Merlin Fraser, parapsychology author with a hint of crime, and Sherrel Lee, with a fantastic post about Jack the Ripper and a question I bet you’ll find intriguing indeed. Don’t miss them. They’re going to blow you away.
Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page
English author, Gary William Murning talks about publishing and starting his own micro-biz to get those” hard to place” books to his readership.
First of all, please, introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m forty-five, from the north-east of England and have been writing in one form or another for the biggest part of my life. I love the written word, the power it possesses and its ability to bring people together and inform. Writing, for me, is a pretty integral part of who I am. It helps me understand the world around me, put it into perspective. I relate to people better, I think, because I write.
You describe your work as 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. Has it always been your goal to write about this topics or it came to you gradually?
This is something that just developed, I’d say. It’s a very broad brief, and not one I consciously think about all that often. I mean, I don’t start my day by saying, “Right, mainstream fiction focusing on themes that touch everyone.” But when I look back at the work I’ve written, that is very definitely an accurate summation of what I do, consciously or otherwise. I like characters that are somehow on the edge or the fringes of society, that kind of thing. Or, rather, people who are perceived that way. So I suppose it’s fairly natural that I would find myself writing the kind of stuff I write.
I actually started off, originally, writing purely horror fiction, funnily enough. That was the kind of writing that inspired me in my youth (many, many moons ago!) I grew up reading writers like Stephen King, William Peter Blatty, James Herbert, Ray Russell et al, and that’s where I, as we all do, started – trying to emulate the writers I then admired.
Your first book, If I Never, was published by Legend Press. Tell us about it. When was it published? What happened when a publishing house like Legend Press accepts your MS?
It was published late 2009, just when I’d pretty much given up hearing back from Legend. I’d originally submitted to them a novel called The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts (more about that in a moment!) and their editor at that time had really liked it, though she didn’t feel that the “supernatural” elements were quite right for their list. She therefore requested more work and I sent her what I had of If I Never, which I was working on at the time. I quickly heard back from her asking me when it would be completed. I gave her a tentative completion date and sure enough she got back in touch with me around that time to see if I was ready to show her the rest. Which I was. So I sent it off and… she left her post for another job elsewhere. I wrote a few e-mails of enquiry but everything went very quiet for about eighteen months. I’d pretty much forgotten all about it. I’d started work on another novel – a very large project that I was pretty much just writing for myself, the recession making me think that publication wasn’t something even worth chasing under such conditions. And it was going well. I was extremely happy with what I was writing, feeling that, once the economy was back on its feet, it would actually be pretty marketable, and I wasn’t really thinking of the publishing side of writing at all. And sure enough, I get an e-mail from Tom Chalmers, the MD at Legend Press, asking me if If I Never is still looking for a home and telling me that if it is, he’d like to discuss it with me. There followed a long, exciting telephone conversation and within a short time the contract was signed.The actual process was very speedy once it started. The editorial work went very smoothly and quickly (possibly a little too quickly for my liking, if I’m honest), I was involved with that cover artwork decisions and, all in all, it was a fairly pain-free process.
The second novel, Children of the Resolution, was published in 2011. Who published it and what was your experience about it? What’s it about?
Children of the Resolution is much more personal novel than If I Never. It’s a novel that I’d been trying to write for a number of years and it focuses on a fictional account of my own experience of the introduction of integrated education for children with disabilities in 1970s England. A coming-of-age story that draws very heavily on real people and real events and, naturally, it means a hell of a lot to me. It took me three or four goes before I got the novel I wanted and, because of this, I really believed in it. Still do.However, Legend – whilst liking the novel – didn’t feel they could commit to it. I can understand that, of course. It is very different to If I Never and not as obviously marketable. So, with their blessing, I decided to publish it myself using Lulu. And I liked the process. Having (almost) complete control over the product was fascinating and exciting. I did not, however, find Lulu as flexible or professional as I would have liked. Book format choices were pretty limited but, all in all, the quality was good, if pricey.
You set up a micro-publishing house for those projects hard to place. Where and when did you get the idea and how did the set up work? Do you find it is helping you the way you hoped? Did you encounter any major problems/glitches? Is it open to anyone else interested in getting published by your house? If yes, how would they go about doing that?
