Shop Talk with H.G. Muralee: Delving into the Author Mind...with a "Vengeance"
One of the most frequent questions authors are faced with is the ever popular: "Where do you get your ideas?"
The sound byte answer?
But it is a rare and beautiful thing for readers to have a chance to really delve into the inner workings of their favorite author's brain beyond that two-second reply. So, today, we here at InkSpired are bringing you the unique opportunity to see what makes speculative fiction author H.G. Muralee tick.
We sat down last month with the author to talk briefly about her new book. Today, we welcome her return as we speak with her to learn even more about her book and her writing process.
After you read the intriguing interview, be certain to pick up your copy of her exciting new title, We Come with Vengeance, on sale NOW!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Like most authors, I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. I still have my first completed manuscript somewhere in my house. In my free time, I read books, and a lot of them. My husband and I don’t watch a lot of TV, although one of my friends recently got me into Shadow & Bone, so I’m binge watching that currently.
What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
Speculative fiction is so incredible because of how vague it is. It can be fantasy, science fiction, or have elements of both. To me, I have more range than just being a science fiction author.
How important is research to you when writing a book?
I think it depends on the context. If I’m making a world that isn’t based on the real world, I’ll give myself some leniency. However, when it comes to describing my characters, especially the ones who don’t look like me, I try to look into how people in those communities describe those characters. I have sensitivity readers to point out bad representation and what I need to change. Kaier is based on 1910s America, so I did some research into that period but allowed myself to add additional things in to make the world that I wanted.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
I write exclusively on my laptop and desktop. Sometimes, I write scenes in the note sections on my phone when I’m not home.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first book when I was 13. It was awful, and I cringe thinking about it. I don’t have an exact age when I can recall thinking “I want to be an author”. It’s always been there.
What inspires you to write?
I want people to find themselves in my books and to be able to relate to characters who are different than themselves through shared experiences. I have this burning desire to get these characters out on paper and to flesh them out so they truly seem lifelike.
How often do you write?
I try to write every day, but I mostly write Monday through Friday.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
I require myself to write Monday through Thursday and on the weekend if I haven’t met my word count. To me, it becomes easier to write a manuscript the more words I have, so starting a new manuscript is always the hardest. If I don’t make myself sit down and write, it won’t get done.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
It can be really hard some days when I have a long day at the office, and I just want to read a book. However, I won’t achieve my goals by not holding myself accountable. We Come With Vengeance took 1 ½ years for the first draft to be complete, but the euphoria I felt once it was done made me addicted. Now, I can write much quicker because I know how it feels to complete a first draft.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
It depends on the week. One week I may have a writing goal of 10,000 words while another only has a goal of 5,000. I like having a goal, and it forces me to sit down and get the scenes out of my head.
Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?
I love writing where I can do most of the imagining, so the less descriptions the better, except for characters. I’m no Leigh Bardugo or V.E. Schwab (fan girl here). I prefer moving my plots through dialogs and actions and not descriptions. I’m working on more descriptions with the other books in the series, but there’s nothing wrong with a simple writing style.
What makes being a writer so special, or is it just another job?
I think writers are special because they’re able to put their imaginations into words and share those experiences with others.
Plotter or panster?
I have a basic plotline. Each scene is in paragraph form, so I have leeway with how I want each scene to progress but I still know where it needs to end. We Come With Vengeance wasn’t drafted at all. I made it up as I went along, and I think that’s why it took so long for the first draft to be completed.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest thing about writing?
Thinking that the work I published or will publish isn’t good enough and it will sit forever unread on someone’s bookshelf. I write for myself, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I want my work to be liked and enjoyed by others.
What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
Writing emotional scenes can be very therapeutic after an 8 hour workday. I can put my emotions to paper (or google doc, in this case), and be able to destress so I can do it all again the next day. I also love character creation. Something about creating flawed beings who are entirely at my whim is really enjoyable.
Have you ever experienced the dreaded “writer’s block”? If so, how long does it usually last?
