So, this week on all my social media platforms, I’m featuring a fellow friend and author named Paul McMurrough. Paul is the author of a dystopian novel called Reliance.
About the Book
I did a full review on Reliance before (which can be found here). It is literally the best book I’ve read this year. Well written and an absolute page-turner, this book.
Because I loved it so much, I asked Paul if he would be willing to answer some questions about his career, life, writing habits, and reading habits. He was more than happy to oblige. I’ll drop lots of social media links below, but now, without further ado, my interview with the lovely Paul McMurrough!
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I am a native of Belfast, N.Ireland. I lived briefly in the US and have travelled extensively throughout Europe and America, mostly through my work as a business and management consultant. My educational background was more Maths and Science focused rather than the Arts or Literature due to a struggle with dyslexia in my early years.
What does a normal day look like for you?
I mostly work from home (more so now in this Covid era). My home office is a small room with french doors out onto a balcony. A typical day will see me nose deep in project plans and spreadsheets. I try to make time in the evenings for writing (either research, outlining or the actual good stuff of writing itself).
Do you still have a “day job,” or have you promoted yourself to full-time writer?
Unfortunately yes. As much as I would love to, I have no illusions of ever being able to give up my day job to pursue writing full time. For now writing is a hobby. The process is cathartic and the feeling I get from seeing my words printed in an actual book is amazing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It was only in the past couple of years that I seriously considered writing. Until the age of fifteen I could barely read and so the thought of being able to write something of my own would have been shut down very quickly. In my earlier days, before I learned to manage and work around my dyslexia, my inner critic would have been more like an inner bully who knew my darkest secrets, fears and weaknesses – he would never have let me even consider that I could have the ability to write a book.
What does your family think of your writing?
I worked on my first book for about 12 months and didn’t tell any of my family until I held the physical copy in my hand. To say they were surprised would be an understatement. Since then, they have been nothing but supportive and are now quizzing me about the timeline for the next book in the series.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing definitely energizes me, when I get into a flow hours can pass like minutes. Reading on the other hand is exhausting for me as it takes total concentration.
What inspired you to write Reliance?
I have always liked posing the question “What if…?” usually related to a slight variation on reality. In the case of Reliance that “What if” concerned the sudden loss of power and what the immediate impact would be on society. For example what would YOU do if the power went off with no warning and was off for say a day, a week or even a month? The more research I did the more alarming were the answers – there are no aliens or zombies involved but it is frightening how quickly the mundane everyday things which we take for granted, can cause serious issues when they are no longer available.
How long did it take you to write Reliance?
When I first made the decision that I was going to commit my daydreams to paper, it was important to me that everything in the book would be realistic and believable (as much as possible). With that in mind I think I spent about six months researching a myriad of topics; everything from Space Weather, electricity grid infrastructure, the mechanics of gas and water supply, right down to how petrol stations work. I was a little nervous though (particularly living in Northern Ireland) when I started Googling things like – “How many active soldiers are present in N.Ireland?” or “What kind of weapons do prisons have and where are they kept?” – I wouldn’t have been overly surprised to hear a size 10 boot kick my door in and uniformed men haul me away in the middle of the night. Thankfully that didn’t happen and after about 6 months of research and planning it took another 6 months to get it written and published.
I know that Reliance is the first book in the “Powerless Earth Series.” How many more books will there be in the series?
Book 2 of the series has been researched and outlined however, I have paused work on it to do a short novelette based on two of the characters from Reliance. The working title is “Dr Death”. It’s turning out to be much darker than Reliance. I am aiming for a release at the end of November. The second full novel should be published in the Spring of 2021. There will likely be a third novel in the series and possibly one or two more novelettes.
What is your favorite part of Reliance? No spoilers, of course!
There was a scene involving Martin (the Physics Professor), writing the scene took a lot of me, I found myself getting very emotional and actually had to take a break after writing it.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What does literary success look like to you?
Success for me is keeping the self-doubt monster at bay long enough to get the book finished, once it is out there I know that not many people will ever hear about it but as long as those who do, find it entertaining, then that’s enough for me.
What advice would you give a fledgling writer?
Learn the technical skills required and the rules that should be followed. You don’t always have to follow the rules but, to knowingly break the rules for a reason is one thing, to break the rules because you didn’t know them is something else.
What sort of books do you read?
A wide range – mostly thrillers, dystopian and post-apocalyptic.
What’s your favorite book?
More the series than any one book out of it – The Remaining Series by D.J. Molles.
Book that made you cry?
Don’t think I have ever cried while reading a book but I’ve certainly been close to it a couple of times when writing.
Book that really inspired you?
The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Handbook by Andrew Chamberlain helped me when I first embarked on my writing journey (and his podcast of the same name). As well as teaching the techniques and skills he also interviewed many guests from across the industry.
A book you didn’t like at all? (Maybe one you felt like you were supposed to like.)
The Stand by Stephen King (How dare I?) – Because reading is so exhausting for me, I prefer shorter books and at near 2 million pages The Stand is not a short book. It just seemed needlessly long winded to me.
What’s your perfect reading environment?
By a pool in the sun but I don’t have a pool and I live in Ireland so I don’t have the sun – so sitting on the balcony or in the back garden on a good day, or in front of the fire on a bad day.
Do you listen to music while you read/write, or do you prefer silence?
Have tried listening to music while writing, just doesn’t seem to work for me. I need total silence when reading so music would not be an option there.
Author Page: Reliance.fyi/Home
I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. You will not regret picking up a copy! Good news: It’s free today and tomorrow!!