An interview with Steve McHugh
When did you know you wanted to be a full time writer? Describe the journey a bit.
I always wanted to be an author. Or at least, I wanted to be one since I was a teenager. I enjoyed writing, and liked telling stories, but I was in no way equipped to write a book, and didn’t really start to think about it seriously until my eldest daughter was born when I was twenty-five. That was when I decided to really start the journey to become an author. I joined an online writing group that was on Kelley Armstrong’s website, and learned the craft. I fell in love with writing at that point, and worked on my first book, which will never be published.
After that, I started writing another book that became Crimes Against Magic, my first published work. It took me seven years to go from wanting to take it seriously, to being published.
What has your experience been like since signing with 47North?
I’ve been very happy working with them. They’re very passionate about books and have done a lot to help get mine into as many hands as possible. They’re great people to work with, and I’ve been very happy to have them as my publisher.
Your Hellequin Chronicles series, featuring Nate Garrett, is one of my favorites in the urban fantasy genre. There are so many urban fantasy series. What is it about Nate that you think separates him from other heroes of the genre?
Crimes Against Magic (cover)Nate is a man who has done bad things in the past, but I think you could say that about a lot of characters. He always tries to do the right thing, which also is an attribute of a lot of urban fantasy characters.
I think where he differs is that he’s not particularly broody about doing bad things to bad people. Nate has a very dark place he’s capable of going to. People fear him because while he does always try to do the right thing, he’s quite happy to do bad things to get there.
The series really builds in intensity with each novel, and it’s very difficult to put the books down. Did you have these plot points in mind at beginning or do you come up with ideas as you go?
I had a lot of them planned from the beginning, but a quite a few of them happened because I just thought something would be cool to do. While I know the overall story of where Nate, Layla, and the other characters go, I do like to add new things, or remove things that don’t work between books.
Can you talk a bit about your most recent Avalon Chronicles trilogy and how it ties in to the Hellequin series?
A Glimmer of Hope (cover)The first Avalon Chronicles book takes place just before the last Hellequin Chronicles book, and introduces Layla Cassidy, who is in her early twenties and has no idea about the world that exists in secret all around her. Unfortunately, for her she’s dragged into it in a very big way.
The second and third book take place a few years later where Layla has now accepted her place in the world, but the world itself has very much changed. Without spoiling anything, the trilogy basically sits as a story showing what happens when the people everyone thought were the good guys wanting to protect the world, turn out to be the evil monsters pulling all the strings.
You seem to put out books at a very rapid pace. What’s the secret to your prolificacy?
I write fast. I can do 60,000 – 70,000 words a month, and I’m usually writing one book, and working on at least two more. I’m not short of ideas either, so I’ve never really had a problem with not having anything to write.
I’ve noticed a bit of a British or at least UK based invasion lately in the fantasy genre. What do you think is bringing about this shift?
I think there are always cycles of things like this. It happens every few years, and I think it’s good for the industry to have new and interesting voices come through for people to read.
Who are some of your biggest writing influences?
A Thunder of War (cover)Ah, this is one that I can just list loads of people, I’ll try to keep it from getting to triple figures, but:
Terry Pratchett, David Gemmell, Stephen King, Greg Rucka, Kelley Armstrong, Jim Butcher, Mike Carey, Robin Hobb, Studio Ghibli, Hiromu Arakawa, Lindsey Davis, Bernard Cornwell, Gail Simone, Mark Waid, Stan Sakai, Alan Moore.
What’s can we look forward to from you in the next year?
I have the last part of the Avalon Chronicles, titled A Thunder of War, out in November this year. And I’m currently working on the first book in the follow up series, Rebellion Chronicles, which brings Nate back to the front of the stories. I’m hoping the first book will be out next year, but I can’t confirm that yet.
Thanks again to Steve for stopping by to talk with us! If you’d like to learn more about the Hellequin Chronicles and Steve’s other works you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter and Facebook!