Writers, writing

Summer writers series: an interview with Jay Hogan

This is the latest and last in my series of Guest Posts where I’ve posed some deeply serious questions to some awesome writers. My questions are in bold. I am aware that it’s not actually Summer any more, but whatever, you’re not the boss of me.

Who are you and what have you done with the Real Jay Hogan?

Jay Hogan is my pen name just to keep trolls at bay and also to keep privacy for myself and my family. In my life I’ve been a registered nurse working in Intensive Care, a nursing lecturer, a counsellor and supervisor and now a writer.

If you had to describe yourself in terms of a soft drink, which would you be and why?

I hate all soft drinks, anything with fizz actually, except champagne lol. So maybe a Pinot Gris, fruity with a dry sense of humour ☺

Are you a Think Everything Through Before Acting person or a Great Idea Let’s Try It! Person?

Both probably. I’m quite spontaneous but then I also won’t go into anything new that’s important, without checking it out pretty thoroughly.

What got you into writing?

I have always written. I wrote plays in school, had some poetry published in my twenties and thirties, wrote theses and articles at University, and then tried fiction but I couldn’t seem to find my stride in the right genre. I tried to write what I liked to read, but at the time that was mostly thriller and detective fiction, and I found I liked reading it but disliked writing it. It wasn’t till I took my snobbish view off the romance genre that I found a home, particularly mm romance. And yet I’ve always known I am a relationship person. I taught it, counselled it, I was even a family planning educator, so duh, right?

What do you like Reading?

Across the board. I still like thrillers and detective novels and mm romance, but I particularly like quirky characters regardless of genre.

What’s the earliest story you can remember reading and loving?

The Nancy Drew Mysteries. Lord of The Rings in terms of a book having a real impact on me.

What are you reading right now?

John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books. And I love anything of T.J. Klune and Amy Lane

Are you a stop reading at the end of the chapter, mid chapter, or just whenever reader?

Just whenever if I can stop!!

How do you organise your personal library? (alphabetical, Dewey decimal, what’s your system?)

It’s a mess lol. You really don’t want to know.

Writing: What do you do/where do you go for inspiration?

Just lots of reading in and out of the genre I write in. Plus a lot of stuff I’ve gleaned from things I’ve experienced as a nurse in particular.

Do you believe in a divine muse, and if so, what’s yours like?

Not really. I believe in just getting into that study and writing every day. Just discipline. Even if you throw it out, keep writing.

What does your physical writing space look like?

I set up an office with a desk space and I keep it kind of routine. I need a defined space. I’m not a coffee shop writer. I need time and space and quiet and routine. I find when I sit at my desk, my mind knows now what is required of it. Too much change and I can’t concentrate.

Are you more a ‘write drunk, edit sober’ Ernest Hemingway, or a ‘shut the door, eliminate all distractions and write for a set amount of hours’ Stephen King?

I try and write three to four hours a day, door open, dog at my side and usually the cat too. I keep it as much to the morning as I can because I’m pretty useless after three pm. Editing I can do all day anytime, but writing is the morning for me.

Open up your skeleton closet: can you tell me about an abandoned project of yours which seemed awesome when you started but you’ll likely never return to?

My first book ever about a serial killer abducting girls with eating disorders. I know, I know. But everyone needs a little bit of weird in their head right? Needless to say it never got picked up, thank goodness, lol.

Any advice for anyone looking to start writing?

Write. Just start and do it and keep reading. Don’t wait for right time, write place, just discipline and do it. I think of the first couple of books you write as equivalent to going to university. You are learning if you can do it, if you can actually finish a book, and even if you like it.

Favourites: Star Wars or Star Trek?

Both

Hogwarts or Narnia?

Hogwarts

Ideal holiday, price and time no concern, where would you go?

South Africa Safari. I love watching wild game doing their thing

If you could plan perfect meals for a day, what would each be, and would you snack?

Kettle fry potato crisps and pork crackling in answer to all.

