Single Question Interview: Jessica McHugh

Write for fun or for fans?


I see two potential interpretations of this question, so I’ll answer both.

First, if we’re talking about crafting my story based on my own desires or what I think my fans will like, it’s a mixed bag. I never write a story with the desire to please anyone but me. But during editing, when I can see the story as a whole and put myself in the reader’s shoes, I might tweak certain things. More often than not, I choose to surprise rather than satisfy in what the reader thinks he/she wants. Without giving too much way about my novel “The Sky: The World,” I had the opportunity to make an obvious love connection at the end of the book. But based upon the character development I’d set in place, a love connection didn’t feel right. I’ve had a few people say they’d wished the characters had ended up together, but I think in subsequent readings, they saw how that would’ve been an illogical conclusion based on the character’s personalities. I’m not going to smash two people into a relationship because it’s the easy/fashionable/sweet thing to do. But if I see a proper way to give readers what they want, I’m more than happy to oblige. After all, a disappointed reader can be a dangerous thing.

Second, I absolutely write for fun. I wouldn’t take on such a hard career path if I didn’t derive enjoyment from it. However, I also want to make a living as a writer. I want people to read and enjoy my work. I would still do it if I didn’t have/want fans, but I wouldn’t work as hard as I do. With 7 active projects and 12 on the backburner, it’s surprising I haven’t gone off the deep end yet. I guess all of the fun I have in fiction is my life raft.

***You can pick up Jessica’s books through AMAZON.

(Want to take part in a single question interview? Contact me for your question.)

Post Mortem Press Featured Author – Jessica McHugh


Q: Tell us a little about your writing. What is your typical genre, your style, the voice you aim for and such.

A: I write all varieties of speculative fiction…for now. The truth is I will write anything that pops into my head; it just so happens that most of those stories fit nicely into the SpecFic genre. While I’ve written everything from graphic horror to historical fiction, my voice and style stay the same. I dig a little poetry in my prose, as well as humor even in the darkest of scenes. I have a blast writing stories and I want my readers to have a blast reading them. I like to think the fun comes out in the writing.

Q: What are some of the endeavors you have on the horizon, or have been participating in?

A: I’m working on a lot of projects currently and have lots on the horizon; some of which I can’t speak about quite yet, but suffice to say, 2012 is already a really busy year for this wacky writer chick. I have two novels that I’ll be submitting to publishing houses soon, the last book in my “Tales of Dominhydor” series due for release, I’m halfway through writing “Darla Decker Hates to Wait” which is the 1st novel in a YA series, there are a couple of short films in the planning stages, a handful of short stories being released in anthologies, and I’m working on some stories for the stage as well. I might eat and breathe sometime in there too. Oh and the day job. Sometimes I forget about that…

Q: Do you prefer longer or shorter fiction? And what do you think each provides for your writing?

A: I love writing novels because I’m allowed to really delve into the nitty gritty of my story and characters. For me, it’s easier to go crazy on a novel and then trim the fat, rather than write everything I want in a short story and have to trim the meat in order to hit a word count. A lot of times when I write a short story, I think about how I could turn it into a novel one day. Then again, I’ve done that with plays I’ve written too. I guess I’m just a novel girl.

Q: Let us know a little about your favorite character that you have created, and what makes them your favorite?

A: That is really tough. I would say Delaney Lortal from “Song of Eidolons” is my favorite, but if I explained why I’d give away a lot of the secrets in that story. I also love Faye Norton from “Rabbits in the Garden”, but I feel weird saying such an evil character is my favorite, so, I’m going to go with Captain Jack Racine from “The Sky: The World”. He’s the epitome of the charming asshole guy so many chicks love…or just love to fantasize about. He’s a lush for liquor and laudanum and sleeps with a different girl nearly every night. He wants to be a good guy, but it’s against his nature, so he stopped trying long ago. The only thing that spurs him into trying in “The Sky: The World” is the death of his brother, who was the best man Jack knew. All of a sudden, he has a purpose and he will stop at nothing to achieve it. I’ve written similar characters, but there’s no one quite like Captain Jack Racine.

Q: What do you typically read and how do those authors help to define your own writing?

A: I typically enjoy twisted tales like Roald Dahl’s macabre short stories. They definitely contributed to my style when I first started writing seriously at 19. Every story had a Dahlesque twist or sounded like a Lovecraft knock-off. Luckily, I’ve improved a lot since then and truly made the stories my own. “A Ride in the Dream Machine”, to be included in Post Mortem Press’ “Torn Realities” Lovecraft Anthology, was one of the first short stories I wrote during that time. For the anthology, I tore it apart and completely rewrote it, but thanks to 19 year old Jess, I had the backbone. The flesh just needed to be rearranged. Roald Dahl still influences me though, as well as Bret Easton Ellis, Stephen King, and Anne Rice.

Q: What advice might you offer to other writers in their endeavors? What things have you experienced as set backs and potential deal breakers? Also, what things have helped you to gain exposure, bring attention to your stories?

A: My advice to writers is to write. Write wonderfully. Write horribly. Write happy stories. Write heart-wrenching stories. Write stories that make you shout “Victory!” from your rooftop. Write stories that make you want to puke up your $10 six-pack. Write and write and write until people can’t question who or what you are. You’re a writer. You write.

For me, there are no dealbreakers. I might lie for a living (and yes, writing is my living, seeing as it hasn’t killed me yet), but I’m not unrealistic. I know there’s a huge chance I won’t ever be able to ditch my day job, but I will never stop writing. The need is deeper than my bones, blood, and soul. It’s stitched into a part of me that can’t be defined because it was forged from fiction long, long ago. People ask me how I stay so motivated to write and I can never find a helpful answer because that nameless piece keeps me motivated. If I have a free moment, it orders me to write and I happily obey.

I have garnered some attention from my Facebook and Twitter pages. I try to post interesting quotes from my work, as well as random witticisms. I’ve actually had quite a few people buy my books based on those postings and stated as such in their reviews. I enjoy connecting with my fans and followers because it shows them that I’m not only a real person, but I’m a pretty damn rowdy, fun one. I like to enjoy my life and writing and I believe that’s pretty obvious when you read my posts as well as my fiction.

Q: Finish this sentence, “Jessica McHugh is a…”

A: Jessica McHugh is an ink addict who seeks no cure.

Q: Anything else you would like to promote, say, or rant about?

A: Thank you for providing such wonderful questions, Ken. I had an awesome time answering them. I’m always rocking out at my Facebook page at and my Twitter at @theJessMcHugh for anyone who’d like to follow me.