Yellowknife woman publishes first fantasy novel

Longtime Yellowknife resident Aya McHugh wanted to write from a young age. Now, the trans woman and queer author has self-published her first novel.

“My friends inspired me to write it all out at first as a way to just get the ideas out on paper, so I’d remember them properly,” McHugh told Cabin Radio. “As I did, it became clear that hey, I might actually be good at this.” 

Cursed World: Initial Sparks is a modern fantasy novel that follows the adventures of Rei Scios, a girl who lives in the far North, and her friends as they discover the supernatural. McHugh plans for the book to be the first in a series.


McHugh said she was inspired by anime and manga as well as Yellowknife itself. The novel explores themes of love, justice and the weight of protecting people you care about. 

“If someone reads my work, really gets into it and has their own interpretation, and that inspires them to share their thoughts with others and further cultivate and expand themselves and their world, that’s perfect,” she said.

“I also hope that it inspires people to think critically about what they read.”

For McHugh, the devil is in the details, with small hints in the book foreshadowing later events. She said she wants to inspire both people’s hearts and minds with her writing. 

Cursed World: Initial Sparks is available for purchase via Amazon. McHugh plans to donate copies to the city’s library.