I would like to thank author Lynne Murray for being here with us today. Welcome Lynne.
GP: We are glad you are here today and I’m sure that our readers would like to know more about you. What are your favorite activities outside of writing?
LM: I’m hopelessly curious about so many things. I have more physical limitations than when I was younger so most of my explorations are online, but there is so much to learn. I live near the ocean, so I spend a lot of time staring at it, often with a cat perched on my shoulder. My cats are all rescues and they daily return the favor. I’ve also practiced Buddhism since I was 19 and that has helped me do what I need to do. It also has reined in my natural tendency to say what I think is funny without regards to the consequences. That’s a strategy that works in books when you have the opportunity to edit what you say, it can be a disaster in real life when the “Why did I say that?” factor looms large.
GP: I know the tendency to blurt out remarks without considering the consequences, who knows how many times I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth.
I recently read Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone. Tell our readers a little about your books. Are all of your novels in the same science fiction genre?
LM: I came to write science fiction by a long, strange journey. I found some great advice to “write what you read” so I focused on mysteries in the 1980s and 90s. When the market for humorous mysteries tanked in the early 2000s I experimented with writing a romantic comedy in Bride of the Living Dead, about a bride who loves monster movies too much. Monsters led me to thinking about the dark side with The Falstaff Vampire Files, featuring Sir John Falstaff as a vampire. I enjoyed that a lot, and I even wrote a short story (“The Falstaff Vampire Werewolves”) for the free Awethor anthology. But I got interested in alien cultures and I ventured into outer space (and back to earth with alien visitors) in Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone, and the free short story “Valkyrie in the Demon Realm.” I’m writing another novel about Sybil from Planet Valkyrie now (Valkyrie on Planet Fury). When it’s done I plan to go back for another vampire book, The Falstaff Vampire Ghosts.
GP: I read both Gravitas and Valkyrie in the Demon Realm recently. Both captivating stories. This Friday I’ll be reviewing Gravitis for readers.
At what age did you decide that you wanted to be an author? How has publishing changed the way you view your writing from the way it was when you first began?
LM: My parents read to me when I was little and I wanted to write books before I even knew how to read. I wrote one (with a little help from my proud parents typing it up and stapling it into a manilla folder. I illustrated it with crayons. Flash forward over three decades of trial and error, unfinishable short stories and a sensitive (and unreadable) first novel. My first mystery, Termination Interview, was published by St. Martin’s Press when I was 40. It didn’t sell well. I knew nothing about marketing until after the book came out when I started to learn from other supportive writers at the wonderful Sisters in Crime organization. But it was way too late to make a difference. About a year after it was published, the so-called “shelf life” on my first book ran out and it went out of print. St. Martin’s Press was not impressed with my poor track record and no other publisher would consider my work for eight years.
I took that time to learn what kind of books I wanted to write and what strategy I would plan how to sell them when/if I got another chance. I developed a strong conviction that I needed to write stories that reflect my own passions and struggles. I wanted to create real “life-sized” characters, who were not the fashion model slim heroines I saw in almost every book I read. I wrote Larger Than Death was a mystery featuring Josephine Fuller, a sleuth of size who doesn’t apologize. It was controversial and I’ve heard gasps when people heard me read first line at book signings: “My name is Josephine Fuller and I’ve never weighed less than 200 pounds in my adult life—not counting the chip on my shoulder.”
John Miller of Orloff Press (an indie publisher no longer in business) took a chance on Larger Than Death and promised to keep the book in print until it found an audience. He was impressed by the fact that “there’s nothing out there like this book.” He also appreciated my solid plan to seek out the book’s true audience. It took two years to sell out its hard cover printing. Ironically St. Martin’s Press got interested then and they published and I wrote three more books in the series. Since then, Peggy Elam at Pearlsong Press has published six of my books in print in ebook and paperback form.
Finally, this past year I self-published Gravitas. It’s been fun to get more directly involved in every part of the process. I’m learning a lot. The author business continues to be a roller coaster ride, but it’s what I was meant to do.
GP: Many indie authors have found that traditional publishing is difficult to break into and have opted to self publish. It is a lot of work in addition to writing, there is the marketing, networking and promotions which do take a lot time. It’s a business.
Lynne, do you have some sage advice that you wished you had known when you were a new author?
LM: Keep learning and don’t take rejection to heart. Many things will arise to discourage you. The trick is to figure out which of those things are feedback that helps you improve your work or teaches you a new way to get the word out about your writing. You can safely ignore the rest.
GP: That sounds like good advice to encourage new authors to just keep at it.
Some authors have stories they outline in detail before they begin writing, while others have a basic story idea and just start writing and let it develop as it is written. I believe it’s referred to as “Planner” versus “Pantser.” How would you describe your style in this regard?
LM: I sometimes outline after the book is done as part of the revision process. Every time I try to outline in advance, I get drawn in to writing scenes and abandon the outline. I do try to keep just a little ahead of the action so I have an idea where I’m going next, but sometimes that doesn’t work and I end up writing myself into a corner and having to write my way out. That may or may not change, but at least I’m not surprised when it happens.
GP: Seems you are a little bit of both.
Can you tell us about your most recent series or published book?
LM: Several ideas came together in Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone. It’s the story of Sybil, a woman from a planet where women rule, and secrete a powerful aphrodisiac called Gravitas that is also the planets primary export: I’ve read all Laurell K. Hamilton’s books, even when I had to shake my head at how her heroines are forced to collect harems of hot males. The poor women have no choice in the matter, some force beyond their power just forces her heroines to have a lot of lovers. That made me envision a world where women are expected to have as many husbands as they can support. If a woman wants only one husband, she’s considered dangerously eccentric. Another idea I had fun with in the Gravitas is the human reaction to alien tourists, which I imagine as having a history going back thousands of years.
GP: I found the marriage expectations In Gravitas interesting.
Do you have any hints for us about what you are working on now?
LM: I’m writing Valkyrie on Planet Fury, the further adventures of Sybil of Valkyrie, where she is dispatched to a planet where assassination is a popular sport. After that I’ve got another book featuring Sir John Falstaff, vampire, already started and waiting to be finished. The Falstaff Vampire Ghosts.
GP: I certainly look forward to reading your newest books.
Please tell the readers where they can find you and your books? Do you have links you would like to share with readers?
LM: My web page has more about my own personal journey
My Amazon author page has all my books
Pearlsong Press also offers signed copies of my first book, Termination Interview.
I want to thank you again Lynne for joining us today. Readers be sure and check back on Friday for a review of Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone.
Have a Great Day!