On out Steamer Lane, I poached rides before heats of a surf contest, splashing through a predawn blackness. Nose of the board spilled a pale V of foam to point my way. I caught a swell just as the sun’s dyed first rays began painting the sea.

I turned off to find myself caught inside by a much larger wave, and got spin-cycled. Back on the surface, I saw more big surf tumble onto the break, and dove under to tug my board through the tumult. Even so, I found myself steadily driven in toward the cliff.

But swells tapered off. Drama over, I clambered back on and paddled out to score more rides. Reverberations of the big waves clashed, and on their fractured faces the pastels of sunrise burned.

Some moments of life seem to tote it all. This speck of time offered a fraught human and surrounding chaos, lit by the serene rays of a nearby star. Makes a great scene for a story, I thought. I collect notes on such things, the way others might seashells.

I am a story teller. I am a writer.

BAIP_Award_2011x200 deadlinesCover NIEA_Mystery_Winnerx200

I always and only wished to be a teller of stories. Initially, I sought to be a priestly type. Next, a poet. After that, a journalist. Mainly now, I write fiction. My top hit thus far: “Deadlines – a novel of murder, conspiracy, and the media.” It won the National Indie Excellence Award for best mystery in 2011, and also took top honors from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association that year.

I publish short pieces in journals, and bigger works are on the way. Check this page for updates and links! Also, you can enjoy reviews and commentary on my Skullduggery blog. And feel free to wander this site to discover earlier writings, interviews, and video links.



Alcatraz – The Official Guide
Also available through the Park Conservancy Store

‘I’d always bet on a pair of jacks, wouldn’t you? Especially Jack London and Jack Kerouac, two of my predecessors, icons, and guides to the writer’s life. Perhaps it’s presumptuous to line my mug up with theirs. But here’s what we all bear in common: a love of outdoors California, a taste for adrenalin and adventuring, an offbeat pursuit of inspiration, and a deep sense of brotherhood with the working man and woman. I’m just as blue collar as those guys. And we think we look great in wool stevedore caps.

About "Deadlines"


"Deadlines" reading from Paul McHugh on Vimeo (above)

John Lescroart and Paul McHugh in Conversation.

Mystery writer John Lescroart in conversation with Paul McHugh (above)


Click to listen to Paul's Interview with Michael Krasney on KQED FM