I experienced more Writer’s Block with We Come With Vengeance than the other manuscripts that I’m currently working on. I attribute that to not having the basic plotline drafted out in advance. Now that I have a barebone plot for the other books, it’s much easier to get through each scene without having to worry about where it should end and the tone that should be conveyed.
Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Just because someone is giving you writing tips doesn’t mean you should take their advice. Try a variety of things to see if it helps with your slump, but don’t assume that your way is wrong if it’s not how other people do things.
Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?
I’m an avid reader. I try to read every day since I don’t watch a lot of television. Scott Westerfeld is one of my favorite YA authors, particularly the Leviathan Series which is what We Come With Vengeance was inspired from. I don’t have any authors that I autobuy books from. For romance authors, I love Emily Henry, Helen Hoang, Ana Huang, and Lauren Asher. For fantasy, I love Elise Kova, Namina Forna, Margaret Owen, John Flanagan, and Margaret Rogerson. I’m sure there are others, but I can’t think of them at this moment.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
I prefer writing to be very succinct and give information upfront. If it takes 50 words to say something, I don’t want to say it in 300 words. I like reading writing styles with more poetic and purple prose, but I don’t enjoy writing it. When I was younger, I wanted my books to have a different style than what I was good at writing. I’ve just recognized that I can enjoy lyrical writing, but accept I shouldn’t be writing it.
Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
I started writing We Come With Vengeance originally when I was 17 under a different title. It was a YA alternate history novel (when I say I was inspired by the Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld, I really mean it). When I picked it back up, it was too convoluted. I reworked it and We Come With Vengeance was born.
If you had the choice to rewrite anything, what would it be and why?
We Come With Vengeance is my debut novel, but there are already things I wish I could change or rework. Maybe I will in the future, but I’m happy with how it turned out.
How much of yourself (or people you know) do you put into your books…names changed to protect the guilty???
None of my characters (so far) are based on people I know. I also didn’t self-insert myself into WCWV. I see aspects of myself in all of the characters, but I think that’s because I share similarities with all of them.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
There is one character in one of my first drafts for a different book that was based on one of my experiences (emotionally abusive relationship, gross) I went through, but I don't know if that will ever see the light of day.
Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?
I’m currently reading The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan so I can prepare myself for when the TV series comes out and The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi. I read Percy Jackson as a child, and I still love the books. I saw the cover for Roshani Chokshi’s new book and had to buy it.
Have any new writers grasped your interest recently?
I saw a TikTok on Something More by Jackie Khalilieh, and I would kill for that cover. I recently finished Cleaned Out by Suzanne Williams that I really enjoyed.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
The prequel to We Come With Vengeance is currently with betas and should make its debut later this year if all goes well. I’m also working on the third book in the series. The prequel follows the antihero and Felix’s sister, Arcania.
Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
My family has been incredibly supportive, but especially my husband. He’s a very analytical thinker and has helped me immensely, not only emotionally but financially during this process.
If given the opportunity to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
I would expand certain scenes, because I really wanted to keep the word count near 110,000. I didn’t want my debut novel to be too long, but that also meant some scenes needed to be condensed or taken out.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Pacing is the hardest thing for me. I analyzed every scene and I believe they all have an importance to them, but after reworking some scenes multiple times, I realized that some of them just couldn’t be as fast paced as I wanted.
Writers are often believed to have a Muse—your thoughts on that?
I agree with that. Sometimes my characters have real life muses that they’re inspired from.
Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
I’m a paralegal, and while I do enjoy my job, it’s stressful. It’s fulfilling but there’s nothing like dreaming of being a full-time author.
Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing?
Sometimes I get headaches after staring at a screen for 8 hours, but for the most part, my day job doesn’t get in the way.
How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion?
I would say both. I write because it’s something I enjoy doing but also because I get immense satisfaction making my beta readers fall in love with my characters.
Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
I agree with that. Not everyone can be a good writer (depending on peoples’ opinions), but anyone can be a writer, and you don’t have to be a published author to be considered a writer.
How long did it take to write We Come With Vengeance?
