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Monday, July 11, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Nicole Murphy

I'm really excited to welcome fellow DarkSider, Nicole Murphy to my blog.

The official biography...
Nicole has been telling stories for as long as she can remember and her two main occupations thus far in her life – teaching and journalism – have taught her a great deal about writing.

As a teacher, having to explain the nuances of story to young children helped to hone the information in her mind.

As a journalist, Nicole has won awards for her writing (in particular a series of articles on mental illness) and has interviewed people such as Gary McDonald, Noeline Brown and Roy Billing. She quit journalism in 2008 to focus on her fiction writing.
Nicole has had more than a dozen short stories published, the most recent in the Scary Kisses, a paranormal romance anthology from Ticonderoga Publishing. She has worked in the speculative fiction industry as an editor and edited The Outcast for CSFG Publishing (including the Aurealis Award nominated horror short “Woman Train”) and Issue 25 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, both published in 2006.

Nicole is also active in fandom. She has been on the organising committee for the first five Conflux conventions, including chairing Conflux 4 in 2007 and programming Conflux 5 in 2008. She was involved with the organising committee for Aussiecon 4, the 2010 Worldcon in Melbourne (quitting when she got the deal for her urban fantasy trilogy The Dream of Asarlai) and is a long-time member of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG).

Wow! Nicole, you've certainly experienced a couple of dynamic of occupations and a range of publication fields as well as genre based organisations. OK, now let's get some nitty gritty information!

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Croquet (but not with Nicole's husband)
I live in Queanbeyan, just outside of Canberra, with my extremely supportive computer programmer husband who just happens to be one of the best croquet players in NSW (he captained NSW to back-to-back wins in the interstate cup earlier this year – very proud of him).

I’ve been a primary school teacher (which included a three year stint in an Aboriginal community in the Kimberley), second-hand bookstore owner, journalist and supermarket checkout chick.

I write across a range of genres, but finding my niche in paranormal/fantasy romance has been the defining moment of my career so far. I intend to continue working in other fields – I want to continually challenge myself so I get better as a writer.

I’m quite involved in science fiction fandom in Australia (having a long-running association with the Conflux conventions in Canberra) and I’ve only just found a new family in the romance contingent. I have an equal love of both genres.

So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I wrote my first story at the age of 11 – a tale of a boy and his horse which one of the mothers typed up. I drew the cover, it was compiled and there it was – my first ever book. From that moment, I wanted to be a published author. I was writing all through my teens, but then in my 20s it became a bit hap-hazard. It wasn’t until I was 30 and finished teaching that with my husband’s encouragement I started trying to get published.

Over the next eight years I had about a dozen short stories published, and did some editing myself as well, but slipping into journalism soon took all my energy. In 2008, I left journalism and decided I needed to really focus on getting my novels published – I hated the idea of getting to the end of my life and realising I didn’t even try.

At that point, it all happened stupid fast. I polished up SECRET ONES (it was already drafted), starting submitting it to publishers November 2008 (without an agent) and sold it to HarperVoyager in Australia in July 2009. SECRET ONES was out in July 2010.

It certainly is a juggling of time and occupations being an author "one the side". I think the one thing those of us who eventually publish have in common is the tenacity and will to persevere.

I know you have another book in your Dream of Asarlai series coming out. Can you tell us about it?
ROGUE GADDA is the third book in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy (book one, SECRET ONES, was released in July last year and book two, POWER UNBOUND, in January this year).

The premise of the entire trilogy is that the gadda, a race that look like us humans but aren’t, have kept the fact they can do magic a secret because of all the repercussions of being the minority magicians in a majority human world.

However, Asarlai has decided that point of view is holding the gadda back from reaching their full potential and she’s going to announce them to the world. To help her, she’s stolen the Forbidden Texts, the most dangerous teachings of the gadda. It’s up to the six guardians of the gadda to stop her.

Each of the books tells the story from the POV (point of view) of a couple (one of them a guardian – or soon to be guardian) and each of the books gives us a HEA (happily ever after) for the couple too.

