Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –
Murph: I’m from a small town in Southern Indiana, a lover of dogs, books, firearms, knives, Indian cusine and people with bold, bombastic attitudes. I was the drummer for Sidecar Prophets, Dante’, OFB, the Mystic Prisoners and a long string of bar bands. Over the years I’ve worked as a delivery driver, farmer, foundry worker, X-ray technician, carpenter, bar tender, busker, weapons inspector and a ton of Joe jobs.
Bec: What first got you interested in writing?
Murph: Three things. First and foremost would be my oldest brother. From an early age he was engrossed in literature. He would often read entire books in one sitting. On my thirteenth birthday he gave me a boxed set of “Lord of The Rings” and began feeding me the classics like “Catcher in the Rye”, “David Copperfield”, “Sherlock Holmes”, Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Sadly. I lost him to cancer eleven years ago and I’m still struggling to come to grips with that. The second major influence comes from both my brother and my grandfather. Being of Irish descent comes with a few advantages, one of which is the beautiful and often brutal skills they both had for telling a story. They could sit at a table or gather around a campfire and weave a tale out of thin air that would have you hanging on every word. The stories always involved quirky characters or oddball locales that pulled you into the story. Some of it was fact, some of it was fiction, but all of it was entertaining. With each telling, the stories would take on something new—an additional character, a new twist, a different ending—anything to keep it fresh. I think my good fortune of being exposed to this over the years got me interested in seeking out unusual people and places for my own stories and then finding unique ways to tell them. The third significant influence was Ms. Nancy Hamilton, my high school English Literature teacher. She was a stickler for accuracy in all things writing—not just the basics like punctuation, spelling and grammar, but theme, substance, voice and detail. She always told me: “If you choose to write fiction, write it BIG.”
Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?
Murph: I think many writers, including me, have struggled with rejection. When I first began submitting to editors, publishers and agents I quickly became disheartened by the responses I received. I had prepared myself for negative responses, so that wasn’t really an issue. What I found discouraging were the number of “form letter” replies which provided no detail into why the submissions were being rejected. All writers crave input, even when it comes in the form of criticism. Sadly, like most authors, I’ve also received a few very unprofessional rejections which bordered on a personal attack. Eventually, you learn to filter those out. On the flip side of the coin, are the editors and publishers who take time to provide you with extraordinarily professional and precise input to your work. They usually center around weak points in the story, rough transitions or lack of detail. These are the ones I focus on because they give valuable insight into ways of strengthening my work.
With marketing, I think most authors tend to find themselves in a constant state of playing “catch-up.” With the advent of social media and the ever changing world of electronic publishing, an author can quickly become discouraged and feel like they are not making much headway. I think it’s something we all have to deal with, but not to the point of becoming overwhelmed. Several things work for me to help me remain focused. First, I am learning to think more like a publisher. How do they market? How do they promote? How do they reach consumers? Once I’ve done that, I put an “Indie” spin on it by realizing I have as much, or more skin in the game simply by having my name on a given project. From there, it becomes: How do I market? How do I promote? How do I reach consumers? And finally, as an author, I realized I had to seek out and research trusted information on marketing, social media, platform development, promotion and valid support groups. To avoid being overwhelmed I decided to divide all of this into manageable chunks that could be easily developed and added to my marketing plan a step at a time. It’s a long process and each author tackles it in a different way. The important thing is to not give up.
Bec: Tell us about your book/s –
Murph: I have been fortunate enough to be featured in all three of the Dead Bait series of books alongside such greats as Tim Curran and Ramsey Campbell. Dead Bait included my story “Noodlers”, DB2 included my story “Heavy Weather” and Dead Bait 3 features the crime / horror smash-up “Sinkers”. The series is published by Severed Press and they do some outstanding work. Coming out later this year will be my first release of an eBook, titled Deadly Detours. It will feature seven of my short stories of crime, horror and debauchery. As Editor, I have been extremely pleased with the response to Indiana Crime 2012, which I co-edited with friend and fellow writer James Ward Kirk.
Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?
Murph: There are plans for another book in the Dead Bait series and the editors at Severed Press has approached me to write a full length novel centered around the briney deep. There are also plans for Indiana Crime 2013 and James Ward Kirk and I hope to open for submissions in early 2013.
Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?
