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Know Your Session Leaders: Andrea Portes

January 3, 2008

It is time to get to know your session leaders and speakers at SCWC. First up, the inimitable Andrea Portes, who intends to teach you how to “Kill Your Ego” and give advice on “Writing in Bed”.Andrea’s debut novel, Hick hit the shelves last May, and straightaway hit the Los Angeles Times best-seller list. I hear she was very proud. And why not? Finding oneself amid company like Khaled Hosseini, Cormac McCarthy, Sara Gruen, and James Patterson, among others, is no easy task. And we at SCWC are proud to count her among our friends.

The reviews, of course, have been fantastic:

Guy Savage at Mostly Fiction includes Hick in good company as well, giving the book 4.5 stars out of 5:

If you enjoyed novels such as Where the Heart Is and She’s Come Undone, then there’s a good chance you’ll also enjoy Hick.

The Emerging Writers Network matches that four-and-a-half, and piles on the praise:

From the time Luli walks off her property through to the end of the novel, Portes gives us a combination of road novel with coming of age work. She blends the two seamlessly as Luli grows up in front of the reader, beginning to explore her own sexuality and the power that this entails, while at the same time, going through some of the traditional road trip scenarios – meeting new people, getting in troublesome situations, etc. The thing Portes does extremely well is give Luli this ability to survive, no matter what is thrown her way, and plenty is thrown her way – and frequently brought upon by her own actions, reminding the reader again and again that she is only 13. This is also where the writing of Portes shines. While only 13, Luli almost forces herself to step outside her body and simply be a witness to events that are occurring. Throughout, she holds onto a ‘this will pass’ sort of mantra, and it is entirely believable.

Portes has created a character that the reader cannot help but root for, even when knowing she is taking a mis-step or two (or more). The fact that Portes did so, while allowing said character to have a wit, and a nose for interesting situations, helps the pages fly by. It’s an exceptional debut effort and hopefully the beginning of a great career.

And Regis Schilken, author of The Oculi Incident and The Island Off Stony Point, strongly recommends Hick:

Hick is fast paced, it is original, it is an outstanding novel of perseverance and courage. Luli’s sometimes crude descriptions will make a reader howl but at the same time, root for her survival amidst all the foul play tugging at her heartstrings. She is out there, she is alone, but damn, she will survive. “I’m not looking back playing that same old song no more. I ain’t gonna spend my life staring at my socks, slouching to a chorus of mighta coulda shoulda woulda.”

I would recommend Hick to any reader looking for a fascinating story and is not offended by the “F” word. Luli has heard it from infancy. Her speech would sound unnatural without it considering the years of low-life she endured before taking off on her own.

I would sincerely hope that author Portes is planning a sequel to Hick so readers who fall in love with charismatic Luli like I did, can ultimately see her fate. I would personally like to congratulate Andrea Portes for writing Hick. One would never know it was a first novel.

The reviews are in. Many of them. And they’re all positive. We at SCWC hope to bring you the best, and we’re proud to present Miss Andrea Portes at our San Diego conference over the Presidents’ Day Weekend.

There is, indeed, still time to register. See the Southern California Writers’ Conference website for more information about speakers and session leaders, and how to sign up for this most excellent event.

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