Friday, June 11, 2010

Author Interview: Gary William Murning

I'm delighted to welcome author Gary Murning to the blog today! Gary's first novel, If I Never, was just released last year. I'm particularly happy that Gary shares my view on writer's block, a term which (I'm sorry!) never fails to irritate me. So... welcome Gary!

Tell us about your journey to publication.

In many ways, my story is quite typical. I wrote for many years before achieving publication. I started writing seriously when I was about twenty and whilst I didn't expect anything to happen overnight, I don't think I could ever have truly envisaged it taking quite as long as it did.

It was a long haul and I'm often asked what kept me going. The simple answer, I suppose, is that you get encouragement along the way. I came close to publication/representation many times -- so I knew by those reactions that you I at least have a chance. I kept rolling the dice, so to speak.

Nevertheless, acceptance came when I least expected it. The recession was upon us, If I Never had been submitted many months before and almost forgotten about, and I decided to just work on something that I'd been wanting to do for quite a while -- a large project that I'd been putting off. I'd made up my mind not to think about submitting anything else until after the recession was out the way... and then I heard from Tom Chalmers at Legend Press; he liked If I Never and wanted to discuss it with me.


What is your writing routine like? Do you have a certain number of words you strive for each day?

Yes. I always like to write 1000 words a day, five days a week. I start at about 9 AM and my 1000 words take about one hour to one and a half hours, depending on how demanding that particular scene is. Once that's done I'll do a little editorial/proofing work before moving on to other aspects of writing -- researching future projects etc.


Have you ever encountered 'writer's block'? If so, how do you get past it? If not, how do you keep things flowing?

I always end up getting in trouble when I discuss writer's block! I'm afraid I'm not all that keen on the term -- or, rather, the obsession that some writers seem to have with it. I never intend to sound impatient when the subject comes up... but invariably it seems I do!

The reason is, I think, that, quite simply, I love writing -- even when it's a pain in the behind. I approach it very much as I would any other kind of work. I plan and prepare, stick to my tried and tested routine, and do my damnedest not to allow anything to distract me. Not always easy, I'll admit, but working this way I've never experienced writer's block -- in all of my 20 years writing novels.

That's not to say that it's always easy, of course. Sometimes I find (though this doesn't happen that often these days) that I have to write three pages of not very good stuff in order to get to where I need to be. And I think that's possibly the best piece of advice I can give. Don't be afraid to write a few thousand words of rubbish. Free associate on paper, if necessary, but don't just walk away from the computer thinking "I'll try again tomorrow". It's fatal, in my opinion.


How do you balance your writing with your promotional efforts?

Fairly well, I think. It's been a pretty steep learning curve -- and I did work myself a little too hard to begin with -- but now I think I have it about right. I usually spend a couple of hours, 5 PM to 7 PM, networking online, making new contacts, doing interviews and, also, having a little fun. Something I feel is really important. Interacting with people, talking about books in general and other things, these for me are perhaps the best ways to promote what you do.


What was one thing you wish you knew before you started down the path to publication? What would you tell other aspiring writers who hope to be published?

Funnily enough, this is something I've just been discussing another interview. My answer was that I wish I'd known I wasn't deluding myself! And thinking about it again, now, I still think that would have been nice -- especially early on, when I was more prone to self-doubt than I am now!

And following on from that, I think I'd have to say to those aiming for publication that this is perhaps the biggest obstacle they will face; self belief, or, in some cases, the lack thereof. You have to do conquer that, as much as any of us can, and know that, generally speaking, good, published writers aren't generally speaking born. Whatever some people might tell you, the vast majority of us don't pop out of the womb brimming with talent. We develop our abilities over time and if we allow self-doubt to hold us back we'll never realise our full potential.

The one piece of advice that really kept me moving forward when I first started out came from my then literary hero, Stephen King. King insisted that anyone who wrote just 100 words a day, every day, would, with time, become a good writer. This made it seem incredibly attainable and definitely contributed to my ultimately securing a publishing contract.

Thank you, Gary!

About Gary:
Gary 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 SMA, please click here. His first novel, If I Never, is published by Legend Press and is now available from all major bookstores.

You can order Gary's book from Amazon by clicking here. Electronic version for Kindle and other e-readers also available here. For more information and two free sample chapters, visit Gary William Murning Online. You can also connect with Gary's Twitter and his Facebook fan page.

46 comments:

  1. Thank you Gary and Talli for sharing this journey today. I agree with Gary about writer's block, in that I'm not sure if it's actually a block, or just a necessary part of the writing process, when the thoughts have to work through certain issues, conflicts, until they get an idea right. Great interview!

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  2. Great interview! I wish Americans used "whilst" more often.

    I never heard that quote from Stephen King. The only that stuck in my head was that not everybody would become a good writer. Maybe I read it wrong, and it was my own insecurities talking to me.

    Gary, I wish you success with your book. I'm glad your hard work paid off.

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  4. Great interview - thanks Gary and Talli!

    I love the message here - work hard, perservere and believe in yourself. Great stuff :)

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  5. Gary sounds like he's got it down! I can't wait until I am in a more sen place about my work. Great interview.

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  6. thank you Gary & Talli! love the interview! I loved the flow of this - Gary you sound like a wonderful person & I hope to read your work!

    as always a pleasure to stop by!

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

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  7. Thanks for sharing your information. It's always interesting to read about the journey of another.

    Great Interview.

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  8. Talli, great interview. Always enjoy meeting a 'new to me' author.

    Gary, thanks for sharing your journey. Lots of helpful information here. Best of luck.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  9. Love the questions you ask, Talli! They bring out the good info! Thanks again!

