Jessica McHugh get’s Jack’d

Dare I try to introduce the one…the only? I don’t think so. Besides, anything I could say would only pale in comparison to the brilliant reality that is the queen of awesomestuff – Jessica McHugh! Let’s get this woman Jack’d!

JW: You are a writer after my own heart. When I read that you were also a playwright, it made me smile. Why? Outside of spending the majority of my life on stage, I also am a playwright. I am also a magician and I can travel through time. Some call me Dr. Whose, while others call me Dr. Who’s. The jury is still out on which is correct. Never the less – I have dived down many a rabbit hole in my forty-some years on this planet and plan on diving down plenty more. Why? Because the more we experience, the more we have to offer. If you only have a tiny window to look through, you will only grasp a fraction of what lies beneath, between, and beyond.

Let me digress. Or actually, let me go tangential on your ass.

It bothers me to see all of these people on Facebook claim to be “weird” or to “hear voices”. First and foremost – to those that do hear voices, please… seek help. If you do not really “hear voices”, don’t claim to! Making such claims will only cause people to worry for your emotional and mental stability. For those that claim to be “weird”, make sure you are truly of the weird clan so not to insult those that really are. I am an honorary member of a number of odd and wacky tribes, so I can see through the ruse of those proclaiming strangeness for publicity’s sake. If you’ve nothing to back up your claim – don’t make it.

End digression.

Is writing a powerful tool or what?

Okay, I know you must get this a lot… but your tattoo. It looks SO much like Jack Skellington. I know because I have a Jack Skellington tattoo on my right ankle and he wanted me to find out the truth in that story.

JM: I’ll acknowledge the resemblance between Mr. Undermoon and Jack Skellington…once. If it’s mentioned after this, Mr. Undermoon will leap off my arm and take Tim Burton hostage. Which, at this point in his career, a lot of people might not mind. The tattoo is actually from my Reliquary Press horror novella “Danny Marble & the Application For Non-Scary Things” which was illustrated by my husband. Dave McHugh drew the design of the moon and my wonderful tattoo artist Sarah drew both it and the night sky that surrounds it. I call him Mr. Undermoon because he’s a moon (clever, I know) and his picture is the header for a chapter entitled “Under.” I have writing-related tattoos, but this was the first one dedicated to MY writing, so it’s a favorite.

By the way, I might still take Tim Burton hostage. Johnny Depp too, but there will be other motivators behind that kidnapping.

JW: Ah the Burton-Depp wonder duo. Though I must say they have fallen a bit from the grace they enjoyed back in the days of Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, but they are still (and always will be) a force to be reckoned with. Between the two, I have to say my fav films are probably Nightmare Before Christmas and either Cry Baby or Ed Wood. Cry Baby was just so incredibly ballsy on everyone’s part. And that’s what I truly love about artists – that they take risks. Without risks there is no reward – or there’s just “average”. If no artist took no risk, the world would be such a boring place. We’d not have Pollack, Worhal, Mozart, Mamet, Basquiat. Risk is the life blood of those searching for a deeper meaning, or to push the human mind and into places it might not have gone before. And without that, what are we?


And without soul, we have no James Brown. A world without James Brown…well, do we really want to go there? I suppose we could draw out the causality of not having James Brown, but I think you get the picture.

And you are married to an artists, is that correct? Having two artistic souls in one house must be tough. Each of you always clamoring for the spotlight, jealousy running thick when the other garners fame, always look at the other’s work saying “I could do better!”

I kid the McHugh!

JM: I think it’s pretty clear I’m the superior writer in the pair, although some of my text messages might argue otherwise. He definitely has me beat when it comes to photography and illustration though. What a pantydropper it was when he first showed me some of his photographs. I doubt it was the same on his end when I started describing some of my stories.

“From the Herald’s Wearied Eye” was forever dubbed “very rapey” by my husband, and he’s stated that he will probably never read it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never read “PINS” either. With the explicit strip club content written in first-person and the graphic, splatterpunkish murder scenes, I don’t think it’s really up his alley. And that’s a real shame because there’s a wonderful scene of a stripper being murdered in the bowling alley section of the club.

“PINS” was a definitely a risky book to write. I honestly don’t know how it’ll be received as I’ve never written anything so brutal or graphic, but I’m certain it’ll appeal to the Titties-n-Blood crowd.

I’ll nab the Kittens-n-Apple Pie crowd later on.

JW: Oh there’s a choir behind me and you are preaching to it and me at the same time! I can’t get my wife to read ANYTHING I’ve written. I get it. First and foremost, zombies and brutality aren’t her thing. Second – I can only imagine how uncomfortable it would make her feel to read something of mine and not like it! Oh the horror, the shame! Oh well. No biggie. I get it. As much as I hate to even think it, horror is a niche genre. I know, I know…it just sounds wrong, hateful, painful. But the truth of the matter is, horror doesn’t sell nearly as well as other genres. And those of us who dive into those waters do so knowing that. And yet we dive. Why? Well, I for one cannot imagine writing anything but. Of course, I do have my Shero to give me respite from all things horrific (and I have a steampunk series I will be starting soon). Other than that – it’s all horror all the time. It’s my passion (or one of them – I can’t discount all the other passions I endure on a daily basis).

