Industry Interviews #4: Steve McHugh fantasy author

Here at The Noble Artist I’ve worked with loads of incredible creatives. It’s about time I had a chin wag with them to find out how they got where they are and why they do what they do. Today I had the opportunity to chat to a client I’ve worked with a number of times now, and I love the vivid briefs he gives me to work with. This is:

Steve McHugh is the author of the Hellequin Chronicles, Avalon Chronicles, Rebellion Chronicles (all one series), Riftborn series, The Wardens, and his new vampire book, Those Who Dwell in Darkness. That’s a gob-smacking 23 books in total so far. Steve is from Mexborough, South Yorkshire but grew up mostly in Southampton, Hampshire in the UK, which is also where he currently lives with his wife and three daughters. He likes to paint miniatures to relax. Steves says, “I find it one of the few things I can do where my brain actually switches off from writing.”

What was the moment, or inspiration that led you to pursue a career as an author?

My English Teacher, Mr. Pearcey was a big part of it. He encouraged me to read outside of my usual stuff when I was about 12 or 13, and I picked up some Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, and David Gemmell, and from there I knew what I wanted to do.

Can you share a an interesting or funny story from your writing journey that taught you a valuable lesson?

I think the most valuable lesson I learned from when I was first trying to learn to write was that very few people ever publish their first book. It was a sort of cathartic moment, where I allowed myself to just finish what I was working on without worrying about publishing.

Quick Fire Question Round!

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as you’ve developed your writing career?

I wrote 4 full books in a year, along with doing all of their editing because I said I could. It burned me out and I didn’t write for about 3 months after. It was good in a way because it made me know my own limitations, but it wasn’t a fun year.

What are your top three tips for aspiring authors?

1. Get a notebook. You can be a plotter, or a pantser, it doesn’t matter. A notebook is a lifesaver for when you’ve just got an idea and need to jot it down.

2. Join a writing group. You learn so much from being a part of a group all developing their own writing, it really is exceptionally helpful.

3. It’s okay to suck. Everyone sucks to begin with. You just need to accept that and keep at it, you’ll find your voice (the hardest bit of writing) and you’ll get better and better at it.

Horror Book cover by The Noble Artist. For Steve McHugh's Undying.
My latest book cover for Steve McHugh

What’s your favourite setting of all time?

Discworld. A place I could happily spend a long time in, and the setting for my favourite series of all time.

What should aspiring authors think about when writing dialogue?

Dialog, like everything else, should move the plot along and be there to give character moments. That doesn’t always mean you write like people actually speak. Also, read comics or manga to get a different idea about how dialog works in another medium. Don’t just stick to books when working through your own journey into becoming a writer.

The cover I worked on for Steve for his Sci Fi novel, Atoned.

What’s your process for editing your work? Do you constantly noodle with what you have, or just plow through and edit once you’ve finished the whole novel?

I edit as I go, and then send it off to my editor who goes through it with a big red metaphorical pen, and then I do a massive edit that makes we weep inside. I can’t not edit as I go, it would drive me insane to know I’d left something that needed changing.

What would you recommend an aspiring or established author to do in terms of self-promotion to help them build awareness of their work?

Social media is probably a must these days. Learn how blog tours work, and use them when you have a book out. Do not just post constantly about your books. People want to know about you before they decide whether or not they’re going to read anything you’ve written.

What are the services as an author that you think are important to pay for?

Editors and cover artists are essential if you’re going self publishing. Sticking to a marketing budget is also a good idea. I used scrivener to write on, and word to write, but otherwise I don’t use anything else.

What are you working on right now, and what can we get our hands on already?

I’m currently working on the next two Riftborn books (book 4 and 5), and also a novella for the Hellequin Universe, and the second in the Wardens series. I think it’s probably good for me to keep busy. All of my currently published books are here.

You can find Steve on:

Thanks so much for chatting to me Steve! Excited to see what else you come up with and hope to work with you again soon!

If you’d like to take part in Industry interviews…

I’m always looking to chat to like minds in the creative industry. I get a buzz out of seeing people pursue and achieve awesome things in books, games and art.

I plan to provide interesting and educational blog posts using:

  • Author interviews
  • Game designer interviews
  • Artist interviews, fantasy authors, science fiction authors, horror authors, historical authors
  • Other creative interviews

If you have a colourful career in the creative industries, drop me a line at

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