July 10, 2010

Q & A with Author Gary Murning

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

It's something that I occasionally attempted from a very young age. I had a very vivid imagination and found it fairly easy to lose myself in stories and the land of make-believe. But I suppose my serious wish to be a writer came in my late teens, early twenties.

I'd had to leave sixth form college prematurely due to illness. I have a severe physical disability and the long days, stress etc started to take their toll. Consequently, I found myself at home recuperating -- with lots of time to fill. So I read. Something I have always done. But now I read a heck of a lot more and, of course, found books I loved and others that prompted me to say to myself, as I'm sure we all do on occasion, "I could do better than this."

I loved the idea of being a writer, too, though. And once I started to seriously attempt my first novel I realised there was no going back. I liked the feeling of falling into the work, of immersing myself in the lives of these fictional characters. Very addictive!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My parents. Without a doubt. Their persistence, love, dedication and work ethic has definitely rubbed off and stood me in good stead!

How do you create the characters in your books? Are they based on people you know?

Generally, no, they aren't based on people I know. The characters in If I Never, for example, are completely fictional. Yes, there are, naturally, real-life influences in there -- that's something I think most writers do without even considering it... mixing little bits of themselves in, adding a few pinches of someone we knew 20 years ago, but always in the sense of using one's own life experience.

As a rule, my characters tend to introduce themselves to me very gradually. That might sound somewhat strange, but that's very much how it feels. An idea will occur, and more often than not a rather blurry image of the principal character will come with it. He (or she) will hover in the background for a while and I find that one of two things usually happen; either the character fades away and the story goes with him or he steps forward, usually over a period of months, and starts to intrigue me more and more. Then I start asking questions about the character, about the world he inhabits and it gradually grows from there.

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

If I Never, by Gary William Murning! No, seriously, apart from that one I'd probably go for... Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. It's one of those novels that everyone tends to feel intimidated by. I know I was! I didn't actually summon the courage to have a serious go at it until a couple of summers ago. I planned it, appropriately, almost like a military campaign -- mapping out the chapters over the summer, setting myself objectives etc! But I really needn't have bothered. Yes, the war scenes can drag on a little, but it truly is an incredible piece of work. Rich in character and sense of place, and unexpectedly readable.

If you weren’t a writer, what be your profession?

I like to think I'd have been an international playboy, but I'd have probably ended up shelf stacking! I think I would have enjoyed something in the medical profession -- psychology or neurology, something along those lines.

If you could trade places with anyone in the world, past or present, real or fiction, who would it be and why?

That's tough. To be honest, I kind of enjoy being me -- I'm not sure I'd trade with anyone -- but I shall play ball! Let me see... oh, yes! I'd definitely like to have been one of the few men who walked on the moon. Preferably one who didn't do anything stupid when he got back to Earth and is still around!

Why? Close on a quarter of a million miles of nothingness -- staring back at this blue planet of ours through all of that, it has to be a singular, unbeatable experience.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 3 things, what would they be?

My mobile phone, my laptop and... a ship!

What is your favorite movie of all time?

There are so many... if I had to pick just one it would be a tossup between One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Deer Hunter.

What is the one thing that you want all your fans to know?

I appreciate their support.

If you could invite 5 people to dinner, who would they be and why?

Jack Nicholson, for any wisdom he might care to share. Christopher Hitchens (who's sadly just been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus), for his intelligence and debating skills. Sandra Bullock, because I like her nose. Harper Lee, because I love To Kill a Mockingbird and she's so darned enigmatic. And... particle physicist Brian Cox, for his intellect and communication skills.


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** Now available from all good bookstores, online and High Street -- If I Never, the debut novel by Gary William Murning. Buy online from Amazon by clicking here. Electronic version for Kindle and other e-readers also available here. For more information and two free sample chapter, visit Gary William Murning Online. **

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