Passion. It hurts. It’s a force that drives us forward in ways nothing else can touch. It’s not that we want to do this, we must. And if the this is taken away from us, we whither from within. I like my withins to remain whole.

JM: Much better than having holes in your withins, that’s for damn sure. I have always found myself at home in horror, but I just can’t write in the same genre over and over. That’s why I have a little difficulty writes series novels. Before I’m done the series, or even a few books, I’m ready to move on to the next exciting thing, which is usually a book idea I’ve had for years. I’m currently writing my Darla Decker series, which is edgy young adult; edgy in the sense that it has the word “fingerbang” in it and talks very frankly about french kissing and masturbation in a middle school setting. You know, the real nitty gritty of growing up. I’ve vowed to myself to write the first 3 books in the series before I move on to another novel. Luckily, I love writing the series, but I always have to break it up with a short story here and there. I actually just finished a novella too which is part of a middle grade series about The Blue Moon Crew of Sawmill Falls, which will be released under a new imprint of Post Mortem Press later this year. It’s a very cool collaborative project, and though it’s the same age range as Darla Decker, it’s much, MUCH tamer: something that was difficult but exhilarating.

I suppose that’s why we do those difficult things, why we break our boundaries. To create new and exhilarating art. To inspire people. To terrify people. I personally want to make at least one person puke from a story like Bret Easton Ellis did to me with “American Psycho.” Lovely, isn’t it? I dream of puke.

JW: The unfortunately reality is that there are too few “indies” pushing any boundaries. So many just hop onto this or that bandwagon, hoping to find their fifteen minutes on the coattails of someone elses fifteen. It’s great that you are pushing boundaries. My personal goal is to eventually write a book that people simply can’t finish because it’s too terrifying or too ghastly. My next project (one that’s actually already started) is called “To Be Written”. It was born out of a very angry moment in my life and I plan on taking it to some very ugly depths. I gave myself the “green light” to completely release every hound I had and to hell with boundaries.

I consider myself very fortunate as I consider myself a connoisseur of horror. That passion is deep and spreads itself out to film, music, books, holidays, and even a love for haunted houses. This festering “vice” enables me to stick with the genre for as long as I need. When I do branch out, you can still see the influence of horror. I mean seriously – Shero has to face down zombies now! How sexy is that?

Fess up – you’ve got it bad for some zombies! No? What does Miss Awesome USA have it bad for (besides one Johnny the Depp)?

JM: I dig villains, and I dig adding a little bad into my “good guys.” So far, I haven’t written any characters that I believe are truly evil. Even the oh-so-horrifying Faye Norton from “Rabbits in the Garden” has good reasons (in her mind) for doing the things she does. But honestly, I just love creating characters. I’ve always been a person who loved playing make believe. Now, instead of running around my house like a spaz, I write down my make-believe adventures. The tough part is making the stories and characters new and interesting every time. Wait, did I say “tough” because I meant AWESOME.

I always find it amusing to watch the faces of those who’ve just learned I’m a writer. I might as well have invented time travel. They find it so incredibly interesting and look at me like I must be some kind of superwoman for doing what I do. Well, super or crazy. Maybe a bit of both. Because I work on at least 3 projects at once, I am constantly writing…even when I’m probably not supposed to be. But it’s something I can’t control. Even when I don’t have a pen in hand, I’m composing. I’m matching up would-be lovers and sentencing people to death. It’s not that real life is boring. It’s just that fiction lets you play every part in which real life refused to cast you. So, not only do I get to play The Sky: The World’s Captain Jack Racine, laudanum-addicted playboy pilot, I also get to play the temperamental god who decides his fate. With simple pen strokes, we make and unmake worlds in which there are dozens of lives that depend on our moods. Have a bad day at work, maim a main character. Get drunk on champagne, write a gala scene that ends in house-shattering sex. Buy a potato that looks like Ronald Reagan, pit zombie presidents against living ones.

Hmm, I wonder if politicians are just as difficult to swallow for the dead as they are for the living.

For the aspiring authors out there, I urge you to use your brain to its full potential. It’s easy to write a formulaic story we’ve all heard a bazillion times and then add fairies or werewolves. You have so much more to give than that. Stretch your creativity until it hurts your heart as much as your exhausted writing hand. Write stories that make you wonder “What is my mother going to think of me?!” Even if those tales don’t turn out to be your best work, it’s still work and it’s still useful. Maybe down the line you can edit it into a masterpiece, but right now, just by pushing your limits, you’ve taken the first step to greatness. And immortality.

Not a bad life, if you ask me. 🙂

Thank you so much for jackin’ me, Jack. I had an awesome time, but I usually do when I get jacked, I suppose. 😉

If any of your readers are interested in my work, they can check out my official Facebook page at where I post all kinds of radtacularity, including flash fiction, poetry, and lots of pictures of me drinking delicious beer while writing. Or champagne. Those gala-sex scenes won’t write themselves, right?

I can also be found at on Twitter under @theJessMcHugh, and on Amazon at .


Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans the genre from horror and alternate history to epic fantasy. A prolific writer, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, poetry, and playwriting. She has had ten books published in three years, including “Rabbits in the Garden”, “The Sky: The World” and the first three instalments in her “Tales of Dominhydor” series.