This really spun off my experience with Children of the Resolution. I’ve been writing for a very long time and I know exactly what I want my work to do, now – and, given the responses I get from readers, I know I’m generally achieving that. Nevertheless, my work as a rule can be pretty difficult to place with mainstream publishers. I don’t fit neatly and each book I write tends to be quite different to the one before. Consequently, it became apparent that whilst I’m probably going to continue publishing through the more traditional route, I may find myself having work left over, so to speak. The self publishing route – which even some well established authors are now trying – was the obvious solution. I did not, however, want to repeat the experience I’d had with Lulu. If I was going to do it, I decided I would have to do it in such a way that allowed me more flexibility with regard to book size et cetera. Also, I wanted Lulu taken out of the loop so that I might get the cover price down. I did this by directly approaching their printer/distributor, effectively cutting out the middleman. This reduced production costs and allowed me to bring out the novel that was, in spite of length, much more aggressively priced. Yes, this was a rather more complicated process. Instead of dealing with one company, you find yourself dealing with two or three and having to get used to doing things like buying blocks of ISBN numbers and so on. All in all, though, it was incredibly easy. Yes, it certainly helped that I already knew a little about how the business side of things worked, but still I was surprised.At the moment, no, I’m not open to submissions from other authors – though this is very much something I’m hoping to do in the not too distant future. The idea is to pretty much test the model with my own work and then build on that. You can read more about this on the about page of the GWM Publications website here: www.gwmpublications.com
The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts. What’s it about and where did you get the idea from?
It’s very much about the driving need that we as individuals have to constantly strive for more. The driving force, I guess, behind cultural development, the building of civilisations and so on – but also, when given free rein, the possible architect of dissatisfaction and despair.
Hungry Ghosts are taken from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. They have these huge cavernous stomachs and are constantly hungry. They also have, however, very small mouths (or thin necks, in some versions), so they can never consume enough, quickly enough, to satisfy their appetites.
Although I don’t use these specific ghosts in any literal sense, I like that image.
And so I started playing with it, settling on a fairly suburban setting – a very ordinary family, a group of friends who, like said family, have problems of their own, and the discovery of an old diary buried in the back garden, a diary that belonged to a rather hedonistic occupant of the asylum that used to stand where the housing estate in the novel now stands.
It’s a pretty full on novel. Lots going on, lots to think about, and it’s probably my most complete novel to date. To use the vernacular, they go on quite a “journey”.
You’re on a virtual book tour at the moment. How are you finding it? Have you done it before? If yes, what are the main differences between the previous one and this one? Has anything changed? If not, what are the main hindrances/hiccups? Where can our readers find out more about your future dates?
Well, it’s really a very casual affair! No rigid timetable, just, basically, pouncing on opportunities when they arise and generally nagging people into letting me natter on for a while on their blogs, websites and so on. It is something I have tried before and apart from being very enjoyable, it does allow me to reach more people. You do have to do a lot of them, though, if you really want to maximise the effect (so if anyone is interested in hosting me, please let me know!)
What are you working on right now?
Where can our readers find more about you and your work?
Your readers can keep up with everything I’m doing either through my website www.garymurning.com, my Twitter stream https://twitter.com/garymurning , my Facebook timeline http://facebook.com/gary.murning and, with regard to my publishing concerns, my GWM Publications website www.gwmpublications.com
- The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts – Free Samples. (garymurning.wordpress.com)
- The Pros and the Cons: Which Path is Best for You? Traditional vs. Self-Publishing (wdlady.wordpress.com)
- New Interview and the Launch of the GWM Publications Website. (garymurning.wordpress.com)
Sherrie Lueder is a grandmother and now an award winning author as well. With her first book, He Killed Our Janny, in the top ten true crime award 2011. Together with her sister, investigative researcher Kim Hansen, they set out to discover the truth behind the cold case of Janyce Hansen and thus get the FBI to review it.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what got you first connected with the Janyce Hansen case.
Sherrie Lueder: My four children have grown. I have 6, soon to be 7, grandchildren and I just published my first book. I believe it was my destiny to some day write a book. I grew up in a family where things out of the ordinary always seemed to happen. Inevitably one of us would say “We should write a book”, but who would believe it, then of course we would all laugh. For instance we once discovered something that led us to believe our grandfather was the infamous gangster, Dutch Schultz. What we knew or what we thought we knew would have made for some good reading, but that’s another story.
What attracted you to the project?
