Thursday, October 18, 2012

This week's Spotlight Author is Christine Hughes

A former Army Brat, Christine Hughes moved quite often. She spent much of her time losing herself in books and creating stories about many of the people she'd met. Falling in love with literature was easy for her and she  majored in English while attending college in New Jersey. Not sure where her love of reading and writing fit, she became a middle school English teacher. After nine years of teaching others to appreciate literature, she decided to take the plunge and write her first novel. Now at home focusing on making writing her new career, she spends her time creating characters and plot points instead of grading papers.
Music has become an integral part of her writing process and without the proper playlist, Hughes find the words don't flow. At least a few times a week she can be found at the local Barnes & Noble with her mac and headphones working on her next novel. Her YA novel Torn will be released by Black Opal Books June 9, 2012.
With the sudden, mysterious death of her father, Samantha discovers her life isn’t what it seems. Not only isn’t she the normal teenage girl she thought she was, Sam must now take her father’s place in the fight between two groups of fallen angels—the Faithful and the Exiled—in a race to save humanity. In addition to dealing with the devastating betrayal of her friend and her feelings for someone she is forbidden to love, Sam must also fight the growing darkness within her as she struggles to make a choice between fighting alongside the Faithful or succumbing to the temptation of the Exiled. Both sides require sacrifices Sam isn’t sure she can make.

KUDOS for Torn

Torn is a paranormal YA thriller, that also nudges at the romantic suspense genre. It’s a good vs. evil with touches of forbidden young love. Our heroine, Samantha, thinks she is a normal human teenage girl—not that any teenage girl can really be called “normal.” But Sam has no reason to suspect that she is anything other than human. Her life revolves around school, her best friend and foster brother, Lucas, and her secret crush on her other foster brother, Ethan. Then her father dies and Sam discovers she is much more than she thought she was. She is supposed to fight for the light against the dark, but the dark side is so very tempting...the book is well-written, the storyline unique, and the plot strong. So whatever age you are, grab a nice cup of tea, a comfy spot on the couch, and enjoy. – Taylor Jones, reviewer

The storyline in Torn is unusual and refreshing. While it’s about the fight between good and evil—a common enough plot—the heroine is born of the dark but determined to fight for the light. She is also confused. She knows she wants to fight for good, but she is very tempted by the darkness within her. As she struggles to make her choice, the plot shifts on us and gives us more than one surprise. I was very impressed by Hughes. Her writing is quite good, her characters refreshing, and the storyline much more sophisticated than is normal for YA. I found myself riveted from the very first page. – Regan Murphy, reviewer

Interview with Christine Hughes by Belladonna's Book Corner

What inspired you to write your first book?

While I was watching Vampire Diaries (Season 1, last episode - Founder's Day) the song "All I need" by Within Temptation played during a dance with Elena and Damon. As soon as I heard it, images started flashing through my head and I ran to iTunes to download it. I listened to it over and over and built a playlist around it until the images solidified into a coherent storyline. I love shows like Vapire Diaries that have great soundtracks. I'm always finding new songs when I watch tv.

How did you come up with the titles of each book ?

The original title to TORN was Choices but I felt it wasn't strong enough. I was having a conversation with my sister-in-law about the book since she read the manuscript for me and she characterized Samanatha, the lead character, as torn. And VOILA! Epiphany! The book title switched to TORN.

For Three Days of Rain (due out early January 2013), I titled to book after the song that inspired it. If you look on Spotify, search Three Days of Rain by Jason Liberatore and you'll find the words that helped make the book.
The sequel to TORN has always had a working title - BETRAYED - but there are way too many books out there with the same title, and many are romance. After discussing it with some author friends, I've since changed the working title to DARKNESS BETRAYED. Hopefully it sticks. We'll see.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Everyone had two sides to them. There is beauty in despair. If there wasn't, we'd never know what hope was. I also just want them to get out of what they read exactly what they want. When I was teaching, I never understood why blue curtains couldn't just be blue curtains. Why did they have to represent tha main characters call for help? Maybe that's why my college English professor rolled her eyes at me.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No. Just ideas I had. I am sure there are many parts of my books people will be able to relate to but as for basing it on reality? Nope. Not brave enough to go there yet. Besides, I'm not all that exciting.
What books have most influenced your life most?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher - there are so many! I used to read more than I do now. It's harder now because I don't necessarily want to start retelling stories. I try to keep them as original as my brain will allow. But I love to read. Hell, I read shampoo bottles if there's nothing else there!

