Author of the Week: Jessica McHugh
The incredibly prolific Jessica McHugh and I are both included in an upcoming anthology of holiday horror themed short fiction, which is an honor for me, even though I only know her via her fiction and Facebook posts, which are frequently hilarious and often provocative.
Via this exchange, I learned we have two crucial influences in common: The 1993 classic True Romance, and filmmaker David Lynch. No wonder I relate so much to her work.
The one novel of hers I’ve read, The Train Derails in Boston, could be classified as Erotic Horror - similar to much of my own stuff - but also likes me, Jessica defies pigeonholing, mixing ’n’ matching genres in her own unique, relentlessly compelling, compulsively readable voice.
Here’s just a taste of her sensibilities, to give you an idea of what she has to offer. For fans of barrier-breaking fiction, it’s a veritable, virtual banquet buffet…
Your work covers multiple genres - horror, fantasy, erotica, thrillers, bizarro, YA, and more - in various formats, from short stories to novellas to novels. What accounts for this restless, limitless, literally boundless imagination?
I like to play. I wish I had a more professional answer, but it doesn't get more complex than that. I typically see literature as a massive playground, and all sorts of equipment and obstacles are being erected and evolved all the time. There are genres in which I feel safer, but I derive more enjoyment from pushing my limits, talent, and having fun in uncomfortable fictional places. I'm not much of a thrill seeker in real life, but I certainly like to do crazy, dangerous things on the page.
Please describe your writing schedule/routine - or lack thereof - to help us understand the sheer breadth of your prolific accomplishments.
I work on multiple projects at once, all of which are listed on white boards around my writing hut. I start with whatever I've deemed highest priority until I lose the spark, for lack of a better description, then move onto the next project. Every day, lather, rinse, repeat. This is another reason I like exploring so many different genres, so I don't get bored when I'm editing the same stories every day for a month. I also tend to write all morning, most of the afternoon, and often late into the night.
In your professional opinion, is creative writing really something that can be taught, beyond the basics of grammar and construction?
I think it would be incredibly difficult for someone to maintain a life and/or career in creative writing if they don't have the natural drive and spectacular madness that makes one throw their heart and soul into their fiction. Without passion behind those perfectly constructed sentences, I don't see much point.
What are your influences, literary or otherwise?
Roald Dahl and Bret Easton Ellis have probably been my biggest literary inspirado, but I actually believe I'm more influenced by films than books. The Tarantino-written movie, True Romance was a huge influence on my artistic career, as was Kevin Smith's 90s repartee. In the last decade, I've been hugely influenced by artists like Guillermo Del Toro and David Lynch.
What’s next for you?
I'm 40+ stories deep into this year's A Story A Week challenge, and I hope to compile most of those into a sci-fi composite novel called WEBWORM. I couldn't tell you what it's about yet, however, as I'm not exactly sure! I didn't outline, there are no character names, and a few of the tales take place before the beginning of time. I'm only now putting the pieces together, so here's hoping they eventually make sense! I'm also finishing up Hares in the Hedgerow, the sequel to my Post Mortem Press novel, Rabbits in the Garden, and in 2018 I really hope to start writing a years-long dream project called A Motherfucking Heist Novel, which takes place in the same universe as my Apokrupha kaiju novella, Home Birth. I guess you could say I have some stuff planned. ;)
BIO: 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 twenty-one books published in nine 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 at JessicaMcHughBooks.com.
Home Birth: https://www.amazon.com/Home-Birth-Kaiju-Revisited-Book-ebook/dp/B01N3USJHZ
Rabbits in the Garden: https://www.amazon.com/Rabbits-Garden-Anniversary-Jessica-McHugh-ebook/dp/B004LZ53L6
Darla Decker Breaks the Case: https://www.amazon.com/Darla-Decker-Breaks-Case-Diaries-ebook/dp/B075QKHDPW
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New Orleans, LA