MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR RONALD J. MURRAY
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
My name is Ronald J. Murray. I am an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association, and all of my fictional work can comfortably fit into the Horror genre.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
The stories in Cracks in the Walls have a rather heavy focus on the corrupt nature of everyday people, in the sense that humans are inherently flawed and everybody carries the weight of having hurt other people in some way. Most often, people do not take responsibility for these actions, repress them, or justify them to themselves. This, of course, leaves the door open for retribution by supernatural means or otherwise in my fiction.
This collection includes stories that were published in The Ladies and Gentlemen of Horror and Bon Appetit: Stories and Recipes for Human Consumption, as well as some stories I’d written for a radio play horror podcast, and a couple of self-published short stories and novellas, including Where the Leviathan Sleeps, Lufer-Ma’ar and the Otherworld, and The Shadow of Monongahela.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
The root of my interest in writing dark fiction can be traced all the way to fifteen years ago when, during a literature class in junior high, I was introduced to the genre with a reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. It awakened a sort of sleeping creature of creation in me. Burying my nose further into the work of Poe, along with Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, and other authors of the strange and horrifying amplified my need to tell my own fascination and interpretation of the terrifying in narrative form.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
You can find me at my kitchen table with lingering bedhead in the morning with a cup of coffee next to my laptop. There, I will typically reach my goal of 1,500 to 2,000 words for the day. If I’m in the early stages of a story where I am outlining its events, replace my laptop with this awesome handmade journal from Vers Libris Studios that I got at Pittsburgh Freaky Fair and a Pilot Precise V7 pen, and you have basically the same situation.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I’m currently working on a few short story submissions for some anthologies, as well as a novel that’s still untitled. It’ll be some time before the latter is finished and titled. I am also considering rewriting my novella, The Shadow of Monongahela, to include more content in that story; I’m absolutely in love with that project and its concept, and I would love to take it deeper. If I do that, it’ll be released as a standalone, whereas it has been exclusively available in Cracks in the Walls.
Aside from that, my story In the Labyrinth, was recently accepted for publication in the anthology Lustcraftian Horrors :Erotic Stories Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
The only character whose name had any relevant meaning to the story was Devlin in The Puppeteer. Otherwise, I’ve just tried to find something catchy to call my protagonists and antagonists. I’ll sometimes try to find something that sounds soft for protagonists and something that sounds rough or ugly for antagonists.
Where do your ideas come from?
A multitude of places: sometimes a struggle with turbulent times or reflecting on turbulent times of the past is sometimes the culprit behind what I unleash into the world. They sometimes come from observing the way other people treat each other or the way I see them treat themselves. The grip that scary urban legends sometimes have on people and their fears can generate something. Or, the general fascination that I have with finding the dark and strange in all corners of my life experience can be a driving factor behind my creations.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I would absolutely love to play with Urban Fantasy. There is so much potential for strange adventures in everyday cities and towns.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Honestly, being my own worst critic is the hardest part of writing for me. It’s difficult for me to tell if a story I am writing is good or not. All my thanks to beta readers and editors for clarifying things for me.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
From what I understand, book trailers are a great marketing tool! I don’t currently have one, but I’ll definitely be using them for future projects.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Every time I complete a final draft of a story, it’s my best accomplishment.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Affecting others with a piece of myself into which I have poured passion and hours of hard work.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ideally, I see myself as a full-time Novelist and Short Story Writer. That is a goal that I will never stop actively chipping away at. But, whatever happens, in ten years, I’ll still be writing.
Have you always liked to write?
From the moment I discovered the art, I couldn’t imagine myself getting a point where I don’t like to write. Short answer: yes.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read a lot, and your own unique style will emerge from learning to recognize genuinely good writing. Write a lot, and you’ll get better at sharpening the edges of your style. Let your rejection letters be the torches that light your path to publication.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
Oh, god. Sales, I guess. My current day job is as an Account Manager for a Debt Settlement company, which is similar to a sales position. Aside from folding laundry and cutting the grass, it’s about the only other thing I’m good at!
