Today we sit down for a chat with author Justin Murphy who writes Southern crime fiction, true crime, and biographies of often forgotten figures in the entertainment industry. Learn more about Justin and his books from his Facebook page.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I was always a bit creative, and people told me I had an imagination. But on my fifteenth birthday, the feeling hit me like an ocean wave. It’s the moment I realized this was what I wanted to do. Within a couple months, I began writing short stories in a more serious pursuit. More or less haven’t looked back since.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
About four years from that moment. My first book, Dothan, released by the now defunct Epstein Publishing on December 10, 2004.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
Indie to some extent. My first few books were published through Epstein Publishing and Aspen Mountain Press. But most of my books now are \self-published.
Where do you write?
For many years, I wrote on my PC in the family room at my home. Now I write on a laptop at the state and national parks we travel to.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Fairly quiet, but I have no problem writing with the TV on or listening to my brother’s chatter (he’s autistic) as long as things aren’t too loud. I like classic rock and R&B/Soul/Motown, but I usually don’t associate them with writing.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Early on, there were characters based on people I knew or stories featuring places I lived. That tapered off for several years. In the last few years, I’ve delved into more material about disability. Writing manuscripts focusing on my ordeals with Cerebral Palsy and my brother’s autism. I’ve even worked the latter into a supernatural horror story.
I’ve since combined aspects of these with a short story I wrote for a contes and revised as a series of detective stories. I’ve also revised a heist caper tied to disability and wrote an aftermath story. I haven’t published any of these yet. I’m still working on them. And they’re also very personal.
Describe your process for naming your character?
For years, the character’s name was the last thing to come to mind when creating a story.
With these recent stories, I’m fascinated with certain last names for characters like ’’Collins’’, ’’Harrell’’, and ’’McClaren’’. I gave a pair of sisters female variants of boy names. I’ve named some of characters after family members and people I knew. But it comes down to the name being right for the character.
Real settings or fictional towns?
I have used fictional towns before to avoid any negative reactions, but mostly they’re real.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
In some of my detective stories there’s a character based on my brother. Due to his autism, his family doesn’t understand him. He’s not the most verbal but is kind and slowly learns new things. On some level, his family also learns from him and learns to love him.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
There are times where I’m not the most attentive and am easily distracted.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I wish I’d learned some things about writing a decade or more sooner.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People and life in general…lol.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My brother, Fleetwood Mac’s Mystery To Me, and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I don’t know about the worst job, but I remember my worst period as a writer, so far. Around 2012-2013, I signed with a Film/TV Agent to get screenwriting work. Was assigned to write five screenplays, which I did. Nothing happened and she was gone within a year. At the same time, I popped out a series of short Kindle books in quick succession.
The combination of the two really burned me out and took me a few years to begin coming out of that slump.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Part of me wants to say Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. After years of reading entertaining stories, this book taught me to pay more attention to wording and sentence structure. Try not to use the same word twice in a paragraph. Along with how developed the characters and settings were. It inspired me to write poems.
Ocean or mountains?
For now, I’ve been going to a few lakes and ponds at the state parks we’ve been to. I plan to see some mountains when we get to Yellowstone. Sooner or later, maybe both?
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
A question beaten to death by relatives from my native Dothan, Alabama. City people are stereotyped as being ambitious, extroverted, and more than a tad selfish. While country types are pegged as content and introverted but very dim witted. My reality is the rural contentment with some ambition.
What’s on the horizon for you?
There’s still some things I want to work on with heist capers and crime stories involving disability. Also, continuing with photography and visiting the state and national parks.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I hope to be creative for as long as possible. I’ve been writing and publishing for a long time. The road has been bumpy and will get more so as time goes on. But it’s worth it. You have to reach within yourself to see what your’re truly capable of.
Gene L. Coon: The Unsung Hero of Star Trek:
Gene Roddenberry has long been painted as the visionary who made Star Trek possible. Yet not much has been written on Gene L. Coon, the real workhorse behind the original series. This man built the universe around Roddenberry’s initial concept we all know today. He almost single handedly created the Klingons and had a hand in creating the franchise’s greatest villain…KHAN! Any notion of Starfleet Command, The United Federation of Planets, warp technology, and its fictional creator Zefram Cochrane all belong to him. Coon died from cancer at forty-nine, just as Star Trek got popular through reruns and conventions.