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Author Spotlight – Gary William Murning

Following on from his successful novel – If I Never – which was published by Legend Press last year, author Gary William Murning has chosen a rather different direction for his follow up novel – Children of the Resolution – which went on sale recently (follow the links above for full reviews of both books).

Novel Suggestions caught up with Gary recently to get a bit of background info on his latest release and to find out what else he has in the pipeline for his readers.

Read the full interview below…

-- Gary William Murning interviewed by Des Greene --

DG – Your latest novel Children of the Resolution was released quite soon after If I Never, was it a project you’d been working on for some time?

GWMChildren of the Resolution was actually completed before If I Never was
published. I wrote If I Never and, whilst trying to find a place for it, got to work on Children – as is my usual way. I don’t like being between projects for too long.

DG – Your character Carl readily acknowledges and faces up to his inherent differences from all of his peers, but one thing I picked up from the book was all the shared experiences and similarities to my own fairly typical school life. Was this a deliberate theme you wanted to explore?

GWMI’m always a little suspicious when authors respond in the affirmative to questions like this but yes, it was. With this kind of novel, there is quite often the temptation – or even pressure, from certain quarters – to focus on the aspect of “difference”. And, yes, this is something that absolutely has to be addressed. But one of the predominant, overriding themes in most of my work, I think, is this idea that, when you strip everything away, the way we experience life is inherently similar. Yes, Carl has physical limitations that other people don’t, and, yes, it does significantly impact on his school-life – but as you point out, his experiences (which closely mirror my own) are nonetheless fairly typical. My view, as I have tried to play about with this in different novels over the years, is that this actually says so much more about the whole experience of disability than it may at first seem. Of course, the fact that he is gradually integrated into mainstream education is a major factor in this – but even before that I think it’s quite clear that he is, more than anything, just a little boy trying to figure out the bizarre world around him. We’ve all been there and I’m fairly sure many of us still are! (I am, at least.)

DG – How difficult did you find it as a writer to reconcile the changing voice and phrasing of the character Carl as a young child and teenager, with the older Carl relating the story?

GWMIt was actually surprisingly easy. I think because I had very solid and personal reference points, I could hear Carl’s voice changing as he grew older and segued back and forth into and out of the adult representation pretty much as an act of memory. Half the battle is knowing the character – in fact, it’s much more than half the battle. Once I have a good knowledge of the character it is, for me, simply a matter of learning to trust him/her.

DG – Children of the Resolution obviously relates experiences that are very personal to you, do you think there is a workable answer to the failings of the system that you experienced, and do you think things have improved since then?

GWMI think I have to be very upfront about the fact that my knowledge of today’s education system is fairly basic. I do know that there has been, in some areas, a very solid shift towards inclusive education. For example, the comprehensive I was integrated into is now wholly inclusive. But from the little I do know, it certainly does seem that this is still very much an imperfect system. I have read reports, for example, of parents who are concerned because their disabled children are in mainstream education and not actually coping very well – the parental wish in these cases being that “special schools” should not be closed. And I would completely concur with this. I’m very pro-inclusion, but, to my mind, decisions have to be made based on individual needs. Is there a workable answer? Absolutely – but I’m afraid I have to say that whilst education remains a political football, I really doubt that we’ll find it.

Have things improved? Oh, yes. I really do think they have. You have to remember that until the mid-1970s the very idea that a child with a physical disability could attend a mainstream school was something quite extraordinary. Today – even if it isn’t always as easily applied as it should be – it’s pretty much taken as a given by the majority of reasonable, intelligent people that inclusive education, with appropriate support, is just the way it should be. I think it’s very important to remember that. Yes, there is still much that needs to be done, but there has been real and significant progress.

DG – You decided on the self-publishing route for Children of the Resolution. As a previously published author do you perceive any risks in that choice and has it proven to be a positive experience so far?

GWMSo far it has been a very positive experience – but it has been a fairly anxious time. Going it alone with this particular novel, prompted primarily by the fact that I wanted the book out there in the form I envisaged, did make me wonder if I might not be setting myself up for the huge fall. Thankfully, the initial response has been extremely encouraging.

DG – Moving onto your previous novel – If I Never, has its level of success met or exceeded your expectations?

GWMWell, I was pretty realistic, I think, about its chances. Success for a novel published by an independent publisher is not, usually, defined in quite the same way as success for one of the bigger publishers. But I had specific targets in mind and so far it’s done fairly well, and continues to build a readership.

DG –  Has If I Never travelled well? I’d be really interested to hear what feedback you have had from readers farther afield?

GWMIt’s travelled remarkably well – something that really did surprise me. I expected one or two Americans/Canadians to “get” it, but the response from over the pond has been far better than I ever could have imagined. That aside, I have readers as far away as the Philippines, South America and, of course, Australia. The reader I heard from in the Philippines was especially surprising, though. Given the nature of the book – pretty gritty and somewhat explicit – I was a little concerned, the Philippines being a predominantly Catholic country! But he thoroughly enjoyed it (I expect his priest really enjoyed the related confessions, too!)

DG – What future projects have you got in store for your readers? Any plans on letting George Ruiz loose on us again?

GWMI have a few completed projects that are currently looking for homes. In the event that I don’t find a publisher who will publish them in the form I want, then I expect I’ll probably go along the self-publishing route again.
I’m also working on a new novel, The Legacy of Lorna Lovelost – which is much more in the style of If I Never, though somewhat gentler. I’m probably going to be offering Legend this one. Fits with their list.

Ah, dear old George Ruiz! You know, there was a time not so long ago when I was adamant that I wouldn’t revisit any of the characters from If I Never, but over the past few months they’ve kind of been revisiting me! They keep popping into my head at the most unexpected of times. They are still very much alive. So. let’s just say it’s a definite maybe.

DG – Gary, thanks so much for taking the time out to share your insights, and best of luck with your upcoming releases.

GWM – No, thank you! It’s been a pleasure.

** Now available from all good bookstores, online and High Street – Children of the Resolution. Buy from Amazon UK or Amazon USA today. Electronic version for Kindle and other e-readers also available at Amazon UK and Amazon USA. **

*** Also available – If I Never. Buy online from Amazon UK or Amazon USA. Electronic version for Kindle and other e-readers also available at Amazon UK and Amazon USA.***

For more information and two free sample chapters, visit Gary William Murning Online.

Keep up to date with Gary Murning’s latest news on Twitter and Facebook.

Novel Suggestions only provides fiction book reviews of books that we personally recommend. We don’t spend our valuable time writing reviews of books which we feel would be a waste of your valuable time!

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