This week, I’d like to welcome to the blog, British lesbian fiction author Niamh Murphy for a little question and answer session. Welcome Niamh!
Niamh: Hello. It’s great to be here!
Anne: That’s Niamh to the left (and some secret person she’s standing behind that she cut out of the picture to maintain her privacy…perhaps? Shhh!).
Anne: Your story is a fascinating one. You’ve been writing fantastical things since you were very young, all the while battling through M.E. (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrom). I admire your drive and your perseverance.
Anne: (Niamh and I actually got to talking about more personal things later in our interview but this question fit better here) – If you could eliminate one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be?
Niamh: Sleep. I struggled with M.E. for several years and still have problems on occasion with the chronic fatigue that accompanies the syndrome. I feel that I have slept enough and I would really love an extra eight hours a day to work on my writing!
Anne: Tell us a little bit about the books you have out right now.
Niamh: I have two novels, a short novella, and an anthology. They are all very different.
Anne: Niamh is being very modest. Her anthology, Magic and Romance, contains some of the many lesfic short stories she has written in multiple genres. You can currently get it free for the Kindle at Amazon. Follow her on Wattpad where she has even more of her short stories.
My two novels, Escape to Pirate Island and Mask of the Highwaywoman, are set at very similar times in the past and I did consider having some Easter eggs present in the second book that would link into the first. But in the end, that didn’t fit the story and so I decided against it.
I like to have a few in-jokes now and then, references to things I think some people might notice. For example, in Escape to Pirate Island, I have quoted a few characters from Pirates of the Caribbean so any fan of that movie franchise should be able to spot those little hidden Easter eggs!
Anne: That’s a neat idea. It sounds like your books pretty much stand alone then as separate stories. Any plans to do sequels to those or to do a series?
Niamh: I would like to write a trilogy, and also a series of books set in the same world but for now each of my books do stand alone.
Anne: We sort of glossed right over it so I want to put in here that Escape to Pirate Island is Niamh’s most recent book. It was released on May 26th. It’s available from Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle. And Niamh, I love the cover!
Niamh: Thank you.
Anne: With your background in history and archaeology, I imagine you’re a stickler for story research…or are you?
Niamh: It varies. For Escape to Pirate Island I did a lot of research into women pirates and stories of women serving aboard ships. A lot of people think the idea is nonsense but the evidence of historical accounts of women serving and court documents of women whose gender was revealed, show that there were many women who disguised themselves as men and were eventually discovered or revealed themselves (sometimes after many years). I often wonder how many women remained hidden.
I also looked into daily life aboard ship, rules around privateering and how pirates self-governed, and the geography of the Spanish Main, making sure I researched the deserted islands and understood some basic survival.
But I always made sure that the story led the research and not the other way around. I have often read novels where historical facts have been awkwardly shoehorned into the story and this always bothers me. My story is a fun romp through a piratical adventure, so, I wanted just enough history to help the reader suspend their disbelief but no more.
Anne: That’s fascinating. So, let me backtrack a bit and ask, where did your love of storytelling come from?
Niamh: My Dad would read a chapter of a book to me every night before bedtime, without fail. He gave me my love of the fantasy genre and read all the Narnia books to me, as well as the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, even though I was a little too young for them at the time. He even gave me my first copy of Harry Potter long before it became the phenomenon it is today.
Anne: What was your favorite series of all of those?
Niamh: I think it would have to be the Narnia series. I love the fantasy, the magic, the portal to another dimension, and I always loved the white witch and the many forms she appeared in over the series. I used to love the sense that even the smallest children can make a difference and at the heart of the stories is often the idea of redemption.
I love the whole series but there was always something a little darker about The Silver Chair which greatly appealed to me and is something I’m going to explore in greater depth in a series I’m currently ruminating on.
Anne: Can you tell us what you’re working on right now and what you have planned for the future?
Niamh: I am between projects. After I published Escape to Pirate Island, I was all set to go onto a new project about mermaids. But now I am not so sure. A completely different project is calling out to me and I think I’m going to have to follow the call which means my next project is going to be another historical romantic adventure; this time involving Knights and tournaments, castles and pitched battles, evil kings and beautiful princesses!
