I’m thrilled to welcome my newest client, Lorena Hughes, whose debut novel The Sisters of Alameda Street landed her a spot on Amazon’s bestseller list twice for Hispanic American Literature and on Hip Latina magazine’s list of 9 Rising Latina Authors You Don’t Want to Miss. (And miss we did not!)
In her new manuscript, a historical mystery set in 1919 Ecuador, her immersive storytelling with a layered sense of place pulled me right in. I knew I liked her voice and heroine after only a few pages, but had to make sure the overall story worked too (and it did, as you can see!). Learn more about Lorena below… ~Agent Rachel Brooks
What do you love about writing historical mysteries?
I love coming up with intricate plots, getting inside the heads and motivations of each of my characters and then seeing all these threads come together. The ultimate prize is finding new ways to surprise my readers.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I’ve always been a nostalgic person. I love looking at old photographs and hearing my parents tell stories about their youth. Writing historical fiction is my own way of imagining what it must have been like to live in those times, to grow up in a small town, for example, or be a member of a large family. Plus, historical fiction lends itself to a lot of drama since there were so many societal and professional restrictions upon women, problems with transportation and technology in general, etc. I think that in the past, humans were a lot more vulnerable to their environment.
What is the hardest part about writing historical mysteries?
With so many books out there, the hardest part is to find new ways to surprise the reader and make characters’ struggles believable. I often have too many ideas and too many characters. An important part of my process has become to edit and simplify my stories. Another hurdle all historical writers face is that we have to question and research everything we write: words, objects, fashion, history, technology and find out if they were in use in the time and place of our stories.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
I love to draw and paint portraits. In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten into oil painting and I absolutely love it.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
My website: www.lorena-hughes.com
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
Yes, I do have a playlist of songs that remind me of my novel or inspire scenes. For example, for The Sisters of Alameda Street, I had a playlists of tangos by Carlos Gardel that I played when the characters were dancing. I recently wrote a novel set in the 70s and I had some disco music and Spanish ballads from that decade. I’ve gone as far as organizing the songs in the way the novel should be told!
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
I’m so excited to be joining BookEnds! It’s an agency I’ve been admiring from a distance for years. When I first started writing fiction, I would read Jessica Faust’s blog and advice on querying religiously. I never would’ve have imagined that one day I’d be represented by someone in her agency!
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
I would’ve loved to meet the Brazilian writer José Mauro de Vasconcelos because he’s the first writer who ever made me cry (I was in 6th grade!). After reading his novel My Sweet Orange Tree, I developed a love for fiction and I’ve always been curious about how autobiographical his novel was—he’s always been a mystery to me—but unfortunately, Vasconcelos passed away in the 80s.