Twilight Times Special Feature
Interview with Christine W. Murphy
Christine: "I have tried other outlets over the years, such as designing and making quilts, but I came to the conclusion I don't have the talent, or the manual dexterity, to produce the image in my mind. Daydreaming has remained the way I express my creativity most easily. When I write I try to capture those."
Lida: "Do you feel you were creative, even as a child?"
Christine: "Looking back, I recognize a desire to write. I even remember the title of a short story I wrote in eighth grade. I was in an special English class my freshman year in college (I have a copy of the short story I wrote, a religious allegory) but I never saw it as more than an academic exercise. I never had any role models that said, "Hey, you could be a writer and make a living at it." That was something I had to discover for myself. I stumbled into technical writing after I left the Navy, and looked for jobs with government contractors. Although I had Navy experience, they hired me as a technical editor because I was a woman and by definition could have no military experience as they measured it."
Lida: "Could you share with us the story behind the story? In other words, how did your writing life lead up to _For the Emperor_?"
Christine: "I grew up reading science fiction by Azimov and Heinlein. Although I enjoyed them I found them lacking in the human element. I couldn't project myself into their books. Like the short stories I read in my college English courses, all of the heros were, well, they were heros. The goals were male. I read, tried to understand what they were trying to gain, and often failed. I couldn't lose myself in the story because I had no one to identify with. Even in that speculative short story I wrote, the characters were all male and so were their goals.
A few decades later I wrote my first book, a science fiction novel, but I felt definite echoes from all those books I'd read before. I also didn't feel the book was written very well. The Romance Writers of America had a local chapter nearby and I started going to their lectures. I knew the basics of writing from my work in technical writer, but here were classes and resources on how to write fiction.
To join, I needed to be writing romance so I decided to write a science fiction romance. I read fifty SF novels that summer and recognized one common thread. I perceived any character with a royal title as sexy. I had my hero, Prince Alec, brother to the Triden Emperor. At the same time I read an alternate history where the German's won WWII and the IRA played a part in the victory. I decided I wanted my book to deal with freedom fighter versus terrorist. That's where I put my heroine, Jameelah, who like her earthly counterpart married into the cause.
Lida: "How did you prepare for the creation of For the Emperor? How much research was necessary?"
Christine: "I researched the demographics of modern terrorist groups. Who joins them? Why? How long do they stay? What effect does it have on their lives? When I studied American history I was very aware that terrorists are judged by their success. If they win, they write the history books and we have the American Revolutionary War instead of the Colonial Terrorist Insurrection. I wanted my heroine to belong to such a group, fighting for freedom, viewed by the outside as absolutely despicable."
Lida: "What kind of reactions do people have to your writing?"
Christine: "In contests I've had some rabid reactions to the first three chapters. Having a heroine who belonged to a group that someone else labeled "terrorist" was unexceptable. One editor told me I had too much plot, a comment I chose to ignore.
As far as reviews go, those have been great."
4 and half stars from Affaire de Coure "Christine W. Murphy provides a richly fashioned futuristic society.... Readers will not be able to put down this book until the last page is turned."
"...a science fiction Casablanca.... In the end, it is a novel of the human spirit, of love overcoming human frailty and the need for redemption triumphing over the need for revenge." by Jennifer Dunne of Science Fiction Romance
"This book contains some delicious passages of sexual tension. The characters are well-drawn, and the plot skips along at a good pace. There is always a sense of something bigger: the fates of peoples, empires, and ways of life hover over the minds of characters fighting their own personal battles and bugbears." by Thomas Myer for SF Site
"Well written, plausible, FOR THE EMPEROR, is a lusty, but thought-provoking tale of the what-could-be. The characters, their weaknesses and strengths, are beautifully drawn. The action is fast and furious. The love story is wonderful." Under the Covers
"Christine W. Murphy has written a book filled with incredible description and romance. She has brought to life a new world. In the end, your choice should be: should you buy this book today or tomorrow." by Julia Jackson for AOL Writers Club Romance Group
Lida: "Do you find anything difficult in the writing process, and if so, what?"
Christine: "When I write rough draft I tend to hyperventilate. My doctor says it's nothing to worry about but I find it terribly distracting. If I cry when I read my synopses, which I always dreadful, I know I've got a good story.
Lida: "Do you currently have any writing projects?"
Christine: "Besides all that SF I read as a child, I read every James Bond novel I could smuggle out of the library. (My small town librarian thought Ian Fleming was not suitable reading for a young lady. She was probably right). My romantic suspense Through Iowa Glass was just released from Hard Shell Word Factory. (HSWF)
On January 1, 1999, I submitted a SF novel for HSWF to consider. Now I'm working to complete two more novels. The first, a SF romance set in the same world as For the Emperor. I wanted to show how the Emperor ends up with Alec's old girl friend. The second is another romantic suspense. Like Through Iowa Glass it's set in a small Midwestern town, my old stomping grounds, before I ran away and joined the Navy."
Lida: "Is there anything else you'd like to add?"
Christine: "I invite your readers to visit Hard Shell Word Factory at http://www.hardshell.com, and discover what electronic publishing is all about. You can read free excerpts of my books there and see the covers. If you don't want to read the chapters online, you can copy and paste them into your word processing program and read them later. This is what I do. I like to make the font size big.
At the HSWF site you can buy books as an attachment to an e-mail or have a floppy disk mailed to your home (this way you get the neat holder and cover art). You can read the book on your screen or print out some or all of the book. They work on PCs and Macintosh computers. You have the choice of PDF or RTF format. If you choose the RTF format you can manipulate the page orientation and font size. You can even create a book for people with limited vision. You buy the rights to print one copy of the book and to make a backup copy of the electronic file. You can read more about them at the site. HSWF will soon offer a special format for people who use Palm Pilots.
I'm also excited about the new electronic readers that are coming out. My books are now available to people who own the new Rocket eBook readers, which were recently featured on the Today Show. When the new Millennium reader comes out, my books will be there two. To read about all the new options in paperless reading, visit HSWF and read all about it.
More than once when she was a little girl, Christine W. Murphy came to the conclusion she'd been dropped by an alien space craft and left to grow up in a small town in Minnesota. When would they notice she was missing and come back for her? she wanted to know. After graduating from Concordia College, only twenty miles away, she decided drastic action was called for and she joined the Navy to look for them. After serving in Florida, Iceland, and Virginia, she realized no one was coming for her and she decided to settle for domestic bliss.
Christine lives in New England with her husband, three exceptional children, and one crazy, red Abyssinian cat. Freelance technical writing and typesetting jobs constantly interfere with her creation of worlds where she feels more at home. For the Emperor, a science fiction romance, is her first published book. Through Iowa Glass, a romantic suspense, is her second.