Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Mur Lafferty?
I’ve really tried to get “Mur Lafferty, Space Ranger” to stick as a nickname, but it’s not working yet. So I’m just Mur, long time podcaster and writer or urban fantasy, space thriller, and Christmas stories. I’m a dog person, a wine person, and a Star Wars person.
Your latest novel, Six Wakes, is published by Orbit. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
Six Wakes is a locked room clone murder mystery in space where the characters aren’t sure who the murderer is-including themselves. With its use of flashbacks, it’s been called “LOST in space.” (LOST as in the 2004-2010 deserted island tv show, not Lost In Space with the hand waving robot.)
It’s not part of a series yet, but I do have several places I can go with it.
What inspired you to write the story? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I was inspired by a variety of things. One of them being about all the chaos that happens when a bunch of clones get made, and wondering if cloning were widely available, then some serious laws would have to be passed to regulate it. The second being a space battle video game FTL, and how you use cloning to bring back dead crewmates, NOT to multiply one crew member. The cloning bay can also get a DNA backup, which I also used in the book.
Inspiration can come from anywhere if you’re paying attention. Driving and letting your mind wander, a conversation with a friend, or reading. Sometimes what you come up with has nothing to do with the original inspiration, but if you could lay out the map of an idea (like a mindmap, I guess) then you’d see that one idea led to another which led to another and so on.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
Probably Madeline L’Engle books. When I read A Wrinkle In Time I loved the kids involved and all the weird places they had adventures. Seeing a girl as the protagonist was hugely influential to me as well.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
It has always been my dream, and it’s mind blowing that it’s actually coming true. The publishing industry is typical of a large business; from one writer’s POV it’s big, clunky, and it takes forever to get things done, but then you look at what they get done (from editing to cover design to marketing and publicity to professional journals reviewing your work), they’re pretty dang impressive. Working as a self-pub author has its ups and downs, and so does working with the publishing industry. Nothing is perfect, so you work as well as you can in the situation you’re in.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Nope. And sometimes I wish I did so I could cling to a routine on days where I feel “off.” But I’m also glad I don’t have set rituals because that means I can write anywhere I want to whether I have the right cup of coffee or the right music playing or the perfect time of day.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I wanted to be an author since I was young, and started my first book in eighth grade. It had a bunch of unicorns in it, and all of my friends were characters who were warriors and rode the unicorns. After writing a few chapters I realized that your very first attempt to write a novel will likely suck, and threw it away. My best friend Jennifer rescued my notebook and gave it back to me.
Stephen and Tabitha King have a similar story, but his thrown away manuscript became Carrie, and mine, well, by now it’s probably been composted and become a tree somewhere, to be turned into paper again someday. Circle of life.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
Oh gosh, I usually just try to do the dang work. The genre is changing a lot, nearly monthly, because of the Internet and social media and how dang fast news travels. Sometimes technology advances so fast that the SF book you wrote a year ago is now out of date with current tech.
I have no idea where my stuff fits in. I just write what excites me to write about and hope that people get excited about it too.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a nonfiction book based on my podcast, I Should Be Writing, and it will be out this August.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I am reading Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey, book 2 of The Expanse, which is an amazing series.
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
That’s impossible! It depends on the person — I wouldn’t recommend slow, hardcore SF to my daughter but I would to my husband to read it. I guess I would say any short story collection by Connie Willis, as her writing can span humor, tragedy, and complex plotlines.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I was very close to becoming a sports reporter. I grew up loving basketball and football and worked at the sports desk for my college newspaper.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Starting a new novel!