Interview with Jess Steven Hughes, Author

I am delighted to have Jess Steven Hughes as my guest today. Thank you, Jess, for joining me on my website.

Jess, can you tell us about yourself and your background? What do you currently do outside of writing?

Jess Steven (Steve) Hughes portraitI am a retired police detective sergeant with twenty-five years experience in criminal investigation and a former U.S. Marine. I hold a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a minor in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations from the University of Southern California. I have traveled and studied extensively in the areas forming the background of my novels, which brings vivid authenticity to the unique settings for my historical novels, The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, The Wolf of Britannia, Part II, and The Sign of the Eagle. I currently live with my wife, Liz, and our three horses in Eastern Washington. I am currently working on two more historical novels from the First Century A.D., The Broken Lance and The Peacekeeper.

Besides writing, I have a passion for model railroading. I have an outdoor G-scale layout that encompasses 6,500 feet, operating 660 feet of track. These trains are the largest commercially manufactured trains available. Any larger are custom made. They are three times the size of HO gauge.

What books have you written, and what are their genres? What audience are they aimed at?

The Sign of the Eagle Book Cover re-configured Book cover Wolf of Britannia, Vol. I Book cover Wolf of Britannia, Vol. II

I have written three historical novels: The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, The Wolf of Britannia, Part II and The Sign of the Eagle. The novels are set in ancient Rome and Celtic Britain between 27 – 71 A.D. The books are targeted for readers age 16 and above. Not only are they for those who like historical fiction but for a general audience as well who like to learn more about Rome and Celtic Britain.

My books are published by Sunbury Press, a traditional small press. These are not indie books.

Book Trailer for The Sign of the Eagle

Book Trailer for The Wolf of Britannia, Part I

What prompted you to write what you did? Where do you get your writing inspiration? What message(s) do you want readers to take away?

I had always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was in my early 40’s that I started.

I was not interested in writing non-fiction. Several factors led to that realization. At the time, I was a police detective sergeant on the Long Beach Police Department in California, and my major in college was Public Administration. However, my minor and academic first love was Ancient Mediterranean History–I have traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean World. After I had received my Master in the above at the University of Southern California, I asked my Classical History Professor, Dr. David Hood, what were the requirements to teach Classical History? He answered in order to teach you had to have a Doctorate in Classical History, but you also had to be proficient (read and write) in six foreign languages. These included French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin and Spanish. I had taken only Greek, Latin and Spanish. I decided that I should seriously consider writing historical fiction instead, which was my favorite genre, especially, stories of the Classical Period.

051615 signing copy of THE SIGN OF THE EAGLE for new reader, Rita

Signing copy of THE SIGN OF THE EAGLE for new reader, Rita

Because there are many gaps in the historical timeline, I knew I could write about the Classical Period with greater leeway than many other historical eras. This allowed me to be more creative and imaginative about the events of the time.

Before I wrote my first historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle, and later, The Wolf of Britannia, Parts I and II, I had to learn the fundamentals of writing fiction. This included plot, characterization, scene, setting, dialogue, descriptive narration, the difference between showing and not telling, etc. Only after I had attended writing seminars and workshops for several years did my abilities as an author of novels finally emerge.

Always keep in mind, I don’t write HISTORY. I use historical events and backdrops for my stories. My historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle, published by Sunbury Press, a traditional small press, takes place in Milan and Rome in 71 A.D. The main character, Macha, is a Celtic woman married to a Roman officer, Titus. He has been wrongfully accused of treason and conspiring to assassinate the Emperor Vespasian. Macha must almost single-handedly prove his innocence.

011616 Signing copy The Wolf of Britannia, Pt I, for new reader, Bob

Signing copy of THE WOLF OF BRITANNIA, PART I, for new reader, Bob

Historians have speculated there were several conspiracies against the life of Emperor Vespasian, but only two appeared to have been recorded as found in The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius or in The Histories by Cassius Dio. Therefore, my story is a fictionalized account of one possible unrecorded attempt on Vespasian’s life. He was considered one of Rome’s five “good” emperors and my favorite. I wrote from what I believe to be a different perspective using an unlikely protagonist, a Celtic woman. Why not?

Before I could fully develop The Sign of the Eagle, I had to conduct extensive research. For this I turned to my private library of over 500 books on Classical, Celtic, and Mid-Eastern history. I started with the overall history of the Roman Empire and the Celtic world. I continued with geographical locations, narrowing down the story to Milan, Rome and the Italian country side.

I had to consider historical events that occurred prior to those in my novel, which were important to the story’s background. Among these I included the great civil war of 69 A.D., known as the Year of the Four Emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian). In my story, Macha’s husband, Titus, fought in this war against the forces of the short-lived Emperor Vitellius at the Battle of Cremona. Titus was part of one of Vespasian’s advanced units.

102315 Signing copy for new reader, Chris @ Hastings, Shadle Park, Spokane, WA

Signing for new reader, Chris, at Hastings, Shadle Park, Spokane, WA

Other events included the invasion of Britannia in 43 A.D (The Wolf of Britannia, Part I & II) and the eventual capture of the British Chieftain, Caratacus, Macha’s father. He was brought to Rome along with his wife and daughter and ultimately pardoned by the Emperor Claudius. We don’t know the daughter’s actual name; I chose a good Celtic name, Macha. Caratacus was pardoned and disappeared from history, but there was no reason why I could not use his daughter for a story.

