Name: Libby Hughes
(Originally published in my old website, Writester.net in 2005)
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, but lived in NJ, NY, MA, and Alabama growing up.
Q: Can you tell us your latest book news?
A: Towards the end of 2004, I came out with the first biography of legal thriller writer, John Grisham. My biography “Ronald Reagan: from Sports to Movies to Politics” came out for young adults February 2005. Two weeks in April I drove to Illinois and Missouri on a book tour, speaking to 3,000 young people and a large number of adults. Reagan grew up in 5 or 6 towns in Illinois, so I covered most of them.
Q: How old were you when you first started writing?
A: About fifteen.
Q: When did you first realize you had the potential to be a writer?
A: I took a course in Dramatic Criticism at Boston University while getting my Masters in theatre from a famous drama critic in Boston, Elliot Norton. On one of my papers he wrote, “You could be a writer if you wanted.”
Q: What was your inspiration for writing your first biography?
A: My publisher asked me to write a biography about Margaret Thatcher: “Madam Prime Minister.” I hopped on a plane and went to England to do the research.
Q: Is there anyone or anything that inspired you to write?
A: Mr. Norton inspired me. Also, writing for newspapers was a major influence.
Q: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
A: Firstly, living in Alabama influenced my playwriting (I’ve written 37 plays). Most of them are set in the South. Secondly, having lived in Africa and Asia for 12 years made me conscious of world affairs and world leaders. It wasn’t surprising that I wrote biographies of Nelson Mandela, Benazir Bhutto, and Yitzhak Rabin. I’ve written 12 books.
Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
A: It is a simple writing style with color and drama. The marriage of journalism with playwriting.
Q: What genre are you most comfortable writing?
A: Biographies and plays.
Q: How do you come up with the titles for your books?
A: Biographies are pretty easy to find a title. However, the book on “George W. Bush: from Texas to the White House” took 50 titles before the editor was satisfied!
Q: Is there a message in your books that you want your readers to grasp?
A: I want readers to find these famous people are successful because of their parents, their religions, and the qualities they express as well as being smart.
Q: How much of the biographies are realistic?
A: Like journalism, the facts have to be checked and verified through many sources.
Q: What books have most influenced your life?
A: Ayn Rand, Thomas Wolfe, Shakespeare, Science and Health.
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: Ernest Hemingway.
Q: What are you reading now?
A: “Songs from the Alley” by Kathleen Hirsch. As soon as David McCullough’s book on George Washinton comes out, I’ll start reading it.
Q: What new author has grasped your interest?
A: Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” and Barack O’Bama.