Babette Hughes & Dennis Welch

This week on Writing on the Air, novelist Babette Hughes, and her publicist Dennis Welch will be on the show. We will be talking about her latest novel, The Red Scarf, among a myriad of other subjects.

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Listen to the interview

In her first published work, a national article penned back in 1963 for The Saturday Review titled Confessions of An Unpublished Writer Babette Hughes wrote these words that turned out to be more than a little prophetic:

It (writing) is no easy calling, but its rewards go so far beyond the mundane that I expect to practice it for as many years as I have left on this earth.

Almost half a century later she is keeping her word, publishing her second novel next month while also writing a third for future publication. The Red Scarf, a much anticipated follow up to her award winning novel The Hat, will publish in June of 2013.

Born in Cleveland Ohio, Babette grew up in the time of Prohibition and bootleggers. Her father was one of the first bootleggers in the country, and was murdered by the mafia in a turf war at the age of 29. Babette’s mother, a tragic figure even before the death of her husband, sank into damage and denial, telling Babette that her father had died of an incurable disease.

But, at age 12, her older brother revealed the unvarnished truth about their father and he even sent her to the public library to read the archived copies of The Plain Dealer for herself, with all the gory and troubling details. “I look back at all of that now,” she says, “and I must have been pretty brave to go and read for myself about it, and learn all of that and then to keep it to myself for all those years.”

Writing has allowed her to draw from those unusual life experiences to create her characters and tell their stories (and sometimes cautionary tales) in vivid detail. Gangsters and guns, women and wine, sin and society all melded together in riveting detail for readers from all walks of life who somehow relate to the characters she creates. She explains that phenomenon by saying that “I find that the personal is universal, if you take the time to tell the story right. Though these stories are loosely based on real characters I have known and my own experiences, I find it gratifying, but not surprising, really, when readers tell me that they identify with them and their plight.”

Now 90, she still writes every day with a fluidity and grace of a woman half her age. Why does she keep writing? “The truth is liberating, but sometimes elusive.” She explains. “I’m always looking for it and how to best write about it, and I probably always will.”

She is married to JD Hughes and lives in Austin, Texas. They are the parents and step-parents of 8 children.

Please go check out her webpage BabetteHughes.com to learn more about Babette.