Interview with Steve McHugh

Happy Monday, everyone.

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, and 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.

That’s the blurb for Crimes Against Magic, and this morning I have the pleasure of welcoming Steve McHugh, author of said book, to my blog.

k:  Good day, Steve, welcome to my blog.  Please, make yourself comfortable, put your feet up.  Can I get you something to drink?

s:  Thank very much, it’s nice to be here. A cup of green tea would be nice. I’d quite like some scotch, but it’s probably a bit early for that.

k:  Well, it is noon somewhere, isn’t it?  Green tea it is.  So, Crimes Against Magic, awesome debut novel, I can’t wait for the sequel, have I told you that?  Anyhow, I love titles, especially clever ones.  Tell me about CAM When did the title come to you?  Did it help develop the plot in any way, or develop from the plot?

s:  You have mentioned that you’re waiting for a sequel, once or twice, yes. Normally followed by yelling at me to get more writing done, it’s quite the motivator.

k:  Just trying to help however I can.

s:  The title Crimes Against Magic happened naturally I think. The book is about those crimes, or at least some of them, so it fit quite well. So, yeah, the title developed from the plot, which I think most of my favourite titles do.

k: In your acknowledgements (yes, I read those) you thank a BMW dealer, and the Fire and Rescue.  Tell me the experience of approaching them to get their feedback, and how important those details are to you when you’re writing.

s:  In terms of importance, you’ve got to get the details right, at least to the best that you can. Otherwise someone somewhere is going to see that you’re talking out of your ass and call you on it.

Both the fire department and the BMW info wasn’t used in the book in the end, mostly because it wasn’t needed, but it was an interesting time getting that info. I phoned the BMW dealership and asked how to steal a Z4. I also explained that I was a writer doing research and they were quite happy to talk me through it (short answer, you can’t).

The fire department I called and asked for information on making an arson attack look like an accident. I got put through to a very concerned fire investigator, who I quickly explained that I was doing research to and he told me what I needed to know.

Basically, tell them you’re doing it for research for a book and you’ll be surprised what people will tell you.

k: Speaking of details, did you do all your research before starting to work on the manuscript, or on the fly?

s:  I did the bits I knew I was going to need, but a lot of it was on the fly as things came up in the story I didn’t realise were going to. I think that’s what makes writing so much fun, no matter how much you prepare, you’re going to get surprised at some point during the writing process.

k:  How long did CAM take, beginning to end, and through how many drafts?

s:  Beginning to end? Three years. To be fair, that’s a little misleading. I searched for an agent/publisher for a year and had it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition for about 4 months, so all in all, it probably took 18 months to actually write.

k: Plotter or Pantser?

s:  Both. I know where the plot is going, I know the major points I want to get to and I know exactly how each chapter will begin and end, but usually I leave the middle bits up to how it comes out.

If I stuck too closely to a tightly plotted book, I’d get bored. And besides, I like to be surprised by whatever my brain comes up with.

k:  I bet your brain comes up with some wild surprises.  <clears throat>  You obviously know your main character very well.  Are any parts of him you?  What part of him do you wish was you?

s:  He’s certainly inherited my smart-ass side, although his is turned up to 11. I’m very protective of my friends and family too, although I probably wouldn’t start beating the hell out of everyone who crossed them.

The only part of Nate I wish I could have is his ability to have seen so much during history, to know with certainty what happened and when, because he saw it first hand.

k:  That would be neat, seeing that much of history.  Or living the future.  But then you’d actually have lived the past once you got to the future, so it wouldn’t be the future any more.  <glances into cup>  I wonder if I’m drinking the wrong tea?

Moving on. . . what was one of the hardest scenes to write, and why?  One of the easiest or most fun?

s:  The sex scene that takes place about ¼ of the way into the book was, by far, the most difficult thing to write. I just wasn’t that good at them to begin with and it took a lot of effort to get right.

The easiest was probably the stuff with Dani, Nate’s teenage neighbour. She was incredibly easy to write and Nate and her bounce off each other very well. There’s a part where they both go to an abandoned warehouse to search for something important, that was a huge amount of fun to write.

k: What’s your writing routine?  Music, favorite spot, lucky socks . . . what gets the magic flowing?

s:  I sit, I start writing and words come out. That’s basically it. I like to write in my office or at least somewhere quiet, but I can usually tune out everything around me if I need to.

I do sometimes put music on, depending on what the scene is, but usually I tune it out anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

k: And to wrap up, are you working on anything besides the sequel?  Did I tell you lately that I absolutely cannot wait?  Are there surprises in store?

s:  I’m working on the second book, Born of Hatred, and apart from that, I’m working on book 3, With Silent Screams. I’m also working on a Steampunk book set in the USA that I’m very excited about. I think it’s a bit different to the usual story, but it’ll have to wait for a while before it’s done.

There are a few surprises in store in Born of Hatred. There’s the introduction of two major figures in Greek Mythology, neither of which might be what people expect. You also learn more about Nate and exactly who he is and what he’s capable of. The second book is a bit darker than the first.

k:  Sounds awesome!  I can’t wait.  Well, thanks again for stopping by, Steve.  It’s been a pleasure.  Anything you’d like to add?

s:  If you want to come and say hi, you can find me here.





Crimes Against Magic is avaliable from : –

There’s also a paperback copy Available from Amazon.


Write on!


  1. Great interview, and the book sounds incredible. I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy but this one sounds like it would thoroughly entertain me!

  2. Great interview. I can’t wait to read Crimes Against Magic.

  3. Pingback: Wrapping it Up « My Random Muse

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