Imagine you won one of those ‘grab a cart and spend five mins in a store’ competitions. Which store would you want to win it for, and what goods would you be shoving in the cart first?

Gourmet food store or kitchen equipment store

Favourite song to sing at Karaoke?

You do not want to hear me sing.

Favourite song to sing in the shower when no one else is home?

Anything by Queen

What’s your favourite quote?

Just do it.

Pokemon: if you were a trainer, what pokemon would be in your team? (you get 6)

What’s pokemon?? Lol  No, seriously I have NEVER even looked at one.

—-

Jay Hogan is a New Zealand author writing in m/m romance, romantic suspense and fantasy. She has travelled extensively, living in a number of countries. She’s a cat aficionado especially Maine Coons, and an avid dog lover (but don’t tell the cat). She loves to cook- pretty damn good, loves to sing – pretty damn average, and as for loving full-time writing -absolutely… depending on the word count, the deadline, her characters’ moods, the ambient temperature in the Western Sahara, whether Jupiter is rising, the size of the ozone hole over New Zealand and how much coffee she’s had.

You can find Jay at:
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Check out Jay’s book, Crossing the Touchline: A New Zealand MM Romance-Contemporary, out now!

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On Writing

There’s a wonderful movie called I’m Your Man and it’s a documentary and a recording of a star studded tribute concert to Leonard Cohen. It’s got some incredible performances. But it’s a movie I come back to when I want some encouragement or inspiration for writing.

Having spent all of April in a frenzy of writing a lot, or nothing at all, and putting a lot of pressure on myself either way, I’m in day 2 of relaxation – stepping back and examining what I’m doing a little bit, and trying my best to be kind to myself. So, I’m watching the movie.

Here’s my favourite quote from it, and maybe my favourite quote about writing ever:

You don’t have all the time in the world, I say to myself, you know how long it takes you to get something done. So you gotta run through at least ten versions of this thing. So you have to write down what you’re going to abandon, see how it works in the whole thing and then throw it away. And then throw it away. ~ Leonard Cohen

I love this for a few reasons, but the first one is that it doesn’t play with the idea of the perfect first draft, or even that writing is easy. It acknowledges that it is work, and you have to write the garbage in order to throw it out. This quote tells me to not judge, to just write, and when it’s done, then look at it. Then chuck out what doesn’t work and then to write it again. Obviously this is somewhat easier in song form than it is with an 80k word novel manuscript, but the idea is the same.

If it is your destiny to be this labourer called a writer, you know that you’ve go to go to work every day, but you also know that you’re not gonna get it every day. ~ Leonard Cohen

There’s another good one – this idea that you have to work at it consistently, that you can’t expect it to be easy or fun all the time.

Some people make doors, carpenters. Some people cut hedges, some people are plumbers or doctors and nurses. Leonard Cohen is a songwriter, he goes to work at that. You don’t get a sense from him like ‘oh I woke up one morning and this beautiful song, there it was, freshly painted. With him, he goes ‘no, no… I hate to wait a lot time for that one’. ~ Bono

Writing, and especially, getting to something good in your writing, takes time. Time and work.

I have to keep reminding myself of these things, because I’m sometimes seized with a horrible impatience to get everything Done and Out There, but that’s not necessarily how it works.

Balance these ideas with the Agile idea of the Minimum Viable Product, or getting something out there which is Good Enough, is another mind bender. Nothing can ever be perfect, so I know I can’t keep reworking things forever. I can throw away parts ten times and twenty times, but at some point I have to say “good enough” and put it out into the world.

If you get stuck in endless rewrites, edit, perfection, then you are giving yourself the excuse to never show it to anyone, and therefore neither succeeding or failing. Perfect isn’t a thing, but good enough is. It’s knowing your definition of good enough that’s the real trick. I’m trying to learn it at the moment.

