Thursday, 12 December 2013

Enjoy #AuthorInterview of Luke Murphy

Flirty & Feisty Romance Blog is delighted to host Canadian Crime Novelist, Luke Murphy, the International Best Selling author of Dead Man's Hand.

Read Luke's inspiring story in his tell all interview below.

Tell us a bit about your family/background and your location:

I'm Luke Murphy, I live in Shawville, Quebec with my wife, three daughters and pug.

I played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, I’ve held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning my Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

My debut novel, Dead Man's Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

How did you meet your wife? Is there anything noteworthy about your meeting? What draws you to her? 

Here's the funny, but true, story:

In the summer of 2000 I returned home from my first year of professional hockey. I didn’t come home with the idea of getting a girlfriend for the next three-four months, it just kind of happened.

I played ball every summer. I live in a small town, where everyone knows each other, so after the game the guys all stay to share a beer and BS over who is the best player.

That summer, I first noticed the younger sister of one of the guys I played ball against. She was at one of the “after-hours” gathering and we got to talking. Next thing I knew, we agreed to meet on the weekend at the bar. The following week, we decided to go on our first date together.

We agreed to dinner and a movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. She was a few years younger, I wasn’t looking for anything serious (as I was heading back to hockey in a few months) and she knew that as well.

I picked her up and we headed to the closest city with a theatre, which was about 45 minutes away. The drive was fine, she was shy, but there were no “awkward” or “uncomfortable” silences. We went to dinner first at East Side Mario’s, where again we talked and laughed. I remember she had a great laugh, and laughed at everything I said (bonus because I’m not that funny). Next came the movie. We watched A Perfect Storm. Pretty good movie. Evening = so far so good.

After the movie, we got in the car and headed home. It was dark by this time, so I couldn’t see my date in the passenger seat beside me. I began talking about the night and maybe getting together again. She didn’t say much, so I just thought that maybe she was just back to being shy and quiet. I changed the subject and began talking about something else but again she didn’t respond. I thought that maybe I had insulted her somehow, so I didn’t say anything else, and we drove in silence the rest of the way home.

I wasn’t sure what would happen when we got to her house. I was pretty sure that we would never see each other again, since she refused to talk and there was this awkward tension between us.

I finally pulled into her driveway thirty minutes later, we still hadn’t said two words to each other, and I parked in front of her house. I didn’t say anything, hoping she would break the silence. When she didn’t, I listened carefully and I could hear that her breathing was louder and more steady than when we had first left. So when I turned on the interior light, I saw her head was cocked back onto the seat headrest, eyes closed and mouth wide open.

She had fallen asleep!!! That’s the first time a girl had ever fallen asleep on one of my dates. I guess that’s how boring I was, LOL!

So what did I do? I dated her for another six years and married her. We’ve now been happily married for eight years and she hasn’t fallen asleep on me since…well, okay, maybe she has.

But with three small girls, there isn’t much sleep for either of us. LOL!

What do you love best about your wife? 

Where do I start?

She’s my rock, loyal and supportive. She’s hardworking, dedicated to our family and a great mom. I love hearing her laugh and seeing her smile, and she brightens my day when things are tough. I couldn’t picture myself with anyone else.

How and why did you decide to get published?

It can almost be said with certainty that I didn’t follow the path of the average
writer. As a child, I never dreamed of writing a best-seller, never aspired to write the next classic novel, I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.

From a family of avid readers, even as a child, I always had a passion for books. Whether it was reading novels on road trips or writing assignments in school, literature was always part of my life.

In the winter of 2000, after sustaining a season ending eye injury while playing pro hockey in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged.

One day, with an idea in mind, I sat down in front of a computer and began writing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it, I had completed my first manuscript.

I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. Ever the perfectionist, I didn’t see my novel at the level to compete with best-selling authors across the country. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work and family obligations.

Then I made a decision – I enjoyed writing so much, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of being published. I realized that I wanted to be like my favorite authors - entertain readers and allow them, like when I read, to escape reality and for a moment be in another place and time.

I’ve never been one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the internet, reading up on the industry and process. I attended writing conferences and made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions and learning what it took to become successful.

Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write DEAD MAN'S HAND. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.
I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing anything I could to learn, to improve my writing and my novel to the point where I could create the best possible novel.

I sent out hundreds of query letters to agents. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by Ms. Jennifer Lyons of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

After months of work with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books.

