So this past weekend I started reviewing the Weaver series by Vaun Murphrey, which I was lucky enough to find on Net Galley. To make my weekend even luckier I recieved an email from Vaun. Of course I had to ask her if I could interview her because, I mean, how could I not? She was gracious enough to not only accept, but to help me stumble through my first real interview. (I did a few for my high school paper in my sophomore year of high school, but that was a lifetime ago.) Anyway, without further ado, here’s the interview.
Your bio says that you have been writing since you were seven or eight. What is the earliest story you remember writing about?
It wasn’t a story actually; it was a poem, and it was terrible. I still remember it to this day; word for awful word but it was mine. From that point onward I was hooked.
I have written a couple of poems and I’m much more self-conscious when it comes to them than I am about my writing. Would you like to share it? And do you still write poetry?
Here is the terrible, awful first poem I wrote at eight:
The cold bitter winter was
the told fortune of the sour world
Where no flowers grow
The sunlight gleaming
and the people screaming
Below under the patches of thunder
You can hear the scratches
Of the horrid terror.
I do still write poetry, and I hope it has improved since my eight-year-old days!
Always and never
I like them both! The poem you wrote at eight is better than some of the stuff I wrote in high school.
Vaun is such a unique name. How did you come by it?
My parents gave it to me. Just kidding! It’s Welsh, and it means small one. The correct spelling is Vaughn, but my folks shortened it because I came out a girl rather than a boy. Incidently my two older sisters were named the same way. The oldest is Randi Lei, and my middle sister’s initials were M.A.N.
Who are some of your favorite authors? What do you like about their writing?
Favorite authors, hmm. That is tricky. I loved Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen King, Piers Anthony, David Eddings and Anne Rice in my younger years. My tastes have changed lately to Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Candice Fox, Peter V Brett, Patrick Rothfuss, John Green and George R.R. Martin to name a few.
In the beginning, I loved rich description and then I began to gravitate toward tighter stories with rich voices.
I now have this fear of you pulling a George R.R. Martin and just killing everybody. You wouldn’t do that right? I am only partially kidding…
Yeah, George R.R. Martin almost lost me after the red wedding but I returned if only to hope and pray Arya wouldn’t die. I’ve pinned my hopes for the Starks on her. I have no plans to go on a killing spree. It tears my heart when my imaginary friends die.
Thank goodness! I won’t be reading your books with apprehensive anticipation.
What made you want to become a writer?
To put it simply, if I’m not imagining something new and creating I get a bit squirrelly. We’ll chalk it up to joy and self-preservation.
I’m sure you’ve heard this question before, but what is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Stop saying you will and do it. Anyone can say they have an idea but what you do with it matters most. First attempts can be awful. Let them be awful. There is no such thing as perfection.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Have fun and don’t listen to people that use the word should, don’t and never. You’re you, and they’re them for a reason. Oops, I used ‘don’t’ so now you can’t listen to me.
There are exceptions to every rule. I think we can let your one “don’t” slide.
What’s your writing process? And how do you conquer writer’s block?
My process is to build a person or scene with a bare bones idea of where I’d like to go and then start writing.
Writer’s block? What’s that? Usually, if you can’t write you aren’t ready so take a break and let the back of your mind catch up to the front. In essence – get out of your way.
Do you have an agent? If so, do you have any advice on finding and querying agents? If not, why did you decide against finding one?
I don’t have an agent, but it isn’t because I don’t want one or that it wouldn’t benefit me. I just haven’t found the right one yet. Query letters are a crap shoot, pardon my French. Everyone has a sure fire winner that will get the right attention, BUT a lot of agents don’t read past the first sentence or paragraph if they don’t have an intern or assistant go through them first. (Or at least that’s what I’ve heard and read so if any agents read this I mean no offense.) It’s a two-way job interview on a piece of paper.
Do you have any other projects you’re planning?
Certainly. I have so many ideas for projects that my ideas sprout ideas. I’ve started another sci-fi series with an adult cast and a whole new set of rules. I’m super excited about it and loving the faster pace.
I can’t wait. What is the new series about? Can we hear a short blurb?
Bozena Skala was committed to an insane asylum as a young girl after the unexplained disappearance of her half-brother and the assumption of his death. At eighteen, the authorities, with some nudging from her now available council, deem her lucid enough for release. Her step-mother, Rowena, will gift the Skala Estate to Bozena with one non-negotiable condition—she never wants to see her step-daughter again.
On the way to her childhood home, Bozena accidentally interrupts a robbery, saving the life of one of her missing brother’s friends, Dominic Vargas. Unwanted attention from the police and media ensues. Bozena feels ill-prepared for the onslaught, and the situation brings back memories she’d rather forget. She flees to the Estate in hopes of resuming as normal a life as possible—if you’re inclined to be a house hermit.
Secrets abound in her family home, some more dangerous than others…
Prepare to see where else author Vaun Murphrey can transport you in The Blood Key, Book One of The Wander Series.
