My Writing Mentor
By Anita Hughes
Actors give their thanks at the Academy Awards, where they reel out as many names as they can before the music and gorgeous models shoo them off the stage. Writers have their dedications and acknowledgments to applaud the people that helped bring their book to fruition. But there is usually one person - a spouse who ate spaghettio's for years - the actor cannot thank enough without causing the wrath of the Oscar producers, and there is often one individual that the author would have to write a whole book about, to tell them how much they value their support.
For me, that person is my mother. My mother was a copywriter before she had children and my father was a journalist before he became a businessman. Reading and writing were gospel in our house and literary aspirations were encouraged. But my mother didn't just talk the talk, she spent her time and energy helping me achieve my goals.
When I was fourteen I sat down and wrote a novel. I still remember going over the story with my mother, asking her to read each chapter, making the changes she suggested. In those days, children didn't learn how to use a keyboard before they learned how to ride a bicycle. Typing was something you learned with home economics in high school. My mother typed out the whole manuscript and researched publishers. She went to the post office and sent off two hundred pages (photo copied at a local printer) first class mail, to New York.
Neither of us could have been more surprised and thrilled when I received a revision letter from a famous editor at Harper & Row. But again, my mother surprised me. She didn't make me do the revisions. She let me make the choice between working on the novel and taking part in all important high school activities like cheerleading. She never remonstrated me for not following through. She was proud that I had gotten that far.
When I was in college, my mother showed me that you can fulfill your dreams later in life. She researched and wrote a diet and nutrition book that was published by Dutton. I still remember going to Walden's Books and seeing the pyramid of my mother's books in the window. She had spent decades that she could have been writing being a wife and mother, but eventually she achieved her goal. (If I do a search, I can still find her Kirkus review!)
My mother died from Alzheimer's six years ago so she will not be able to see the release of my debut novel, Monarch Beach, or learnt that I received a three book deal with St. Martin's Press. The dedication on the front page - to my mother - seems like a small gesture for all that she gave me. But I know that she understands I couldn't have done any of it without her.
About The Author:
Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper, and was named "One of Australia's Next Best Writers." (She still has the newspaper clipping).
She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing program.
Monarch Beach is her debut novel, published by St. Martin's Press and will be released on June 19, 2012. A second novel, Market Street, will be published in April 2013.
She lives in Dana Point, CA with her family, where she interrupts her writing to watch the glorious sunsets.
BUY THE BOOK: Monarch Beach
*RELEASE DATE: JUNE 19, 2012*
Book Description: Monarch Beach
Anita Hughes' Monarch Beach is an absorbing debut novel about one woman's journey back to happiness after an affair splinters her perfect marriage and life - what it means to be loved, betrayed and to love again.
When Amanda Blick, a young mother and kindhearted San Francisco heiress, finds her gorgeous French chef husband wrapped around his sous-chef, she knows she must flee her life in order to rebuild it. The opportunity falls into her lap when her very lovable mother suggests Amanda and her young son, Max, spend the summer with her at the St. Regis Resort in Laguna Beach. With the waves right outside her windows and nothing more to worry about than finding the next relaxing thing to do, Amanda should be having the time of her life - and escaping the drama. But instead, she finds herself faced with a kind, older divorcee who showers her with attention ... and she discovers that the road to healing is never simple. This is the sometimes funny, sometimes bitter, but always moving story about mistakes and discoveries a woman makes when her perfect world is turned upside down.
Book Excerpt: Monarch Beach