Steve McHugh Interview
Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Steve McHugh, author of the Hellequin Chronicles, an urban fantasy series that currently spans five full length novels and two short stories. His latest book, Lies Ripped Open, was released in August 2015 by 47North.
Now on with the interview!
For folks, and there may be a few that have only just discovered the internet, who do not know anything about your books, could you tell us a little about them?
First of all welcome to those of you who have just discovered the internet. You’re probably going to question humanity a lot after a few days of using it.
The Hellequin Chronicles is about a 1600 year old sorcerer by the name of Nate Garrett. Nate used to work for Merlin doing all of the shadowy nastiness that needed to be done to ensure the kingdom was safe. A century ago they parted ways under less than pleasant terms, and these books are about Nate’s life in a modern setting. Basically there are lots of monsters, action, magic, and Nate and his friends trying to save their world from some pretty evil bad guys.
Nate has a lot of history. Why do you think he appeals to so many people?
Primarily, I think that people like the fact that Nate always tries to do the best. He’s not the strongest, or fastest, or most powerful, but he’s incredibly loyal, and he’s willing to go to a dark place to protest those he cares for. And he’s a smart arse, which makes him a lot of fun to write. I think people like Nate, but they like his friends too. And the supporting cast is just as important to the stories as Nate himself.
Congratulations on releasing book five, Lies Ripped Open. I see it is already gathering great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Do you have a plan for the whole series or are you more a ‘dear lord, I didn’t see that coming’ type of writer?
Thanks very much, it’s done pretty well, and I’m very happy with it. I do have plans for more Hellequin, and have since I started book one. The plan has changed slightly over the years, as stories have fallen by the wayside, but there’s still plenty to come yet.
The books are pretty gritty, not shying away from sex, death and pain. Have you ever killed off a character that you now, looking back, wish you hadn’t? Or haven’t killed off a character that you wish you had?
There’s very little sex in the books after the first one, but I’m not concerned about putting sex, or death into the stories as it’s needed. I couldn’t tell a story about someone who was essentially a spy and assassin, and shy away from those parts of his life.
There’s no one I’ve killed and wish I hadn’t. Everyone who has died has died for a reason. But there are a few I wish I’d killed off, especially in the first book, I kept a few people alive to have a happier ending, but in hindsight, their stories were done and I could have taken a few with me.
Your books are published by 47North, an Amazon owned publishing house. Could you tell us about your journey to being published?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was at school, but I was always putting it off, or thinking there will be time later. That changed when my eldest daughter was born when I was twenty-five, so eleven years ago. That was when I knew I had to try writing properly.
It took me three years to write my first book, which turned out to be awful. It took me another three to write my second, and then a year to search for an agent. I had lots of personal rejections, and learned a lot, but I was still no closer to getting an agent myself, or at least it felt like that.
At the time the self-publishing boom was going strong and I had several friends who’d self-published, and I thought I’d give it a try. I read up on it, got the books professionally edited, got a professional cover, and put Crimes Against Magic out there. And it did okay. Not amazing, but not bad either.
I published the second, Born of Hatred, six months later and a month after that 47North contacted me and asked if I’d like to work with them to re-publish the first two books and continue with the series. I said yes, and two and a bit years later, here we are.
You started blogging all the way back in 2012. Is this an important aspect of your writing career?
It was to begin with. It was a great way to get information to people, and let people know I existed.
Blogging is one of those things I should do more of. I tend to blog about upcoming writing stuff, or sales, but at some point I lost that constant stream of new blog posts. It’s something I should get back to.
Do you have any plans to branch out from the world of the Hellequin Chronicles and start something new?
I have plans for a sci-fi book, which is currently with my agent. There’s a lot of edits to do before it’s anywhere near even giving it to a publisher, but I hope it gets picked up. I’ve got a few ideas for some epic fantasy stories too. I’d like to get one of them written next year, as I’ve had the ideas for years.
This is a bit desert-island books (stolen from BBC radio) or ‘Time Enough At Last’ without the nuclear holocaust and smashed glasses. You’re stuck on a desert island, all the food, water and shelter that you require. No other worries. What three books would really wish you had with you? Oh, and you can’t pick “Boat building for beginners”.
Just three? Okay, that’s hard. To make it easier on myself, I’m going to ignore trilogies or series, mostly because picking one book from three or more would just make me want to read the others.
Good Omens as it has both Terry and Neil’s strengths, and is frankly a book I’ve read dozens of times and always find new things to love about it.
Dark Moon by David Gemmell. I’ve always loved his books, and I remember getting Dark Moon for Christmas one year and finishing it in a day. It’s also one of the books that made me want to be a writer.
And lastly I’d probably cheat and smuggle the entire Fullmetal Alchemist on with me. Hiromu Arakawa created an incredible world there, and it’s one of my favorite stories.
Thanks again to Mr. McHugh for taking the time to talk with us. His newest book, Lies Ripped Open, is out now. You can learn more about it and the rest of his Hellequin Chronicles series on his website or you can follow him on Twitter.