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Every issue, IN presents INside Authors, a look at authors from around the world who have significantly caught our attention and deserve a little space and recognition.
The following two authors are this month's choices. Our hope is to provide a glimpse, a snapshot, an overview of some of the finest writers of our time making waves both tidal and ripple.
Background INfo: I won the Hemingway Award for a first novel for The Hope Valley Hubcap King, which also featured on the BookSense 76 list of recommended titles for 2003. My second novel, The Finished Man, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by my publisher, Bantam Dell. A third novel, The Time of New Weather, which imagines what might follow if the American government was acquired in a corporate buyout and operated as a profit-making entity, was just released this year. Have also written thenon-fiction One Bird, One Stone (Renaissance/St. Martin's 2002), a chronicle of Zen practice in America. I taught for five years with Natalie Goldberg (author of Writing Down the Bones), and currently teach an extensive series of writing seminars for my own Big Sky Writing Workshops (see my website info below) as well as for the University of New Mexico - Taos. My articles have appeared or will appear in Writers Market (2004, 2005, 2007) the Guide To Literary Agents (2007), The Sun, Yoga Journal, Tricycle Magazine, and others. I'm an MFA Writing graduate of The Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. I've been a formal student of Zen practice for nearly 20 years.
Internet Presence: Crucial for writers. See my website at www.murphyzen.com . To hear a recent audio on my latest novel The Time Of New Weather, as well as how to write a novel and anecdotes on the writer's life, go to The Writing Show: http://writingshow.com/?p=21 Also there's a brief blurb on my recent appearance at the North Carolina Writers Network
conference at http://thepaperjourney.com/news/
The Future: Right now I'm working on a screenplay and germinating and developing several new novel ideas, as well as finishing a collection of short stories. I'm also planning my writing workshops for 2006 in the U.S. and Europe, and continuing my series of entirely on-line/e-mail workshops. The Internet is a brilliant opportunity to bring writers together, and I love working with people I wouldn't communicate with otherwise. In my online groups, people can receive personal feedback and attention wherever they are, without the expenses and logistics of travel etc. I enjoy the meeting of minds with many writing students in cyberspace, from New York to Berlin, Vancouver to Australia.
Background INfo: Born in Arkansas, from there I've lived in many parts of the world including Germany, Korea, America, Taiwan and Brazil, passing through dozens of others in Asia, Central America, Europe and the South Pacific. Currently I live in Austria with my wife and two children.
INfluences: I was first taken in by what seems to be a common spell over humanity: the collective misconception that writing is glamorous. For me that bubble popped when I sat down in an empty room in search of the words and magic. I sat and sat, but no words came, definitely no magic. When I finally figured out how to write a novel I discovered why I might want to endlessly sit in a room. I discovered deep satisfaction from hovering in the act of creating and at the same moment exploring questions about life in the dim corners of my own identity. Writing is the only art form that allows this to occur for me.
Advice: First make sure you really understand the elements of storytelling and the craft of writing. Without those tools I think youíre lost. I would have been. Then, when you get to sitting in that chair and writing your book, forget any preconceptions you might have about how to do it. If you're like me, youíll have no idea how to actually write your first novel until you do. So be experimental. Be loose. Donít constrain yourself to a tense or person or point of view. Write wildly with the spirit of your story in mind. Youíll spill out a lot of junk at first, but after a while youíll find your way and finally figure out how people write books. But if you don't bravely wade through the swamp, you'll never find land
The Future: Iíve already written down the bones of my next novel, The Renaissance Man. Itís the story of an extraordinarily gifted individual whoís on track to become one of the worldís greatest men. It follows his grappling with the idea of greatness and what heíll have to give up to achieve it. I plan to write it both as a dialogue driven novel and a screenplay; it seems like one of those rare stories that fit to both. Beyond that Iíve always had a non-fiction book whistling in my head. Maybe Iíll call it The Myth of Wealth and Happiness. Full of stories about both happy rich people and happy poor people as well as the saddness on both sides of the fence. The stories will be buttressed with ellipses of hard data from Happiness research and social psychology. I picture it a cool coffee table book: Rolling Stone meets Carl Jung. Iíve just always been saddened by all those people running so fast after the empty promise of money. I thought maybe a book like that would help.
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