For her background, I described her growing up being Romanized but clinging to many Celtic customs. Prior to the story, she married Titus, who was a born in Rome. His parents were Gauls, but his father was a Roman Senator, one of the first Gauls admitted to the Senate under the Emperor Claudius.

Because I used a Celtic protagonist, I had to research Celtic as well as Roman customs re: daily living, the role of women in the Celtic and Roman worlds, the gulf between the classes, slavery, religion, the military (Celt and Roman), descriptions of city life, especially in Rome, etc.

It was only after I had conducted sufficient research that I wrote my stories. However, I wasn’t finished. I had to run the gauntlet of two writers’ groups, the Spokane Novelists and the Spokane Valley Writers Group, which month after month reviewed and bled all over my chapters until the manuscript finally met their expectations. Even then I wasn’t through; I sent my manuscript to a “Book Doctor,” an editor who had spent many years with Harper-Collins before going into private business. Fortunately, she is a very ethical person (there are some real charlatans out there) who was thorough and answered all my subsequent questions after she had reviewed and returned my novel for more work. My efforts paid off. After many rejection slips, The Sign of the Eagle was accepted for publication, followed by The Wolf of Britannia, Parts I & II.

Do you write short stories, articles, or have a blog? Where can we find them?

I have written only one short story, Death Most Poisonous. This is a mini-sequel to The Sign of the Eagle. It was published in 2010 by the literary magazine Down in the Dirt.

What do you find the hardest about writing? The easiest?

011616 pic 2 signing copy The Wolf of Britannia, pt 2 for new reader, Bob

Signing copy of THE WOLF OF BRITANNIA, PT. II, for new reader, Bob

Dealing with writer’s block and starting a new chapter are the hardest. For me they seem to go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it will take as long as two weeks to finally develop an idea before I can put it down on paper. Usually, I make several false attempts.

Since I love history, doing the research is the easiest part for me.

What’s next for you?

I am in the process of writing two more historical novels, The Broken Lance and The Peacekeeper. The first takes part in Celtic Britain and Rome, and the second, which is a sequel, takes part in Rome. The time period is 44 – 69 A.D. These are epic novels seen through the eyes of a Spanish centurion in the Roman army.

What special thing about yourself would you like to share with readers?

Although I have a passion for writing and am an avid model railroader, I’m generally an easy-going guy with a lot of interests (I am also considered to be type A). I can just as easily attend a baseball game in the afternoon and then follow that up by going to a symphonic concert in the evening.

How can we follow or contact you?

You can contact me on Facebook: Jess Steven Hughes

Twitter: @JessStevenHughe

Website: www.jessstevenhughes.com

Where can readers buy your books?

Sunbury Press (www.sunburypress.com)

Amazon.comAmazon.caBarnes & Noble (bn.com)

Books can also be ordered from any brick and mortar store. All books are published as trade paperbacks and as e-books on Kindle and Nook (The Sign of the Eagle only).

Confirmed Book Signings, Fall 2016

booksigning20160917

September 2016

Sat., Sept. 17th, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
15310 E. Indiana Ave., Spokane Valley, WA 99216
(509) 922-4104
Store Manager: Leslie

Sat., Sept 24th, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Aunties Books
402 W. Main, Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 838-0206
Events Coordinator: Heather

Sun., Oct. 2nd, 12 – 5 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
5353 Almaden Expressway, San Jose, CA 95118
(408) 979-0611
Comm. Rel. Manager: Camille Gill

Sat., Oct. 22nd, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
18025 Garden Way NE, Woodinville, WA 98072
(425) 398-1990
Comm. Rel. Manager: Dan Tuberville

Sat., Nov. 5th, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Barnes & Noble – Northtown Mall
4750 N. Division St., Spokane, WA 99207
(509) 482-4235
Assistant Manager: Hilde Harris

Sat., Dec. 3rd, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
15310 E. Indiana Ave., Spokane Valley, WA 99216
(509) 922-4104
Store Manager: Leslie

Updates Nov. 14, 2016

Book Sales Success
Good news! Because of sales (book signings) I made at my recent author’s events here in the Pacific Northwest, my historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle, was listed number 4 out of the top 50 best-selling books for Sunbury Press during the month of October.

Read more about Jess’ book signing successes, the Myth of the Disappearing Book, and author interviews, including Patty Wiseman.

Recognition

  • The Broken Lance was accepted for publication by Sunbury Press (November 2016).
  • The Sign of the Eagle was listed number 4 out of the top 50 best-selling books for Sunbury Press during the month of October 2016.

Blog tour Wolf of Britannia - Copy

The Sign of the Eagle reviews

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction and fantasy, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning difficulties and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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6 Responses to Interview with Jess Steven Hughes, Author

  1. pattywiseman says:

    One of my favorite authors! The way he takes history and weaves a wonderful story is fascinating. All his books are great reads. Wonderful interview!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Interview with Jess Steven Hughes, Author | SUNBURY PRESS BOOKS

  3. Pingback: New Horizons | Beyond the Precipice

  4. Pingback: June 2017 Roundup: Guest Posts and Interviews | Beyond the Precipice

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