Thursday, September 16, 2010
Interview with Gary Murning
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.
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!