The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Joni Hubred

We have many talented artists and creatives living and working in our Farmington/Farmington Hills community and our weekly interview series, sponsored by City Life Realty, will introduce you to some of them.

Today we feature writer and journalist Joni Hubred, founder of Farmington Voice.

(c) Dane Gussin

When did you first start writing?

I am a lifelong storyteller, starting with “Show & Tell” in kindergarten. But I began making my living as a writer in 1985, when I was hired as a reporter for the Kanabec County Times in Mora, Minnesota. I had no degree, no real experience beyond my high school newspaper. They hired me based on a writing sample. 

Did you receive formal training in writing?

I’ve received no formal training in either creative writing or journalism. I have taken a number of online courses (including a fantastic MasterClass with James Patterson) and conference workshops.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

The newspaper editors who whacked away at my copy and shaped stories more valuable to the reader have always been generous and encouraging. Sadly, they’re a dying breed.

Are you a member of any local or regional arts groups?

Farmington Voice, my local news website (farmingtonvoice.com), is a proud member of the Farmington Community Arts Council.

Without any regard for race, creed, color, or socio-economic status, art connects and inspires us. We need that more than ever today.

Can you describe something you’ve created that is particularly meaningful to you?

My first completed novel, Above the Fold, will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a “cozy” mystery that I began writing more than twenty years ago. When I finally signed with an agent, I was over the moon – until she returned the original manuscript, clipped to a list of 48 publishers who had rejected it. I stuck the whole package in a drawer and didn’t look at it again until I learned several years ago about National Novel Writing Month. In November of 2015, I picked up the bones of that first novel, changed everything from the title to the name of my heroine, and finished Above the Fold in thirty days. After several editing rounds, I published it myself.

Has your art appeared in any city programs or events, such as the Public Art Program at City Hall or Art on the Grand?

It has not. But I’m hatching a plan to put together a “local authors” booth for Art on the Grand.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?

Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams. I’ve never met an artist who didn’t face some sort of challenge, whether it’s a boring job, an unsupportive family, illness, financial hardship. I work part-time as a cheesemonger to support my writing habit – and I’m lactose intolerant. Love it all. Use it all. You’ll find your way.

What do you think is missing from the arts community in Farmington/Hills?

Not much at all, really, we are blessed. I would like to see more public art and more events like the Thistle Rose Shakespeare performance in Riley Park. I also see an information gap, which Farmington Voice helps bridge with our new arts calendar and an increased focus on arts-related stories.

Why is celebrating and promoting art healthy for a local community?

Without any regard for race, creed, color, or socio-economic status, art connects and inspires us. We need that more than ever today.

Learn more about Joni Hubred and her work here and here.

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