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  10. A really inspiring interview, thanks Talli and Gary.

    I will definitely seek this book out, thanks for the links.

    Take care
    x

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  11. another fantastic interview!! a big thank you to you both for sharing with us :D

    all the best of luck with your work!!

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  12. I LOVE these kind of interviews. Thanks for the into!

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  13. Hi Tali, great interview. Thanks for introducing Gary.

    I agree with him and you on writer's block. A page a day will get you a book a year. It's all in being consistent.

    cheers~ :)

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  14. Great interview Talli! Thanks for introducing Gary to me!
    Have a great weekend!

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  15. Thanks everyone! Glad you enjoyed the interview - Gary did a great job answering my questions!

    Thanks to Gary for his time!

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  16. What lovely comments! Thank you one and all -- I'm so glad you all enjoyed it. I know I certainly did.

    And, of course, special thanks to Talli for asking all the right questions. Really does make the whole process so much easier.

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  17. Nice interview. Thanks to both of you for sharing. :)

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  18. You guys rock! Talli this interview was fantastic! I love your style!! It was great hearing from Gary today and learning his journey!!!

    BTW thanks for the french over my blog! You're too sweet!

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  19. Thank you Talli & Gary for sharing! Great interview! Good luck with the book, Gary!

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  20. Great interview Talli. I'm going to add Gary's book to my TBR pile. :)

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  21. Ooo-great interview. Thanks for pointing this book out to me. Another to add to my TBR list!

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  22. Thanks Gary and Talli. This was such a great read. It was great to here more about Gary's journey to publication.

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  23. Talli,
    I think you ask excellent questions, especially the 1 about what you wished you knew before being published.

    Gary also doesn't like the term writer's block & that's a good thing! I also admire his dedication to writing so many words a day every day. I also didn't know that Stephen King gave that advice.

    Wishing Gary much luck w/ his new book & w/ all his future books. I'll be putting this on my to read list.

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  24. Great interview. I like that he said writers are made not born. We may have an inner drive to write or a way with putting words together or a mind full of ideas, but writing is work. That's true of any of the arts (and just about anything else).

    Straight From Hel

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  25. Wow... great interview! And I agree with the saying: writers are made not born. That couldn't be anymore true.

    Have a great weekend!

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  26. Me too - I really cringe when hearing the term 'writers block'...just thinking about it gives me the creeps.

    Congrats Gary on getting published! And well done Talli, another great interview!

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  27. Great interview! Thanks! I love hearing different author's paths to publication!

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  28. Thank you, Gary, for sharing these advice with us, and Talli for asking Gary to join us here. I really admire that you've made it your schedule to write 1000 words a day, 5 days a week. That must take a lot of self-discipline.

    I love the cover for IF I NEVER. :)

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  29. This has inspired me so much. Thank you! I love reading interviews like this, as they help a lot.

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  30. I love reading these kind of interviews...the ones that give you hope and advise building up self-belief. That sort of advice is always welcome and necessary. Thanks so much.

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  31. Great interview. Very lovely and positive. Every time I read an author interview or bio- actually an interview or bio of any artist- I am always struck by the amount of perseverance involved.

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  32. Great introduction to someone new and fab interview. Amazon here I come :0)

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  33. Talli -- you have some fantastic friends/blog readers! Thank you, everyone, once again for your lovely, kind words.

    Regarding the Stephen King comment, which a few of you seem to have picked up on, it's actually a very old one. Way before he wrote On Writing (which I haven't actually read.) I'm not sure exactly where I read it. I think it may have been in a book have collected interviews also featuring Peter Straub (Bare Bones?) or possibly in King's study of the horror genre, Danse Macabre. But I'm not sure.

    Happy writing!

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  34. Talli -- you have some fantastic friends/blog readers! Thank you, everyone, once again for your lovely, kind words.

    Regarding the Stephen King comment, which a few of you seem to have picked up on, it's actually a very old one. Way before he wrote On Writing (which I haven't actually read.) I'm not sure exactly where I read it. I think it may have been in a book have collected interviews also featuring Peter Straub (Bare Bones?) or possibly in King's study of the horror genre, Danse Macabre. But I'm not sure.

    Happy writing!

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  35. I'm a bit late here but I'm always interested to hear that the self belief (or not) doesn't really changed after publication! Yes, it would be great to know now if I'm wasting my time... but heck, it's a journey right?

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  36. Great interview, Talli. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    And Gary, thanks for the pearls of wisdom. Best of luck to you moving forward!

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  37. Awesome interview, and very encouraging! I so agree with the whole having to conquer self-doubt thing! When it's been many years without publication, it's so easy to fall into.

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  38. Interesting interview! I especially liked the part where the author advised writers not to walk away from their work thinking that they'll just try again tomorrow; I must admit I have done that before and it can leave a negative impact on my work and on my mindset. I'm going to follow his advice and just keep writing.

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  39. Fantastic interview. Once again I feel inspired. :) Thank you!

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  40. Ooooh... Thanks Gary :) That was very encouraging.

    And thank you Talli. I applaud you.

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  41. Thank you Gary and Talli, this is a great interview.

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  42. GREAT interview, Gary and Talli. Thanks! I especially love what he had to say about Writer's Block too. And his schedule. Both answers are what I think I might say... but less eloquently.

    Thanks again!

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  43. Great interview, Gary and Talli! I'm with you both on the whole writer's block thing. :)

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  44. Good questions, Talli, and thanks Gary for sharing your writing journey with us! I too don't believe in 'writer's block' - I think you just have to keep going, to be honest, no matter how hard! I'll look out for his book. :)

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  45. Good, honest interview; brings out the humanity of the writer.

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Coffee and wine for all!