Interview: Steve McHugh, author of Prison of Hope (Hellequin Chronicles)

The fourth book in Steve McHugh’s Hellequin Chronicles, Prison of Hope, just came out, and Steve stopped by to answer a few questions about the new book, the series, and more!

Will you tell us a bit about Prison of Hope? What can we expect from Nate Garrett and the gang this time around?
For the first 3 books, I really wanted to take things slowly with introducing the various members of mythology that are in the books. This one sort of increases their number a lot. There are quite a few Ancient Greek characters from myth in the book, including Pandora.

We learn more about Nate’s past, and what he’s capable of, and we see more interactions with those he’s close with.

How do you think Nate has grown or changed the most since the first book?
He’s more comfortable with his power, which increased after the first book. He’s also beginning to think that maybe everything he’s ever been told about his magic and what happens when you use too much, might not be as true as he was led to believe.

More than anything, I think Nate has come to terms with his place in the world he inhabits. I think he had a lot of issues running around his head for the first three books, and in book four he’s put some of those to bed.

For those that haven’t read the series, will you tell us a little more about the “world” of the Hellequin books?
Nate Garrett is Hellequin, a man who used to work for Merlin doing a lot of shadowy things to ensure that King Arthur wasn’t stained with some of the less savory things that Merlin required doing. He’s since left Merlin’s employ over a century ago and the stories are about his life away from Merlin and the power he wealds.

On top of the British mythology, there are also characters from various other mythologies, from Ancient Greek, to Roman and Norse. None are the deities they’re portrayed as in the stories, but they’re all incredibly powerful and influential within the world that they all live in. Most of them work for Avalon, which is ruled by Merlin, a secretive organization that controls world events to ensure that the non-humans are the ones in real power.

Speaking of “worlds,” what are a few of your favorite fictional “worlds”?
Star Wars is probably the first that springs to mind. Not just the movies, but the extended universe too. The wealth of characters, planets, systems and species is staggering. I’m also a big fan of Farscape for similar reasons.

The Marvel universe is one fictional world I enjoy a great deal. I’ve been a comic book fan since I was very young, and while it can feel a little all consuming on occasion, I do like the world in which those characters live.

What is your writing process like, and what kind of research have you done for the series?
I’ve done lots of research throughout the series, for various things from weaponry and clothing for a period in time, to the exciting world of pallets. I once spoke to a Fire Investigator and discussed how to make a fire look like an accident (which he was very helpful with after his initial concern that I was crazy), and also someone at BMW told me how to steal a Z3. Short answer, you can’t without owning the key.

As for my writing process, when I start a story I tend to make notes about the major plot points and what the characters should be doing. I also note the end of the book. Usually I know what I want to happen at the beginning and end of each chapter, but I leave the journey to my own surprise. Occasionally… or more accurately, all the time, this results in new chapters, longer scenes, things I hadn’t even though of. I quite like that.

When you start a new book, do you always know the ending, or do you just let the narrative take you where it will?
I might now know everything about the end, but I’ve usually got a pretty good idea of where I want it to end up. Sometimes a better idea comes along, and that’s fine, but I like having something to work towards.

What are a few of your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Robin Hobb, Mike Carey, Warren Ellis, Kelley Armstrong, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Scott Lynch, Jen Williams, Karin Slaughter, and far too many more for it to be considered ‘a few’.

What are you currently reading? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this year?
Really looking forward to Jim Butcher’s steampunk book, and Peter Newman’s The Vagrant, the cover of which is astonishingly good. Also, Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels.

I’m currently reading a mixture of things. I’m catching up on my Rat Queens reading, which I adore, along with Nailbiter and Southern Bastards. I’ve just finished In Dark Service by Stephen Hunt, which was brilliant, so I’m currently mid-book. Which doesn’t usually last long because I have a massive backlog from last year.

What’s next for you?
I’m in the middle of edits for book 5, Lies Ripped Open, which is out in Aug. On top of that I’m writing the first book in a Science Fiction series that I’m currently calling Warbringer, which is also liable to change a dozen times before I finish it. After that I’ve got a book I want to write called Chimera, it’s something I’ve been working on for years and I’m looking forward to finally allowing myself to sit down and write it. Now if I were just capable of cloning myself, I might be able to get everything I want to do done in a timely fashion.

Kepe up with Steve: Website | Twitter

About Prison of Hope:
Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades.

Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance.

Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.

Prison of Hope is the fourth book in the highly acclaimed and action-packed dark urban fantasy series, the Hellequin Chronicles.

About Steve McHugh:
Steve McHugh is the author of the popular Hellequin Chronicles. The fourth book, Prison of Hope, is out now. He 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.

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