Isabel was born in 1978, in early July, which may explain why she dislikes fall and hates winter. She was born in Hudson, New York and was raised primarily in the East Village in New York City. Her mother, Connie Jakes, was a writer and a singer, and her father, Ray, was a painter. Connie and Ray named Hughes after a restaurant they came upon in the town of Aranjuez, Costa Rica, while they were tooling around Central America for Ray’s 40th birthday. It was a mystical old hotel proprietor in the town of Quepos who persuaded Connie and Ray to get married when they got back to New York. Connie and Ray had one kid and then they split up a year later. Fortunately, the old magic man from the hotel never found out… As far as they knew.
Hughes was given the middle name Pina, after Ray’s Great Aunt Pina. Naturally, when her young school friends found out her name was Isabel Pina, they called her Isabel Penis. By the time Hughes graduated from elementary school, she had renamed herself Isabel X Hughes, which she thought was cool and original and very mature.
As a teenager, Hughes gave Tarot card readings in Washington Square Park until people started to suspect that she knew very little about Tarot cards. They were right. Since then, Hughes has been a (mostly mediocre) student, a (pretty good) educator, a (prickly) coffee server, a (drunk) cocktail slinger, an (amateur) print model, a (formidable – at least in her own mind) member of the short-lived rock band The Terries, and a secret moderator for an online dating website, an experience from which she has almost fully recovered.
Hughes studied both Art History and Creative Writing at Bard College in upstate New York, and went on to receive her graduate’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of San Francisco. She has always been a writer, having written her first short story at the age of six. It was something about ducks, white bread, and George Harrison. She also did the illustrations
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