About Brenda Murphy:
Brenda Murphy is the great-granddaughter of Irish immigrants and the author of twenty books about American literary and cultural figures. Besides 19th-century Irish immigrants, her subjects have included American women writers, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, and many others. Brenda taught American literature and drama for a number of years, first at St. Lawrence University and then at The University of Connecticut, where she became an avid fan of women’s basketball. Recently, she has concentrated on writing criticism, biography and fact-based historical fiction. She and her husband make their home in Connecticut.
What inspires you to write?
To start me on the path to writing, it usually takes hearing something particular about an incident or person that sparks an intense desire to know more. In my recent book, After the Voyage, it was the engraving on a ring that had belonged to my great aunt and a newspaper story giving some details of her life that I just had to write about.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I’m writing historical fiction, biography or memoir, I try to steep myself in the time period and anything I can read about the lives of people who were like my subject. I read history, biography, letters, lots of contemporary newspaper stories, diaries and journals if I can find them, and fiction from the period. This gives me the context in which my characters start to talk and interact. I outline on paper constantly.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t like to start writing about a character until I can see her hear her talking in my mind. I have a scene well in mind before I start to write it, and when I’m lucky, the dialogue just comes automatically because I’m so familiar with the characters.
What advice would you give other writers?
I think the best advice is just to write about what’s important to you. It’s hard work, and terrifically harder if your heart is not in it. In terms of process, I use little tricks to keep me going, like not getting bogged down in trying to write something perfectly the first time. My mantra is, “I can always come back to this.”
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve published 20 books with trade and university presses. Recently my husband and I started a micropress for books that don’t fit into the established categories recognized by commercial presses as channels for selling books. This has been a great experience and a chance to learn an incredible amount about the new realities of publishing. Being able to control everything about the books from formatting and cover design to marketing is a new and very rewarding approach to publishing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
This seems to be a time when anything could happen. Things have changed so dramatically in the 21st century. The consolidation of trade publishing into 5 big corporations has meant that new ways of publishing just had to break out, and they have. The Amazon platforms are a game changer because they allow authors and readers to connect directly, without the middlemen of agents, editors, publicity departments, and professional reviewers. It’s become a much more democratic landscape. A bit chaotic, but the possibilities are exciting.
What genres do you write?: historical fiction, fact-based fiction, memoir, biography, literary criticism, theater history
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.