What genre do you write? And why?

My first chapter books were the Hardy Boys titles, so they are the reason I love mysteries.

As an adult, some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly and Greg Iles, so naturally I write what I love to read – mystery/suspense novels.

DEAD MAN'S HAND has been compared to James Patterson books, which to me is an honour. Maybe in style (short chapters, a quick read), as I have read many of his books.

What other genre interest you? 

I don’t know if you count thrillers as in the same class as mysteries, I’m assuming you do. I haven’t read a lot outside of my crime-fiction and thriller genres, so this is a tough question.

I’m the kind of guy who likes familiarity and rarely strays from what I know. My wife and I really enjoy the Nicholas Sparks movies, does that count?

What is the story behind your book?

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

Read more in the blurb below.

What’s the source of your inspiration? How much of YOU show up in your writing?

I never thought much about writing when I was growing up.

But I was always an avid reader, which I owe to my mother. She was a librarian, and although I lost her when I was young, I will always remember a stack of Danielle Steele books on her bedside table, and a lot of books lying around the house at my disposal.

Plot: I get my ideas from stories I hear about, whether through reading (newspapers, magazines, etc.), what I hear (radio) or what I see (TV, movies, internet, etc.).

The plot is completely fictional. I wouldn't say that one thing or person influences my writing, but a variety of my life experiences all have led to my passion in the written word.

There is not a single moment in time when this idea came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies.

Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.

Setting: I usually set my stories in cities I've visited and fell in love with. Las Vegas was the perfect backdrop for this story, glitz and glamour as well as an untapped underground.

Characters: I have never been involved in a homicide investigation, LOL! Although I am not a 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, I’ve used much of my athletic background when creating my protagonist Calvin Watters.

Watters past as an athlete, and his emotional rollercoaster brought on by injuries were drawn from my experiences. His mother died of cancer when he was young, as mine was. There are certainly elements of myself in Calvin, but overall, this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence.

I’ve always been a self-motivated person, and my harshest critic. Whether it was in school, hockey or writing, I’ve been the one to put the most pressure on myself to succeed, to be the best in everything I try.

How do you decide your book cover?

My publisher designs the cover, but they ask for my input, what I envision the cover to look like.

Do you think readers decide based on book cover or book title?

Yes, I think that if you’re an unknown author, the cover is the hook, the first thing that draws a reader to the book.

Why should a reader buy your book?

Dead Man’s Hand has tension and excitement as a result of the action taking place in a single week.

The African-American protagonist is not stereotypical. While his race is significant, he does not moralize about the issue or his situation.

The “find out who framed you to save yourself” plot has a twist in that Watters researches the crime online, primarily using analysis of character rather than physical evidence.

Point of view is easy to follow but engagingly complex, with scenes from the perspectives of Watters, the detective, the cheating wife, and a hired assassin.

Use one word/phrase to describe your book:

Dead Man’s Hand takes readers inside the head of Calvin Watters, a sadistically violent African-American Las Vegas debt-collector, who was once a rising football star, now a murder suspect on the run.

How have you found the writing process?

These days I don't have one. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children. I`m too busy playing ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose to write. But when I do write, I find that I am most productive in the morning, and I always have to have a mug of steaming coffee in front of me.

Before I even sit down at a computer, I have hand-written notes of ideas for my book. This could be anything from plot, scenes, setting, characters, etc.

Once I sit down, I just write. No editing, no looking back, I just let it flow. Unless I'm certain, no title until after I'm done. As I write, I keep notes by hand on the timeline.

When my first draft is complete, I go through it twice, once for the creative editing process and the next for flow, repetition, etc. Then I have my former English professor read it over and she gives me her thoughts. I edit it myself again. Then I send it to my agent for her thoughts, then I edit it again myself. Only once my agent and I feel ready do we send it to publishers.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? How did you tackle it?

For me, the most difficult thing about writing has nothing to do with actual writing (ideas, flow, writer's block, etc.), but it's finding the time.

Between teaching and tutoring, with three small children and a wife at home, finding the time to sit down at a computer and have serious, quality writing time is almost impossible.

But I love my girls and spending quality time for them is a great feeling. I wouldn’t give up my games of ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose for anything in the world. It just puts writing my next novel behind a bit.

Have you experienced character conflict in your writing?

The four most common character conflicts in stories are: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society and man vs. himself.