In ROGUE GADDA , the hero is Hampton Rourke – the Sabhamir, protector of the gadda and leader of the guardians. In his mind, it’s his fault Asarlai got the texts in the first place and the fact he hasn’t managed to track her down yet has him questioning his place in the world. Charlotte Haraldson hates the gadda and magic, blaming it for the death of her mother and her own disfigurement. So falling for Hampton, the most powerful gadda of them all, really isn’t a good idea. And meanwhile, Asarlai’s preparing to unleash the power of the texts on the world.

You can read ROGUE GADDA without reading the other two books – but of course, I’d prefer you did. :-)

I LOVE the premise of your third book - the characters and their story sounds powerful and emotionally engaging! I also like the idea of setting your stories in a familiar world (ours) but have a culture hidden within it! I now have a thousand questions about world-building for you, but, alas, that might have to wait for another day...(sigh).

What was the easiest and hardest parts about writing ROGUE GADDA ?
ROGUE GADDA had been drafted when I sold the trilogy and luckily, I was able to use a lot of that draft (unlike POWER UNBOUND – I ended up having to pretty much re-write it from scratch in just six months).

Hampton was a favourite character – he comes across as a charmer, very personable and confident, yet he’s riddled with insecurities. Charlotte was a fabulous foil for him, and so writing their romance was great fun.

Unfortunately, less than a month before it was due, I had the horrible realisation that a major plot point I’d used in this book had also been used in SECRET ONES and that the last third of the book required drastic re-writing. Luckily, my publisher was very understanding and gave me an extension on the deadline. It took a lot of thought and creativity to work out how to achieve what needed to happen without using that device, but eventually I got there.

The end of the book was hard to write too – something really tragic happens. I actually toyed with whether I should do what I did, but in the end left it – it’s the right result considering what Asarlai does, as hard as it it. I know, that’s very vague, but I don’t want to give away spoilers. :-)

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you’d like to use in a future book?
I’ve got a more traditional fantasy that I’m working on with a tropical setting. I lived in the tropics for three years and there’s a sensuality about it that I’d love to try and capture in my work.

And at some point, I will write a sci-fi romance – I have a character I developed when I was 13 who to this day demands the right story.

As for characters – I want to tackle as many different sorts of folks as I can. Open-minded or close-minded; gay or straight; conservative or liberal. In one of my current WIP's (work in progress), my heroine is someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in one relationship at a time and can’t see why you can’t be with whoever is drawing you. She’s really testing my western, Catholic-raised views. :-)

Ahh, those sorts of characters tend to be the most fun (and challenging) to write!

Dampier Pen., Western Australia
OK, onto the last question - what’s the most unusual place you have visited?
As I mentioned earlier, I spent three years teaching in an Aboriginal community. Djaridjin/Lombadina is on the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome. Living as one of just a handful of white people in an Indigenous community, hundreds of kilometres from things like cafes and restaurants and movies and so on, was a unique experience.

Dampier Peninsula beach
The landscape around there was stunning – the red of the dirt and the green of the grass and leaves was so bright it almost glowed and the community was set right next to what is still the BEST beach I’ve ever seen – kilometres of white sand, crystal blue ocean and most of the time, just you and the waves. It was strange to be within Australia, and yet be so far removed from the culture and landscape I was used to. I LOVED it.

Nicole thanks for joining me today on my blog. Good luck with ROGUE GADDA!

Nicole's books:

If you'd like to know more about Nicole or her books, click on this website link.


  1. Thanks for the fabulous questions and fun Kylie :)

  2. Nicole, I remember writing and drawing up stories at that age, too.

    Fantastic interview ladies. :)

  3. Thanks Kylie and Nicole for a great interview.

    Your stories sound fantastic, Nicole. Do you still have the book you wrote as a child? Is it up there next to your adult books?

    Wow... another author I have to read :-) Kylie, you're breaking my bank balance introducing me to all these authors!!


  4. Hi Catherine

    Unfortunately, no - over the years of moving and so on, it got lost somewhere. I really wish I did have it. That, and the massive space opera I was writing in high school - I still sigh with regret on losing that one.


  5. I love to hear you've found a new author, Cath! LOL Thanks for dropping in.

    Same goes for you, Eleni.