So yes, watching this movie is an education and an inspiration, and it has some brilliant music in it it too. I’m interested to hear any thoughts you have on inspiration, letting go, working at something and knowing when to let it go.

writing

How to form a Daily Writing habit

I’m trying out graphics, not sure about this one tbh

First and foremost, a daily writing habit doesn’t work for everyone, so if you’re setting out to make one for yourself know that it’s okay if you don’t write every single day. You can have break days, and you can have break weeks, and all of that is good and normal.

I’ve had some luck using a project like NaNoWriMo, where there’s a community and a special website where you can track your writing for each day, you have a goal and the site shows you graphs of your progress. That can be very motivating! But NaNoWriMo only runs once a year, and CampNaNo is a couple of times more. So although those are great short term options, if you want a proper habit it’s probably not what you want to start with.

Instead, make a deal with yourself to really do this. I’ve recently come to the realisation that people make time for the things that really matter to them. You hang out with your most important friends, you spend time on the most important piece of work. If you want to create a piece of writing every day you have to make it a priority. No more ‘I just can’t find time’ excuses, if this is important to you, you’ll make time for it.

Where do you find the time?
– wake up an hour early and write then
– your lunch break
– as soon as you get home from work
– after dinner, instead of watching TV

Okay, so I’ve made the time, what do I do now?

Set a goal for how many words you’re going to write each day. It might be a certain word count, or a certain number of pages, or just ‘more than a couple of sentences’. Your goal is yours to determine.

Staring at the blank page can be a terrifying thing. I know that. There’s a couple of options I can suggest:

  • Plan first. I’ve never traditionally been a planner, I was a ‘pantser’ which for those not in the ‘biz, means ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ writer. Don’t do this, if you’re just starting out. Make a plan, use some beat sheets, or write down the ideas you’ve had, what things you want to cover, make a mind map, have something to go on.
  • Freewriting. Just start writing with no agenda or judgement. Don’t worry if it’s meaningless drivel or just you writing ‘I don’t know what to write and I feel silly’, you just do it. Write whatever random stream of conciousness comes to you. The point isn’t the output itself, but the act of writing. The more you do this, the easier it becomes, and it opens up something in the creative centers of the brain.
  • Two projects at once. This is a controversial one, but one I learned off Lauren Graham. Have two projects on the go and switch between them whenever you get bored. If you write longhand this is easy enough to do, with two books open. If you write online as I do, have two tabs open. In fact, as I write this I am multitasking with my current novel in another tab and a roleplaying game scenario in another. Although that’s more than two projects so… ignore that.
  • Recount something. Just write out a dream you had, or an outing you’ve been on, or a memory you treasure. Anything you can just start into and keep going until it’s done.

Whatever you choose to do, do it one day, then make sure you do it again next time.

Then what?

I can’t give you a magic trick, or foolproof technique which will turn you into a daily habit writer. Because it’s entirely up to you to do. But I want to assure you that if you do want to do it, you can. You just have to want it, make time for it, and then get going.

Other tips:

  • If you’re writing online and finding yourself distracted
  • Something like 750 words can be a really good way to ‘earn’ badges by updating each day.
  • Find a check in buddy or group, where you can check up on each other or encourage as needed
  • Carry a notebook, or use a notetaking app to capture ideas as you have them. I can’t tell you how many brilliant ideas I’ve had which are gone forever because I thought I’d remember them on my own
  • It’s okay if you miss a day, and actually letting yourself off the hook for a day or longer can be very energising. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t perfect. You can always pick it up again when you have the brain space

I hope this has been of some help, please comment if you have any additional tips or ideas !

writing

Travel blogging made easy – 8 tips which will streamline your process

Last year I managed to write a blog post for every day while I was on my honeymoon in Japan. You can read it here, if you missed it, or you’re new, or if you want to re-read.

