BIW Member Interview
Rita Lorraine Hubbard is a former teacher living in Tennessee. Rita’s first nonfiction trade book, African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes, debuted in December 2007. Currently, she writes full-time and produces a line of historical calendars called Shades of Greatness.
Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Rita Lorraine Hubbard: I knew I wanted to be a writer at a young age, after I read Charlotte’s Web and discovered (quite surprisingly) that I could be reduced to tears over something as hairy and disgusting as a spindly-legged spider. Soon after, I discovered Pearl S. Buck’s book, Peony, and was head-over-heels in love with reading and writing from then on. My brain and my fingers just wouldn’t be still. Oh, the notebook paper I went through in those days!
Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?
Rita Lorraine Hubbard: 1. You’re probably better than you think… but you’ll never know if you don’t get your work out there.
2. You have to be deadly serious about your writing, but you must not forget to have lots of fun with it, too.
3. Writing is not for the lazy or faint of heart. If you’re looking for something easy or guaranteed to bring in fast money, your best bet is to go out and get a job.
Moe: What are you working on now?
Rita Lorraine Hubbard: I’m working on a middle grade historical fiction (based on true fact) set in 1943, in which a teenager stumbles upon an isolated cabin in the Chickamauga Battlefield.
Moe: Do you have a favorite writing related book?
Rita Lorraine Hubbard: The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book, by Jean S. Kent, is definitely my favorite. I’m more aware of details because of it; I’ve learned to really see facial expressions, body movements, hair and eye color, and so forth. It taught me (and is still teaching me) the power of a well turned phrase. Best of all, I’ve found that its lessons are not confined to adult romances, but can be used in young adults’s, middle grade’s and even picture book’s. No writer should be without it, no matter the age of his/her audience.
Moe: What is your favourite writing website?
Rita Lorraine Hubbard: SCBWI is my favorite writing website. Not only does it keep me abreast of what’s going on in the world of children’s book writers, it also connects me with other writers, offers some pretty wonderful grants, and even has discussion boards where I can ask questions and get answers to specific queries, or lurk in the shadows and read what other writers have to say.
Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?
Rita Lorraine Hubbard: “Just Do It” isn’t just a Nike(tm) phrase. It applies to writing, too.