Brian McHugh, author of the two successful novels, Torn Edges and Between Two Bridges, tells us about life growing up and the family connections he has to the settings he writes about— America and Ireland.
Before Brian McHugh was born, his parents individually immigrated to the USA— met and married in Philadelphia. They then returned to Ireland and later moved to the Gorbals in Glasgow, where Brian was born. He was the only member of his family to be born and brought up entirely in Glasgow.
Brian went to Strathclyde University to pursue an engineering course, but abandoned this after only a year. He went on to work around England, in particular Jersey where he spent a year working as a porter/dishwasher. After this time, Brian decided to return to Glasgow and complete his engineering course and worked for some years as a construction engineer and contractor, before deciding to become a teacher.
During his teaching years he was elected Trade Union official and President of East Renfrewshire Local Association of the EIS (teacher’s union) and went on to gain an arts degree in 1992.
The beginning of Brian’s writing career started with his short story The Day After the Music Died, which was based on an event in the fifties and published by The Scottish Book Trust. This story was selected to be broadcast in 2010 by the BBC and later a shortened version of the story was published in The Guardian. This early success paved the way to a writing career that would go on to produce two popular novels.
In May 2012, Ringwood proudly published Brian’s debut novel, Torn Edges, and in 2015, the sequel, Between Two Bridges. After a family heirloom is found at the scene of a Glasgow murder, the McKenna family go on a journey to uncover the mysteries of their ancestors and come to realise that their past may bring up some unexpected secrets. In both novels, Brian cleverly moves between two worlds, tying together history with present day Glasgow.
Brian McHugh is currently involved in a few other projects and publishes the occasional rant on his webpage which can be found here: http://brianmchughmedia.co.uk/
Brian’s novels can be purchased through the Ringwood Website or through Amazon.co.uk.
You can contact Brian here:
Twitter: Brian McHugh @pbmchu
Facebook: Brian McHughBrian’s movies
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O66jaAYDejA The day the music died
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFXEPImLX4k Gorbals Wedding 1961
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWo1P0CD7Lw Torn Edges Final
Ringwood’s author Alex Gordon, started out as a sports editor of the Scottish Sunday Mail, as well as writing twelve non-fiction football books. After an already successful writing career, he had the idea for a whodunnit novel, which sparked the main character, Charlie Brock. Despite being warned against fiction writing by some publishers, Alex was already well on his way, with his first novel, Who Shot Wild Bill, published in 2013.
This was the beginning of the Millport set, mystery series that would follow Charlie Brock — a former sports journalist, turned detective. In 2016, the second book in the series, What Spooked Crazy Horse was published.
The move from non-fiction football writing to novel writing might seem like an unlikely shift, but Alex says ‘I had been brought up on a staple diet of Agatha Christie (mixed in with a mountain of football autobiographies and biographies) and I just can’t get enough of extremely clever mystery writers.’
So where did the idea come from? Alex has spent a lot of time on Millport, an island on the west-coast of Scotland, where the novel is set. While spending some time at the Kelburne bar, sampling a small libation and chatting to his good friend and owner, Eddie Hughes and a few of the regulars, someone had mentioned there had never been a recorded murder on Millport. This set the wheels in motion for Alex, and with the annual Country and Western Festival a couple of months away — a weekend full of wannabe Buffalo Bills, Wyatt Earps and Billy The Kids, all with fake guns strapped to their hips — it would be the perfect setting for a murder mystery he thought.
Alex found no difficulty in finding a title for his novel. He says, ‘there was no big deal to it when you’ve been employed in the newspaper production for almost three decades.’ The front cover was a little more tricky he says, ‘it’s too easy to clutter up a page…I decided to go for a deck of three at the bottom…The first line read: “One Country and Western Festival”; the second: “One dead body” and the third: “Twelve thousand suspects!”
Alex talks about some of the benefits of fiction writing, over non-fiction. He speaks about the research involved and the complex details that football writing entails, not to mention relying on interviewees and their tendency to cancel last minute. Whereas with non-fiction, all your characters are ready to go. He says, ‘I didn’t have to chase them down [or] pick up an exorbitant drinks tab.’
So since Alex’s character Charlie Brock seems to share many characteristic of himself (both former sports-journalists) it stands to reason much of the protagonist is based on Alex himself? He says, ‘I had to describe Charlie Brock, the reluctant sportswriter-turned sleuth, and that was fairly easy, I just made him a better-looking version of the author!’ But Alex has talked about the enjoyment of basing his characters off of real-life people, so much so that it soon became a guessing game, trying to figure out who was who on the island.
Ringwood bought over the publishing rights to Who Shot Wild Bill, naming it as Scotland’s answer to America’s Kinky Friedman. The success of Alex’s first novel gave way to the second in the series, What Spooked Crazy Horse, which follows Charlie Brock once again solving the mysteries that behold the Island of Millport.
The third book in the series well is now published: Who Stole Sitting Bull. He says, ‘I just hope the readers derive as much pleasure from my novels as I have in putting them together. What’s that they say in the tabloids? Never let the facts get in the way of a good story? I’ll drink to that.’
Alex Gordon’s Charlie Brock series are available to purchase from Ringwood Publishing or from amazon.com, and make sure to keep an eye out for his next one on the way!