Thursday, September 16, 2010

Interview with Gary Murning

Gary Murning is a novelist living in the northeast of England. His work, largely mainstream fiction, focuses on themes that touch us all — love, death, loss and aspiration — but always with an eye to finding an unusual angle or viewpoint. Quirky and highly readable, his writing aims to entertain first and foremost. If he can also offer a previously unfamiliar perspective or insight, all the better.

Gary was born with a form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and whilst he has never thought of himself as a "disabled writer" it is nevertheless fair to say that his disability has in many ways contributed to his fairly unique perspective. If you'd like to know more about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, please click here.

Gary's first novel, If I Never, was published by Legend Press and is now available from all major bookstores. Click here to buy If I Never. You can also read two sample chapters of If I Never at Gary's website.

Amazon description: "If I Never centers on the growing love between two 'social misfits.' Clearly 'meant for each other' in a most unusual way, the world and those around them threaten to pull them apart. . . the two are drawn into the complicated lives of friends, consumed by unfolding mysteries and dangers."

How did you get started as a writer? Is If I Never your first novel?

I started writing novels "seriously" when I was about 20. I'd finished sixth form college a couple of years earlier due to ill-health - exacerbated by my disability. I had time to fill and since I loved reading and writing, this seemed the ideal solution. My early attempts, of course, were complete rubbish, but I quickly started to see improvement.

No, If I Never is... well, actually, I've lost count - but it's probably about my 21st novel. It is, however, the first to be published, which sounds terrible, I know, but that's the nature of the business today. I've had years of encouraging comments and close calls and, if I'm truthful, I was probably close to resigning myself to the fact that it might never happen. And, then, quite unexpectedly, I get the email I've been looking forward to for, quite literally, decades!

How would you categorize If I Never? What was the inspiration behind it?

I always have trouble categorizing my own work. My publisher uses the word "mainstream" -- occasionally "light literary" -- which feels about right.

I am finding, however, that some are describing it as a thriller. They all acknowledge that there is rather more to it than that, but that also feels about right, too.

As for the inspiration behind it, I'm still not entirely sure! It was one of those novels that came together piece by piece over a period of time. There was no Epiphany, just a steady drip drip of ideas. I wanted to explore a relationship that existed in some way on the fringes of society - two people who were very much meant for each other but who, nonetheless, had to contend with considerable external influences. Much of it came in the writing. It was very much a roll your sleeves up and get on with it kind of novel!

The narrator of If I Never and his girlfriend both have unusual medical conditions, which you are clearly quite knowledgeable about. I wondered if you have had medical training, or if medicine is a particular interest of yours?

Thanks to the Internet, it's incredibly easy to appear knowledgeable about just about anything, these days! I actually have no medical training - but whilst medicine and medical conditions aren't really particular interests, I do quite often find myself reading about them. I'm a bit of an intellectual magpie, I suppose. I flit from one subject - particle physics, biology, Renaissance art - to another - who's going to win win Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor - collecting anything shiny! And every now and then, it finds a place in my writing!

Are there any particular times of the day you like to write best? Do you have any unusual working habits or routines?

I always like to write first thing on a morning. I try not to do anything else prior to starting on my 1000 words. Looking at news websites etc can be pretty fatal, so I avoid at all costs. It usually takes me about an hour to get 1000 words down (I use voice recognition software, so work quite quickly.) Once I've done this, I read through what I've written, making the odd correction here and there (no major edits at this stage!) and then get on with related work - answering emails, taking care of promotional stuff, annoying people on Twitter, that kind of thing!

What is the one most important piece of advice you would like to pass on to other writers?

Really, I think it's simply a case of reading as much as you can, writing as much as you can and keeping at it. This is a pretty tough business to get into, but the more work you submit the more the odds stack in your favour. Don't expect it to happen overnight, though. It can be a long haul and if you don't love writing for the sake of it I'd seriously consider trying something else.

Gary and I are part of the Virtual Book Tour group. Continue on with the VBT by visiting Maggie Ball’s blog tomorrow, September 17, for an interview with author Brigitte Thompson!


Darcía Helle said...

Great interview, Dallas and Gary!
Gary, your book sounds like a fascinating read. I've had it on my wish list for far too long and need to make some progress in getting to it!

kathy stemke said...

Great interview. I've enjoyed getting to know you a little Gary. Your advice of staying with it, and writing first thing in the morning is exactly what I needed to hear.

Your plot is intriguing.

My mom was an English war bride WWII. I have lots of relatives over there. My cousin, Carl Leckey, from New Brighton has written a couple of books that are interesting.

Best wishes with "If I Never."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for featuring me, Dallas. We should perhaps mention that this interview was originally featured on another website – though I can't comfortable life of me, remember which one! Have done that many LOL

Darcia: I hope you enjoy it when you get round to it! Don't forget to let me know what you make of it!

Kathy: Glad the advice helped! And thanks for the good wishes! Always appreciated.

Virginia S Grenier said...

Gary, it was great getting to know a bit about you and your book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing and sticking with it.

Anonymous said...

I love this concept, as a former misfit myself I can totally relate. Best wishes for your success.

Stephen Tremp

Victoria Strong said...

Hi Dallas, What a great interview. The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, dedicated to ending SMA, is just up the road from you in Santa Barbara.

Janet Ann Collins said...

It's nice to know more about Gary and his book, which sounds great.

Gary, can you recommend your Voice Activated Software for other people? I have several friends who have looked for a kind that works well.

madcapmaggie said...

Gary, so nice to learn more about you and your book. It sounds like a real attention grabber.

Karen Cioffi said...

Wonderful interview, Dallas.

Gary, it really is important to persevere; you never know what's around the corner.

I wish you success with your book.

Dallas said...

Gary, it was such a pleasure to have you on the blog. Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments and kind words. Victoria: I had no idea about the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation in Santa Barbara. What a great cause. I'll have to check it out! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Virginia: Thank you!

Stephen: Yes, I think those on the fringes of society can, so often, be the most interesting. They certainly, on the whole, have enough baggage to fashion a story from, at least!

Victoria: A great foundation! I am one of the "lucky ones", I must say. Fairly limited with regard strength, but blessedly healthy. Any time you need anything publicising, please feel free to give me a shout.

Janet: I actually use the latest version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Not always perfect – as my previous comment proves (though that was more my fault for rushing and not reading what I'd written thoroughly enough!) – but extremely useful. Accuracy, if I avoid my habit of mumbling, is close on 100%. And it's even pretty good if I do mumble! (I used IBM's software for a while but find this far superior.)

madcapmaggie: Attention grabber – yes, I think you could say that LOL. It is rather "in your face"… which is where a book should be, I suppose!

Karen: Absolutely! Perseverance and perspiration.

Thanks again, Dallas, for the opportunity.

KittyNadem said...

Wonderful interview, Dalls!

And Gary, 'If I Never" sounds like a really, really great read! It's amazing how many novels you've written, that really hit home with me, because that's just about my goal. Have you ever thought of self-publishing those unpublished novels?

~ Heather Paye

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Love meeting you, Gary. I can always trust sweet Dallas to bring us the best of the best!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging writers' resources at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick

Donna M. McDine said...

Absolutely terrific and inspring interview of Gary. Best wishes for your continued success!

Heidiwriter said...

Sounds like a fascinating book, Gary! And I love the cover. Congratulations.