Friday, August 30, 2013

Straight From the Mouth of 'Keeper of the Black Stones' PT McHugh

PT McHugh didn’t start out as a storyteller. He was, however, born into a family of that encouraged imagination. He became a fan of history in school and then went to college to become a construction engineer, to build a world of straight lines, angles, and equations.

He was just as surprised as everyone else when he realized that he believed in magic, and might just know the secret of how to jump through time. Since then, he’s been researching the possibility and learning everything he can about history. Just in case the opportunity arises.

PT was born and raised in New Hampshire and currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Bob, daring to dream of alternate worlds and cheering for his beloved New England Patriots.

His latest book is the YA fantasy/time travel, Keeper of the Stones.

Visit the Author:


Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut
answer as to why you wanted to be an author? 

Honestly it was something I always wanted to do, and when I hit forty and realized that life goes by a lot faster than you planned, I finally looked in the mirror and said … I can’t wait any longer. 

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands? 

The perks, for me, are visiting kids in schools and hearing them talk about the book and how much they love your work. It’s a fantastic feeling, and it never gets old. The demands … honestly, I quickly realized that writing the book is only half the job. When you’re done with the writing, then you go through the design, the marketing, the blogging, the blog tours (ahem!), the social media, the learning what to say to people who have questions for you … And then you have to go out and sell it. It takes a lot more time than I originally thought, to be sure.  

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I went the traditional route, sending out a million letters, waiting for a publisher to call … honestly, it takes a lot out of you, and it’s something I would never want to go through again.  Here you are with a manuscript in hand that you’ve spent countless hours on, and the only thing you hear is either rejection or nothing. It’s awful, and so emotionally draining. After a few months I was lucky to hear a positive response from a small publisher in Southern California called Glass House Press. We’ve been working together for more than three years now. 

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you? 

I still feel guilty, but my wife and girls have been great about it, they really have.  I really don’t have other hobbies (other than watching the NE Patriots during football season – side note, I don’t miss any games), so I’m just counting this as my hobby now. I still make sure I have plenty of time stashed away for the family. 

This is for pet lovers.  If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word? 

We have two cats and two dogs, so I’m a big-time pet lover.  My favorite dog in the world (Bob) passed away not too long ago, and it still breaks my heart to think about him.  He’s the one in my author picture, and will always remain in my heart!  So the answer is no, if my dogs or cats are hungry, the sentence I’m working on will have to wait. 

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late? 

Honestly I did most of my writing when the kids and wife were asleep, because you can’t ignore them … at least I can’t, or my wife would kill me. 

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

 For our first appearance in Southern California I really didn’t know what to expect.  We visited a school early in the day, and of course the kids had never heard of me, since the book had just been released that day. But a couple evenings later, when we did our first B&N appearance, to sign what I thought would be a few books, we had what felt like hundreds of kids and parents inside waiting for us. We sold out in a few minutes, and I’ll never forget that feeling. It was wonderful. 

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid? 

I was not a fan of social media at first, because honestly I didn’t know much about it. I didn’t have a FB page, certainly not a Twitter account, and had never read a blog in my life. I have of course changed, and now I’m starting to understand the importance of social networking (yes Glass House Press, you were right).  Now, with that being said, I’m still not totally sold on Twitter.  I’m part of the Twitter world, but I honestly don’t know if I’ve sold one book because of it.  Perhaps I’m wrong, and my editor tells me every day that that I am, and that people actually ARE reading my Twitter, but I have my doubts. 

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you? 

I honestly don’t know where I stand on the sales.  My publisher is happy, which means we must be doing pretty well, and Glass House has been very careful to remind me that this is the first book in a long publishing career, and that every career takes time. We sold out our first printing within a couple of weeks, which was wonderful, and after that I never asked. 

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about? 

Honestly I can’t scream about too much. My editor, Carrie White, told me straight up what would happen before I signed the contract, and she was right about everything.  It’s a roller coaster ride, and I’ve wanted to quit several times, out of frustration, hatred of the process, and pure terror. But I’m glad Glass House wouldn’t let me. 

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way? 

I must admit that it’s pretty cool to see your book on bookshelves when you walk into a book store.  I was in Manhattan, of all places, two weeks ago, and I walked into a B&N at Union Square and saw my book right there on the shelf with a kid reading the back jacket. That was a rush that will never get old. 

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