With great pleasure, I welcome Author John Murphy on my blog today. Lets chat with him about his sci-fi novel and writing in general.
- Congratulations on publishing your novel! Please tell us what inspired you to become a writer?
I wanted to accomplish something great with my life. I used to read novels during lunch breaks at work. I always thought that I could do it as well or better. So, I combined the two instincts and began writing in my early 30’s.
My earliest writing experience I recall is from 3rd grade when I created what I thought was a really spooky story. It got me sent to the principal’s office because they thought I might be crazy. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.
I used to carve things as a kid, making space ships out of clay and toilet paper tubes or walnuts. I did a great deal of drawing as a teen. In college, I used to paint murals on dormitory walls, and even in my kids’ bedroom. I’ve always had a creative and inventive streak in me, and writing is just one of several mediums. I took it up in earnest in 1992, completed a novel (after four re-writes, but never published), then began writing a non-fiction Success Without a College Degree a few years later and that changed the direction of my life. After another ten years, I came back to writing fiction, but I’ve been creative throughout. Even while writing my current novel, I’ve been creating graphics that illustrate scenes from the story.
- How did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?
I’ve always been good at making up stories with a little bit of prompting. I read a lot of stories to my kids. However, I’d also make up adventure stories on the fly where the characters were just like them (the kids). Ten years ago I got into making short movies, and I’d create the story around the people I could recruit to be in the video (You can still watch them on YouTube). My youngest son and other friends in their late teens were interested in starring in one of these videos so I set out to write a screenplay.
I didn’t want to deal with drugs, pregnancy or any of the other “teen issues” so I opted for an elite military cadre training on a planet where the atmosphere makes you tell the truth. That was the genesis for the current sci-fi novel, Mission Veritas.
- That’s very interesting! Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?
The protagonist, Killian, of course. In the ‘movie phase’ of this endeavor, my son was going to play Killian. However, I really like all of them. It is pure pleasure crafting characters, then finding clever ways to ‘characterize’ them through behavior and dialogue. I’m hoping that readers will pick up on the affection I hold for each character.
- I feel that writing is very gratifying. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
Finishing the story. As other writers know, you never feel like you’re quite finished. One can re-write and tweak a story endlessly. Completing the project, getting it edited, proofed, and published means you can move on to the next story and not keep revisiting the first one. I meet a lot of people who tell me they’ve wanted to write a novel, or have started, but have never finished. Out of the gazillion wannabes, I followed through. Writing a novel is a marathon and even if I don’t finish first, I crossed the finish line.
- How much research do you do for your books?
I can see how historic novelists research their period pieces, but my ‘period’ is in the future, so no one knows. I’m frequently going to the internet to research things about space, physics, and chemistry to make sure things I craft have some basis in science. Most of my non-writing efforts in this endeavor have been divided between studying the craft of writing, and teaching myself graphics so that I could illustrate scenes.
- What advice do you have for an aspiring author?
Writing fiction can be crazy making. Not so much the writing itself, but getting people’s attention to read it and the marketing aspects. Change your expectations about the endeavor, or it will take a toll on you.
If you were to decide, “This year I’m going to start running and participate in a marathon,” you would be crazy to think you’d finish in the top ten percent. Yet, many new authors dream of their first draft achieving bestseller status, and a movie to be made of their stories. It could happen, but the odds are slim.
It is important to accept reality and derive your satisfaction from other important aspects of the writing process.
One such aspect is that, much like when you read and feel there’s a movie happening in your mind, writing is exactly the same, only better. You get to dwell in that “mind-movie” for months or years at a time, and it’s truly enjoyable because you really like the characters and story. It’s a lot like binge-watching an entire season of a TV show. It’s the best of the best. You never tire of reading your own writing because the author is so brilliant.
Another important aspect is to go into this endeavor knowing that you’ll have to improve your skills.
Many writers jump into it cold with no background. Still, it’s hard to read books on writing, then remember it all when you finally sit down to write. Write a bunch, then read books on writing. Go back, re-write, apply the bits of what you learned, then read more books on writing. Get advice from published authors or hire a critique service. You’ll learn by doing, making mistakes, and fixing them. It’s the same with any creative endeavor, like carving, painting, or making music. Start by assuming your first draft will be terrible and you’ll spend time learning more, re-writing, and becoming better. Resist the incredible urge to self-publish your first draft as an eBook. It’s very simple and cheap, but you’ll embarrass yourself (like I did). You improve through practice, study, and more practice. You’ll likely feel you’re becoming an expert, and there’s a good deal of satisfaction in that. Derive satisfaction from the process and from what you are learning. Writing is free and a pleasurable way to spend your time. If you have a story in mind – start writing! You’ll have a good time and grow as a result.
It was great chatting with you, John. Good luck with your future projects!
John’s Book Link: Amazon.com
Social Media Links:
Author’s website: www.MissionVeritas.com