Posts Tagged ‘Jessica McHugh’

Instructional manual? Biography with the subtitle “Tom Joyce: The Adolescent Years?” No, “Virtuoso at Masturbation” is neither of these things. It’s a new  book by the very funny and talented Jessica McHugh, whose novel “Pins” I reviewed here. I also interviewed her here.

If your haven’t read “Pins” or “liked” her Facebook page, do yourself a favor on both counts and get on that. “Virtuoso at Masturbation” isn’t a novel, though. Jessica describes it as “a collection of funny ponderings, fan-submitted illustrations, and unique writing prompts.”

If you’re a writer, the “writing prompts” part of that description alone would be reason enough to buy the book. Jessica is hands-down the most prolific writer I’ve ever met. This woman’s imagination is on steroids. So that’s great if she wants to share some of her writing prompts with us mere mortals who spend lengthy periods of time staring at blank screens, thinking: “OK, I need a protagonist. A … let’s see … a guy. Yeah. A guy. A guy who does … stuff.”

And if you’re not a writer, remember that “very funny” quality I was talking about back there in the first paragraph? So I’d urge you to buy it anyway. You can do so hereJessica cover.

JessicaAre you one of those people who’s been working on a novel for the past 20 years, and you’re almost up to Chapter 4? Be forewarned. The next sentence may make you want to kick yourself.

At 30, Jessica McHugh has 12 books published.

So quit making excuses and start writing! Actually, before you do that, read her novel “Pins” – a thoughtful coming-of-age story masquerading as a sordid thriller about a crazed killer offing strippers. I reviewed it here.

Also, before you dive back in on your own novel, you might want to read the following interview with Jessica. Maybe you’ll be inspired.

Here goes:

You’re how old? And you have how many books published?

I’m 30 years old, (when I say that, I hear Natalie Wood from “West Side Story” desperate praying “Please let it not be true!”) and I’ve had 12 books published by indie presses in the past 4 years.

How do you manage to get so much writing done?

Obsession — I’m kidding and being sincere here. I love to write and will do so until the day I die, so whether I have time enough in the day doesn’t matter to me. If I want to write, I will write, no matter what. I carry a notebook around in my purse so I can write while I’m waiting in any kind of line, while I’m in the bathroom, even when I’m in gridlocked traffic. If I’m waiting, I’m writing. (more…)

pinsA homicidal maniac is killing strippers!

Technically, yeah, that’s the main plot point of Jessica McHugh’s very good novel Pins. But it doesn’t convey the feel of the book, or its considerable appeal.

If that’s all you knew about the Pins, you might go in expecting nothing but a pulpy horror novel – especially since publisher Post Mortem Press specializes in (quality) speculative fiction and horror.

And yes, the book does have its horrifying moments, particularly during a harrowing sequence at the end.

But much of the book is more of an authentic, unexpectedly poignant portrayal of young women going through the aimless years of their early 20s.

McHugh does a good job capturing both the fun and the low-level anxiety of that age. Her protagonist, Birdie, senses she should probably be doing more with her life than getting high and hanging out. Yet she’s in no particular hurry, since getting high and hanging out is pretty nice for the time being.

Birdie is a smart but unambitious young woman who’s aware that men find her attractive, but still haunted by an benevolently domineering beauty queen mother and memories of being fat when she was a child.

Disenchanted with her career options, which seem to consist of little more than telemarketing or waitressing, she takes a job at a strip club called Pins. (The name comes from both the bowling alley housed there, and British slang for a pair of legs.) (more…)