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June 12, 2012

Anita Hughes: My Writing Inspiration (guest post)

Today, I'm happy to welcome an author from "Down Under" to Girl Who Reads. 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

My Writing Inspiration
I write for one main reason. I love to read. Ever since I was six or seven, nothing has thrilled me more than a good book. I remember spending the whole summer when I was twelve, eating carrots and reading Agatha Christie novels. (I believed really sharp eye sight would add to my enjoyment of reading). In my teenage years I loved reading books that were slightly taboo – Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner, anything by Sydney Sheldon or Jackie Collins. In college I discovered great literature and swooned like a sorority girl on her first crush. I consumed Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, George Sand, Anais Ninn, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mary McCarthy. I couldn’t get enough.

In today’s world there are so many distractions. One pops on the Internet for a quick check of Facebook and ends up scrolling through countless interesting posts. Email, twitter, Youtube, the temptations are endless and the rewards fleeting but sweet. But reading! Getting lost in the newest Penny Vincenzi, Emily Giffin, Allison Winn Scotch is a pleasure that grows over a period of days. When the book is finished it leaves a lingering feeling of goodwill, like you’ve met new friends you won’t soon leave behind.

And writing I have discovered, is one step better than reading. When I write I completely immerse myself in the world I create. The characters become real, the locations (usually gorgeous and often exotic) are places I conjure up like a genie with a magic bottle. When I am in the midst of writing a novel, I carry the story around in my head. I can access it any time of day or night and immediately be wrapped up in the plot. It fills my thoughts when I’m walking the dog, sorting laundry, shopping at the grocery store – and it is much more entertaining than reading the tabloids at check-out.

Of course, my imaginary world is not perfect. Sometimes my characters refuse to do what I want them to. Sometimes I stare at the keyboard, willing them to guide me. On occasion writing can be so draining I am wrung out, without the energy to help with homework or clean up after dinner.

But I know I can step back, and attack the manuscript fresh in the morning. And I can always turn to my favorite authors – classic or modern – and lose myself in their stories. So maybe I have two loves – writing and reading. Together they make my life rich and I feel very fortunate to be able to be able to pursue them both.

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes
Available June 19 from St. Martin's Press
Paperback (288 page) & ebook
Pre-order: IndieBound, Powell's Books, Amazon
Learn more: Goodreads

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  1. I agree, a lot of temptations out there. For me owning a DVR has helped; I record and watch only the TV I want to and I never channel surf. I'm intentional about reading so I don't just turn the TV on as a distraction like I used to. I was so jealous of people who read 50 books a year until I realized I could manage my free time better and read just as many.

    Thanks for sharing about your book!

  2. I appreciate the post as another 'girl who read' growing up. As I have delved further and further into writing, I notice myself less able to read but recently discovered I am only more picky. That said, for all those great authors you mentioned, I say indeed! (Note: I missed Elizabeth Gaskell growing up for some odd reason and only recent discovered her! What a thrill.)

  3. Stephsco, I agree, I only watch shows recorded on my DVR (Madmen, The Good Wife, Downton Abbey). Judi - you are so lucky you have more Elizabeth Gaskell books to read. I love her books!

  4. Thank you, Anita for stopping by and sharing about your writing.

    I haven't had TV since the digital changeover, but I do play movies for background noise (I live alone). They're movies I've watched a hundred times so not really a distraction.

    The internet is a big time suck for me. I find myself clicking between facebook, twitter, and my blog just to see if someone has commented or visited.