Sherrie Lueder: When Kim asked me if I wanted to write a book about her husband’s family I didn’t have a clue how to go about it but I knew I wanted to. I liked the idea of writing a true story.
How was it to work with your sister Kim, who worked on the investigative part of the project?
My sister Kim and I were a perfect fit. Both of us aspired to be detectives so we knew what had to be done. Research was key and Kim didn’t let up until she had what she wanted. I’m sure after awhile many phones went unanswered upon seeing her name on their caller id.
Kim Hansen – What did you know about case when you first started?
When we began the book project, none of us were prepared for what we were about to uncover or what we were up against. Family secrets that laid dormant for decades were about to be revealed.
We all believed Janyce ‘Janny’ Hansen had committed suicide 25 years earlier. I set out to find all the information I could about her death. Surely, the media must have covered it–newspaper articles, television reports, obituary—anything. Afterall, she and Richard were well-known in the community and Janyce was one of Denver’s former top models. In addition, I wanted to find any information I could about Richard–the businessman and con-man. Again, the local media must have reported something about the night Richard severely beat Janyce at the Marriott Hotel. However, I wasn’t able to find any media coverage surrounding Janyce’s death, her severe beating at the Marriott Hotel, or Richard’s run-ins with the law. Sherrie and I found everything but what we were looking for. We were quickly hurled into a quest for justice and battle with Colorado authorities.
What did you want to get from writing He Killed Our Janny? Did you succeed? Any regrets?
Sherrie Lueder: Personally I feel fulfilled in knowing we did everything possible in uncovering the truth surrounding Janyce Hansen’s death. Questions were answered for the family and secrets that lay dormant for twenty five years were uncovered. Unfortunately the truth will never be substantiated.
Kim Hansen: We were certain Janyce’s death certificate would be changed to “Homicide”. After receiving the police reports, results of the polygraphs, twenty-one crime scene photographs, coroner’s preliminary report, criminal records, court documents, and conducting numerous interviews with the former CSI Agent, detectives, police officers and funeral director—and working with the FBI, Colorado Attorney General’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Cold Case Detective, Arapahoe County Coroner, and help from the Crime Wire Team–we were certain Janyce’s death certificate would be changed to “Homicide”. After several months engaged in an exhaustive battle with Colorado officials, we learned Janyce’s death would remain “Undetermined”, and a proper investigation would NOT be conducted. However, the coroner agreed to perform an autopsy NOW on Janyce’s remains IF the family paid the $4,000 for the disinterment/reinterment.
Finals results – After weighing the options–with a very heavy heart–John and Jill decided not to move forward with the autopsy.
Kim Hansen: A few months have passed since the book was first published. We want our readers and the public to know that we haven’t given up on our quest for justice. We are extremely upset with Colorado officials at the way they handled the investigation into Janyce’s death—THEN and NOW. Since the book’s release, we have gained media attention and have been in contact with several law enforcement officers, former special prosecutors, and attorneys. They have advised us to take this case to the Grand Jury, but to wait until January 2013 when a new Colorado Attorney General takes office. In the meantime, we remain hopeful that someone will come forward with new information that leads to justice and the closure of Janyce Hansen’s 1984 Cold Case.
What style did you use to write the book? Why? Did you actually made a conscious choice (if so why?) or it just came to you?
Sherrie Lueder: As far as my style of writing I guess it just came to me as I wrote. I did make a conscious decision not to judge the individuals in my story. Writing about their life experience was very emotional for me. I truly connected with my characters, so much so that I cried for all of them including the bad guy. Reading nonfiction tends to get a little dull at times. I wanted He Killed our Janny to be a page turner and after getting feedback I believe I succeeded.
What are you working on at the moment?
Sherrie Lueder: My current project is in the true crime genre, of course. This one really calls for the Sherlock Holmes gear so I’m adding on to my literary team. My sister Dawn will join Kim and I as we follow the crimes of a group of con men who seem to be getting away with everything except murder.
When can our readers find out more about you and your work?
If you are in Denver this year please watch for me and the real life characters from He Killed Our Janny. We will be hosting several book signing events in the area and would love to meet you.
Besides Amazon, here is the link to order books http://sherrielueder.blogspot.com
- Sherrie Lueder and Kim Hansen – He Killed Our Janny (laemonie.wordpress.com)
- True Crime Readers Wanted (laemonie.wordpress.com)
- http://www.youtube.com/embed/XaU7j-JMTNI (Book Trailer)