February 11, 2013
Chatting with… Steve McHugh
Well, it happened to Steve McHugh: his self-published book Crimes Against Magic was a great success! And his second just came out, so I needed to pick his brains about it…
How to you tackle a sequel? You’ve got your characters, you know them already, so is it more about plot and making them suffer more?
SM: It is a little about making them suffer. You always make the characters you like suffer the most. You give them difficult situations and see how’d they’d react. So in a way it’s more about the plot, by the time you get to the second book you should know how your characters will act in a given situation. Sometimes you’re surprised, because the way you think they’d act isn’t how they actually do. I think they grow as a person the more you write them, and like any person they evolve in your mind.
The new characters, and their relationships with the established ones are a lot of fun to write, but they’re probably the hardest part of a sequel. You don’t want to have identikit characters, you need to make them unique somehow. It’s especially true when you’re writing main characters who will be in multiple books.
You’ve got tremendous success with your first book, so how do you deal with the pressure to create the second one? Do you give the readers what they want or do you do it your way?
SM: The pressure was hard. Probably harder than it was with book 1. With the first book, I was an unknown, no one had any expectations. But with the second book, and after having people tell me how much they enjoyed book 1, there was a lot more pressure to make sure that Born of Hatred lived up to those new expectations and in most cases exceed them.
You have to do it your way, trying to make everyone happy will drive you nuts and make no one happy. So while I was nervous as hell, I tried to ignore it and just make the book the best it could be. Hopefully I managed that.
What are you plans after you complete this sequel? For sure it’s a trilogy…
SM: Well I have notes for well over 15 books with Nate, so I have long term plans for him. The next book is book 3, With Silent Screams.
After that, I have a three part historical fantasy I’d like to write and a steam punk book too. I just have to get a few extra hours into the day, or figure out a way to never sleep.
Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.
It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel, the result of which is Crimes Against Magic.
He was born in a small village called Mexbrough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.