I have more ideas that I can write, but I would like to do a series of revolving around Knights and Queens. I also have plans to work on a fantasy series about a young rogue mage. I have a mermaid story on the back burner, as well as a burning desire to write a murder mystery.
Anne: Ah, my first love. murder mysteries! You should so write one!
Anne: Anyway, I think most prolific writers have more ideas than they can write. I’m curious; ballpark number? How many unfinished or half-done works do you think you have floating around out there?
Niamh: The last count was seventy-two but I have expanded since then and some of those stories are the first parts of a series. If I never have another idea, then I still have enough to keep me going for a whole career!
Anne: Wow! I thought I was bad…not saying that’s bad in a horrible way, mind you. I have enough ideas already laid out to keep my nose to the grindstone for the next two or more years but there are always new things filtering in. However, 72…or more…is a lot!
Niamh: I really want to focus on my productivity over the next twelve months and try to put more hours into writing so that I can start to finish some of these stories that I am so eager to get my teeth into!
Anne: So then, who do you find yourself turning to for writing and publishing advice over and over? Are there any writers or any particular blogs you follow?
Niamh: Definitely ‘The Creative Penn’. Joanna Penn is excellent and the website acts as a great resource for writers at all levels of their career and stages of their projects.
Anne: I agree. Her blog is never not useful, especially for indie authors. I love the top end guests she gets on there too who share loads of free information that’s immediately useful. You can listen to the podcasts with them or read the transcripts on her blog. She’s also one of the few bloggers out there who has recommended things that I’ve actually bought. So many of the people out there supposedly trying to help authors have written one book or one course and it’s all about book marketing. They don’t have a clue how to write fiction or how to market it.
Picking Back Up On the more personal side with Niamh Murphy:
Anne: Can you tell us, is there something you absolutely hate doing?
Anne: Uggh! Me too.
Niamh: It just seems to be so relentless! Where did all this laundry come from? Why do I have so many cups and how did they ALL get dirty!? And dust? I made the effort of dusting once, I shouldn’t have to do it again!
Anne: I’m right there with you on the dusting. I’m quite short. I only dust as high as I can see, when I do it at all. I tend to avoid it because my wife is terribly allergic. I can certainly sympathize.
Anne: I digress. Let me ask, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Anne: Oh, good one.
Niamh: As long as I could pick and choose whose mind to read and when I think it would be an incredibly useful tool. Not only could I make sure I was never fooled or deceived, it would enable me to always understand other people’s points of view. But the snag would be that no one could ever know: who wants to hang around with someone that can read their most personal of thoughts at any moment?
Anne: Good point. And really, what’s the fun of having a superpower like that if you can’t show it off?
Anne: What music do you like to listen to?
Niamh: I tend to listen to Ludovico Einaudi on Spotify. His piano pieces are just breathtakingly beautiful and help me to focus rather than distracting me from my writing.
Anne: Mmm! I’m also a fan of piano music. I’ll have to look him up. (Note: I did. Excellent pianist. I found this short, powerful video of him playing on YouTube)
Anne: Do you have a favorite conference to attend?
Niamh: I’ve never been to a conference! This will be my very first year attending L-Fest. I have an author spot and I will be a doing a ten-minute reading from one of my books. I am petrified!
Anne: Don’t worry; the nerves are normal. Even the pros get them. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be attending my first literary conference this year as well. I’m doing the GCLS con in Chicago where I’m reading from one of my books – only five minutes though – but I’m also on a panel discussion about lesbian themed murder and mayhem books. I imagine I’ll get at least another five minutes on the hot seat there. I’ve gotten up and spoken to audiences before but not about something so personal as my creative work. I always feel a little nervous.
If you want to meet Niamh Murphy in person at L-Fest, the premier lesbian arts event in Great Britain going on July 21st to the 24th, you can get all the info you need here: L Fest. You’ll have to post your reading time for your fans, Niamh.
Anne: That’s all for today. You can use the following links to learn more about Niamh Murphy, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and, most of all, buy her amazing books!
Connect with Niamh Murphy: