Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction and historical fiction author Kay Murdy. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Kay. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Kay: My name is Kay Murdy. I live with my husband Bob in Whittier California. We have four adult children and five grandchildren, plus one on the way. My mother told me that from the time I was a little girl, I always had a pencil in my hand, scribbling pictures or scratching out stories.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Kay: I write scripture commentaries, both in books and on my web site. I wrote a column for Ministry and Liturgy Magazine on Liturgical Spirituality for fifteen years. Recently, I have tried my hand at writing a historical novel.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Kay: My published books are: Season of Emmanuel: Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas; 90 Days: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter; From Pharaoh to the Father: Praying the Lord’s Prayer Backwards; What Every Catholic Needs to Know About the Bible; A Closer Walk with Jesus for Lent; all for Resource Publications, Inc., and a Lenten booklet, part of the Daybreaks series for Liguori Publications.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks?
Kay: No, my books are not available as eBooks.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Kay: Of course I love the central character in my historical novel on Mary of Nazareth. I have no idea who could play her role as it covers her life from birth to death.
Morgen: Maybe a series of actresses. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Kay: I had no say in the titles or covers of my published books, with the exception of Pharaoh to the Father. The concept was my own, and a friend designed the cover.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Kay: I am doing a final edit of Song of the Dove and, in addition, I am working on the presentations I will be giving in the Fall at Regional Congresses and parishes. That takes up most of my time at the present.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Kay: Yes, I do write every day. It is never a chore, except when I have a deadline. I don’t like to work under pressure.
No, I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Sometimes I get stuck on how to work out a certain incident in my story, but I work my way through it. Then I change it again and again.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kay: I am more of a run-with-it writer. I also do not write chronologically. I get an idea and work it out and figure out where it belongs in the story.
Morgen: Most writers do (as do I). Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Kay: I draw on my own life experience for my story, and try to relate my characters’ personalities to people I know.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Kay: Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. I am never satisfied.
Morgen: Oh dear. But I guess you just have to let go. Do you have to do much research?
Kay: I did about ten years worth of research for my novel. I want it to be historically accurate.
Morgen: Wow. That’s determination. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Kay: I never write in first person point of view, unless I am giving a talk on personal experience. I am comfortable writing in second person.
Morgen: Oh great, many people aren’t. It’s a very acquired taste. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Kay: I suppose the stories that I wrote when I was much younger will never see the light of day. Everything else was either birthed or in the process of being born.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kay: I my early days of writing, I sent my scriptural commentaries to a number of publishers, only to have them returned. One day they found their way to the editor of Ministry and Liturgy magazine. He was looking for a more pastoral approach for his column on Liturgical Spirituality as the author he had was very cerebral. He hired me to write the column, which I wrote for fifteen years. Then they asked me to do other writing for catechists. Eventually I was asked to write a book and that led to more books. Quite a process!
Morgen: Do you enter competitions?
Kay: I entered one last year for Hay House, but I don’t think my genre was what they were looking for. However, they asked us to make a video presentation of my book which I did. So that was a valuable experience. You can check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TydFbkliaU
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Kay: I’ve never had to use an agent and I’m not sure how I would go about getting one that would work in my best interest.
Morgen: There are the likes of Writers’ Market in the US and the Writers’ & Artists’ Handbook which have agent details or Preditors & Editors (http://pred-ed.com). How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Kay: I sell most of my books at the workshops I give. Other than that, that’s the publisher’s job.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Kay: I love my writing life so I don’t have a least favorite aspect. What always surprises me is how the characters in my book have a life of their own and often dictate how the plot goes.
Morgen: Don’t they just. I love that. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kay: Write. Write. Write. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. Find a good writing group who can give you good critiques of your writing. Be open to other people’s opinions. Keep an open mind. Don’t get a big head–that it is your way or the highway.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Kay: Since it is just me and my husband, I don’t cook a great deal. I would take them to a nice restaurant. I would love to invite Theresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen, the great mystics, and Erma Bombeck the humorist. Wouldn’t that be a combination?
Morgen: Wouldn’t it just. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Kay: “All will be well; all will be well; and all manner of things shall be well.” Julian of Norwich.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Kay: I conduct a weekly reflection group on the Sunday gospels of the Liturgy. They are my support group. As I mentioned, I belong to a writers club here in Whittier. They keep me honest.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Kay: When I am not writing, I like to veg-out with a good novel or watch an old movie – big fan of anything from the 40’s and 50’s. I also love the BBC.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Kay: Linkedin and Facebook. I haven’t found either one very valuable until now. Thank you for offering this forum for writers.
Morgen: You’re very welcome. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Kay: I am concerned that books will no longer be published in the traditional way, that eBooks will become the norm. I love to hold a book in my hands, mark it up, etc. I know you can do this on eBooks, but it is not the same. Love the smell of ink and paper.
Morgen: I can probably count on one hand the authors who’ve said they no longer read paper books so I think both formats will run alongside each other. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Kay: Check out my web site: http://www.daily-word-of-life.com
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Kay: Just to say thank you.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, thank you for chatting with me today.
I then invited Kay to include a synopsis of her book…
I often wondered what the flesh and blood Mary of Nazareth was like. How would she speak to people today? What sort of role model would she be? Did she have the same hopes and dreams for herself and her loved ones that we have today? In writing the Song of the Dove, it was my intention to present Mary in a way that would bypass the sentimental portraits of her that have accumulated over the ages, and enable contemporary believers to encounter her in their own lives.
Kay Murdy has a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies from Mount St. Mary’s College. She is a member of the Teaching and Coordinating Team of the Catholic Bible Institute co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Archdiocese Office of Religious Education and Loyola Marymount University. Kay teaches scripture, liturgy and spirituality in parishes throughout Southern California and has taught as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
Kay is an author and columnist, and has written five books for Resource Pub., Inc.: 90 Days and A Closer Walk with Jesus, daily reflections for Lent and Easter, Season of Emanuel for Advent and Christmas, Pharaoh to the Father, a book on praying the Lord’s Prayer backwards, and a book on Scripture: What Every Catholic Needs to Know About the Bible. Liguori Publications will publish her new book for Lent in their Daybreaks series in 2013. Kay has written a historical novel on Mary of Nazareth, The Song of the Dove, which she hopes will be published. Her website is www.daily-word-of-life.com, daily and weekly commentaries on the readings of the liturgy.
Update March 2013: Kay’s historical novel on Mary of Nazareth, Song of the Dove, will be published by ACTA publications in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She is currently working with their editor, and prays that the process won’t take too long so that she can see the book in print by 2014.
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