Today I’m interviewing a wonderful author friend of mine, Steve J. McHugh, whose debut release, Crimes Against Magic, released April 30th. Before I pull out my list of probing questions, let’s first take a look at the cover and blurb:
It’s been almost ten years since Nathan Garrett woke on a cold warehouse floor with nothing but a gun, a sword, and no idea of who he was or how he got there. His only clue … a piece of paper with his name on it. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his abilities to work as a thief for hire. But he’s never stopped hunting for his true identity, but those who erased his memory have never stopped hunting for him. When the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.
Crimes Against Magic is an Urban Fantasy set in modern day London with Historical flashbacks to early fifteenth century France. It’s the first in a series of books called the Hellequin Chronicles, which shows the life of sorcerer Nathan (Nate) Garrett.
I was lucky enough to beta read the manuscript months ago. It kept me turning the page. Loved the MC, his leading lady and the kickass story overall.
Just some background on you, Steve. Tell us something about yourself. Where you live and what you do when not writing?
I’m thirty-two and was born in Mexbrough, South Yorkshire. We moved down to Southampton when I was six, so I lost my Yorkshire accent long ago. I’ve been married for six and a half years and have two beautiful daughters and a third on the way.
What do I do when I’m not writing? Usually I’m with my girls keeping them busy so they don’t destroy my house. Other than that, I’m a big videogame and comic book fan, and love my anime too. Basically, I’m a geek. And I’m okay with that.
Geek pride baby! You've got some busy days up ahead! Best wishes to you and your growing family. This book really delivers on the mythology and history, which is what I enjoyed most about it. What is it that inspired this story?
I’ve always loved history and mythology and wanted to combine them into something.
So I took the pieces of both that I wanted and ran with it. All of the books about Nate will have flashbacks in them, and all of them will have some mythological characters or creatures from various cultures.
You added some creative pieces along the way. One of the things I loved was transporting from the fifteenth century to the present. Did you find this difficult to transition between the two time periods while writing it?
It wasn’t difficult, but the flashbacks took more research to get right. I wanted the language to be as close to right as I could get it (although I do use a few words that they probably didn’t). And I needed to make sure that the geography of the time was right.
Well, I didn't come across mention of a microwave or cellphone in the flashbacks. You did a nice job of transitioning. Is your protagonist, Nathan Garrett, based on anyone you know personally?
No. He’s got my smart-assness and my height. That’s about it from me, and the rest just came naturally over the time I wrote about him.
Haha! He was quite the smartass...You made the decision to self-publish this book. What have you learned in the early stages of this process that you’d like to pass along to other authors who may be considering this route?
Get a good cover. Seriously, it’s so important that your cover is good. The number of people who have said that the cover was great and they wanted to know more about the book is incredible. Get something that jumps out at people and will attract the eye.
Also, you can never have too many people beta-read your book. They will find problems you never will by yourself.
I couldn't agree more. The cover is what draws the eyes. And betas are a writer's little gems. What has been the biggest challenge in writing and working toward publication?
Sticking to my own timetable was hard work, because it would have been so easy to just give myself an extra few weeks so I didn’t have to work so hard.
Yep. Once it's in motion, it needs to stay in motion. What is your writing routine? Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what kind of music to do you like?
I can tune out most things once I get started, so don’t usually bother with music too often. But if I do put music on, it’s usually things like: Foo Fighters, Black Stone Cherry, AC/DC, soundgarden, stuff like that.
Is Crimes Against Magic part of a series or a stand-alone novel?
It’s the first in a series called the Hellequin Chronicles, which charts the life of Nathan Garrett. I’ve got about a dozen plotted out and notes for quite a few more, so that should keep me busy.
Hey, busy is good! Who are your literary influences?
Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher, Richard Morgan, Lee Child, Kelley Armstrong, Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, Dan Slott, Peter David and far too many more to list. But they’re a mixture of novel and comic book writers.
Can you give us a little snippet of your favorite scene in Crimes Against Magic?
I couldn’t think of one that wouldn’t spoil anything, so I picked something that occurs quite early in the book:
"If I answer, will you let me go?"
I shook my head. "You will die here, today. The only question is how. Thomas there is a good man. Your death will be quick and painless." The werewolf looked up at the rage-filled Englishman. I motioned for Thomas to walk off as I made my way to the crippled werewolf. "I am not a good man," I whispered into his ear when we were alone. "I will strip the flesh from your bones and scatter your ashes to the wind. I will ensure that for the next thousand years, the merest mention of what I did to you in this city will evoke fear into anyone foolish enough to think they can cross a sorcerer."
Ho ho! I love that scene...Nathan rocks. You have some very well-written fight scenes throughout the novel. What research went into them?
I did used to take Kung-Fu and Kickboxing, but that was a long time ago. My research was basically watching Asian action movies. They’re superb and picking up ideas for fights. And Anime is excellent for magic. So yeah, my research was watching really violent movies.
BONUS QUESTION: If you had amnesia for a day and were crazy enough to be just about anyone you wanted, who would you want to be and why?
That’s really hard. I’d be the Hulk. Yeah, I’d get arrested, and yeah I’d be thought of as a crazy person, but damn, there are some people who would get such a smash first.
Hahaha! Um. Wait. Not me, right? RIGHT?!
OK, so do you wanna know how you can get your hands on a copy of Crimes Against Magic? Want to know more about Steve J. McHugh?
Thanks so much Steve. Good luck with the book!