Author Interview: Nicole Murphy

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Nicole Murphy is a witty and entertaining author whose work I first read last year. Power Unbound was great, I loved it – even though I started in the middle of a trilogy. What really grabbed my attention though was where she lives, as soon as I read it in her bio I wanted to know more!

When the opportunity arose recently I jumped at the chance to get to know a little more about her. I only wish I had been able to swing a face to face over a strong hot coffee, just next door to my hometown! Instead I was fortunate enough to learn a little more about Nicole Murphy and how she got to where she is today in this online interview.

How did you get your start as a writer?

I started writing when I was a young girl, and wrote for years mostly for the fun of it. In 2000, I decided that I was going to do it for real. I was lucky enough to almost immediately sell a couple of short stories to an American anthology Enchanted Realms and a few very small ezines. But then the sales quickly dried up because I really wasn’t that good a writer. Kept working at it, both short stories and novels.

In 2003, I applied to the local newspaper to write some columns for them. They weren’t interested in the columns, but because I could write asked if I’d like to be a casual for them. Within six months, I was working part-time and responsible for getting out the free weekly newspaper and the bi-monthly Senior Lifestyle magazine.

I worked for four and a half years as a journalist, and learnt a lot from it, but found it hard to both write all day and then come home and write for myself. So in 2008, with my husband’s support, I quit journalism to work in a supermarket and started focusing on writing fiction again.

My project of choice was Secret Ones, the first book in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy (first written in 2003). It was ready to go in November 2008 and I sold it to HarperCollins here in Australia in July 2009 and I’ve been focussed on making it as a writer ever since.

Your new book is Rogue Gadda, what can you tell us about it?

It’s the third book in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy and the focus is Hampton Rourke, the Sabhamir of the gadda. The gadda are a secret magical race and Hampton is the most powerful of them all, the protector. It’s his job to find Asarlai, who’s stolen the most terrible teachings of the gadda, and stop her from using them to reveal the gadda to the world.

He doesn’t feel he’s doing a particularly good job of it, and then he meets Charlotte Haraldson, who turns out to be quite the perfect woman for him. Except Hampton doesn’t think it’s a good idea for the Sabhamir to have a relationship. Only Charlotte provides the best clue to finding Asarlai. So does he dare risk his heart for the sake of all gadda? Read and see (winks).

Where do you get your inspiration? Is there a particular person or place you find particularly inspiring?

Inspiration comes from all over the place. I get a lot from dreams actually – the starting point of an idea. In the case of the gadda, I had a dream of a young woman, working in a university, having a hot affair with a hunky guy but hiding from him that she could do magic.

Place is also an important thing for me – I love the beauty of the landscape we have in Australia. A short story I had published this year, The Fairy King’s Child (in issue 50 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine) came from a walk around Brisbane. I came across this road that went from a residential to an industrial area and to stop it being a thoroughfare, trees had been planted on the road and the paving narrowed and made to wind through this bush.

It was such a strange thing, almost magical and how it just appeared and looked so real, that I had a sudden vision of a little face in amongst the bushes and thought to myself ‘a gateway to fairy land, perhaps?’ By the time I finished the walk, I had the first draft ready to write.

nicole murphy

I have read, and heard, quite frequently that a good writer is also a big reader, would you agree with that? And what are you reading at the moment?

A good writer has BEEN a big reader I think is a more accurate phrase, because boy do you lose the time and energy to read once you’re writing. I used to be a massive reader and across genres. My favourites were fantasy and romance, but I’ve had stages where I’ve gone mad on other things e.g. my big Michael Crichton phrase, and the way I hunted down Patricia Cornwell books.

Nowadays, my reading goes up and down. I have days, weeks where I can read a lot, then months where I don’t read at all. Mostly it matches up with where I’m at – I find it harder to read when I’m drafting than when I’m editing, and I’ve been doing a lot of drafting this year. The second half of the year will be more about editing and I’m looking forward to making a dent on my to-be-read pile.

What do you do to relax and wind down, what do you love to do in your spare time?

I don’t get a lot of spare time – writing’s one of those jobs that never seem to end. Even if you’re not actually writing, you’re thinking about it. And my husband has some health issues, so all the housekeeping stuff is up to me. But when I can, I read. This year, I’ve been making my own handbags, which has been fun. Visit friends.
Go to the movies. Go for walks. Pretty basic stuff, really.

Where is the most exciting place that your writing has taken you?

In April, I was lucky enough to go to two fabulous conventions. The first was the RT Convention in Los Angeles – was amazing to meet some of my American writing friends and get to know more about the scene over there. Then later that month I went to Perth, where I was a guest at Swancon, the science fiction convention. I love conventions, have been involved in organising them since 2004, so it was wonderful to be in the position of being a guest at one.

Can you tell us one quirky fact that we wouldn’t know about you?

I was, for a while in the early 90’s, an Australian Cricket Board certified cricket coach. Not bad for a woman with NO hand-eye co-ordination whatsoever!

Rogue Gadda concludes the Dream of Asarlai trilogy, what’s next for Nicole Murphy?

I’m looking at diversifying my career – the industry is in such a state of flux at the moment that putting everything onto one genre or style of writing doesn’t seem a good idea to me. So I’ve been trying my hand at writing contemporary romance (and so far it’s working pretty well I think).

I’ve also been doing more short story writing – don’t particularly make a financial career out of that, but it gives me a place to experiment and continue to grow as a writer. And I’m getting into teaching workshops. So I guess the short answer is – there’s a LOT happening next!

I read somewhere that there is a new gadda trilogy in the making, what can you tell us about that?

Ah, the new trilogy. It’s a sequel to Dream of Asarlai – set two years after and while it’s a new story (so people won’t need to read DoA to understand it) it’s directly influenced by the previous story.

It follows the same structure as the first trilogy – an overarching storyline, told through the perspective of three new romantic entanglements. It still revolves around the guardians – I gave three of them a happily ever after in DoA, so I felt kinda compelled to give the others one as well.

At the same time, I’m ensuring that I’m not just rehashing the same story over and over again, so each book has a new challenge for me in terms of what I’m putting myself and the characters through.

First book is done and is being considered by the publishers.
Hopefully there will be good news on that front in the coming months – nothing happens quickly in publishing.

If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing to make a living?

It would involve communication in some respect. I’ve been a primary school teacher and a journalist, so communicating with others is definitely where my skill base lies. Seeing as I live in Canberra, I’d say I’d be doing some sort of communications role within the public service.

In my dream world, I’m a rock star. I’d love to perform except for one minor issue – I can’t sing (smiles)!

What does being a woman mean to you?

What an absolutely intriguing question. The past few months have seen me think a lot about this – I’ve been suffering depression, and also the first signs of menopause have appeared.

Right now I’d say – being a woman means strength. It means resolve and dedication. It means loyalty, to yourself and to those you love. It means having the right to say no and mean it. It means finding your joy and not accepting anything less. It means wanting a world that is deeper, richer, happier. It means pushing others up, not pulling them down, in order to build your own self.

Being a woman means being awesome!

Thank you so much for your time Nicole – maybe next time I’ll be able to come to you!

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