Lorena Hughes is the award-winning author of The Queen of the Valley, The Spanish Daughter, and The Sisters of Alameda Street. Born and raised in Ecuador, she moved to the United States when she was eighteen to study fine arts and mass communication & journalism. Publishers Weekly has called her work “as addictive as chocolate” and The Washington Post deems it “imaginative historical drama filled with sibling rivalry and betrayals.” The Spanish Daughter is an Amazon Editors’ Pick and a Publishers Marketplace Buzz Books Selection.
THE GIRL FROM ECUADOR...
I believe I always was a writer but didn’t know it. Unlike other girls who played mommy and daddy with their dolls, I had my Barbies reenact the tragic telenovelas I watched with my mom in the evenings. Tales of betrayal, unrequited love, and heartbreak were my favorite pastime. It’s no wonder I didn’t want to give up my Barbies until my early teens! (Rumor has it that I still have them in a suitcase, but those may just be rumors.) At the tender age of eight, I wrote my first book for art class. It was a picture book called El Pozo Mágico about a doll who falls inside a well and must find her way out through magic. I confess my inspiration came from Alice in Wonderland and the comic book series of Asterix & Obelix. When I was in the sixth grade, my best friend and I decided we would write a love story and have it published in a renowned international magazine called Vanidades, which published monthly the works of Corin Tellado. If she could do it, so could we! The fact that we didn’t know how to type was no obstacle for two determined twelve-year-olds! In the long run, school and homework got in the way of our dreams, but the project left a little creative thorn in my heart.
In my free time, I started writing in old notebooks: novel ideas, journal entries, letters to friends who lived in other countries. I could spend hours trying to make silly anecdotes turn into major adventures. Around that time, I discovered I had some skill in drawing, which was not a big surprise since an artistic vein runs through my mother’s side of the family. I enrolled in extracurricular painting classes with a beloved artist who was so ancient (in my teenager mind) that he was featured in history textbooks. I participated in several collective art exhibits and decided that my future was in the visual arts. When I turned eighteen, I moved to the United States to go to college and got a degree in fine arts and mass communication & journalism from The University of New Mexico. I worked in the fields of advertising, graphic design and illustration until I had my children. Between naps and changing diapers, I started writing my first novel, which I envisioned as a Latin American soap opera, but the realities of my life (i.e. living in an English-speaking country) made me reconsider the format and rewrite it as a novel instead. The Sisters of Alameda Street was born out of those first attempts at writing and evolved into a novel that finally got published in 2017 (after almost twenty years of its original conception!). I’ve written five more novels since, including a sequel to The Spanish Daughter called The Queen of the Valley, which I'm really excited to share with the world!