How did I do it? How hard was it? Well, it was hard, but I did a few things to make it easier on myself. Here are my tips for making it easy on yourself and making a travel blog that people will tell you they enjoyed irl*! (*Results may vary)

Consider the blog, and your audience: My driving motivator to write a travel blog was to keep Anna’s grandmother informed of our travels. As it turned out, a lot of our family and friends also wanted to read along. So when I was writing the blog, I considered the kinds of things they wanted to know: were we having fun? what are some weird things we saw/did? what have we learned about Japan? what are some big cultural differences we’ve experienced which aren’t obvious from the outside? Those questions are guidance for the kind of content I wanted to put on. I went pretty straightforward travelogue style, but for a different audience maybe I would’ve concentrated on budget, savings or hidden gems. I don’t know. The point is, having this content direction in mind makes it easier when you come to write.

Gardens at Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto

Adjust as you go: Based on comments on the blog, and on social media as I shared the blog posts, I could see what people were most responding to. For example, my audience liked to read descriptions of food, and see pictures of said food, and have details about how it’s eaten. Fantastic, I dedicated more blog space to the food.

Notebook bullet points : You don’t want to be sitting down to blog and then have to gather your thoughts. Instead keep a notebook and pen with you at all times, and make little notes on things you want to remember. You can, if keen, make the notes as you go – in subways or as you eat lunch. I did this a little, but more often I’d be doing this as a precursor to blogging. I’d open my travel journal and write a bullet pointed list of the stuff I wanted to remember.

Make use of liminal spaces: If you’re moving around a lot, you’ll probably have some time in trains, buses or other transport. You may also have some half hours or longer waiting for buses, trains or other transport. These dead zones are a great time to whip out your notebook and make some notes. Or take some photos or just reflect on the kind of thing you want to put in that day’s blog.

Late at night or early in the morning: Don’t try and carve out time in your day just for blogging. The purpose of your trip is to explore and have fun, after all. Blogging is a side project after those things. Keep your focus on fun, your traveling companions and experiencing everything. With that in mind, the best times for me to blog were first thing in the morning or after dinner when we were back in the hotel. Just before sleep meant I got some nice tipsy blog entries in, which is always fun for the reader.

Pictures say a thousand words: obviously you do want to wow people with your gorgeous prose, your descriptions of experiences, and the way things made you feel. But don’t waste time describing something you got a good photo of. Videos are great too, and allow people to feel like they’re there with you. Stick photos in, people love travel photos, and it saves you time.

Dotonbori, Osaka

Have fun with it: You’re the first audience for your content, so make sure you’re writing and publishing things which interest you. If you’re enjoying yourself, and enjoying the blogging that will sparkle through and make your posts engaging.

…Or stop: Controversial I know. But if your blog becomes a chore, and it’s bringing you no joy, just stop updating. People can tell if you’re just updating out of a sense of obligation, and the posts won’t read well. They’ll feel forced and dull. If you don’t enjoy it, just stop. You can always post thoughts and feelings once you’re back home. Also, no one’s going to tell you off for not blogging every day. People expect that you’re busy traveling, and will forgive you for a missed day or two, or delayed posts from once you’re home again and are rested and are able to take some time to craft the content nicer.

So that’s my advice, a travel blog is a lot of fun and I certainly got a lot of lovely comments from people who enjoyed reading along. Plus, it’s awesome to be able to read back through the posts and relive all your memories.

Writers, writing

Summer Writers Series: an interview with Trace Yulie

This is the latest in my series of Guest Posts where I’ve posed some deeply serious questions to some awesome writers. My questions are in bold.

Who are you and what have you done with the Real Trace?

I work in higher ed by day and write by night! It’s like a secret identity. Maybe too secret.

Harry Potter world: what house are you? And what animal would be your patronus?

I’m solidly GryffinClaw, and I’m pretty sure my patronus would be a tiny but fierce owl.

Are you a Thing Everything Through Before Acting person or a Great Idea Let’s Try It! Person?

Absolutely a leap-before-you-look person.

What got you into writing?

I can’t remember not writing, except for one distinct kindergarten memory of being angry about alphabet flash cards.