The original draft was 125,000 words. It was way too long and took too much time to write.
Name something that you like most among all the writing you have penned down?
The prequel to We Come With Vengeance is my favorite so far that I’ve written, but that might change when the third book is done. The third book follows Murrugun, the main character's best friend in WVWC.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about your specific genre?
Not all steampunk books have to take place in Victorian era England.
Are you satisfied with your success?
I’m satisfied that I managed to finish and publish a book, so yes. I think our definitions of success can vary, but I feel very satisfied. I didn’t think I would get any pre-orders, maybe 25, but the amount I’ve received is much higher than that. I’m incredibly thankful.
Now, when you look back at your past, do you feel accomplished?
Maybe not in writing but definitely in the amount of books I’ve read.
Are you a member of any writing organizations or committees; if yes, define your role or how they have helped you advance your career?
I’m a member of a few writing discords, but not any writing organizations or committees.
What do you do in your free time?
I write my books and read in my free time. My husband is from India so I spend time learning his native language and watching movies from his home country.
How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book?
My husband and two of my friends are going out to eat with me at my favorite restaurant. Some authors do launch parties, but I’m an introvert and just want to spend it with people close to me.
Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
I have no money but I would give what little I have to see The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan come to life.
Any particular writer in mind whom you would want to complete your unfinished works in the event of your death?
Scott Westerfeld. I don’t know if he writes adult novels, but I’m sure he’d do great.
If you were given the opportunity to form a book club with your favorite authors of all time, which legends or contemporary writers would you want to become a part of the club?
Scott Westerfeld (are you tired of me mentioning him?), John Flanagan, Jane Austin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Leigh Bardugo, and Isabelle Olmo.
Have you ever written a character with an actor in mind?
Sven is based on John Boyega, Brynn is based on Chloe Grace Mortez, Arcania is based on Jenna Ortega, and Akash is based on a Mollywood actor Tovino Thomas.
Tell us about an interesting or memorable encounter you had with a fan.
I don’t have fans that I know of right now. Can we include my husband? I signed the first physical copy of WCWV for him.
Who’s your childhood literary superhero?
John Flanagan and Scott Westerfeld (a shocker).
Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
Just finish the first draft. It’ll be much easier afterward.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Your first book doesn’t have to be perfect. Debuts are hardly perfect at all so if it doesn’t do as well as you’d hope, put your effort into your next project.
Thank you so much, H.G., for sitting down and spending time with us and our readers. Don't miss the the thrilling speculative fiction debut novel from H.G. Muralee, We Come With Vengeance, available now!
We Come With Vengeance by H.G. Muralee Publication date: March 14th, 2023 Genres: Adult, Steampunk
The war has stretched on for twenty years, and the soldiers, civilians, and nobles are exhausted. Towns grow more desolate while war technology continues to advance, leaving the rest of Kaier behind. Felix—heir to House Leigh-Van—harbors resentment for the war that has claimed his sister’s life and his father’s ethics. Regardless, he follows his orders and is content to remain equal among his fellow soldiers. When a routine stop for repairs puts Felix at the epicenter of a brutal attack impacting civilians rather than soldiers, he struggles to continue separating his ethics from his duty. He’s privately ambivalent but publicly supportive of his uncle—the king—when whispers of an underground rebellion start to circulate. The rebellion is gaining traction and could soon make a serious play at ending the war.
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/79230696-we-come-with-vengeance Purchase: Amazon: https://amzn.to/3WklIz1
H.G. Muralee was born and raised in North Carolina. She graduated from Western Carolina University and works as a paralegal. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading far too many books, watching The Great British Baking Show, learning her husband’s native language, and playing with her dog, Oliver. #scifi #book #steampunkart #bookstagrammer #steampunkwriter #steampunkauthor #indiebook #steampunkstyle #writer #reading #writing #fantasywriter #writersofig #bookpost #writerslife #mysterybooks #writerscommunity #scifi #sciencefiction #fantasy #hgmuralee #jennaortega #rickriodan #chloegracemortez #shadowandbone