Rhonda Hughes is the powerhouse behind indie publishing sensation Hawthorne Books.  More than a decade old and located in the Pacific Northwest, I had heard of Hawthorne only vaguely until a couple of years ago, when suddenly they seemed to burst as a force to be reckoned with onto the publishing scene, with highly assertive and competent marketing, beautifully designed books, and the kind of wider distribution that seems, to many small indie presses, only a tantalizing dream.  They’ve also developed a stable of writers from whom they put out more than one title in fairly close succession, in an old-school publishing model that favors loyalty and cultivating talent/brand above constantly trying to throw All Things New against a wall to see what sticks.  Plus, they have a whiff of Chuck Palahniuk cool about them, which doesn’t hurt!  Amidst her busy schedule, Rhonda was able to talk with me about what makes Hawthorne tick—and thrive—and some future exciting projects on their list.

The Luminist is David Rocklin’s debut novel. It will be released in the United States by Hawthorne Books on October 1, 2011. Set in nineteenth century Ceylon, the novel tells the story of Eligius Shourie, an Indian boy whose father is killed by English soldiers after a melee at the Court of Directors, East India Company. He becomes a servant in the house of Catherine Colebrook. Independent and driven, married to a fading Court Director, Catherine is chasing an obsession: the nascent art and science of photography. Eligius becomes her apprentice in the quest, and a bond neither of them expected is formed while around them, unrest between the native populace and the colonials occupying their country threatens to break open. The Luminist has also been sold in Italy and Israel.