Murph: Perhaps the one I’m most proud of to date is Indiana Crime 2012, which I co-edited with James Ward Kirk. I pitched the idea to James shortly after he accepted my story “Bumper Music “ for his anthology Indiana Horror 2011 and he was very enthusiastic. He followed up with an e-Mail and after ironing out some details he asked if I would like to edit the book with him. We worked through a massive amount of responses and ended up with Indiana Crime 2012, which is full of short fiction, poetry, artwork and photos all centered around Indiana Crimes and Indiana authors. I’m very proud of the finished work and we plan to do another for 2013. Amazingly, James and I never met in person until long after the finished book went to print. We did everything electronically and it just clicked. James is also working on some projects for Static Movement and my stories will be featured in two of those volumes, “Ace of Spades” will be included in Graverobbers and “Identity Theft” will be in Serial Killers 2. My short story collection Deadly Detours has just passed muster with my editor and is scheduled for release through Amazon Kindle in November. My short story “Devices” is set to appear in Indiana Science Fiction 2012 and Early 2013 will see another of my short story collections published through Amazon Kindle. I plan to follow that up with my recently completed novella “Pain” and a full-length novel which is nearing completion.
I will also be working with fellow writer and editor, Elisha Murphy on her Halloween anthology, tentatively titled Haunted Highways. If all goes as planned, it will be opening for submissions around March 2013 and released in paperback in September 2013. This will be a collection of all things horror, including fiction, poetry, art, photos, the works. Elisha has some awesome ideas for this collection, including stunning cover art, some old school lithographs, modern art, photography, poetry and a boat load of opportunities for both new and experienced authors to strut their stuff.
Bec: What’s your favorite color?
Murph: Black and Blue, baby. Black and Blue.
Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?
Murph: Music. As a drummer I’ve always loved music. I’m a big Prog fan, so if you throw on a little Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree, Yes, Tool, Marillion Coheed and Cambria or Dream Theatre, I’m down with it. Also got my stand-by’s like Foo Fighters, Led Zepplin, Rammstein, Bad Company, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Whitesnake just to keep the old feet tapping. If I’m writing in flow, the music helps keep me pumped. When editing difficult sections I have to have minimum distractions and complete silence.
Bec: Walking or riding a bike?
Murph: Walking. It gives me a chance to think, which in turn helps me develop characters, scenes, plots and those dark and deadly details. I know they say once you learn to ride a bike you’ll never forget, but I don’t want to take that chance. And nobody wants to clean a mess like that up!
Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?
Murph: Reading, it has to be crime, noir, horror and pulp fiction in all of its forms, although I also dig a good western and the odd sci-fi when well written.
Writing, it’s pretty much the same. I love mixing genres in my writing. I’ll usually have elements of crime/horror/ and noir all in the same piece. I have written everything from westerns to romance, but my pen always seems to swerve over to the dark side of fiction.
Bec: What’s your favorite type of bird?
Murph: Gotta be the hummingbird. They fascinate me simply from the “mechanics of flight” perspective. I mean, your eyes are taking it all in, but your brain is saying “There’s no way a bird should be doing that.” I’ve seen them fly up-side-down, backwards, sideways and those incredible wings never stop buzzing. There’s a lesson to be learned there—even when you’re in a crash dive, keep on flapping those wings.
Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?
Murph: I do. Fortunately, I have all these bizarre characters in my head to keep me company. Seriously, though, I think as a writer you quickly learn to become your own best friend. Once you enjoy yourself and become comfortable in your writing skin, you can seek out others you can trust and rely on.
Bec: Water or soda?
Murph: Water. I worked in a soda bottling plant when I was young and I gotta say, I despise the stuff.
Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?
Murph: Believe in yourself, read as much as you write and never, ever give up. There will be times when it feels as if you are moving backwards and nothing is going your way. Ride it out. It will get better. And always seek out other writers. Talk to them, ask questions, seek wise counsel because most will give it freely. When you have achieved any level of success, no matter how small, take time to thank those who helped you get there. Above all, pay it forward. You will be repaid sevenfold.
Bec: What was your most memorable birthday? Why?
Murph: The one I’m celebrating this October 31st, cause it means I’m still alive and still writing.
Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?
Murph: To always make time in your life for your passion, be it writing, music, painting, gardening, auto mechanics, or bowling, you owe it to yourself to pursue it with all the gusto you can muster. Take risks, be bold, seek out mentors and follow your dreams, even when everyone around you tries to discourage you. Don’t ever look back and say ‘what if’ or ‘if only’.
Bec: What’s your favorite number?
Murph: .357—cause there’s just something about a magnum.
Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?
