New Author Spotlight Interview: Alys Murray
Hi! My name is Alys Murray! Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, I now live in London with my boyfriend and stacks upon stacks of books. I currently write feel-good romance novels!
Q1: Who were your biggest literary influences growing up?
When I was a little girl, my dad used to sit me in the corner and read Charles Dickens, so I think I owe much of who I am to Dickens. I also found myself reading tons of American Girl books. They taught me that young women could do, think, and be anything they wanted, an idea that inspired me to start writing when I was nine years old!
Q2: Which do you feel is harder as an Author—writing, or querying? Why?
Querying! When I’m writing, I know I’m in love with the story and the characters. I immerse myself in their world and befriend the characters. When I’m querying, I have to convince someone else (a total stranger, nonetheless!) to follow me on that journey. Reading a book takes time. It demands investment. When I’m querying, I’m asking someone to devote their time and energy to my words, world, and story. That’s quite a tall order!
Q3: What is your favorite genre(s) to read in your free time?
I’m absolutely wild for non-fiction books about the Golden Age of Hollywood. Though I recently bought a Kindle, my bedside table is piled high with Katharine Hepburn biographies and tomes breaking down the Hollywood Star System and its colorful characters. In the fiction world, I write what I read. I love romance novels of every type and description, but romance novels with a Star Wars feel are my catnip!
Q4: What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2018?
Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon is going to be a barn-burner of a YA adaptation romance. As a plus-sized woman constantly on the hunt for better representation in media, I can’t wait to read Landwhale by Jes Baker. The Sea Before Us is the newest release from Sarah Sundin, who is one of my favorite authors of all time. And, because I’m a huge nerd, I also can’t wait for the adaptation of the newest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi.
Q5: If you had to choose 1 literary character to have dinner with, who would it be, and what/where would you choose to go?
Peter Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I’d love to ask him how he adjusted from growing up to be the literal warrior-king of a country to being a normal person again after leaving Narnia. (An question that inspired my dream writing project!)
Q6: What TV show(s) are you most guilty of binge watching?
Parks and Recreation. I love the romantic dynamic between Leslie and Ben, not to mention the hilarious dynamic between the rest of the cast, so whenever I’m blue or just need a mental break from the world, I pop on a few (or more than a few) episodes of Parks and Rec. I just love stories about people who want nothing more than to leave this world better than the way they found it, and Leslie Knope embodies that principle.
Q7: What are your writing goals for this year?
I have two big goals: One, I’d like to finish the first draft of my passion project. It’s a book I can’t imagine anyone but me wanting to read, so it’s been hard to justify spending time on it, but I think this is the year I spend a little time every day writing the book of my dreams. Two, I want to finish the first two books in this new series I’ve been dreaming up.
As for my publishing dreams, Rebecca is hard at work helping to make those happen! She’s the best and I’m so amazed at all she’s already accomplished on my behalf!
Q8: IF you could share one piece of advice with other querying Authors, what would it be?
When I was studying playwriting and directing at NYU, one of my professors gave me this advice: follow the love. When you’re querying, you know that agents have seen a million pitches including phrases like “enemies-to-lovers” or “older brother’s best friend” (or whatever buzz words are particular to your genre). What is going to set you apart is what you love about your manuscript. If you put those elements front and center, you’re going to stand out from the slush pile!
Q9: Which trope in fiction do you dislike the most, which do you love?
My biggest dislike in fiction is something Reese Witherspoon once brought to my attention. In a speech, she drew attention to the trope wherein a woman looks at a man in a tense or dangerous situation and says, “Well, what do we do?” In my day-to-day life, I have maybe heard that sentence from the mouth of a woman a handful of times. I want to write and read and experience and inspire heroines who take charge of their own situations and don’t look blindly to a man for advice or guidance.
My biggest trope-y love is absolutely the Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail romance. If two characters are falling in love over letters, that book has my name written all over it.
Q10: If you could explain your career in one GIF, what would it be?