science fiction and fantasy writer


In Uncategorized on September 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm

My short story collection has a cover, and holy wow!


It’s on the Ticonderoga website with their “new in December 2014″ books, but I believe the target publication date is 15 November. Here’s the rest of the cover quotes:

“Ian McHugh has a remarkable ability to render the alien utterly convincing. His nonhuman lives are so powerfully depicted that we can easily, and sometimes uneasily, immerse ourselves completely into their worlds.”

Sheila Williams, editor
Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine

“Ian McHugh’s short fiction blends the fantastical and the real to capture an intensity and immediacy of detail that places you right inside the character’s life … and makes you feel the struggles and hopes of that life.”

Scott H. Andrews, editor
Beneath Ceaseless Skies

“Ian McHugh’s inventiveness knows no boundaries — and if he encounters any, he blasts right through them. These furiously original stories will make your heart race and your head spin.”

Mike Allen, editor
Clockwork Phoenix, Mythic Delirium

Also holy wow! Pinching myself.

Writing what you do and don’t know

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Guest post at

Something writers are often exhorted to do is “write what you know”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your stories should reflect the literal truth of your lived experience, although they can. My first published story, “The Alchemical Automaton Blues” was basically a recounting of a real experience I had with some neighbours and their neglected dog, dressed up in fantasy drag. When I have kids in my stories, they tend to be my kids.

Writing what you know can also mean capturing some essential truth or belief, without presenting it in any context that corresponds to your lived experience. My story “The Navigator and the Sky” is about an old man using the last of his strength to help his granddaughter escape a wrathful god. The underlying truth of the story, for me, is the commitment that I believe parents should make to their kids.

But what about writing what you don’t know? There’s a fantastic talk at by Turkish novelistElif Shafak, in which she talks about the experience of being pigeonholed by her ethnicity, the expectation that she will write Turkish stories, an expectation which she rejects. She stresses the value – the imperative, even – of writers stepping outside of what she refers to as their “cultural ghettoes” and exploring alternative ways of seeing the world. If you only ever write about yourself and your own little patch of the world, she argues, what do you learn?

Read more…

My Australian Snapshot Interview

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2014 at 7:46 am

Stephanie Gunn interviewed me as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. You can find my interview on Stephanie’s blog, alongside several others and links to a bazillion more on other interviewers’ blogs. Mine starts thusly:

1. Your first collection, Angel Dust, is due out from Ticonderoga Publications this year.  How has it been putting together your first collection, and what can readers expect to see in it?

Erm, intermittent? Life has been getting in the way a bit for both Russell and I. I expect most of the stories will be drawn from my publications in places like Asimov’s, BCS and the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies. Russell’s picked one original story so far and he’s having a look at another four. So not sure yet what the final shape will be, or whether we’ll choose stories for a particular theme. One loose theme Russell’s suggested is ‘encounters with the other’, which broadly speaking can cover a lot of my stories. Another thread that runs through a lot (but far from all) of my stories is how men fail at being men – and the ways I’m afraid of failing as a man. Whether anyone wants to read an entire book about men failing, though, I have my doubts.

Read more…


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