Why do you write now?

I write now because I believe I have stories inside me that only I can tell, and the act of creating those stories is exhilarating. And I feel like something essential about me is silent and sad if I go without writing for an extended length of time.

What’s the earliest story you can remember reading and loving?

I remember sitting in the back of my fifth grade classroom (the lonely, nerdy kid who switched schools midyear), and picking up a collection of Arthurian stories. Those stories completely enthralled me.

What’s a book you remember reading as a teenager and absolutely loving?

One sweaty Florida summer, I discovered Frank Herbert’s Dune and devoured the first three books. Something about the hot desert planet resonated with my sensibilities and my situation.

What are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver. Novik has such a command of prose and marvelous worldbuilding. I was hooked on the first page, and I adore her compelling heroines.

Are you a stop reading at the end of the chapter, mid chapter, or just whenever reader?

I prefer to end with a chapter, but sometimes I wake up midchapter with the book on my face when reading in bed!

Can you name some formative books for your own writing?

It’s impossible for me to overstate the influence that Le Guin’s work has had on me. Her thoughtful prose style. There’s a starkness, and a lush quality and a tenderness the stories exhibit. I’m drawn to work by writers who have similar sensibilities, like Maureen McHugh, Molly Gloss and Sofia Samatar.

How do you organise your personal library?

My books are organized by some mysterious brain pattern, I think. They’re not alphabetical but intentionally thematic, and I somehow know where everything is. I have a bookcase for each: favorite fiction/nonfiction books by women writers, books about writing plus current research for a stories I’m working on, books for more spiritual pursuits, stuff I should probably read eventually and works I’ve liked by dudes plus graphic novels and anthologies.

Creative writing in primary school, can you remember any stories you wrote?

My first story memory is of the Robotech fan fiction I passed around to classmates in elementary school.

What do you do/where do you go for inspiration?

I get a lot of inspiration from prompts or other activities that encourage randomness and combination, like scrambling words on book spines. I also like looking at visual art.

Is there anything you’ve seen passed around as writing advice that you really disagree with?

I think “writers write every day” is a tough standard and not right for everyone. Many writers have more than enough anxiety about creating and can do without advice like that.

I also dislike when writers talk about getting drunk as a metaphor for writing or a literal strategy, and when they talk about writing as though they hate it.

Let’s write clear-eyed and heady, joyfully and thoughtfully, even ecstatically, but not like we’re forcing or punishing ourselves.

What does your physical writing space look like?

My desk faces a wall where I’ve posted inspirational images and quotes plus a giant outline of my WIP. My bookcase of research and writing advice is next to the desk, and the desk itself is covered with notebooks, post-its and pens.

Open up your skeleton closet: can you tell me about an abandoned project of yours which seemed awesome when you started but you’ll likely never return to?

I started a magical adventure story set in a rabbit warren, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever come back to that one.

Any advice for anyone looking to start writing?

Find your community. Let go of your shame/ego about sharing your words. Don’t read Writers Digest, read Locus. Don’t pay publications to look at your work.

—–

Trace is a science fiction writer, a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop class of 2010, and a contributor to The Future Fire . Trace served as an editorial assistant for Lightspeed Magazine’s special issue, Queers Destroy Fantasy.


photo by Amanda Petersen

She’s also a learning specialist for the University of California, LGBT mentor for the UCI Counseling Center and a former professor of developmental writing & Women’s Studies.

Trace is a big fan of teaching and learning as tools of empowerment. She might be obsessed with owls, drumming, utopias and dystopias and stories about time travel.

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Motivators – how to make yourself write

This motivator post is based around the things I’ve found to help me churn out words/edit pages, etc. I’ve had a few people say they’re impressed with my momentum, so… here’s a couple of things which motivate me.

First off, and one I didn’t think was that unusual until my friend saw it was my desktop background and started laughing. Idris Elba asking if I shouldn’t be writing.

