Novel Excerpt: Dead Evil by Candace Hughes ’86

Candice M. Hughes, award-winning poet and essayist, is former Poetry Editor for the MHC literary journal. She has authored a wide variety of creative and nonfiction works. Her debut technothriller was Death on a Thin Horse. Her newest novel is Dead Evil, a paranormal thriller with an intriguing romance, from which an excerpt appears below. She is published in The Allegheny Review, The Lyon Review, and Pegasus among others. She is a recipient of the Ida F. Snell Poetry Prize and a Pen Works Honorable Mention for Creative Nonfiction. Other books include the Small Business Rocket Fuel nonfiction series. Candice is founder of a health game company developing games for teens with ADHD, a biotech consultant and professional medical writer. She holds a PhD in Anatomy and Neurobiology and an MBA in general business management with a focus on strategy and technology innovation.

CandiceMHughes_DeadEvil_800pxThickening smoke and ash cut visibility from twilight to moonless black night as sure as a Nor’easter rolling in from the Atlantic. Detective Gabe Bennett’s radio crackled a three alarm-fire alert a quarter mile from his location. He knew the place well. It was eight houses down from his own. He edged his Ford pick-up truck to the curb as a Ferrara tanker ripped past, racing to his neighbor Rebecca Howland’s flame-ravaged colonial. His boss’ phone was sure to light up what with Rebecca being one of Plymouth, Massachusetts’ last blue bloods, Mayflower pedigree and America’s royalty.

He pulled back onto the road, navigating through the chaos of flashing lights, cruisers and tankers. He’d left work hoping for an early night, but work had found him after all.

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Lackluster in writing and/or life?? Change it up!


My presence and involvement as community forum editor here has been lacking. In fact, there’s been a general lack of connection for me to my writing since July. I updated my personal blog today with a post about feeling lackluster in writing and how I’ve finally faced that and tried to make some changes. I will repost it here and hope it might have a positive effect on at least a few of you in the trenches. (Excuse the headline – my personal blog has a coed readership – I know we skew more heavily, but still, not solely, female.)

Don’t be Mr. or Ms. Lackluster – change it up!

September 16, 2011 | Edit

Life has bogged me down lately, and I’ve let it. I accept my responsibility in the lack of blog posts, lack of progress with my writing, general lackluster-ness abounds. A whole lot of lacks around here. And, at the moment, I’m not prepared to share my personal reasons for the malaise in my life. Trust me – they’re real issues with real names and real problems that weigh me down and stifle my creativity. So, in an effort to break out of this mental fog, I decided to try to write some non-fiction. And, I’m thankful to say, an editorial I submitted to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel yesterday, appeared on the editorial page today. You can find it at Respect, Please, for job applicants.

Let’s face it – writing something, submitting it and seeing it in print so quickly, is a rare thing for writers. And, in this case, watching the online comments adding up quickly at the weblink for the editorial is fascinating and motivating. I can hear my novel crying for me to return to work! It’s like lighting one candle to use to light others.

Sometimes, a change of genre, an attempt at something different can provide the spark you need to get back to the writing you want and need to do. So, if you generally write long-form fiction, try flash for a while. Only interested in writing short stories? Give poetry a shot. Do you mostly write non-fiction? Take a stab at fiction.

What has worked for you if you’ve experienced times when it was hard to push life’s problems away while you’ve tried to create?

Hoping you all are #happy writing.