Monday, October 20, 2014

St. George Book Festival Keynote Speaker Dean Hughes

Dean Hughes has published more than 100 books.  He has written fiction as well as non-fiction for all ages: children, young adults and adults. He is best known for Children of the Promise, a series of historical novels about the World War II.  He and his wife Kathy have three children and nine grandchildren.  They live in Midway, Utah.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? 
I started pretending I was writing when I was four.  I didn’t know all my letters quite yet, and I couldn’t read, which made it tough.

Where did the inspiration for (title of book here) come from?
I’ve written many books, and my “inspiration” varies.  But I don’t set out to teach.  I set out to create a good story—one that challenges readers to think and feel and care.

What made you choose to write a novel?
I’ve always been a story teller.  By the time I was in junior high I was telling people I would be a writer when I grew up.

What is the main message or theme that you hope readers of this book come away from it with?
My books have had many themes, but I hope no “messages.”  I’ve written several books about war, and I hope that a reader comes away from them feeling what a horrendous thing war is.  But I don’t preach that idea; I try to show it.

 Who is your favorite author?
I’ve never been good at “favorite” questions.  Why do people like one color better than another.  I just don’t get that.  Would we want to give any of them up?  Well, I’m the same with writers.  I read children’s books, novel, non-fiction, and a lot of history.  How could I choose one author from all those different fields.

 Do you have a writing routine? A special pen, a certain type of music, time limits?
Pen?  Do people write with pens?  Somehow the idea has gotten around that writers need a certain set of circumstances to feel “inspired.”  That’s another thing I don’t get.  Mainly, I sit down in the morning and write all day.  Every now and then I get a new computer and adjust to the latest word processor.  I do have a favorite pen—but only for autograph parties.

 Do you enjoy edits/rewrites, or not?
Writing is mostly editing and rewriting.  What I find tough is first draft.  After I get a draft into my computer, I have something to work with.

Please tell us a little bit about your journey to publication:
I wrote my first book when I was eighteen.  It was turned down.  I wrote another in college.  It was turned down.  I became an English professor and wrote a young adult novel.  It was turned down.  I wrote a children’s historical novel in 1978.  By then I was thirty-five.  That book was finally accepted.  I decided to take a year off from teaching and write full-time.  That year ended up as seventeen years.  Since 1978, I’ve published almost every year of my life.

What is the hardest part of being a writer?
Getting started in the morning.  (And filling out interview questions.)

Are there any common themes that you feel are particularly important to write about?
I am always trying to create believable characters.  What I want is for readers to gain a deeper understanding of other human beings.  That’s what fiction can do, and that’s what makes it worth doing.

When you're not writing, what are your other hobbies/passions?
I love to read, of course.  I also enjoy traveling and photography.  (I combined those two with a trip to Antarctica this last winter.)  I feed birds (and photograph them.)  I play golf.  I fly fish.  I spend time with my wife and with my children and grandchildren.  I’m busy with work in my church.

 Are you working on any new projects?
I’m always working on new projects.
Quick Fire round:

Coke or Pepsi?
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Rainy winter days or blazing hot summer days?
Hard Copy or e-book?
I can honestly answer, “both” on all these. 

Favorite book?
I really can’t pick just one.

Last book you read?
“The Boys in the Boat”

What's a quote that inspires you?
Fifty-Four Forty or Fight.  (Just kidding.  I don’t know.”

What's your favorite comfort food?
My problem is, I can’t find enough food I don’t like.  I love escargot and I love a big hamburger.  Writer now I’m trying to comfort myself less, and it isn’t easy.

St. George Book Festival October 20-25, 2014 - Learn More at

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