Interview with Mark Murphy, author of Dumb Luck

A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?


People should appreciate that dedicated writers who must tell their stories, commit much time to their craft. This can create a perception that writers are socially inept when in fact they are often unavailable because of the time demands imposed on them as authors, hence the serious writer’s reputation as a “social hermit”.   


Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?


No. Authors need only convey their subject in an interesting way that captivates the reader, regardless of what the genre is. The finish work of editing, can be left up to a professional editor to make all of the necessary structural and grammatical corrections. Mind you, good professional editors are not inexpensive, especially if your manuscript is voluminous.


What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?


The satisfaction of being able to make people laugh. Life too often, is serious business. I want people to read my book and forget their trials and tribulations via a yarn that is so absurdly funny, the reader will be gasping for air.


How important is research to you when writing a book?


It is mostly unimportant when writing stream of consciousness humor. However, it is absolutely necessary when writing in such genres as historical fiction or biographies.


When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?


I have had a very active imagination since kindergarten.  A few years later, when most everybody else on the schoolyard was tossing balls or playing hopscotch, I sat on a bench, tearing through Hardy Boys mystery novels and later, in high school, read as much by Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and other great science fiction writers as I could get my hands on. I was also inspired by James Michener and Sidney Sheldon later on in life. During High School, I was overwhelmed with ideas of my own for short stories which I started writing in my notebooks or typing things out on my Mom’s old Underwood.


What inspires you to write?


Being told throughout my life that I have a fantastic and absurd sense of humor is what got me started. This coupled an imagination that won’t quit and all of my time reading, left me with the conclusion that I could do just as good of a job of spinning a yarn that will keep the reader interested and excited about the story. The reading experiences also gave me a good sense of material that was, unnecessarily extraneous or boring versus interesting. My main goal when writing, is to create a story so captivating, that the reader will not want to put the book down.Writing has also been very cathartic, particularly during difficult periods in life. 


How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?


The discipline of writing has posed its challenges because I have a social side that can distract me away from being alone and writing. Writer’s block has never been a problem.


Do you think writers have a normal life like others?


I have a better than normal life because I’ve traveled more than most and I have certainly been in for more professions than anybody I know.


What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?


Undertaking the writing of a novel is a bit like joining a health club. Starting is easy but committing every day to the end goal takes discipline and persistence. 


What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?


Coming up with ideas. The creative part.


Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?


I still read, but not nearly as much as I did in my younger years. I’m a big fan of James Michener, Arthur C Clark, Robert Ludlum, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov. My first great experience with a book that I could not put down and that had me from the very first page, was C.S Lewis’s The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe. I was quite sad when I finished the last chapter of Chronicles of Narnia.


Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?


Published works are professionally edited.


Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?


Yes, all of them.


What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?


To be damned interesting or entertaining.


Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?


They say, never judge a book by it’s cover, but maybe this does not apply to books for sale.


Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?


I’m currently working on a science fiction novel where an advanced alien race abducts humans and forces people against their will to participate in very frightening amusement realities, created by their engineers.


Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?


My sister Rosemary.


Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?


Research is challenging and interesting. I’ve been working on a historical fiction for quite a long time. A lot of research is necessary to ensure that the technical facts are correct. As far as the story line, I take a bit of license in the imagination department while always keeping in mind the realities of the time when the facts are considered. 


Poets and writers in general, have a reputation of committing suicide; in your opinion, why is that the case?


I suspect that would have something to do with the isolation component of serious writing.


Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?


My income producing work is sporadic. The income generated and saved, provides the time I need to concentrate on writing without the 9-5 distraction. It is likely the well known authors of the last 50 years are wealthy, unless they got bad financial advice!


From all that we have been hearing and seeing in the movies, most writers are alcoholics. Your views on that?


I suspect Hollywood employs dramatic subjects to keep the viewer’s attention when making movies that include writers. The film Barton Fink comes to mind. Barton, the main character and a writer, was not a drunk whereas one of the other characters, I believe his name was Mayhew, was an out of control lush and not really a writer but a poser who used a female author to write for him. (A funny and interesting movie that I highly recommend).






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