Hey everyone! I’d like you to help me welcome author Luke Murphy as his sits on the hot seat for us to find what makes him tick. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy!
I was born and raised in Shawville, Quebec, a small, rural town in Canada. I left home at 15 to chase my dream of playing in the NHL. In 2006 I moved back to Shawville and bought my father’s house, the home I grew up in. I am now raising my children in that same house.
2. Has your history as an athlete found its way into your work? If so, in what way?
Plot: I get my ideas from stories I hear about, whether through reading (newspapers, magazines, etc.), what I hear (radio) or what I see (TV, movies, internet, etc.). The plot is completely fictional. I wouldn`t say that one thing or person influences my writing, but a variety of my life experiences all have led to my passion in the written word. There is not a single moment in time when this idea came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies. Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.
Setting: I usually set my stories in cities I`ve visited and fell in love with. Las Vegas was the perfect backdrop for this story, glitz and glamour as well as an untapped underground.
Characters: I have never been involved in a homicide investigation, LOL. Although I am not a 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, I’ve used much of my athletic background when creating my protagonist Calvin Watters. Watters past as an athlete, and his emotional rollercoaster brought on by injuries were drawn from my experiences. His mother died of cancer when he was young, as mine was. There are certainly elements of myself in Calvin, but overall, this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence.
3. When and why did you begin writing?
I always say I write because I can’t sing or dance (LOL). Writing isn’t my full time job, I would have starved long ago if it was.
Actually my writing happened by accident. Growing up I never thought much about writing, but I was an avid reader. The only time I ever wrote was when my teachers at school made me. I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.
It was the winter of 2000, my second year of professional hockey, and I was playing in Oklahoma City. After sustaining a season ending eye injury (one of the scariest moments of my life), I found myself with time on his hands.
My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was attending a French college in Montreal. She received an English assignment to write a short story, and asked me for some help.
I loved the experience—creating vivid characters and generating a wire-taut plot. So, I sat down at my roommate’s computer and began typing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it I had completed my first manuscript.
I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing.
Twelve years later, I still write for pleasure—and I still love it! The fact that I am being published is a bonus.
I made the decision to write a book with the intention of publication in 2005. I enjoyed writing so much as a hobby, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of being published and making it available for friends, family, and readers around the world to enjoy.
I`m not one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the internet, reading up on the industry and process. I made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.
Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2006, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write DEAD MAN`S HAND. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of the novel.
I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing anything I could to learn, to improve my writing and my novel to point where I could create the best possible work.
My years of hard work finally paid off. With my dream still in mind and my manuscript ready, I hired the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency to represent DEAD MAN`S HAND.
I signed a publishing deal with Imajin Books in May, 2012.
4. Who or what was your biggest influence to start writing?
My first chapter books were the Hardy Boys titles, so they are the reason I love mysteries. As an adult, some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly and Greg Iles, so naturally I write what I love to read – mystery/suspense novels. DEAD MAN`S HAND has been compared to Coben and James Patterson, which to me is an honour. Maybe in style (short chapters, a quick read), as I have read many of his books.
5. Which do you prefer to write – full length novels or short stories?
I’ve only written full length novels so far. I have a lot to say 🙂
6. Do you have a specific writing style?
Comparable to James Patterson (short chapters, quick read, not bogged down with useless detail).
7. How do you come up with the titles for your stories?
The title for my novel changed three times. I had come up with the original while writing the manuscript, then my agent and I worked on a new title, then finally my publisher and I came up with the final title of DEAD MAN’S HAND.
8. Is there a message in your stories that you want readers to get?
I write to entertain, period. I want to be like my favorite authors – entertain readers and allow them, like when I read, to escape reality and for a moment be in another place and time. DEAD MAN’S HAND should show people that anything is possible, that there is a chance for redemption.
9. Have you ever people watched for character or story ideas?
I think all readers do, to help create characters. It’s not just about physical traits, but also things like quirks, ticks, movements, etc.
10. If you had to choose, which writer, living or dead, would you like to meet and have mentor you?
Refer to question #4 – Harlan Coben, Greg Iles or Michael Connelly.
11. Do you read while you write? What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading Blood Memory by Greg Iles. But between family obligations (wife & 3 young children), teaching, tutoring and writing, I rarely have time to pleasure read, which I really miss.
12. Are there any new authors that you’re a fan of?
I have a lot of respect for anyone trying to enter the publishing industry. It’s a very competitive market and a tough grind.
13. What are your current projects?
I’m SLOWLY working on book #2. I’ve spent so much time on the characters from DEAD MAN’S HAND that I needed to get away from them. My second novel is following the career of rookie, female detective Charlene Taylor. It’s another crime-thriller book following the homicide investigation of a murdered USC professor.
14. Hindsight is 20/20. Is there anything you would like to change in your latest book?
I don’t think so. I’ve had so many great reviews. Not only from readers, but also from bestselling authors.
15. What do you find challenging in your writing?
For me, the most difficult thing about writing has nothing to do with actual writing (ideas, flow, writer`s block, etc.), but it`s finding the time.
Between teaching and tutoring, with three small children and a wife at home, finding the time to sit down at a computer and have serious, quality writing time is almost impossible.
But I love my girls and spending quality time for them is a great feeling. I wouldn’t give up my games of ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose for anything in the world. It just puts writing my next novel behind a bit.
16. Who is your favorite author and what about their work resonates with you?
Refer to question #4, their ability to entertain, to keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seat.
17. We each have our horror stories when writing. What was the hardest part of writing Dead Man’s Hand?
The revisions. I probably revised this book 10 times, between working with editors, critique groups, my agent and my publisher.
18. Did you learn anything unexpected while writing your book and what was it?
How slowly the publishing industry moves. It takes patience, persistence and thick skin.
19. What are your plans moving forward? New books, writing in a different genre, etc.
Refer to question #16.
I would love to write another book. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children (all girls, YIKES!!).
I don`t have much time to write, but when I get a chance, I do all I can. It could take some time, but eventually I would love to write a series of novels featuring Calvin Watters. But I will not limit my novels to Calvin Watters, as I would like to write a variety of novels, all in the crime-thriller genres.
I’m currently working on a new crime novel, but my wife and I just had our third child, so the process has been stalled and is going quite slowly.
20. As writers, we’re always looking for helpful advice. What advice would you give to a writer just starting out?
Get a part-time job to pay the bills (haha). Just kidding. Honestly, for anyone who wants to be a writer, you need to have three things: patience, determination and thick skin. You can`t let anyone or anything get in the way of your ultimate goal. You will hear a lot of “no`s”, but it only takes one “yes”. The writing industry is a slow-moving machine, and you need to wait it out. Never quit or give up on your dreams.
For more information on me and my books, visit: http://www.authorlukemurphy.com, ‘like’ my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorLukeMurphy and follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/#!/AuthorLMurphy