2018 releases

Hell's Bell
Scent of the Jaguar
His Outback Nanny
The Queen's Game
366 Days of Flash Fiction
On the Horizon: Simple worlds of speculative adventure
Lusting the Enemy

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Darklight On...Nicole R Murphy Q&A

Today's Darklight On... is with Nicole Murphy. Welcome Nicole!

Photo by Cat Sparks
How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre?

Blame my father. He's got a massive book collection and as I was growing up, I was painfully aware of all Dad's books and how I desperately wanted to read them. At school, the teachers were reading things such as the Narnia books and Wizard of Earthsea. Then my brother handed me one of the books from Dad's shelf and said, 'You have to read this'. That book was Lord of the Rings. That was the beginning of my one, true love (apart from my husband, of course).

Please tell us a little about your road to publication.

I started writing seriously in 2000. At least, I thought it was seriously, but really I was just playing. Over the next seven years, I had several short stories published and did some editing myself. I changed careers from teaching to journalism and as my skills developed, so did my conviction that I had to stop mucking around and really concentrate on writing. So in 2008 I left journalism and got a job at the local supermarket to give me time and headspace to focus on my writing. I chose to work on my fantasy romance series, because I thought it had the greatest potential to be commercially successful. Eighteen months later, I sold it to HarperVoyager. Nearly two years after THAT and I know now that was just the beginning :)

Your recent release is Power Unbound. Can you describe it and The Dream of the Asarlai series? Love the cover artwork on both, but love the colourful background to Power Unbound, by the way. 

Thanks :) When the cover for Secret Ones (the first book of the series) was done, the art department at HarperCollins did all three covers in the same style (you can see them at the back of the book). However, by the time Power Unbound came around, they'd decided to tinker with it a little and so it got more of a mystical air to it, which I love. The cover for Rogue Gadda (out in July) is even better, I think (hope to be able to share that around soon).

So, about the series and Power Unbound. It's set in the world of the gadda, a secret race that come from a different set of ancestors to us humans. Because of this, they can access the energy of the natural world and use it to perform what we humans call 'magic'. Dream of Asarlai tells the story of a woman called Asarlai who thinks keeping the gadda a secret from humans is holding them back and she'd determined to release them so they can fulfil their destiny of ruling the world and she's using a terrible set of teachings called the Forbidden Texts to do so. In the first book, Secret Ones, we meet the world, see what Asarlai has planned and get the first dose of what's going to go wrong - all while we're watching Maggie Shaunessy and Lucas Valeroso fall in love. In Power Unbound, Asarlai starts to put her plans into action, often with devastating results and the race to stop her heats up - while at the same time, Ione Gorton and Stephen O'Malley fall in love. In Rogue Gadda, we'll find out if they can stop Asarlai in time - while watching Hampton Rourke and Charlotte Haraldson hook up :)

You have published both novels and short stories. What do you enjoy most working on these different forms?

I enjoy short stories cause they don't take long to write :) That said, I've had issues learning to write (particularly revise) short stories so in terms of the end result, novels have been better. But they're starting to catch up with each other. I love shorts for the ability to experiment, to test yourself, to try new ideas without having to put too much effort into it. With novels, I love losing myself with the characters and the world and struggling alongside them to see how things work out.

Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between? 

Was very much a panster, but I don't pants as much as I used to. Generally now, I at least have a synopsis of the story and will at times stop and write outlines of certain parts of the story or certain character arcs so I can think things through and move on.

Do you have a favourite of your characters? 

I have some characters that I enjoy writing more than others (Ione, the heroine of Power Unbound and her son Jack were fabulous fun). Hampton will always have a bit of my heart I think. At the moment, one of the heroes of my current WiP is capturing my heart and I'm fighting favouring him when the heroine is supposed to be equally enamoured with two men.

What are you currently working on? 

I'm working on the sequel to Dream of Asarlai. Called People of the Star, the first book is almost done and I'm going to present it to publisher in a month or so and hopefully they'll adore it and want the whole trilogy :)

What is your favourite part of the process of writing? 

Revising. A strange thing for me to say, cause I used to be the ultimate pantser and nothing satisfied me more than getting words onto the page and discovering the story. However, I'm now aware that even in that process, I don't really discover the story. It's when I go back, sift through what's there, identify the good bits and bring them out that I discover what the story is really about. I love the problem-solving aspect of it all. My creativity seems to work better when it's got some barriers to push against.

What can we expect from Nicole R Murphy in the future? 

A lot, I hope. The dream is that the sequel to Dream of Asarlai will be published. Whether there will be more gadda books after that, I don't know - I didn't have the idea for this trilogy until I was finishing writing the previous one. I do want to diversify and move into writing contemporary romance, and erotica, which I'll do later this year. Also, more short stories and some novellas as well. So far this year, I've got two novels and three short stories being published and I hope to build on that.

Who are your favourite authors? 

This is actually a hard question. For example, I've spent this year reading all the Mercy Thompson books from Patricia Briggs, and so she's a current fave, but will she always be? When I think back on authors I love, that I will re-read - Tolkien, Le Guin, Austen, Amanda Quick, Johanna Lindsey, Jennifer Cruisie. Authors that have come to the for in the past couple of years - Sean Williams, Trudi Canavan, Russell Kirkpatrick, Keri Arthur, Tracey O'Hara, Erica Hayes. Too many authors. Toooooo many.

What are you currently reading?

Well, I finished River Marked a couple of days ago and am now trying to adjust to the fact that I don't get to read another Mercy Thompson novel until 2013 (sniff). I'm skimming a lot of romance at the moment because I'll be teaching a workshop on writing sex scenes at Swancon/Romancing the West at the end of April and I need some good and bad examples. Not sure what I'll read next - Glenda Larke, or Mary Victoria. Lots of great books to choose from.

Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or TV series? 

True Blood. Hands down. I am really toying with whether I can convince hubby for us to get cable so I can watch it, cause I'm soooo sick of waiting for the DVDs :) I loved Firefly. Funnily enough, my ability to watch tv drama is dying as I get more into my writing - just have no interest in it. Will watch comedy and reality tv, but not really drama. Weird.

Do you have advice for emerging writers? 

Work out what it is you want to achieve, and set up your life to make it happen. If you want to be published, then act now as if you are published. Make the time, as often as you can to write and revise (cause the workload under deadline is HORRENDOUS and you're dealing with enough emotional stuff without having to work out where you're going to find the hours to do the work as well). Start to build a presence online and in the community. Do whatever you need to do to improve your craft - get critiqued, enter competitions, do workshops. If you're not really fussed about being published, then pay NO attention to what people will tell you is the right or wrong thing to do and just enjoy yourself. Actually, that goes for all writers - there is no definitive right or wrong. There's only 'what works for you'. So experiment, come up with a style and a workload that harnesses your talents and potential and then GO FOR IT!


You can find Nicole at her website, blog, Twitter, and Goodreads

Look out for Rogue Gadda, due for release in Australia in July.


  1. NIcole - LOL - blaming you love of spec fiction on your father. I'm sure parents worldwide understand that feeling :)

    I admire that you switched jobs so you can focus on your writing. You must be happy that it has paid off!

  2. Very happy Eleni - my husband is happy too :)

  3. Oh must keep the other half happy! :)