Author Spotlight

Richard Hébert
Multi-Award-Winning Author Richard Hébert Adds Kirkus Reviews Best Indie Book 2011 to His Role of Honour

In 1961, Richard Hébert was named the University of Florida School for Journalism’s “Outstanding Graduate of the Year” and inducted into the university’s Student Hall of Fame. These honours were Hebert’s launch pad to an illustrious writing career that has so far spanned half a century and is now in its fourth evolution. They also acted as good indicators of the Pulitzer Prize nomination that would come just seven years later.

Second Evolution: The Journalist
Hébert’s professional career began as a journalist at The Atlanta Constitution, where he remained for nine years. This period saw him win an Associated Press Newswriting Award, named Atlanta Jaycees’ Outstanding Young Man for 1965 in the Field of Professions, awarded a Quill from Atlanta’s professional journalism fraternity, the Sigma Delta Chi, and a journalism award from the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare. The year 1965 also saw Hébert as a national finalist for a Nieman Fellowship, which awards the winner a one-year scholarship to study at Harvard. All of these were precursors to Hebert’s 1968 Pulitzer Prize nomination.

Third Evolution: The Freelance Writer
Having reached these heady heights as a news reporter, Hébert soon turned his attention to a new writing challenge. He left The Atlanta Constitution to become a freelance writer of magazine features, documentary films, and books. His most cherished award during this period was a Golden Eagle Award for Film-Writing from the Council on International Nontheatrical Events (CINE).

Fourth Evolution: The AuthorHouse Published Author
Today Richard Hébert is a self-published author. The fourth incarnation of his writing career has continued to garner awards for this globetrotting wordsmith. His book, Mindwarp, A Novella... And Other Strange Tales, self-published through AuthorHouse and released in April 2011, soon took first place at the Florida Writer’s Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards.

Mindwarp has also added the newest addition to Richard Hébert’s already bulging trophy cabinet. Kirkus Reviews are known as “the world’s toughest book critics,” and their critiques are accepted by industry professionals as a reliable guide to the best books on the market. This explains Hébert’s reaction to Mindwarp being named a Kirkus Reviews “Best Indie Book of 2011,” which he says is not only “gratifying,” but is also a “validation.”

“I had long believed my collection of short fiction had strong literary merit. That Kirkus found it one of the year’s best ‘Indie’ books confirmed that belief, formed over the decades that the book had gestated before refinement into print.”

Mindwarp, A Novella... And Other Strange Tales
MindWarp is a geographically and socially diverse collection of short stories following various “offbeat” characters. The story Stephen reflects Hébert’s journalistic career, but he explains this diversity is “a reflection of my decade of international travel (1972-1981).” The book’s other stories are drawn from a wide range of real life experiences and adventures. Hébert explains, “MindWarp and its central character were suggested by a tavern conversation in Montreal. Anais based on places and people and experiences in Yugoslavia. Silence, as the book explains, was prompted by seeing an abandoned park bench in the woods along the railroad tracks from Munich to Split, Yugoslavia.”

What Made Mindwarp a Kirkus Reviews “Best Indie Book of 2011?”
Kirkus Reviews’ closing statement in its review of MindWarp describes the book as “a beguiling blend of high-concept narrative and old-school literary chops.” When asked if he agreed this accurately summarised what he was trying to achieve with MindWarp, Hébert responded in the affirmative.

“Absolutely. But even more, I agree with Kirkus’s opening summation: ‘…offbeat character studies (that) wrestle with snaky issues of identity and self-knowledge.’ That is a most perceptive analysis, because yes, those were the eternal questions swirling about my brain as I imagined the stories. Who are these people? What are they doing in my story? More important, why are they doing these things?”

An Established Author
Mindwarp is actually Richard Hébert’s third book. His first was originally written in 1973 and based on his father’s life story. After a number of false starts, including manuscripts lost in a house fire and publishers going bankrupt, it was traditionally published by a Canadian publisher in 1984. Hébert recalls a humorous incident regarding his first novel, The Questing Beast.

“Incidentally, the novel was nominated for a national literary award as best first novel by a Canadian author, but disqualified when I had to disclose I was not a Canadian citizen. Citizenship aside, I felt honoured.”

Advice About Self-Publishing
So as both a traditionally published and self-published author, we asked Richard Hébert for any tips he might have for his fellow and future AuthorHouse authors. His most important point for aspiring authors to remember about self-publishing is, “No one cares more about your book than you do. Gone are the days when you turned your manuscript over to a publisher who then nurtured the project to fruition, tending to everything from design to marketing. In the self-publishing field, it is you who must pay close attention to all details.”

Hébert’s Next Book
Richard Hébert was kind enough to give AuthorHouse a sneak preview of his latest book project, currently in the works. “An updating and refinement of my memoir, Life Is Good!, first published in 2009, is about to be reprinted, as the first ‘indie’ printing is sold out. The memoir goes into some detail about my travels and how they resulted in the MindWarp collection.”

AuthorHouse Publishing is extremely proud to have had the opportunity to be Richard Hébert’s publishing partner on Mindwarp. Please read Six Writing Principles for more insights into this multi-award-winning writer’s success and writing ethos.