Murph: Absolutely. I find creative people in general to be very supportive, and writers especially so. The vast majority of writers I’ve encountered have given me awesome support, often in unbelievable ways. Writers carry a spirit of generosity that I seldom encounter anywhere else in my life. This has helped me grow and take chances I might not otherwise have taken.
Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?
Murph: This is always a tough one because I enjoy so many. I’ll try to narrow it down to a few, knowing I’ll be forgetting someone. Anything by Ken Bruen, but especially “Once Were Cops” anything by Elmore Leonard, Ray Banks’, “Saturday’s Child” and Brian Keene’s “Ghoul” are all top of the list, followed closely by all of Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. All of them have several things in common which draw me in as a reader: The techniques they use for dialog, scene, atmosphere, language and tension are what entertain me as a reader and inspire me as a writer.
Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?
Murph: Another toughie. Again, I have to say, I’m drawn to several. Ken Bruen, for his excellent crime voice and the Irish atmosphere, Ray Banks, Anthony Neil Smith, Seth Harwood and Victor Gischler for their down-in-the dirt crime writing, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler for outstanding and quick witted dialog, Brian Keene, cause, hell he’s Brian Keene! And I’m way into Jeff Somers and his Electric Church series. Jeff mixes the sci-fi, crime and horror genres seamlessly. On a more local front, I love the work being produced by Paula D. Ashe, Matt Cowin, David Bain, James Ward Kirk, Marianne Halbert, Paul DeThroe, Todd Card, Jeffrey Ashby and David Scott Pointer.
Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?
Murph: Yes, I had an interesting writing experience that I think would benefit a lot of writers. This one, again started out as just a quick idea batted around on e-Mails and coincidentally, also involved my friend James Ward Kirk. One of us, I forget which one, asked the question: Have you ever thought of writing a story together? We decided to toss it out there and see what would happen. James fired the opening salvo with a first paragraph which was e-Mailed to me. I then added the second paragraph and fired it back. We followed this method all the way through till the end. The only rule we established was that there were no rules. Neither of us knew where the other would wind up taking the story. We decided to call it a ‘deadly duo’ and it soon turned into ‘writer’s roulette’. We didn’t even consider editing, changing or altering anything till the story was through the first draft. We had a ball. The resulting story, “Me and Sister Mercy” was shopped out and eventually picked up by Criminal Class Review. They will be publishing it in the next volume of their excellent journal. The piece has elements of crime, horror, sci-fi and hardboiled fiction. I encourage others to try their hand at this. It’s a challenge, but quite rewarding as both a writing and learning tool.
The only other thing I can think of to share it this: “Never insult seven men when all you’re packin’ is a sixgun!”
Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!
Murph: The pleasure was all mine, dear lady. I’ll have you over to the Murphy Edwards Dungeon real soon.
About Murphy Edwards:
Murphy Edwards is the award winning author of “Serious Money”, “Bumper Music”, “Heavy Weather”, “Noodlers”, and “The Last Days of Maxwell Sweet”. His work has appeared in Dimensions Magazine, The East Side Edition, Black October, Horizons, MidAtlantic Monthly, Modern Drummer, The Nor’Easter, Walking Bones,Escaping Elsewhere, Trail of Indiscretion, Hardboiled Magazine, Barbaric Yawp, Samsara, The Magazine of Suffering, The Nocturnal Lyric, Night Chills, Big Pulp Magazine, Criminal Class Review and in the anthologies Dead Bait (Severed Press), Assassin’s Canon (Utility Fog Press), Abaculus II (Leucrota Press), Night Terrors (Blood Bound Books), Unspeakable (Blood Bound Books), Bloody Carnival (Pill Hill Press), Dead Bait II (Severed Press), Indiana Horror 2011, Indiana Horror 2012 (Indiana Horror Writer’s Association), Dead Bait III (Severed Press), Grave Robbers (Static Movement), Serial Killers 2 (Static Movement) andIndiana Science Fiction 2012 . His short story, “Mister Checkers”, was chosen to be among the best in science fiction, fantasy and horror of 2009 for the Leucrota Press Anthology, Abaculus III. Edwards is a 2011 recipient of The Midwest Writers Workshop Writers Retreat Fellowship Award for Fiction and is the Co-Editor ofIndiana Crime 2012. In addition to the United States, Edwards has been published in Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and the U.K. He resides in Indiana and on the web at:
©Rebecca Besser & Murphy Edwards, 2012. All rights reserved.