In case you missed it.
Gary William Murning - author of, If I Never
“Gary is a novelist living in the northeast of England. His work, largely mainstream fiction, focuses on themes that touch us all — love, death, loss and aspiration — but always with an eye to finding an unusual angle or viewpoint. Quirky and highly readable, his writing aims to entertain first and foremost. If he can also offer a previously unfamiliar perspective or insight, all the better.
Gary was born with a form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and whilst he has never thought of himself as a “disabled writer” it is nevertheless fair to say that his disability has in many ways contributed to his fairly unique perspective. If you’d like to know more about SMA, please click here.”
Hello, Gary and thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Thanks for inviting me, Lorraine.
When did you start writing?
I started writing “seriously” when I was about 20. I’d always dabbled with short stories, poems, song lyrics etc – from a very young age – but it wasn’t until my early 20s that I really got stuck in and attempted my first novel.
Has your style or favourite genre changed much over the years?
Oh, yes! My style is definitely developed – which is just as well, since my first efforts were pretty abysmal! As for genre... yes I suppose my favourite has changed a number of times. During the years when I was still trying to get my foot in the door, I tried just about everything – from horror fiction all the way through to “literary fiction”. These days I pretty much favour what I suppose you might call mainstream fiction. I still touch upon genre motifs in my novels (as you know, If I Never, for example, has some pretty strong thriller elements), but they rarely fit the standard definition too solidly!
How did you get your publishing deal?
I’m almost tempted to say “by accident”, but that wouldn’t, strictly speaking, be true. It did seem that way, though. As I think we may have discussed in the past, I’d been writing and submitting for many years – going through the fairly typical process of building up a huge file of rejection letters! I’d had lots of encouragement along the way, come close numerous times, and then the recession came along and I just thought “well, I can probably forget about that for a year or two”. Publication just didn’t seem likely given the climate at the time. So I settled down to write something long and involved, something I’d wanted to write for a long time but had never got round to.
If I Never had been submitted about 18 months before. I’d had quite a bit of encouragement from an editor who was with Legend Press at the time and she requested If I Never. So I sent it off and – since the editor in question had in the meantime moved on to another position in another company – pretty much forgotten all about it. And, then, one day “out of the blue” I got an e-mail from Tom Chalmers at Legend telling me he would like to discuss the novel with me.
Are you writing anything at the moment?
I’ve just finished another novel, actually. As Morning Shows the Day – a novel about family lies told in childhood and how they shape the people we ultimately become.
When is that due for publication?
Not sure about that at the moment. I will, of course, post the publication date on Twitter, Facebook and my website as soon as I know.
What books do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Anything that is well written, really. I read fairly broadly – recent purchases, for example, have included Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland, Tolstoy’s Anne Karenina (read it years ago and want to read it again), Angelica’s Grotto by Russell Hoban and Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje.
Your favourite author?
That would probably depend upon my mood! I’ve been on something of a Michael Ondaatje kick for the past few months, but not sure I’d describe him as my all time favourite. More than anything, I suppose I have favourite books. John Irving, for example, has been a huge influence – and novels like The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany are definite favourites – but he has dropped the ball a number of times, too.
Whenever I’m forced to answer this question I generally fall back on good old Tolstoy. But ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably say Jilly Cooper (kidding!)
Last of all, what are your future plans?
To keep writing, reading, loving, laughing, living, eating, drinking, dreaming, amusing and annoying... though not necessarily in that order.