I used to have this picture printed out and stuck on my wall in my last flat. He’d stare me down and get me into writing. Partly because he’s intimidating and partly because he’s Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim and I want to do what he says. So much respect for that character.

Anyway, it’s my desk top background since I moved out of that flat. When I restart my computer or when I close all my windows, Idris Elba is there to refocus me.

Another option is to motivate yourself with a reward. This is especially useful when there’s something you really want, like to go to a movie or eat a cake, or whatever. Something you’re yearning for. NB: Don’t deprive yourself of food, coffee or bathroom breaks though, negative motivators will probably damage you in time, being as they are, based in fear, and will form negative associations with writing.)

So, say I have a whole day ahead of me and I really want to go see a new movie. And there’s a good session in the early afternoon? Perfect. I’m allowed to go to the movie as long as I achieve X thing: 1000 words, 20 pages of editing, whatever needs doing. Then I want to get that stuff done so I can do the fun thing. Sounds pretty easy, right? It is, as long as you can find something you want which is enough.

Think of rewards that would work for you, proper treats and experience which will feel like a reward.

Some other motivators I’ve found really compelling:

  • Really hating my day job. This is a bit of a horrible one. It involves me being so aggressively unhappy that I’ll do anything to get out of having an office job, which is in fact very motivating to write and plan. But I can’t recommend it.
  • Giving myself a deadline. And this could be deciding to enter your work in progress into a competition, or promising it to a beta reader by X date. It’s better if you’re somehow accountable
  • NaNoWriMo – this used to be a one month a year deal, but now there’s Camps in April and June which are just as motivating. The website also allows you to set your own challenges any time of year: word counts, time frames, etc and it gives you a nice little graph of your progress.

Got another good motivator? Please share it in the comments, I’d love to hear it 🙂

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Summer Writers Series: an interview with Lee Murray Pt 2

Part two of the interview with Lee Murray Part one is here

Creative writing in primary school, what did you write about? Can you remember any stories?

This image from my autobiographical title All About Me, written, illustrated, and published by me in 1970 (aged 5). Already, it was clear I wasn’t going to be an artist.

I wrote my first dark ghostly murder mystery story when I was eleven. It was based on a clock with a secret compartment that I’d seen during a school trip to the Clapham National Clock Museum in Whangarei. Also that year, 1978, I wrote a courtroom parody entitled The Big Bad Wolf, where various witnesses were called to testify against the alleged repeat offender. Rip Van Winkle was unable to give his testimony because he kept falling asleep. I can’t remember exactly how it ended ‒ a political smear campaign by the PIG consortium, I think. So even as early as eleven, my writing was tending towards dark fiction and fabulism.

What do you do/where do you go for inspiration?

In school workshops, I tell the kids I get my ideas by stealing (character traits and story ideas from real life), eavesdropping, exaggerating, and lying.

Is there anything you’ve seen passed around as writing advice that you really disagree with?

I’m sure I’ll think of something the minute I’ve sent this blogpost off.

Do you believe in a divine muse, and if so, what’s yours like?

No, but if you want to keep writing stories it’s especially helpful to have a sponsor. In my case, that role is played by my husband, whose support allows me to keep at this writing gig. I also have Bella, who is sitting behind me on my computer chair, warming the small of my back. It’s wonderful encouragement not to move, to keep my bottom in the chair and carry on writing.

What does your physical writing space look like?

A picture paints a thousand words: Bella and me, at my desk.

Are you more a ‘write drunk, edit sober’ Ernest Hemingway, or a ‘shut the door, eliminate all distractions and write for a set amount of hours’ Stephen King? (or another famous writer’s approach, add in your own).