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

A mentor? Gosh. I don't know. Maybe Cyn Balog since she gave me so much advice and encouragement in the beginning. She's a wonderful person, a creative author and a great friend. Bonnie Hearn Hill is another. When I was contemplating joining Black Opal Books, she and I had a fabulous phone conversation that I will never forget. And lately, Dean Sault has been giving me some good advice.

What book are you reading now?

An ARC of time Assassins by Kyle Hannah (buy it!)

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Since I've become published, a whole new world of authors has been opened. I loved Leslie R. Wright's Basement Level Five, David Perlmutter's Wrong Place, Wrong Time, and am very enamored with Kyle Hannah's Time Assassins.

What are your current projects?
Three Days of Rain is a Women's Fiction that should be released in early 2013 and I am almost finished writing the sequel to TORN, DARKNESS BETRAYED. After that I have quite a few ideas to choose from.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books ?
TORN is in 1st person and I love it that way but I can't help but think how much more in depth I could have gone were it in 3rd. I could've picked apart Sebastian's character more, gotten into his head. That would have been fun. There is, of course, always the option of writing Sebastian's story. We'll see.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I don't remember. I've loved writing since I can remember. I was always writing stories - page after page of worlds and characters. I wrote angsty poetry most of my teen and college life. Who knew? Men and women my age were able to write about being "emo" before "emo" was a thing...

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Editing! I hate deleting anything but it's getting easier. I have a great group of editors at Black Opal Books who understand my mindset and have only worked to make my manuscripts tighter, stronger.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

For TORN, the ending. I couldn't figure out how to close it out. For Three Days of Rain, the sex scenes made me blush. I didn't want it to sound corny. I did all I could to keep the word "member" out of it!

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
To never give up. I realized not everyone will love what I write and that's ok. I've read many books I didn't care for. It's all ok. As long as I stay true to myself when I write, that's all I can ask for.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Same as above - never give up. Take criticism gracefully. Take praise gracefully as well. I've met a lot of writer's over the past year or so and I have to tell you, most are amazing - helpful, kind, encouraging - but there are some that make me nuts. Don't be the one to make everyone nuts. Believe in yourself and believe in your writing but know there ARE people out there who've been around the block and CAN help. DOn't turn away because you don't agree. Listen. Be gracious. AND get a set of kick ass beta readers that aren't afraid to tell you what they really think :)

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just keep reading. If you like an author, say so. If you like a book, write a review. Word of mouth sells more books these days than any advertising.

What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?

Run like hell. I am just started to get into zombies. My main thing is, they walk everywhere. Why can't people just run the hell away? Maybe I should read more zombies...

If you could be any paranormal creature what would you be and why?

Vampire. Ann Rice made them sexy.

Fav Movie ?

So many! Fave comedy - Zoolander (Mer-Man!) but I love all John Hughes films and will stop what I am doing to watch any one of them!

Fav band right now ?

30 Seconds to Mars. Jared Leto? Umm, yes please.

Fav food and drink ?

Nothing beats a good cheeseburger and a beer in the summer. Other than that, coffee, Earl Grey Tea and lime flavored seltzer water. And Pizza. Good thing I live in a place where good pizza is the norm. I can't take cardboard and ketchup.




  1. Thank you for having me on here!

  2. What an impressive interview, and a great change to a life that has focused on the love of literature! I'm a literary fiction author, which may be why I don't have an agent. But you write in a literary way, and I look forward to hearing more from both you, Christine, and Raven, the host.

  3. Great interview, Christine. I understand what you mean by staying true to yourself, but many do follow the trend that's out there and I'm seeing lots of books that are well, pretty much the same on the same subject and written the same way. Almost like cookie cutter style. I would love to see something different, but this makes me think if the world is truly ready for different when the masses want that.

    1. Oh, forgot to mention, I did enjoy Torn.

  4. Great interview, Christine. I enjoyed Torn, and am really looking forward to Darkness Betrayed.