Richard Murray is a British writer of 12 published novels covering fantasy, science fiction and horror. Despite his numerous novels, Richard is very humble and still considers himself a novice at the writing game.
Q: Who is the real Richard Murray?
A: I have, over the years, alternately been called: Nice, kind, irritating, boring, grumpy, miserable, cheerful, arrogant, pompous, sociopath and dad. Of those, the only one that matters is the last, and that is who I am. I am a permanently exhausted single father, writer, office drone and servant to a cat called Squeak.
Q: Tell us more about “Squeak”.
A: She is an odd kind of cat. She will wait by the door to greet me when I come home. She will pester me to throw her favourite toys so that she can play ‘fetch.’ This is usually fine, but she also brings spiders that are too large to eat even though she sees me scream every time she drops one in my lap.
She is a little bit afraid of the dark, terrified of the outdoors and sheds constantly. She has a natural tendency to be protective of her humans, which my youngest daughter used to her advantage by pretending to scream whenever we had a play fight. The cat would dutifully run over and bite me. Occasionally taking a moment or two to decide which exposed part of my skin would be most painful.
She has, on more than one occasion, spent her evening actively stalking me through the house as though I were prey.
Q: If you could have your life all over again, is there anything you would want to change or would do differently?
Not at all. The person I am today is largely due to the way I lived my life, the choices I made. For all my faults, I’m alright with the person I am and once I make a decision, I stick with it. Never seen the need to wonder, “What if?”.
Q: As a single parent to your girls and juggling a part-time job, along with your writing, how difficult is that for you personally and how does all of this influence your writing process?
A: I also have M.E. a rather debilitating condition that leaves me constantly exhausted. Because of this, everything that I do has to take into account the amount of energy it will take compared to what I have available. Which is why I didn’t start writing until 2014 when my youngest daughter didn’t require so much of my time and energy. On the days that I work, cook, clean, spend time with my daughter… I don’t often have the time or energy to write.
With this in mind, to be able to effectively complete any writing project, I had to structure my days. My employer was flexible enough to allow me to fit my 20 hour work week into three days. That gave me four out of the seven where I wasn’t in the office and was instead, able to write. I also chose to drop some activities I enjoyed, in favour of writing. It’s all about managing my time and energy.
Q: What does a typical day consist of for you?
A: It depends on the day really. On Saturday, I try to just rest and do minimal work. Sundays to Tuesdays, I will write for several hours, do the housework, feed the child. Wednesdays to Fridays, I will go to work, then do the housework, feed the child and try to sleep. People in prison will generally have more variation in their schedule than I do.
Q: Do you think you can only be a good writer if you are a prolific reader? What genres do you like to read for pleasure?
A: Yes, I really do. You can learn the basics of writing from a class or even blog, but to have any hope of succeeding you need to have a love for what you’re doing. That love comes from reading, immersing yourself in new worlds, new characters and wanting to share your own with others.
Over the years I’ve read thousands of books, a number that increased exponentially when I first discovered the kindle and e-books. My go to genres have always been fantasy and sci-fi.
Q: The Killing the Dead series deals with a serial killer just prior to a zombie apocalypse, The Fallen Series is urban fantasy meets horror dealing with witches and supernatural beings, Reborn by Blood is about vampires, and The Shadow Walkers is your new series that is again about supernatural beings and things that go bump in the night. Tell me more about your books. Is this your niche that you would like to dominate or do you plan to write beyond this genre?
A: My first book was Killing the Dead and it came at a time when I was growing weary of reading. I’d just binged on apocalyptic stories, several books a week for six months or more and they all just blurred into one. The everyday hero moralising about his choices, the over the top ex-soldier, all gung-ho, the policeman trying to do his duty under extreme circumstances.
I wondered what would happen if a bad guy was in that same situation. If the ‘hero’ could survive and prosper. If it could be interesting without all the weeping and wailing over having to do what was needed to survive. So, I sat down and wrote it.
Since that first book I have progressed. My writing has improved (or so I’ve been told,) I am learning all the time and I fully plan to write in several other genres. I have Epic Fantasy and Space Opera stories in various stages of completion. The problem I have is time. There are only so many books I can complete each year.
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books and how long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
A: I am a severe introvert who is most comfortable in his own head. As such, I spend a lot of time in my head and for thirty odd years, I have been daydreaming these stories. Many of them, or variations of them, have been with me for decades and I’m just now putting them down on paper.
Since I am a bit of a pantser when I write, from start to finish will be four to six weeks. Maybe a little more if I have other things to do. Most of those books are between 40k – 60k words and fairly straightforward. Occasionally other parts of life will get in the way and the time will lengthen though rarely more than three months.
Q: People say that they can’t put your books down. How do you keep the pace going?
A: I just try to keep things constantly moving forward. There’s never really a point where the characters are just sitting around wondering what they’re going to do. It also helps to torment them a little. They find a house, it has a bad guy in it. They find food, find a place to sleep, they get attacked. In the first few books of the zombie series for example, they are reacting more than acting. Constantly forced to keep moving, looking for safety until they finally reach that point where things start to turn around.
Q: Finally, who has been the most influential person that has either shaped your writing or has inspired you to be the writer that you are today?
A: My father, when I was little, was a prolific reader. I would often see one of his books with an incredible cover and ask him what it was about. He would simply say to me, “if you want to know, read it.” One day, I did just that and never stopped.
He inspired me to read but Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman kept me reading. They wrote the Dragonlance series of stories and I probably read each of those books a dozen times or more over the years. Without them, I wouldn’t have grown to love the stories of dragons and magic, elves and dwarves, love and loss amidst the struggle to fight for something far greater than you are.