Tell us a little about yourself.
I feel like a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Do I go with the cliché answer about my awesome wife and three rambunctious children or do I shake it up and go on an unexpected mini-rant about my disdain for the oxford comma?
I’m going with the comma. Here’s the thing, me and commas have a history. We weren’t exactly enemies but we weren’t friends. We were kind of like roommates who tolerated each other because we can’t pay the rent alone. And that arrangement was fine until comma’s cousin from across the pond started crashing on our couch while on “holiday.” What was supposed to be a few days turned into weeks and before you know it, he’s mucking up all of my sentences. That’s not the worst part, though. He would just load the dishwasher but never turn it on. I mean, how hard it is to press a button—I said I would keep this at a mini-rant, didn’t I? Sorry about that.
The little about myself is that I like to have fun as much as appropriate and possible.
What was your first encounter with the writing world?
I stumbled upon it while hiding in a wardrobe during a game of hide and seek with my siblings—-oh wait—that was Narnia. Never mind. I’ve always been a storyteller whether it was regaling my siblings of my imaginary adventures or making movies with my action figures and friends but I didn’t actually think about writing books until I was a senior in college. Unless you count a poetry book I made for my mom when I was in sixth grade. I rhymed the word “bed” with “red.” Rather impressive, huh?
How did you get the idea for your book?
For a long time I’ve been critical of how people of faith are depicted in mainstream media (and sometimes Christian media). In a lot of movies, TV shows and books Christians are depicted as either judgmental snobs, hypocritical jerks or just plain boring without any real nuance. I wanted to write a book with Christian and non-Christian characters that while imperfect, are genuine in their beliefs and also lots of fun. You know, more like the people I interact with every day. I think I succeeded in doing that in The Truth about Romantic Comedies.
Tell us why we’ll love your book.
Because I wrote it, duh! Just kidding. I would never say anything like that, because I’m the humblest person I know. All jokes aside, The Truth about Romantic Comedies will always hold a special place in my heart whether people love it or hate it because I had so much fun writing it. I enjoy getting to know people, including fictional people, and to borrow some outdated slang, Timothy and Rachel (the stars of the book) were a pair of the coolest cats to get to know. That being said, I want people to love their story, because it’s validation for all of the hard work that went into making this small but meaningful love story into a reality.
What does your writing process look like?
That may be a better question for my wife, she’s the person who sees me write the most. Oh wait, that’s not what you meant is it?
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I only write with clothes on.
What book do you wish you could have written?
There are so many. I love the poetic rhythm and language of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked this way Comes and the style and voice of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. I have to confess that the legacy of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and success of the Harry Potter franchise are also alluring.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
I’ve heard stories of a mystical elf that if cornered will bestow the secret of writing the perfect novel and the recipe for a potion that cures writer’s block. I suggest capturing that elf. In all seriousness, my greatest advice, as cliché as it may be, is to persevere. Frustration, rejection, failure and doubt will come but you can’t quit. You must persevere.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I think we’ve already established that I plot with my pants on.
What’s more important: characters or plot?
I believe great characters make for a great plot. A piece of wisdom that I picked up from other authors is to allow the characters to drive the plot. Characters with personality and agency will propel the plot forward with their actions, especially if the conflict is organic to the setting.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a teacher and coach by day, so those things keep me busy. I also have a podcast with my childhood friend where we discuss movies.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?
This book isn’t biographical but Timothy’s grandmother is loosely based on my own grandmother, who later in her life suffered from dementia and was known to say whatever came to her mind, especially about guys she found attractive.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
I hope you liked The Truth about Romantic Comedies. I’ve been candid with my goals for this book. I want it to be a success. So if you enjoyed my book, let me know about it but also the world. Share it with someone. Also, as Rachel states in the book, “everyone has a story,” and I want to hear yours. I want to know how you connected to this book.
Where can readers find you online?
I blog and such at www.mcmurraymuses.com.
You can connect with me on twitter and Instagram @mcmurraymuses or look me up on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/McMurrayMuses/