Q&A with Jessica McHugh 09/2016

September 5, 2016


Q: What is your most recently published work?


JM: My erotic horror novel, “The Train Derails in Boston” was released by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing this past April. It’s been a wild ride from inception to release, and I’m extremely happy with how well this gory story is being received.


Q: When did you first begin writing fiction?


JM: I've been writing on and off in different mediums since fourth grade, but I hadn’t completed much fiction until I was nineteen. I was working eleven hours a day in a mall perfume kiosk a few doors down from a Waldenbooks. Since perfume wasn't exactly a hot commodity except on holidays, I spent most of my time reading. After devouring the Vampire Chronicles, the Silmarillion, and every Roald Dahl short story collection I could, I decided to try my hand at writing short stories. I wrote for hours on end, mostly derivative shit, but it didn’t matter. I fell head over heels in love with storytelling in a way I never had before. It dug its hooks into me, this weird love, and I knew there was no way I could go back to the person I was before. I needed to be greater. I needed to be a writer.


Q: How long did you write before people took you seriously?


JM: No one denied that I loved writing or tried to make me stop, but I didn’t have a lot of real support at first. My best friend Jenny was always on board, but the guy I’d been dating since I was seventeen was a little wishy-washy. He knew I loved writing, and he thought I was pretty good at it, but he never understood how much I needed it. When that relationship fell apart, it was the best thing for both of us. It took a while for my parents to accept my writing, too. I didn’t finish college, and I didn’t try to get any of my writing published until I was twenty-four, so I spent more than four years working shitty serving jobs, living hand to mouth, and writing like mad. I was drinking too much, and I kept getting eviction notices—not that many people knew this—but my friend Nick swooped in and really saved my ass. He gave me a place to live and encouraged me 100% in my writing while I struggled to get my life back on track. When I met the man I’d eventually marry, he was just as encouraging as Nick, and everything turned around. With that positivity and support, I got a job as a manufacturing technician in a biotech firm—yeah, I know!—and I started submitting my work to publishers. It took that entire journey to prove to them—and to myself in a way—that I was serious about being a writer.


Q: Do you have any stories you regret writing or releasing?


JM: I keep going back and forth on this question. The answer is...kinda. There are early stories I wish I had held onto for longer, waited until I matured a little more. I love some of my earlier work, but they are things about it I wish I could change. However, they were all steps to becoming who I am now, and every step is precious to me.


Q: What is your favorite scary book and why?


JM: Dolores Claiborne scares the shit out of me, and it’s so beautifully written. The characters are gloriously, horribly authentic, and though I’d been reading King since 5th grade, Dolores Claiborne was the first I’d read without supernatural elements. I saw the movie when it came out on video—and I’ll tell ya, that’s a god awful movie for an eighth grader to watch with her father—and I read the book soon after. It never fails to horrify me.


Q: Do you listen to music while you write, if so, what genre(s)?


JM: I do usually listen to music, but the genre depends on which project I’m tackling and what stage it’s in. I usually listen to instrumental while first drafting short stories, but I have separate playlists for several of my novels. In my writing workshops with kids, though, I only ever play instrumental, which ranges from classical to music from Italian horror films.


Q: When was the last time you became publically drunk and did you do anything stupid?


JM: Ha! I write at bars quite a bit, but I think I’ve written more stupid shit than I’ve actually done.


Q: Kill, marry, screw: Pumpkinhead, Darth Vader, Larry the Cable Guy?


JM: Kill Larry the Cable Guy, marry Darth Vader, screw Pumpkinhead.


Q: Do you have any recurring dreams, if so, what are they?


JM: I don't have many with reoccurring plots, but I seem to have dreams that involve me riding a crumbling building down to rubble at least once a year. I’ve ridden tables, mattresses, desks, and I’m always fine at the end. It’s pretty fun.


Q: If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, which would you choose and what would they taste like?


JM: Dordin, a massive cat creature from my series “The Tales of Dominhydor.” I could probably live off of that kitty for a while, and hey, he’d probably taste like pu...ddin’.


Q: Who’s your 90s rapper spirit animal?


JM: T-Boz, baby. CrazySexyCool was the first cd I ever bought.



Q: Do you have a favorite Goosebumps book, if so, which?


JM: I was never a Goosebumps girl. I was, however, the biggest damnhellass fan of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series you could find. And the answer in regards to Fear Street is “Halloween Party,” closely followed by “Sunburn.”


Q: What’s your favorite part of Corey Feldman’s Go 4 It! music video?


JM:The joy I feel in knowing it’s been at least thirteen years since I jerked off to Corey Feldman.


Q: What smells better, new books or fresh out of the oven pizza?


JM: Pizza. But old books beat pizza to shit.


Q: Do you have any laundry suggestions for readers that soil their undergarments while reading your work?


JM: I’m not the person you want to ask about laundry, trust me.


Q: What are you working on now?


JM: I’m closing in on finishing “Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven” which Raw Dog Screaming Press will release next year, and after that, it’s all about editing “Hares in the Hedgerow,” the sequel to my first Post Mortem Press novel. I constantly work on short stories, though, and I’m also writing novellas and shorter pieces as backstory for my sci-fi adventure, “A Motherfucking Heist Novel,” which I hope to write in 2017.

Q&As are sent and answered via email.


Jessica McHugh is a novelist, poet, and internationally produced playwright running amok in the fields of horror, sci-fi, young adult, and wherever else her peculiar mind leads. She's had eighteen books published in seven years, including her bizarro romp, "The Green Kangaroos," her Post Mortem Press bestseller, "Rabbits in the Garden," and her edgy YA series, "The Darla Decker Diaries." More information on her published and forthcoming fiction can be found on her website, www.JessicaMcHughBooks.com.



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Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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