The single most common character conflict in suspense/mystery novels is man vs. man. This is usually seen through serial killers, murder investigations, assassination plots, etc. One character is battling against another character in the story.

There's plenty of this in DEAD MAN'S HAND, but I also wanted to add another element to entertain readers.

The central theme of DMH is the plot built around framing Calvin Watters for murder. Calvin spends the story evading the cops, as well as a hitman, while trying to solve the crime and prove his innocence. (Man vs. Man, right?)

But I truly believe that the major character conflict in my story is Calvin vs. himself.

Calvin Watters was on his way to NFL stardom when a sudden, selfish decision destroyed any dream he ever had. He remembered when the rich had welcomed him into their group as a promising, clean-cut athlete bound for glory. Now he was just an outsider looking in. Just another thug.

Pain bolted through his right knee, but the emotional pain from a shattered ego hurt even worse. He was the only one to blame for USC’s humiliating loss and his own humiliating personal downfall.

The press, always ready to tear down a hero, had shown no restraint in attacking him for his egotistic, selfish decision and obvious desire to break his own school record. One minute he was touted as the next Walter Payton, the next he was a door mat for local media.

Looking at him now, no one would believe that back then he was a thousand-yard rusher in the NCAA and welcomed with open arms in every established club in Southern California. Hell, he had been bigger than the mayor.

That the resulting injury had ended his college football career and most importantly, any chances of a pro career didn’t matter to anyone. By making the wrong, selfish, prideful decision, he’d made himself a target for the press and all USC fans.

The devastating, career-ending knee injury wasn’t the quarterback’s fault for missing the audible, or the fullback’s fault for missing the key block. It was his and it had taken him some time to understand and accept responsibility for it.

After he spent three years building a reputation as the toughest collector in Vegas, no one even knew he’d been one of the greatest college running backs ever. To them, he was just “The Collector.”

Now Calvin has to rebuild his life and his future, eliminating the thoughts of his downfall, picking himself up, dusting off, and trying to live a respectable life he can be proud of.

But has his time as a leg-breaker made him corrupt beyond redemption?

Do you have a blog? What do you write about?

You can find me @ Murphy's Blog

I talk about everything and everything, but mostly writing and books. I talk about my books, promote them, but I also use my blog to promote other authors.

What books are on your shelf at home?/Name your favourite author?

My library is filled with mysteries and thrillers, mostly crime. I often try to read a variety of authors.

Any awards/achievement you want to share?

Many in sports, but my sports column for “The Pontiac Equity” has won awards in the province of Quebec.

What are you good at as an individual?

I’ve always been a very athletic person growing up, and was above average in any sport I tried my hand at.

What form of entertainment do you enjoy most and why?

These days playing with my 3 daughters (ages 5, 3, and 6 months) takes up most of my free time.

What are your other interests?

Hockey, golf, working out, reading, spending time with family.

Your favourite pet?

My 11 year old pug, Costner. We’ve had him since he was a baby and he’s our first born. I bought him for my wife in 2003.

What’s your choice meal/favourite restaurant?

If I had to choose, probably Chinese.

What’s your music choice?

I’ve gone through crazes and fads throughout my life, but I always turn towards 80’s rock.

Name your favourite city in the world.

Las Vegas.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

If I had one wish, I’d wish for more wishes…

If you can change one thing, what would it be?

As a teacher and parent, I’d like the youth of today to be more respectful of others.

What would you say you’re bad at?

Folding the laundry, or at least my wife tells me that.

You’re squeamish to what?

Snakes

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done?

I once walked into a woman’s washroom. The sign on the wall had been covered by a plant and I didn’t know it was for women.

What’s your favourite quote?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Anything else your readers don’t know about you?

I currently teach elementary school.

What is your last word?

I guess I’m supposed to say something sophisticated here but I’m not that smart. So here: There is nothing more important in this world than family and friends.

Where can your book be found/bought/website:









DEAD MAN'S HAND Blurb

What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don't fall your way? 

When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand? 

Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.

Author Bio:

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy's debut novel, Dead Man's Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

Review Blurbs:

"You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out."
—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter

"Dead Man's Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn't read like one,
but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice."
—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower

"Part police procedural, part crime fiction, Dead Man's Hand is a fast, gritty ride."
—Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Hush


Thank you so much Luke for taking time out to answer these questions.



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