How did you become a writer? I can’t remember not being a writer. From childhood to adulthood, I have always written. It’s like breathing or walking—something I just do and don’t think about too much. I decided to get serious (i.e. professional) about my writing, however, when I was nearing 40 and had a bit of an existential, early mid-life crisis. I knew that I needed to focus on my primary talent because the guilt of not doing it was eating me alive.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.). My influences are all over the map—I feel lucky that I’ve never felt bounded by any style or genre of writing. I was lucky to have read many classics as a kid, back when they were marketed at kids—Jules Verne, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, Poe, Lovecraft, Shelley, and other staples of imaginative literature. Since there was no such thing as YA as a monolithic category like it is today, I read adult books with adult themes and ideas. I also had great English teachers throughout my public school education, and I give them enormous credit for nurturing my talents and introducing me to some life-changing works. And I have to credit Stephen King for showing me that dark, supernatural fiction could still be relevant to modern audiences.
When and where do you write? Since I have two young children, I tend to write in the evenings, until late at night, in my basement with my pet rabbit keeping me company. I also like to hole up in university libraries when I’m in crunch-mode.
What are you working on now? I’m working on the sequel to my first novel, Blackwater Lights. I’m also working on some invited pieces for anthologies.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? Every writer feels like the well is drying up occasionally. But I keep pushing forward and eventually the muses show up. My brain is usually roiling with ideas—far too many to shape into stories—so I don’t worry too much about it.
What’s your advice to new writers? Don’t stop. Keep writing and don’t get caught up in marketing and all the other stuff people tell you you have to do. All you have to do is write. That’s the definition of who you are and what you do. And read often, and widely, and write the stories that can only come from the unique individual that is you.
Michael M. Hughes lives in Baltimore with his wife and two daughters. He writes fiction and nonfiction, and his bestselling debut novel, Blackwater Lights, was released by Hydra (Random House) in 2013. He is currently at work on a sequel. When he’s not writing, Hughes performs as a mentalist (psychic entertainer) and speaks on Fortean and paranormal topics. http://michaelmhughes.com