Interview with Lorena Hughes, Author of The Sisters of Alameda Street

Today, we’re chatting with Lorena Hughes, author of The Sisters of Alameda Street!

Please describe what your book is about.

Set in a small South American town during the early 60s, The Sisters of Alameda Street is the story of a young woman who assumes another identity to find her mother among four unconventional sisters.

Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.

She looked into the woman’s eyes. Was that fear in them? There was a strange tension in the room, but she couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.

“Aren’t you going to say hello to your mother?”

What do you want people to know about your book?

If you like unconventional settings, family secrets, lots of surprises and stories about women fighting for their dreams in patriarchal societies, you’ll probably enjoy my novel.

What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?

I learned that I can handle bad criticism a lot better than I ever thought I could.

What was your timeline from drafting to publication?

The concept of this novel first came to me in 1998. Yes, you read correctly: 1998! But I initially conceived it as a Spanish soap opera. By 2005, I decided to write it as a novel in English. It took three complete rewrites, two agents, and many rejection letters to finally find its home in Skyhorse Publishing—exactly ten years after I’d attended my first writer’s conference!

What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?

I love it when I’m not sure how I’m going to develop a scene, but everything comes together the moment I’m writing it. I love being surprised by what my characters say and do.

Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?

I once watched an old film about a young mother who accidentally lost her daughter on a train and found her—years later—along with two other girls, but didn’t know which one of them was her daughter. I started thinking: “What if instead of the mother searching for her daughter, it is the daughter trying to find her mother?”

When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?

When I’m detangling my hair in the shower (it takes a looong time, ha!) But I’m probably at my most focused when I’m writing an actual scene. Magical things happen when you let your characters’ actions and dialogue flow in the page without censoring anything.

Share something people may be surprised to know about you?

People may be surprised to know that the walls in my parents’ apartment are covered with pictures I painted during my teenage years.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

I love this quote from Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

What’s next?

I’m working on revisions of my fourth novel: a historical mystery set in a cocoa plantation in Ecuador during the early 20th century. I can’t wait to see what happens with it!

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“Malena’s tidy world collapses when her father commits suicide, leaving behind only a letter from her mother, who Malena thought had died in childbirth. The letter, signed with an “A,” leads her to the Platas sisters, four women whose names start with an A and who want their pasts buried and forgotten. To avoid a scandal, Malena assumes another identity and searches for the truth. But living a lie will bring a myriad of problems, such as falling for a forbidden man and loving a family she may lose when they learn of her deceit. Worse, her arrival threatens to reveal secrets that may wreck her life forever.”