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Alumnus Pens Fantasy Novel

mchugh headshot and book cover(September 19, 2023) Cheltenham High School alumnus Tim McHugh (Class of 2017) recently published his first novel, “A Dark and Silent Song,” a fantasy work drawing inspiration from other books in the genre, particularly those of George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. A summary of the book: 

Barric is a prodigiously gifted sorcerer and a rising force in the Guild of Magi. For decades the Guild has coexisted peacefully with the Crown of Sark, using their powers for the prosperity of the people, but as a young and impulsive king rises to the throne, the kingdom tumbles into chaos and threatens to drag the Guild into the fray.

As the threat of war looms, Barric finds himself entangled in a battle of espionage where he must face the morality of his actions and confront the demons of his secret past. However, when an ancient, dark sorcery is unleashed, the lines between hero and villain blur, and the true cost of power emerges with devastating consequences.

“I started by writing short stories so I could make the bigger mistakes that every writer makes before taking on a large project,” McHugh said. “Learning how to write coherently was a big task on its own.”

He eventually wrote “Lightsiren,” his first short story to be published, and he built off of the ideas in that story.

“A lot changed throughout the process,” said McHugh, who is a functional consultant for the software company Oracle NetSuite. “I tried at first to plan out the novel but as I started writing, I kept finding better paths to follow. I finally abandoned my initial plan, and though I had broad ideas in my mind of major scenes, I didn't know where a lot of the story went until I wrote it.” 

McHugh took six months from putting pen to paper to publishing his work, but says the process is always ongoing as he markets the book and works to get it into bigger publishing houses.

“I was definitely not the best English student in high school, and though I was always a reader, my interest in writing didn't start until after I graduated,” McHugh said. “But even now when I work on describing a scene or am critiquing someone else's work, I can hear (Cheltenham English teacher) Mr. Topper’s voice saying things like, ‘Show, don't tell!’ It's only now that I realize he was teaching some of the core strategies absolutely necessary for all writers. I'm sure he would be surprised to learn he got through to me even if it took me a few years to realize it.”