Friday, April 15, 2016

Interview with Anita Hughes, Author of Island in the Sea + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome Anita Hughes to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Island in the Sea from St. Martin's Press!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Anita! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Thank you for having me on your wonderful blog!

Anita Hughes was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. She attended Bard College and UC Berkeley’s Masters in English and Creative Writing Program. She writes women’s fiction for St. Martin’s Press and lives in Dana Point, California with her family.

It's my pleasure! It's amazing to get to feature you today! And GO BEARS✌️! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves earlier this week:

Juliet Lyman is a senior executive at Yesterday Records. Music is her passion and she's very good at her job. That's why her famously philanthropic boss Gideon sends her to Majorca, Spain to work with a very tortured, but talented client. Lionel Harding is one of the best song writers of the 20th century, the multi-Grammy award-winning lyricist of the third most recorded song in history. But now he's 42 and six months overdue on the his latest paid assignment. Juliet is not leaving Majorca without either new lyrics or a very large check.

To Juliet, business comes first. Emotions are secondary, and love isn't even on the menu. But to Lionel, love is everything, and he blames Gideon for his broken heart. He's determined to show Juliet that nothing is more important than love, but Juliet is just as determined to get Lionel to create the music that made him famous. If she can sign up local talent, even better. Her new friend Gabriella has a voice like an angel, but she's not interested in fame. Her grandmother, Lydia, wants the world for Gabriella, and she wants Juliet's help to give it to her.

As her professional and personal lives start to mix for the first time, Juliet is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Gideon hasn't been totally honest, and love may be the only thing that gives them all what they need.

Island in the Sea is Anita Hughes's captivating sixth novel, filled with exotic descriptions of food, fashion, and romance.

Describe Island in the Sea in six words.

Female music executive travels to Majorca.

How did you arrive at writing women's fiction? Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at, or any you want to stay away from?

I have always loved women’s fiction and have been a big fan of Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella, and Marian Keyes for decades. I started writing women’s fiction simply because that’s what came out when I put pen to paper. I also think about a lot of the issues women’s fiction covers: female friendships, relationships, infidelity.

I can’t really see writing anything else. I’m very happy with what I write.

What was the inspiration for the book?

The inspiration was the song "The Girl from Ipanema." It is the second most popular song in pop music history, and when I hear it I think of white sand beaches and girls in bikinis. Then I thought what would it be like to write love songs but be bitter about love. That’s how I created Lionel Harding, the famous songwriter who is so bitter about love; he can’t deliver on his new contract.

Which character from Island in the Sea was most difficult to write?

Probably Lionel was the most difficult character to write, while also being my favorite character. He is quite complex and it was difficult to make him likable while allowing him to have many weaknesses. But in the end, I think the reader can see he has a good heart and means well, even with his failings. Plus, he was often very funny!

What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

I think my biggest strength might be dialogue. I love writing witty dialogue, and I feel the story really comes alive. My weakness might be a penchant to be too descriptive. I love really seeing the places and people when I write.

Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.

Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham, Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, The Reef by Edith Wharton, The Love Machine by Jacqueline Sussan, and Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz.

What’s the greatest thing you ever learned?

The greatest thing I have learned is just to enjoy what I’m writing. I really immerse myself and enjoy the process. I think if you do that, your readers will enjoy reading the book as much.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Anita's random favorites, her best writing and personal advice, and what makes Island in the Sea stand out as a book from all the rest. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Island in the Sea, so you don't want to miss that either!

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Some randomness...

Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark, milk, white, coffee-flavored, the kind with nuts or berries inside?? White chocolate.

What kind of kid were you in high school? A cheerleader and columnist on the school newspaper.

Most romantic thing a guy has ever said to or done for you? Changed my tire.

How do you get over heartbreak? By watching romantic movies.

Currently reading? This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger.

Currently wearing? Flip flops.

Favorite vegetable? (yes, you have to pick one). Leeks.

Biggest celebrity crush? Pierce Brosnan.

Guiltiest pleasure? Chocolate almonds.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A writer.

Go-to comfort food? Frozen yogurt.

That sounds soo yummy. Charity or cause of choice? Charity: Water.

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Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Island in the Sea stand out from the rest?

I think people will be drawn to the location. Majorca is gorgeous and when you read the book you feel like you are there.

Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Be very patient.

Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

Almost everything passes.

What are you involved in when you aren’t writing?

Being with my children.

What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Just staying involved and focused on the story.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Spending a lot of time alone!

What are your goals as a writer?

To write books that people really enjoy and create memorable characters.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Connecting with a lot of wonderful readers and writers.

What’s next for you?

My next book is called Santorini Sunsets and comes out on August 2nd, 2016.

That sounds exciting, congrats! I can't wait! Where can you be found on the web?

Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

What draws you to a book? The cover, title, description on the back, or something else?

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Anita! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Island in the Sea—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is answer Anita's question:
What draws you to a book? The cover, title, description on the back, or something else?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Anita and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

The biggest factor for me would be whether I've read (and loved) works by the author before. I'm a loyal fangirl. Then, synopsis—based off a few paragraphs, is it something that pulls me right in and makes me want to read it immediately? And as shallow it sounds to admit this, the cover is very important, too. Not that I'll "reject" a book for having an unattractive cover, but sometimes when they're not thoughtfully put together or don't seem to reflect what the book is even about, it seems very unprofessional and doesn't make me want to get involved.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends April 29th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!