Steve McHugh launches his first novel, Crimes Against Magic, on April 30, 2012 from Amazon. (Go to https://stevejmchugh.wordpress.com/books-2/crimes-against-magic/where-to-purchase/ for the links). I met Steve through the Kelley Armstrong on-line writers’ group, where I quickly came to appreciate his sharp critiquing comments and smooth, fast-paced writing style. He’s definitely someone new to check out, and I wish him great success with his writing career.
Tell me about how you found Kelley Armstrong’s Writers Group, and your first posting experiences there.
I was a member of Kelley’s forum for a few months before deciding that joining the writing group was a good idea. I’d originally joined the forum on a whim—I was a fan of her books and wanted to know when the next one was out. From there I joined up and haven’t really looked back.
As for my first post. I remember being terrified. I’d never even let anyone read my work before, let alone carry out a critique of my work. I remember getting a lot of responses for that first piece, and I carried on from there. It’s helped my writing an immeasurable amount.
You’re mentioned in D B Reynold’s credits in Rajmund. How did that unfold? How did beta-reading help you with your own work?
I’m in the credits for all of Donna’s books apart from the first one (Raphael), which I consider an honour as she’s an incredible writer and always willing to help when I have some probably blindingly obvious question. She also put up with my terrible grammar, making her a bit of a saint in my eyes.
It came about through e-mail. Michelle Muto (another superb writer and someone else who puts up with my questions) asked if I’d be interested in joining her and Donna as crit partners. I said yes, I mean how could I not? And after that I ended up beta-reading both Donna’s and Michelle’s work.
Beta-reading in general is something that all writers should do if they get the chance. You discover so much about your abilities as a writer, and you also learn how to improve. That’s especially true when you’re reading people of the calibre of Donna and Michelle.
Some writers say that a single image inspired them to create a story. I’ve heard that James Cameron imagined The Terminator movie from an image of a metal android walking out of flames. Was there an image that inspired CAM?
I remember seeing a photo of a guy who set whips on fire and flung them around himself with insane abandon. That’s certainly where the scene with Nate walking out of the house with a whip of flame trailing down from each hand, came from.
What made you decide to write a follow-up story to Nate’s adventure? What’s your favourite quality of his personality?
Nate’s a character I’ve had in my head for years, so once I’d finished I already had notes for a dozen more books. So continuing his adventures was an easy decision to make.
My favourite part of his personality is probably how quickly he can go from calm and collect to dangerous and vicious. It makes for some interesting scenes.
Why did you decide to go the e-publishing route?
It was a combination of things really. I’d originally tried the traditional route and sent Crimes Against Magic to agents and publishers. A got a lot of form rejections, and a few ‘we really like it but it’s not for us at this time’ responses. At some point in the process, I just got very tired of hearing the same thing, no matter how complimentary it was to be told they liked it.
I also started to hear a lot of stories from people who kept being told different things by different agents about what the industry wanted. For example: some wouldn’t take male POV, some would only take male POV, some wouldn’t read a query if the word werewolf or vampire was in it, all sorts of things (some of which I’m sure were exaggerations). The economic problems in the world had forced the market to take fewer chances. And it felt (rightly or wrongly) like they didn’t know where the e-book fit into their world.
So, I did some research into e-books and decided that having the control suited me. Also, I write faster that 1 book a year, so being able to put them out when I’d finished was a big deal to me. Maybe one day that will change, but at the moment it suits me.
What’s next on your list of things to write?
The sequel to CAM: Born of Hatred. And then the third book: With Silent Screams.
Is the third book part of the CAM series, or did you branch off into something else? Is there another genre you would like to tackle some day?
It’s part of the same series. They’re all going to be under the series: Hellequin Chronicles.
I have a story in my head for something that takes place in ancient Greece, and one for a YA. But they’re still in the same universe as Nate. One day I’d like to do a Sci-fi or full on Fantasy book, but that won’t be for a while, I think.
Has being a parent influenced what you choose to write about?
It made me get serious about my writing, but it doesn’t influence what I write to any great degree. I certainly won’t be letting my daughters read the book until they’re A LOT older.
The Young Adult market has seen a huge explosion in the industry. Would you ever consider writing something that your kids would read?
The YA in my head is probably a bit advanced for my kids. I’ve written little things for them, a letter from the tooth fairy and a few bits and pieces like that. I think my problem is that I need to find a way of writing the story without loosing the dark tone of the story I have in my head. That’s gonna be tricky. But when I figure it out, I’ll write that YA.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Steve. It was a pleasure interviewing you. You’ve got a great story on your hands, and I’m glad I was able to be part of the journey seeing it through to its début.