Welcome to Day 3 of my Tails of the Pack interviews! This werewolf anthology that is full of awesome is available here and here.
Today's awesome interviewee is Deirdre M. Murphy. She usually writes in a shared world setting, which is fascinating to me as I've never tried it, but luckily for us she decided to create some flash fiction for this collection!
Tell us about yourself. What do you write? What do you do besides write?
Oh, I do all sorts of things. I have a day job and enjoy music (singing and playing as well as listening) and various art forms. If only I didn’t need sleep…though, truth be told, I enjoy sleep, just not as much as storytelling and other creative things.
I write mostly science fiction and fantasy. I love the idea of magic, that things aren’t what they seem and that the world is filled with mystery and possibilities. I love science and logic too—they’re great tools—but the world is infinite and complex and strange, and I love stories that embrace that fact.
What's your writing routine?
I think I like writing the best when I get a compelling image in my head and dive in to a new world, letting this world recede from my consciousness and look to see what compelling new person is there, what new problems and possibilities so different from my own she (or he) must confront and (hopefully) conquer.
My most productive routine for writing—sleeping in, doing some housework or yardwork, diving into a conversation or two online, and then getting focused to write in the evening and letting this world go away until I can’t keep my eyes open and fingers moving over the keyboard—is incompatible with having a day job. And of course there’s more to life than earning a living and writing. I end up writing when I can, on a lunch hour or while eating dinner, on weekends between errands and chores, and while mostly ignoring TV shows that I really like. Sometimes I get into a predictable pattern for a few weeks, but life always seems to interrupt my schedule.
Who or what are your influences?
I like reading writers’ blogs. Whether I agree with their thoughts or not, it helps me keep my writing goals in mind. It also helps me to refocus for writing after doing hours of non-writing or non-creative tasks.
I also like reading fiction that draws me in, that immerses me in some other place and in somebody else’s problems. That makes it sound escapist, doesn’t it? And maybe it is, to a point, but I find that if I get out of whatever rut I’ve been in by reading a good story, I have more energy—and often new insight—for tackling my own problems when I return.
I love the fact that there’s more to were-critters these days than wolves, and also that there’s more to supernatural monsters than horror. I like stories with interesting characters who have interesting friends and enemies. Sure, the tale of the good human fighting to control the beast within can be done well, but there are other contrasts that are worth exploring—intellect and instinct or nature and technology, to give two examples that are well-suited to a were-being’s story.
What's on your bookshelf (or shelves!)?
Oh, everything! Of course, not really everything, but I do have a lot of books ranging from anthropology to zoology in the non-fiction area and Abbey to Zelazny in speculative fiction. I have a big old Victorian house that was built to have a women’s parlor and men’s parlor instead of just one living room; my living room is where the womens’ parlor used to be (i.e. the room with the pocket doors that open wide enough for hoop skirts) and the men’s parlor is now my library, which is overflowing with books and dragon sculptures.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t let one bad story or flat character (or even ten) stop you. Some of my best stories flew out my fingertips almost perfect in the first draft after a story or three that I had to fight and rewrite and tear apart and rewrite again and which never got better than mediocre. Other times, the rewrite process has let me turn a dud into a gem. My favorite of the songs I’ve written only happened after a multitude of false starts over the course of a decade. You only guarantee that you will not succeed when you stop trying.
Don’t think just writing word after word is enough. Try to make every story better than the last. If you don’t do that, you can end up inadvertently practicing your mistakes. If you find yourself making the same mistake over and over, do something else so it doesn’t become a habit! Good writers learn to identify a mistake, then how to correct it and eventually how to avoid it. I don’t dislike re-writing, but I must admit I am really happy when a story needs only minor polishing after the initial draft.
And most important: Play! Trying new things might get you a wonderful story or might not, but it will expand your skills.
What's your favorite thing about writing?
Oh, gosh. I guess it’s that I can do anything—tell any story I want, set in any world, with any characters at all. Well, I can if I have the skill and inspiration and time and use them all well.
Can you give us a blurb for your story in this anthology?
It’s flash fiction, so if I say much, it’ll ruin the story. But there is a werewolf and a full moon!
Why did you decide to write a werewolf story for Tails of the Pack?
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of two spirits, two people or two very different sides of the same person, having to share a life and a body. I’ve also been fascinated by the idea of one being with more than one shape. These two themes are at the core of many modern werewolf stories. Another theme in many werewolf stories is the love of nature and the need to conserve and protect the wilderness. The best werewolf stories ask, what makes a being a monster? I ask, do the wolf and the human agree as to what is good and what is monstrous? If they don’t, how do these two beings—or these two facets of the same being—coexist in the same body?
With such a rich palette of themes and conflicts to play with, how could I resist writing a werewolf story?
Did you have to do any research for your story?
I’ve always been interested in everything—well, almost everything. Sometimes a story I’m working on inspires me to research something totally new but more often I read things just because they’re interesting and then feel inspired to write a story.
What other projects or publications are you working on that we should know about?
I’m part of an online shared world called Torn World at www.tornworld.net . We operate on a subscription basis, with a twist—if you become a Torn World supporter, most of the money you paid is retuned to you as Torn World credits, so you can direct which Torn World creator(s) get those funds. That way you can reward your favorites or even commission a story, art, or poem directly.
Torn World is a science fiction world with weird, broken time-technology (though the characters don’t yet realize that), huge snow-unicorns, mysterious blink-birds, frightening anomalies, and more. In the Empire, scientists rule, but they have no way to predict what new knowledge—or dangers—will be revealed as the old, deadly barriers between the Empire and the rest of their world drop, one by one. Some of the stories at Torn World are free to read—I hope you’ll stop by.
I also write stories in my own worlds. There’s so many ideas that intrigue me that don’t fit into the Torn Word concept, and I want to play with them all. I have stories that entwines magic, music, and nature; I recently wrote a story for an anthology set in a world where all magic is cooked up; I have a near-future SF story which was sparked by thing about a way we could be using existing (or almost-existing) technology; a constant challenge is finding homes for stories so I can share them with readers. I have an under-construction website at www.wyld-dandelyon.com , with links to some of the fiction I wrote and shared online while unemployed. For updates, look for me on Live Journal or Twitter as @Wyld_Dandelyon.
Thanks for inviting me to chat!
Thanks for reading, friends! Tomorrow's interview will be with Aaron Smith, who will be breaking our Girl Streak. Tune in on Wednesday!