So today sees the relaunch of Books 1 and 2 of the Hellequin Chronicles from Steve Mchugh, two books I enjoyed muchly, so I caught up with Steve and asked him a question or two…here is what he had to say.
Tell me about how the idea for The Hellequin Chronicles first came about?
When my eldest daughter, Keira was born back in 2004, I decided that it was time to get serious about writing. I spent the next few years writing my first ever book, For Past Sins, which will remain in a drawer somewhere forever. But after that I knew I wanted to keep some of the elements from that book (the use of mythology).
Originally it was just Nate in my head for a long time and the story emerged around him. I had about 6 or 7 books written down in plot form and by that point Hellequin had solidified itself as a concept in my mind, and then the stories just kept on coming.
How much did well known legends such as King Arthur influence the writing?
I knew I wanted to have the Arthurian legends in the books, along with various other mythologies, but I wanted to twist them slightly to make them a bit easier to digest. Merlin always presented Arthur as that great white knight, but I knew he’d have a darker side. That’s where Nate came in, as the almost hidden shadow behind Arthur.
Is Nate fun to write? He’s always getting into scrapes….
Nate’s great to write. He’s an incredibly dangerous man, not just because of his power, but because he’s willing to go to a place that most won’t. And that doesn’t bother him. He’s also very smart-assed, which means I get to let my own smart-assed side out without the fear of reprisal.
He’s been in my head for so long, that I can just sit down and start writing him. It’s probably why I have plots for so many of them, his voice just comes easily to me.
Do you read Urban Fantasy yourself and if so, do you have a favourite book/series of books in the genre?
I love Urban Fantasy. I really enjoy Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronovich and Kelley Armstrong. Jim Butcher is probably the man when it comes to Urban Fantasy.
One character from a novel you would like to be in real life?
Terry Pratchett’s Patrician. He’s smart, capable and knows exactly what’s happening in every part of his city. Besides I love the Discworld novels, but living in that world would be terrifying. The Patrician is the safest person in the books.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea. Coffee is utterly horrible stuff. I like white or green tea if I get a choice.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I’d like to live in Canada or American, specifically the northern states. It’s full of beautiful scenery, and the weather doesn’t seem that different to England. And I don’t do hot weather, so moving to a hot country is out.
Bio: Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.
It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel that was publishable, the results of which was Crimes Against Magic.
He was born in a small village called Mexbrough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.
Book blurb and my reviews
Crimes Against Magic:
Hellequin Chronicles: Book 1
How do you keep the people you care about safe from enemies you can’t remember?
Ten years ago, Nate Garrett awoke on a cold warehouse floor with no memory of his past—a gun, a sword, and a piece of paper with his name on it the only clues to his identity. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his magical abilities to become a successful thief for hire.
But those who stole his memories aren’t done with him yet: when they cause a job to go bad and threaten a sixteen-year-old girl, Nate swears to protect her. With his enemies closing in and everyone he cares about now a target for their wrath, he must choose between the comfortable life he’s built for himself and his elusive past.
As the barrier holding his memories captive begins to crumble, Nate moves between modern-day London and fifteenth-century France, forced to confront his forgotten life in the hope of stopping an enemy he can’t remember.
During my quest to find any and all examples of good Urban Fantasy novels, started by my love of the Felix Castor stories, I have found many strange and wonderful worlds – That of Jack Nightingale, Constable Grant and Matthew Swift to name but a few. And now to my utter joy, here is Nathan “Nate” Garrett, who awoke in a warehouse ten years ago with no knowledge of who he is. His only clues – A gun, a Sword and a piece of paper with his name on it, along with a tendency to practice magic. And there is the backdrop for a magnificent tale of magic, mayem and general delightful madness. Set in two time periods, we slowly learn more about Nate, his true identity and what has brought him to where he is today. Using his skills as a thief, one particular job puts him on the path to this knowledge and also sets in motion a series of events that throw him right into the deep end of all things strange and magical. This was a great novel to read – I especially liked how the author has woven a mystical tale around his protagonist, taking on such great legends as Arthur and Merlin, Helen of Troy, amongst others. Nate as a character is both honourable and frightening in his actions, you will certainly root for him all the way, whilst at the same time feeling a vague need to give him a good talking too! The supporting cast of characters are all just as good – you will meet Vampires and Werewolves, Gargoyles and Psychics, all of whom add depth and heart to the tale. If you like Urban Fantasy you will love this. If you love Thrillers and Mystery but have not yet dipped your toe into the world of UF, then this is for you – you will get the best of all worlds. I don’t think I have ever been so pleased to see the great words “Book 1″ in the title! “Born of Hatred” Book 2 is now sitting on my Kindle and I will be heading back to see what Nate is up too very very soon. You should come too…
Born of Hatred:
Hellequin Chronicles: Book 2
There are some things even a centuries-old sorcerer hesitates to challenge…
When Nathan Garret’s friend seeks his help investigating a bloody serial killer, the pattern of horrific crimes leads to a creature of pure malevolence, born of hatred and dark magic. Even with all his powers, Nate fears he may be overmatched. But when evil targets those he cares about and he is confronted by dire threats both old and new, Nate must reveal a secret from his recently remembered past to remind his enemies why they should fear him once more.
Born of Hatred, set in modern London with historical flashbacks to America’s Old West, continues the dark urban fantasy of Crimes Against Magic, the acclaimed first book in the gritty and action-packed Hellequin Chronicles.
I was very pleased to receive the updated copy of Born of Hatred…and I dived in pretty much immediately and didnt really stop reading (well I DID pop out and get chips!) until I was done. Once again I was immersed into the world of Nathan Garrett and co and what a world it is.
This instalment finds Nathan investigating a string of crimes as a favour for a friend, that leads him to a killer like no other…Born of Hatred indeed. Nathan may not be as feared as he once was but you don’t mess with him and his without consequences…As you learn more about Nathan through the intriguing use of flashback (as in Book 1) one wonders if it is really sensible to challenge him at all…
The reason I enjoy these so much I think is that they really are for adults…Steve Mchugh does not pull any punches and Nathan has a side to him that is less than pure – terrific fun to read and enthralling to imagine, the world he occupies bears a strong resemblance to our own but with a supernatural and magical underbelly. As with book 1 the supporting characters all add ambience to the tale, and there are plenty of new people to meet. More backstory means more grounding in the mythology of the series and as a sequel it works particularly well.
The plot is complex enough to keep your interest throughout – some twists and turns and once again Mr McHugh has used legends we are all aware of to flesh out the tale. Very enjoyable and I am looking forward to the next.
A quick comment – Comparisons to novels such as the Dresden Files and other Urban Fantasy tales are unavoidable for the author I imagine, but I would say that, as usual, I don’t like to compare and contrast too much. However I think this bears saying: Dresden is terrific. As are Felix Castor and Alex Verus – Nathan Garrett is his own man with his own mythology. I can’t put him in a box any more than I could the previously mentioned. I have enjoyed all on their own merits….and I will continue to do so. There is no “best” only what you enjoy. And you will enjoy this if you like Urban Fantasy, don’t mind adult content and simply love a book adventure.
Happy Reading Folks!