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
If a review is bad in such a way that it might turn out to be constructive for me, then I am appreciative of it. If it’s rude or demeaning, I’ll just ignore it. Good reviews just means I’m doing what I set out to do, and I’ll maybe thank the individual for being appreciative of my work.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
This is a difficult question to answer, because I really do love the entire process. Maybe having a story turned down because it’s just not quite what the publisher was looking for to include in their anthology.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently putting my focus into a short story that I’m planning to submit to an anthology within the next couple of weeks. Aside from that, I’m outlining the plot of my novel and writing character drafts in my journal.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Here’s an excerpt from my story, In the Labyrinth, which will appear in the upcoming anthology Lustcraftian Horrors: Erotic Stories Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft from Infernal Ink Books:
Inside, there was only more pitch black in an atmosphere that reeked of a stagnant smell of rot, all accompanied by the dripping, which now sounded to be within arm’s reach. He could feel that the cramped space soon opened above and around him, but he remained on his hands and knees to slosh around in the water, his appendages tingling, in search of the stone that the poem on the wall had mentioned. A uncontrollable shivering overtook him.
There it was. Flat against the ground and completely submerged was a stone with smooth, round edges. He traced its surface and felt etchings upon it with his fingers. When he lifted it from the floor, a sudden guttural droning could be heard from somewhere near him. It was loud and not unlike a cacophony of croaking frogs perhaps merged with the sound of throat singing. Along with it was a series of squashing and slurping noises that overlay one another, like something wet and sticky that rubbed against itself.
While Mitchell crouched frozen with terror, his eyes still closed tight against the dark, a splashing of what could have been many sets of legs pushed the dirty water to ebb and flow against his skin. The droning began to slowly draw out the enunciation of words that were alien to his ears, a mockery of human speech. Eeeeeuhhhh shub nigguraaaaaath, it throated, loud, deep, and monotone. The voice caressed his body with vibration.
Muscles tensed, and his legs wanted to spring to propel himself away, but he was no longer sure in which direction he faced. He had to make a decision quickly. Whatever accompanied him in this room was moving toward him. He could feel the splash of water against him getting stronger, and its slow and unnerving chant crept closer.
He turned his body completely around, sure to clutch the stone in his hands, and crawled forward until his head made contact with the concrete of a wall. Placing his hand against it, he inched himself along until he felt it give way to a hole. He lowered his body and crawled through, scraping his stomach along the floor.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I just felt like horror, or at least fiction of a darker nature, was the best way to convey the stories that I wanted to tell. Life is risky and can be brutal and terrifying. Sometimes humans can be a concentrated manifestation of that; observing all of that can make it easy to create monsters that only exemplify that people are sometimes the greatest monster of all.
Where did your love of books come from?
I’ve always been kind of introverted and more comfortable in my own company. Reading books allowed me to go on many, many adventures beneath the comfort of a blanket. So, it was no difficult task to get very, very attached to them.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
My favorite book that I’ve ever read is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It’s one of those rare gems that I can read again and again and feel the rush every time. Some of my favorite authors include Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Steven Erikson, Patrick Rothfuss, Timothy Zahn, Claudia Gray, and Mercedes Lackey.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
My favorite character that I ever created is Lufer-Ma’ar. He’s such a strange little guy with goat legs, a headless set of shoulders, and a face in his fat stomach. He’s got a sarcastic attitude and a loyalty to his friends so deep that he’ll kill for them.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both! But the exhaustion is that of satisfaction, like the exhaustion after a long home renovation that you get to appreciate and feel accomplished about for a long time. You sleep peacefully and satisfied with that kind of exhaustion.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Social Media! I can’t express how distracted I am by social media while I’m writing. I sometimes have to disable the Wi-Fi on my laptop and put my phone in another room in order to maintain my focus.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
As Brandon Sanderson would put it, I’d much rather be a chef than a cook. I’d rather play with familiar elements and put an original spin on them in my stories.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My most supportive friend that is also an author would have to be Rick Powell. If I need somebody’s honest opinion about my work and somebody to push me to be a better writer if I ask for constructive criticism, it’s him. We promote each others’ work and have shared the pages in a few anthologies so far. I’m also friends with author and Editor-in-Chief of Infernal Ink Books, Hydra M. Star, who has given me invaluable advice. Don Webb has certainly given me advice and help when I’ve asked, as well as Amy Lee Burgess, Jennifer L. Miller, Nerine Dorman, and Michael Davis.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Adventures in My Head: An Autobiography
Where can your fans find you and follow??
They can find me at my website, http://ronaldjmurray.com, and on Instagram: @ronaldjmurray
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview❤️.
Thanks for having me! It was a pleasure!