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Finola the Novelist

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The ScorpioFiles, 1999-2005

Finola's book, Soap Suds, debuts on June 14, 2005. She is featured in the June issue of Romantic Times Book Club.  Several book reviews have already been done- Harriet Klausner's Review, Fresh Fiction (includes photo), ABC7Chicago, and Publisher's Weekly (scroll almost to bottom).

There will be several book signing events as well: 

Soap Star Hughes Pens New Novel About The Soaps:  Staying Alive star Finola Hughes has added novelist to her impressive resume after co-authoring a new book poking fun at the world of daytime soaps.
     The actress, who lampooned soap operas in comedy movie Soapdish in 1991 and has since become a regular on US daytime hits All My Children and General Hospital, has penned Soapsuds with ghostwriter DIGBY DIEHL (corr).
     But she insists soap fans looking for dirt on her co-stars won't find any in the book- it's all fiction. The British actress says, "There is not one true person there, so I have no worries of offending anyone."
     Hughes is so convinced the book will be a hit when it hits stores next week (14 JUN 05), she has already started work on a sequel.  (Contactmusic.com, 6/13/05)

Fashionable Finola Flirts With Fiction, Starting QVC Jewelry Line in August (Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill. Jun 30, 2005):  She knew who was responsible for Michael Cambias' disappearance, but she didn't want to tell anyone.  So Anna Devane left Pine Valley for Paris.  Well, actually, she left ABC for The Style Channel.
     Emmy Award-winning actress Finola Hughes, who played Devane on both "All My Children" and "General Hospital," walked out on a successful career in daytime television in 2003 for something she was much more passionate about- fashion.  Today, the 44-year-old London native hosts the makeover show "How Do I Look?" on The Style Channel (the new season began June 20) and will start selling her own line of jewelry on QVC in August.
     But her life as a soap star isn't completely behind her. As a tribute to her 18 years in the business, Hughes has co-written a book, "Soapsuds," with former "Santa Barbara" soap opera writer Digby Diehl (Ballantine Books, $23.95).
The book is about- what else? -a young, insecure, British-born actress who joins the cast of a soap opera.  Sound familiar?  She admits the characters are based on real people and the lead character is "pretty much" her. But she refused to identify the book's other recognizable characters, including the aging diva (Susan Lucci?), or the hot male co-star (Vincent Irizarry?).
What do her former co-stars think of this book? So far, Hughes says she hasn't heard from anyone.  "I heard from a crew member yesterday and she said, 'You brat!'" Hughes said.  So that means the stories are true?
"I'm not going to say," Hughes replies, smiling smugly.  That means yes, they are true!
     "No, no. It really is fiction," she insists, becoming serious.  Just as in real soap operas, Hughes said her characters and stories are exaggerated for the sake of the story.
     "(The characters) are kind of an amalgamation of people I've met over the years," she says. "I like to exaggerate. It's funny, and it helps people understand what I was feeling at the time."  Like the movie "Soapdish" (a film Hughes actually had a small role in), the characters in "Soapsuds" have crazy personalities and personal lives that create a soap opera of their own.
     Since it's based on reality, the book offers soap fans some interesting insights- such as what really happens during those steamy love scenes.  
     Staying Alive co-star-  Originally a dancer, Hughes achieved stardom through acting. She was an original cast member in "Cats" and debuted on screen in the 1983 movie "Staying Alive," opposite John Travolta.  Eventually landing the role of international spy and police chief Anna on "General Hospital" in 1985, she later left the show and, after a break from soaps, jumped to "All My Children" in 1999.
     But by 2003, Hughes had grown tired of the soap opera life. At one point, the writers had her playing twins, which she remembers as being "awful."  "I was terrible at it," she says.  When her contract was up, Hughes decided to make a career doing what she has loved to do since she was a punk rock teen growing up in London- shop, write and critique fashion.
     While she's done some other TV work in the past two years, including a regrettable stint hosting the controversial reality show, "Who's Your Daddy?" her main gig is on The Style Channel.  The career change seems to agree with her. During a recent stop in Chicago, Hughes looked fabulous, dressed in a girly, tan and white short-sleeved Paetro Zillia jacket with a matching pleated skirt.
     She was personable and funny with fans, many of whom greeted her by saying, "I loved you as Anna!" Some were surely taken aback by how tiny she is. Soaking wet, Hughes probably weighs all of 90 pounds. Her bio puts her at 5-foot-5 but that must have included her high heels.
     Outside of work, Hughes spends time with her husband and two children- a 4-year-old son, Dylan, and a newly adopted 10-month- old boy, Cash (both named after famous musicians). The family is building a new home in Los Angeles, which of course will include a ridiculously huge closet for Hughes' clothes collection.
     While in town, Hughes couldn't resist popping over to the Marshall Fields on State Street to do a little shopping, even though there wasn't really time in her schedule for it.  "I only had a minute... I just wanted to see a few things," she reasoned.
Fashion and writing might be fun for now, but soap opera characters have a tendency to come back from the dead. Or in this case, from Paris.  "Am I shutting the door on returning to soap operas one day? I don't know," she says. "Who knows? They might shut (the door) on me."

Finola's top four fashion faux pas-  

  • Overalls: "Why do people wear these when they go out? Basically, you're supposed to paint in them."
  • Flip flops: "They're not for a business meeting with clients. Not even the dressy ones. They're for the beach."
  • Sweats: "It's not so much the Juicy Couture (sweats). Those are cute. But when they wear those enormous, thick, cotton sweatshirts that say University of Chicago or whatever ... people who wear them will say, 'I look so bad.' Well, yeah! You're wearing 90 pounds of clothes! To wear something that's larger than yourself to make yourself look slimmer, well that's just ridiculous. One person at a time, across America, I'm going to get rid of sweats."
  • Shorts: "I hate shorts. They're for tennis."

Book Note: Hughes has authored a fictional novel about a British stage actress who takes a role on a U.S. soap when her beau dumps her. In her new career, the heroine alienates daytime's grande dame, leading to backstage catfights. Likened to The Devil Wears Prada, Hughes' book is slated for a spring 2005 printing. (SID 9/30/03)

Update- Finola's book can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.