Writing is my job, so I sit down in my home office and work all day. Sometimes I yell at the family to turn the TV down in the next room. In terms of process, I’m an extremely slow writer. I can’t just spew the first draft onto the page the way many other writers do. The problem is my inner editor, who never turns off. She, more than anyone, tends to interrupt while I’m writing, making suggestions, demanding that I check this or that fact, or find a better word, or vary the sentence structure. Because of her, it takes me all day to write just 1000 words. On the other hand, because of her, I don’t tend to do a lot of rewrites either. I send the piece to my trusty betas, implement their suggestions, and then fire the work out.

Open up your skeleton closet: can you tell me about an abandoned project of yours which seemed awesome when you started but you’ll likely never return to?

There’s a button necklace, a knitted penguin (I’m a competent knitter, but believe me the instructions are impossible), and some failed short stories. I’m not even going to mention some of the disastrous meals I’ve cooked that we’ve decided not to eat.

Any advice for anyone looking to start writing?

Win the Lotto.

Favourites: Star Wars or Star Trek?

Hmm. Star Wars, original.

Hogwarts or Narnia?

Even harder. Hogwarts, just.

Ideal holiday, price and time no concern, where would you go?

My parents’ bach at Pukehina Beach, back when they still owned it, maybe circa 1975, and preferably for the entire summer.

If you could plan perfect meals for a day, what would each be, and would you snack?

Yellow porridge made by dad, Mum’s noodles, my brother’s vegetable kebabs, and my sister-in-law’s chocolate brownies.

Imagine you won one of those ‘grab a cart and spend five mins in a store’ competitions. Which store would you want to win it for, and what goods would you be shoving in the cart first?

Is there a store for lost friends, misplaced photographs, and a cure for Alzheimer’s? I’d like to stop by the returns counter too, to make the most of the opportunity to take back some mistakes, and possibly a couple of things I shouldn’t have said.

Imagine you’ve had your best ever year, what photos would you have from that year?

My family, my dog, holiday snaps, convention memories with friends, half a dozen from the top of the Mount.

Favourite song to sing at Karaoke? Favourite song to sing in the shower when no one else is home?

Umm. Even I don’t want to hear myself singing.

Desert island castaway time: you get an album, a book and a luxury item, what do you choose?

An album. Eros by Eros Ramazzotti
A book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Luxury item: Cheese

What’s your favourite quote?

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, and an elephant’s faithful, 100%”—Horton the Elephant

Pokemon: if you were a trainer, what pokemon would be in your team? (you get 6)

There’s a little yellow one, right?

Weirdest hobby you have, other than writing?

We’ve just bought a caravan and it’s taking some time to get used to it, so maybe putting the awning up and down counts as a hobby. I am also addicted to renovation shows on the telly.

Any upcoming work?

Yes! I’m thrilled to announce my newest release Into the Ashes a stand-alone sequel to award-winning military thriller Into the Mist and the latest title in my Taine McKenna adventure series.  Here’s the cover:

And here is the blurb:

No longer content to rumble in anger, the great mountain warriors of New Zealand’s central plateau, the Kāhui Tupua, are preparing again for battle. At least, that’s how the Māori elders tell it. The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section are tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring.

Praise for Into the Ashes:

“INTO THE ASHES is a kick-ass thriller with twists you will never see coming! Lee Murray serves up a nail-biter of a weird-science action adventure. Brava!” — Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of DEEP SILENCE and V-WARS

Part disaster novel, part supernatural adventure – a suspenseful, action-packed thriller that’s entertaining as hell! —Tim Waggoner, author of TEETH OF THE SEA and BLOOD ISLAND  

“INTO THE ASHES hits the ground running and does not let up. A unique background, interesting characters, a dollop of horror, and a relentless, thriller pace.” — Charles R Rutledge, co-author of the Griffin and Price series.

“Murray’s INTO THE ASHES reads like a gauntlet – an action-packed adventure where death strikes from every side. A thrilling read!” — Ashley Knight, co-author of HERALD

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Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows). Her works include the Taine McKenna adventure series, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (co-written with Dan Rabarts). She is also the editor of ten dark fiction anthologies, the latest being Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenalin Press). Lee lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

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