Hey all! It’s been a while since I’ve done an interview, and I was finally able to rope my good friend and fellow author Nicholas Hughes into spending some quality time with us. PLUS we get a bonus today.
I’m not kidding! It’s a real live bonus you haven’t seen anywhere else.
What is it? Well, it’s the one thing many authors tend to want to hide. No. I’m not talking about clutter in your cupboards or the dirty clothes under your bed . . . or even the plethora of half-finished stories
trashing stacked neatly on your desk.
I’ve known Nicholas, at least in the online world wide web sense, for about three years now. It’s crazy when I think about it, but in all that time this is the only picture he’s ever shared with us:
And of course, when he, J.A. Merkel and I were discussing our newly formed circle of writing friendship (more like a writer-triangle which is NOTHING like a love triagle, thank you very much), I made this doosie of a picture to exemplify the parts we each play:
But today you get to see him Face to Face! Errr . . . face to screen?
Nicholas is a money master by day and a superhero-slash-author-slash-husband by night. He mainly writes mystery, thriller, and sci fi stories. But before I get any further, make sure you follow his blog: Nicholas Hughes: In My Mind, This Is All Connected.
And now you’re wondering about that rogue’s face. Not to worry, I won’t keep you in suspense for too long, but first let’s have a chat with up-and-coming author Nicholas Hughes!
Welcome Nicholas! Let’s start with an easy one. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your first book?
It took me about six to eight months to write the first draft of The Red Dress. The rest of the publication process has taken much, much longer than that. By the time that it is all done, I think I will have been working on this novel for about four to five years.
I don’t think that’s outside the ordinary, but maybe some of our other guests can comment below to let us know their writing lengths too! While we wait for people to chime in in the comments I’ll ask more questions. Which living author or blogger would you buy drinks for?
Steven Brust, hands down. The man knows so much, about the art of writing and so many other things that I think the conversation would be varied and entertaining. Something for the ages.
If you do get a chance, make sure to sear every word onto you brain so you can share his insights and wisdom with the rest of us! We get the impression, Steven Brust is an intriguing fellow, so what makes you so interesting anyway?
I’m Me? Seriously, I don’t know. I tend to downplay myself, so I really have a hard time stating what makes me interesting. But I do know what I’m talking about and more skilled than I let on.
I happen to think you’re way more interesting than you give yourself credit for, so get out from under the table and shine that imaginative, fun-loving personality for everyone to see.
What’s that? See his face? We want to find out if this good friend of mine is a real person? Fine. I was gonna make you wait longer, but here you go. Meet Nicholas Hughes, my friends. Don’t forget that name! 🙂
Now that you’re distracted looking at your own photo, Nick, there’s something else that makes you interesting that you didn’t mention: you enjoy woodwork! You create beautiful art with your mind and your crafty hands. But I suppose we can come back to that in comments. Now, writing! What is the best part about being an author (indie or traditional) for you?
Being able to tell the stories that I love to hear. Plus I would go crazy not having an output for all the tales that spin around in my head.
I understand completely. I can even imagine your photo having an entirely different, less pleasant look, if you didn’t get to get those stories out of your head! Since stories are spinning around in there, what’s the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story idea? Describe in detail. Inquiring minds want to know!
I don’t think that I get my story ideas from anything strange. Dreams, songs, television shows. I think that they are all normal places to get ideas. I just tend to put my own twist on them. Most of my novel ideas come from a single question or idea that I expound on. So those can come from literally anywhere.
That’s similar to Stephen King’s method of asking a “what if” question. That was one thing in his book On Writing that stood out to me. If you are asking a single question, how do you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
I always wanted to write fantasy. In fact, I have an epic fantasy novel idea that I’d love to develop someday, but today isn’t that day. But the thing is, I seem to be much better at writing other forms of fiction, such as mystery and thriller/suspense. Fantasy novels never seem to get beyond a chapter or two, but I can write for days—and much more entertainingly—or longer when working in those other genres. So I suspect that they chose me rather than the other way around. Funny how that works.
I never thought I’d write fantasy! haha I guess it’s all in the mix of your mind and your ultimate question, like “which genre best fits this one?” Speaking of mixing, can you wash light and dark clothes together? Have you even turned a bunch of stuff pink in the washer?
I do it all the time. And since I am perfect, no pink clothes for me. Though I am not allowed to wash my wife’s jeans ‘cause I supposedly shrink them.
No not dryers for jeans. No way, nuh uh! 🙂 I have come close to banning my husband from laundry folding, but I digress. Ahem. Moving on. What “person” do you like to write in? First Person, Third Person, etc. – and why?
First person is much more natural for me, but third person tends to have the better results because it causes me to push myself. That pushing causes better writing. And who can question the results?
