Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday: Meet Nicola Murphy

The thing that got me about this one was the emotion. My emotion, I guess. I was uncomfortable as hell, but emotionally invested. And the payoff felt like something real-life might deal out. Great story.

Tom Pitts – Author; AMERICAN STATIC, HUSTLE, KNUCKLEBALL. Editor, Flash Fiction Offensive.

We've run a lot of terrific pieces since Tom and I took over, but I have to say this one is special for me.  Like Tom, I found myself emotionally invested and riveted, and it has stuck with me.  A goddamn gem.

Joe Clifford – Author; LAMENTATION, DECEMBER BOYS, GIVE UP THE DEAD, JUNKIE LOVE. Editor, Flash Fiction Offensive.

English author Nicola Murphy serves up twisted tales with seriously sordid overtones. The words are dark, personal and likely to make you think long after you finish reading them. If you like perfectly crafted tales with heartbreaking details you should seek out the work of Nicola Murphy.

I’m not the only person who loves your writing, but I wish more people knew about you. There are simply not enough of your stories in the atmosphere. It seems you are very careful in terms of beginning the process and seeking publication after. I wonder, what inspires you to sit down and commit?

I wish that inspiration was consistent, that it showed up each morning to clock in at 9, but it doesn’t. It can be a snatch of conversation at a café, or on the radio – the most fully formed ideas I have usually start with ‘ooh, that’s interesting’, then carry on with ‘what if?’.

On my first writing retreat I shared a room with a very nice American lady. She was going through a hard time with her man, and we joked how it was a pity he was not allergic to something. That turned into a VERY short story about a woman who gives her husband anaphylactic shock by luring in the neighbor’s cat. So, the ideas come from anywhere.

I find that having word limits, e.g. 1000 words on Flash Fiction Offensive, can shape a story and how it turns out. And once I get typing the inspiration seems to flow. For a while.

Your tales are dark and personal. The characters you create are so real and human, they feel like friends or acquaintances. Do you get emotionally involved with your stories? Do you walk away from the page you are writing feeling anger or sadness? Revenge?

Ha! Some of the stories I’ve read out at my writing group have had the best reaction when the dialogue and emotion has come from real life – I wrote about a crappy weekend away where the protagonist had an argument with her OH, that was almost verbatim – and it went down very well as they could sense the emotion rolling off the age.

In other stories, especially for FFO, I have to imagine what it would feel like to be a serial killer, or to be abandoned and left to die by your seemingly best friend. That’s where trashy real-life magazines come in as my real life is (probably luckily) quite boring.

I’ve included your most recent piece and your most popular on this page. “Witch” and “Daddy’s Girl.” Most of your work is about the female experience. Are you aware of that commonality while writing?

For me, that’s just the way it is – it’s not deliberate, I’m just trying to tell a good story. Does that sound trite?

Not at all. I understand. The tales you tell have women at the core, the fact there is neglect or abuse in the setting or the character’s history reflects a sad truth in our world

“Are you a feminist?” I had three young ladies ask me this question recently. How would you answer?

Absolutely. There’s a lovely quote from Caitlin Moran on this. “So, here is the quick way working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants. A.) Do you have a vagina? Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said yes to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.” That’ll do for me.

If I want to be girly, or wear pink, or have multiple piercings and dance around to the Sisters of Mercy, then as a feminist, I can. If I believe that things should just BE FAIR, then I’m a feminist. That doesn’t stop me from asking the OH to open a bottle of something because I can’t get the lid off. It means I question a lot of the patriarchal bullshit that’s been splattered around for far too long.

Who are the writer’s that have inspired you?

That’s not fair! My favourite character and author can change from week to week – however, I do have a crush on Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, and Stephen King rarely disappoints. Of course, there are the writers that aren’t yet famous, but should be (like a certain Mr. Joe Clifford). But at the moment I’m loving the books by Liane Moriarty: definite page turners and with very clever plots.

What are you reading these days?

Right beside me is THE ETYMOLOGICON by Mark Forsyth, a circular trip around the history of words – it’s funny and clever, and if you’re a nerd, like me, it’s invaluable.

Tell me what you are working on?

I’m working on a series of long stories/novellas which feature a female DI with loads of baggage, a must have for all successful detectives, and each story invokes a murder on a reality show. The first one is “Cooking Hell”, where the foul-mouthed host of a cooking competition (think “Masterchef”) is found brutally murdered. Of course.

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