – helped me get through it. Every morning when I took my children to school the bellboy would say “Have a nice day, Mrs. Hughes.” Even though we had lost most of our clothes and personal items, and I spent each day dealing with insurance companies, I ended up having a nice day.

Amy: While Monarch Beach is your first novel, you also have another novel coming out next year called Market Street. What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants (or bathing suit, as it may be?)

Anita: With Monarch Beach the first paragraph just popped in my head and I started writing. I had several key scenes playing in my mind and I worked my way through to get to them. I have sold three novels to St. Martin’s Press – two more come out next year, so now I am more of a plotter. I write a six or seven page synopsis and write from there. But I definitely find that the story changes as I write. One of the most interesting experiences I had recently was I was writing the final scene in a novel. It was very emotional and all the key characters were present. All of a sudden a character burst into the room with a gift for my main protagonist. I literally had forgotten about her and she knew she had to make an appearance.

Amy: What is your favorite part of the writing process? What’s your least favorite? Can you give us some examples?

Anita: My favorite part of the writing process is when I sit down at the computer in the morning. I usually think up the next day’s writing the last thing before I go to bed. I sit and imagine my characters’ conversations, what that section is about, what I want to accomplish. When I get up it is fresh in my head and it is easy to get it onto my laptop. I honestly can’t think of a least favorite part. I love to write – especially dialogue between women and any part where there’s a lot of humor. When I start feeling tired I stop, and reward myself by reading whatever is on my night stand.

Amy: How do you define women’s fiction? And what do you think about all the hullaballoo surrounding that label?

Anita: I have to say I am a huge fan of women’s fiction because I’ve been reading it for years. I have read everything by Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Jane Green, Allison Winn Scotch and I thank them for many hours of great entertainment. Then again, I read a lot of wonderful books by men. I loved The Marriage Plot, I like everything by Jonathon Topper, my very favorite writer is Somerset Maugham. I would define women’s fiction as stories that speak directly to women – stories women can relate to with universal themes. I’m not much concerned with labeling. I read whatever interests me, and I imagine that most readers do the same.

Amy: In today’s publishing climate, which you seem to really understand, what’s your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction?

Anita: My advice would be to write a story you really enjoy writing. If you enjoy writing it, chances are your reader will enjoy reading it. I definitely believe in writing every day – it is hard to stay connected to your characters if you take too much time off and once you immerse yourself in a story it writes itself. When it comes to getting your fiction published, I think querying widely can be very helpful. Agents, editors and readers all have different tastes. Eventually you will find the people who love your work as much as you do!

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia. At the age of eight, she won first prize in a nationwide writing contest sponsored by THE AUSTRALIAN, Australia’s most prestigious newspaper. She graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program. She lives at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, where she is at work on her next novel. For more information please go to http://www.anitahughesbooks.com.

You can also find Anita on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnitaHughesBooks?ref=tn_tnmn; and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/hughesanita.

About Book Pregnant:

We’re Expecting…Books! on Writer Unboxed

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