Only everyone who reads it, I suppose. haha But, that being said, I prefer third person limited over first person, so thanks for pushing yourself! Another way you push yourself out of your comfort zone is blogging. How did yours hugheswrites.wordpress.com start?
It started as a way to get my writing out there. Since then it has morphed into something much more than it was originally meant to be. The stories are still there, but it is much more now. Check it out.
Yes, friends, definitely check it out. You’ll enjoy Nicholas’ wit and wisdom. His stories are sometimes entertaining and at other thought-provoking. Well worth a follow. Now back to books! How do you decide on a title for your book?
It wasn’t anything crazy. Honestly, it just came to me one day. I always liked the idea of titles that were a little, but not too, abstract. The Red Dress seemed fitting when I first thought of it, and I liked it more and more as time went on. Eventually, I couldn’t think of the novel by any other name and it stuck.
I like it. I like what images that evokes. It probably helps that I love red dresses and red shoes! Other than playing with the art of a great title, what’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story?
The best part was all the dialogue. Stephanie is a bit of a witch, spelled with a “B”. She and James don’t hold back when they talk. Then there is Daniel who doesn’t put up with any of it. It makes an interesting trifecta of conversations.
I bet that was a ton of fun to write! You have given yourself some well-rounded characters in that! What advice can you give new authors?
Write. I know it’s been said before, but it is true. Others better than me have said it and I know the truth of that statement. You want to be a writer, then write. No one can make you do it, and only by writing can you become any better.
That’s the number one best piece of advice, and it’s 100% believable coming from your reliable face. 🙂 What’s a good writing secret or time management secret?
You want to be a writer? Make time to write. You find time to do what is important to you, so if writing is important, find time. That is the best I have to offer.
More sage words! Since you have to make time, what time of day do you prefer to do your writing?
That’s a bit mixed. Given to myself, I write better in the morning, more creatively at night, but currently, none of it works in my schedule. So I am finding the only time I have to write is during my lunch hour at work. It isn’t what I prefer, but you make time for what is important.
Hey, you’re reiterating here, living by example. Love it. Make time for what’s important, and if that’s your writing, then do it! Good stuff. Oh, speaking of good stuff . . . coffee addict? Name your poison.
Not coffee. Kool-Aid. Over sugared Kool-Aid. Can’t get enough of it.
Ha! Why does this not surprise me, Nicholas? I’m surprised you aren’t a bright shade of Kool-Aid red! But seriously, if you drink the Kool-Aid (as in buy into the crazy idea of becoming an author), how do you develop characters?
I don’t know really. They are never fully formed when I create them, but as time goes by, I let them choose their own paths. That leads to some interesting directions, but hardly ever any that I choose myself. My imagination goes wild, and they do their own little dance to the tune in my head. Somehow it all matches up in the end.
If the character are only partially formed at the beginning, how much structure is in your story before you start writing it?
Practically none. As I said before, I take an idea and run with it just to see where it leads. I get the most fun out of it.
A prime example is this: If there is a caste system due to power or magic, what would happen if a technology was developed that balanced the scales and was easily available?
Those are the questions that cause me to develop ideas and the structure is built around that with no other purpose than to explore what would happen.
That’s certainly a fun way to start, and it amazes me what can come out of that murky what if process! So, let’s get personal. Best book to movie you’ve seen?
Fight Club. The adaption was so much better than the book that even the author said to watch the film instead of reading the book.
You know, Chuck Palahniuk is going to be here in Spokane on Saturday to sign copies of his new book, Fight Club 2! I was going to go, but instead we’re doing a last minute family thing, which is okay. Only a
lot little disappointing, since I’ll be with my kiddos and husband having fun. I wonder if he’ll feel the same about the second book when they make it into a movie.
What are you three favorite books by other authors?
Not in any particular order:
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Dune by Frank Herbert
Issola by Steven Brust
Welllll, I saw the first two on film and read Dune last year. I’ll have to check out that third one! I bet these guys have inspired you to write, but when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t know. Really, really young. Like ten or so.
It seems like middle school is the time when more kids are like, I wanna write! then we don’t for what seems like forever. Then suddenly we’re all grown up and think to ourselves, I never did do that thing I wanted to do. Now’s the time! Now’s the time is a good quote to remember. 🙂 What’s a favorite quote of anyone besides you, and one from you?
History is created by victors– Unknown
Everything in moderation, including moderation – Oscar Wilde
Nice quotes! I got a little laugh out of that second one. Nicholas, thank you so much for being willing to stop in and share your time and some of your personal life with us today. We really appreciate it.
For all you folk who are interested and want to connect with Nicholas Hughes, make sure you click these links for some places to chat it up with this stellar guy.