Michael has always loved the theatre; his father was an aficionado; so although Michael had an idea that he wanted to write, he saw acting as a more accessible career.
“I was excited by acting at university, and went on to train at the Jacques Kecoq School in Paris. I’ve been acting ever since. I’ve performed a lot in theatre, but in the last few years it’s been mostly TV. Recently I filmed a Canadian TV series in Budapest.” He uses the pseudonym, Michael Colgan.
The desire to write never went away, and he finished one novel, before starting on his debut as part of his PhD in Creative writing.
Who is Michael Hughes.
Date of birth: 1972 in Keady, Northern Ireland.
Education: St Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh. Oxford University, English. Royal Holloway, MA in Creative Writing. London Metropolitan University, PhD Creative Writing.
Home: London, for the past 20 years.
Family: Married to the writer, Tiffany Watt Smith, one daughter aged 2 ½.
The Day Job: Actor; writer; Freelance Editor; Teacher of Creative writing.
Interests: Not sport.
Favourite Writers: Flann O’Brien; Kafka; Ali Smith; Nicola Barker; Ian Sinclair.
Second Novel: “I’m in the early stages of working on it. It’s more rooted in time and place.”
Top Tip: “If you’re stuck, skip to the bit you are looking forwards to writing.”
The Debut: The Countenance Divine. John Murray: €22.50. Kindle: € 9.10.
This sumptuous, experimental novel is set in four linked time-frames. In 1999, Chris, a programmer, is trying to fix the millennium bug. His colleague and sometimes girlfriend, Lucy, is obsessed with tales of Jack the Ripper.
In 1888, a rapist is in thrall to a mysterious master. Can this man have any links to Blake, the visionary poet we meet in 1777? Blake is obsessed by the spirit of John Milton, the revolutionary poet who is living out his old age in1666. At each stage, all times of change, the protagonists fear that the world might end.
“My interest started with the Millennium Bug, then the idea grew. I wanted to write something different. I love jaw-droppingly ambitious books, and didn’t want my debut to resemble a book that was already around.”
The Verdict: A gloriously extravagant novel. Strange yet compelling.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 10th September
© Sue Leonard. 2016.