I have to say that not only does the story sound intriguing, but I am in love with the names. How did you find the name Bozena?
I went online and looked for names with Slovak or Bohemian roots and fell in love with Bozena. It derives from the Slavic ‘bozy’ which means divine. Her nicknames in the book are Zena and Z.
In the Weaver Series, you have this style that could easily appeal to both sci-fi and fantasy lovers. Do you think you will keep that same aspect in the Wander series?
Yes and no. The Wander Series feels faster with less exposition and more action. Some of my descriptive elements are still there, I love to show and not tell, but it’s trimmed. Don’t ask me why, the atmosphere of the story became altogether different in my head. I’ll hazard a guess that it is a good thing then cross my fingers.
This may be cheating, but I know that everyone imagines how a conversation is going to go, and I imagine that as a writer that can be even worse. What question do you wish I would ask? And then what’s the answer?
Would you ever want to reach the status of an author ‘Rockstar’ like Neil Gaiman, Steven King or JK Rowling?
The answer would be a resounding no. I have multiple closets with tons of skeletons, and I like my life private.
I can definitely understand that, but would you like to get to a point where you’re supporting yourself through writing?
Yes, I would! Right now, I still need a day job to pay the bills. It gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure for readers to contact me and tell me parts they love from the series. At the moment that is the writing income that matters most.
Where did the idea for the Weaver series come from?
Oddly enough, the age old question – Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Did the story help you come up with an answer?
Science did. Neil deGrasse Tyson answered that question quite nicely. If you can’t tell, I’m a fan.
Do you prefer one of the twins over the other? Why?
I don’t know how I could. Cassandra and Silver live in my mind so if I were put on the coals I would have to say Silver. She says things I wish I could all the dang time.
I have no idea why I thought of this next question, but if I had to live with any of your characters I think I’d want to live with Malcolm. If you had to live with any of your characters who would you pick?
Maggie! She can cook, and she takes care of those around her. No. Contest.
I seriously considered saying Maggie too, but I enjoy cooking, and Gerome is just a tad too serious for me to live with. I could be friends with him, but I just couldn’t live with him and it seems obvious that Maggie and Gerome come as a package deal.
How many books do you have planned for this series? Will Phoenix be the last?
The plan is for five books with Cass and Silver. PHOENIX should release in April, 2015 and DESCENT is being written as we speak.
I am both happy to hear that book four won’t be the end and sad to hear there will only be five. I love the universe you created. I can only hope you might be considering visiting the same universe from another perspective. Maybe even another planet.
That is the plan, Lexi. I want to explore the future of Earth and maybe the past. I’m leaning toward the future. As far as planets go I’ve daydreamed about writing Kal’s past on Axsa. Axsa was a magical place for me. I revisit it with the girls in Book Five.
Not so Spoiler-Free
When Silver first appeared I wasn’t entirely sure if she were friend or foe. Was that intentional or did it just happen?
Intentional. Human beings are complicated creatures. With one perspective and set of circumstances they appear one way but then you change this that or the other and boom – totally different window into their life/personality.
Without giving too much away, who do you think changes most from the beginning of the series to the end?
My girls change the most, physically, mentally…you name it. I could also say if a reader sticks through to the end then perhaps their mind would change the most of all. I’d like them to think about the books even after they finish with them. (Probably not an original author hope.)
What can you share about the fourth book, Phoenix?
The only constant in life is change. One day you’re rebuilding and the next you’re fighting for the lives of all those you love.
I love that your stories are very focused on the plot as a whole and that the romances aren’t a constant, overpowering focus. That being said, I am curious to how Mez, James, Cass, and Silver are adjusting to their unique situation?
You will hear more on that in PHOENIX because the dynamics get complicated in their love quadrangle.
Do you think that Corinne and the twins will ever get over their bumpy start?
I think above all other resentments and issues they love each other to the bitter end. They love the good and acknowledge the bad. That’s tough to do.
I’m glad to hear that. I like Corinne, and it would make me sad to have her on the outside simply because she was born into the wrong family. She is a strong character who stood up to the only blood family she had left. That kind of courage is rarely seen in fiction or real life.
I read the excerpt of Phoenix on Wattpad, and I have to ask, with that cliff hanger are you trying to kill your readers with anticipation?
Yes, always. I love a good hook.
When do you think Phoenix will be released?
PHOENIX is set for an April, 2015 release but if there are any delays in the process it could get pushed to May. (I hope not!)
Thank you so much for letting me interview you. It’s wonderful to find such a talented writer who is also such a pleasant person to talk with. I hope we can do this again in the future.
Any time at all Lexi. You’re sort of my dream reader, and I’m so happy you took the time to get to know me and my imaginary friends. I hope you continue to write and that one day I read your work and interview you.
Please check out Vaun’s books and her website which you can find right here.