Hello, everyone! Today I’m honored to host a visit from author Steve McHugh. He has dropped by to discuss his new novella Infamous Reign, the latest addition to his Hellequin Chronicles urban fantasy series. I did a little Q&A with him and his answers are fun and illuminating. The first two full-length novels in his series are Crimes Against Magic and Born of Hatred. Enter Steve McHugh!
Q: Welcome to the A Bag of Good Writing blog, Steve McHugh! Please tell us something odd about the town you live in.
A: There’s a 12th century pub in town (The Red Lion) that was the point where the ringleaders of a plot to overthrow King Henry V in 1415. They were tried in the pub and taken to the Bargate (a huge Norman built fortified wall) and hung.
Q: 1) What is your favorite local bookstore? 2) Do you have a favorite pub? 3) What’s your favorite drink?
A: 1) I don’t really have a favourite book store, as I buy most of my books as e-books these days to save space on my already full bookshelves. 2) The Hobbit is the best pub in Southampton, it’s awesome and I’ve always enjoyed going there. 3) Whiskey. More specifically, Scotch, but I do love Japanese whiskey too. Neat or with a little water. I once had a friend who ordered a Scotch and then poured Cola into it… it was a sad day all round.
Q: If I was new to the Hellequin series but interested in starting with Infamous Reign: A Hellequin Novella, would that work? Does it stand alone? If so, please pitch it to me.
A: It does stand alone, you don’t need to have read either of the other books to understand what’s going on. Obviously if you’ve read them, then you’ll feel more of an affinity for Nate or Tommy, but everything you need to know I tell you in the novella.
Q: If I was already a fan/reader of your Hellequin series, please pitch Infamous Reign to me.
A: If you liked the previous Hellequin Chronicles books, you’ll like Infamous Reign. More Nate, more Tommy, more monster and magic and action. Oh, and much more Mordred.
Q: Other than being shorter than a novel, what else was different about building Infamous Reign as opposed to the previous two full-length books?
A: When you’ve got 120ish thousand words to deal with you can do a lot more with characters and little side-stories along the way, I needed to condense all of that into 20K. Unlike the main books, I couldn’t have little bits that were hinted in chapter 1 or 2 pay off 350 pages later. The story had to be complex enough to be fun and exciting, but with a much quicker turnover of reveals and surprises.
Fortunately, because I write a flash-back sequence in every book, I just did something similar to when I write them (they’re about the same length), but with more of a self-contained feel to it.
Q: What was the genesis of Infamous Reign?
A: I wanted to tell a Richard III of England story. That was basically the idea. I was never fond of this notion of him as being some evil git who executed his nephews. The history that painted him as such appeared to have been written by people who had reason to hate him, so I wanted to chance to write him as a king who thinks he’s doing the best for his country.
I also wanted to write a story with monsters from Japan. So I picked the most horrible one I could find and went from there. It eventually evolved to the story that came to pass.
Q: What is it about Nathanial Garrett that keeps him fascinating for you (and thus for us) in this continuing series?
A: I find the fact that he’s so fun to write comes across in his character. He’s very much a character of two distinct half’s. On one hand; he’s kind and funny and loves his friends like they are the most important people in the world to him (which they are), but on the other; he’s calculating, mean and is capable of exceptional violence and destruction. And he’s the good-guy.
Q: Is your character of Merlin the one we know well from Arthurian lore or do you put a spin on him for Hellequin?
A: He’s the same Merlin as the character in the stories, but he’s more the manipulative, twisted bastard version, and he’s certainly not the good guy. He spends most of his time keeping Arthur alive to an almost obsessive level, thus ignoring most of his duties when it comes to running Avalon. There was a time when Nate and Merlin had a similar view point on the world, but just before Nate quit, he discovered something so terrible that he could no longer work for Merlin.
As I don’t believe in dragging things out for no reason, book 5 is when we’ll first meet Merlin and learn exactly what happened.
Q: Can you give us a little teaser on the upcoming books in the Hellequin series?
A: Book 3, With Silent Screams, introduces a few new characters who will go on to be major players as the series progresses.
Book 4, Prison of Hope, is the big mythology heavy book. There’s going to be a lot of members of Greek mythology, including Hera, Pandora and Selene. I’ve just started writing that book and it’s going well so far.
Book 5 – That’s the first time we meet Merlin. I’ll say no more.
Q: If you had to inscribe a line from your Hellequin series on your gravestone, what would it be?
A: I’m going to go with a line that Nate says to Olivia in Born of Hatred. “I’m an enigma wrapped inside a riddle, all bundled in something quite wonderful.” Or maybe, “sometimes the dead really don’t want to stay that way.”
BIO: 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 that was publishable, the results of which was the action-packed Urban Fantasy, Crimes Against Magic.
Steve McHugh lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.
In late 15th century England, two young princes are given over by Merlin to the protection of their uncle, King Richard III. They soon vanish from sight, igniting tales of their demise at Richard’s hand and breeding unrest throughout the land.
Nathanial Garrett, also known as Hellequin, is sent to London to decipher fact from rumor and uncovers a plot to replace the king. But his investigation quickly becomes personal when he learns that an old nemesis is involved. He soon finds himself racing against time to rescue the boys before their fate, and the fate of all England, is sealed in blood.
Infamous Reign is a novella in the Bestselling Hellequin Chronicles series, mixing gritty and action-packed historical fantasy with ancient mythology.