Profile of Gloria Murphy
Her dog fed and outside on a run, Gloria Murphy--a fast growing name in the suspense genre--is at her desk at eight each morning with a mug of coffee, ready to begin her day. And--like others who are lucky enough to earn a living from publishing--in the mood or not, she writes, usually not leaving her computer until two, in time for lunch and As the World Turns.
So where does she get her ideas? Sometimes she reads an item in the newspaper or hears a story from a friend, then imagines a slew of scenarios to add different dimensions: ie, "Okay, so what if that mother who ran crazy through K-Mart trying to find her lost two year old daughter and found her five minutes later in the toy department, found the girl dressed in boys clothing with hair shorn short?"
And once the idea catches, she simply begins, never quite knowing where she's going with it. "Which is what makes it fun," she claims. "What better motive for getting up to go to work than to find out what happens next?"
She's not against outlining a story before starting it, in fact she thinks it's probably a better way to go, it just doesn't seem to be the way she works best. "I start with a premise that intrigues me, then move on logically. I try to approach each scene like it's a story in itself, one with a beginning, a middle and an end, one that hopefully will pull the reader in deeper to the larger bigger story, adding more tension, more clues...but always moving it along."
"For instance," she explains, "Imagine your sister telling you about her roomate Mavis who after class one night discovered she was being followed. What would you want to know? If you didn't know the girl from Adam, you'd want a little background, something to make you feel like you know her, too. It's hard to feel for a person you know nothing about, just as it's hard to understand them. Surely it would seem odd to learn that in a rush to reach her boyfriend's apartment, Mavis ran up four flights of stairs rather than take the elevator...unless, of course, you knew she has an aversion to confined spaces. More important, you don't want your sister to suddenly veer off in another direction, to drop the story to go on to tell you how Mavis aced her psych exam."
Murphy has an attorney husband and five grown children who all have significant others, many of whom are pulled into service when she needs readers and feedback--sometimes part-way through a novel, but more likely on completion of the first draft. Does she want an honest opinion or is she inclined to shoot the messenger if she doesn't like what is being said? "Though I might not take criticism easily," she says, "I take it seriously, always considering whether it's valid enough to make a change."
And that goes for her editor as well. "While a good editor's opinion of what works and what doesn't is invaluable, it doesn't mean it's always one hundred percent right," Murphy says. "Recognizing the ego factor, I struggle to be objective--after all, the bottom line is to produce the best work possible I can. And more often than not I go along with my editor, not always doing the suggested changes, but finding other solutions, hopefully better ones."
Though her genre is suspense, it's not in the tradional 'who done it' variety. She takes ordinary people and puts them in extraordinary situations...something horrible about to happen to them, and worse--something that could just as easily happen to you or me. For example, her latest novel SIMON SAYS, (Signet Nov. 94), begins with a suburban family--the Marshall's--getting carjacked on the way to their beach house, but not to worry, folks, if that's not bad luck enough for the Marshalls, it gets a lot hairier. Her novels suck you in right off and you're not likely to come up for air until the very end.
When Gloria announced she was going to write a novel in the early eighties, her family never suspected that today she would have sold over two million books, the printing of her last book being nearly a quarter of a million. She sells to a dozen foregin countries--regularly to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Japan, and England. NIGHTSHADE, her first novel, was a Readers Digest Condensed Book selection. Of her nine titles, NIGHTSHADE, BLOODTIES, and THE PLAYROOM are available in hardback in libraries, and the last four paperbacks are available in bookstores nationwide: DOWN WILL COME BABY, A SHADOW ON THE STAIRS, A WHISPER IN THE ATTIC (soon to be a Paramount feature film), and her most recent, SIMON SAYS, already optioned for a TV movie.
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