Cerece Rennie Murphy
Who is your biggest literary influence? Hhmmm. That’s hard to say because I love so many writers and I’m always learning, but here are a few of my favorite authors – Toni Morrison is at the top. She writes for all 5 senses and some we don’t even know we have. Alice Walker is another author that I deeply admire. An author friend of mine, who goes by the name of Sarah Elizabeth is also a wonderful talent. Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed and Frank Herbert’s Dune are my 2 favorite science fiction books. I’m reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon right now and I love it. Her writing is just like poetry. It’s teaching me a lot about how to take your time and still tell a captivating story. Gosh, I could go on and on so please, stop me now!
What is your writing process like? What inspires your writing? So far, every story I’ve written has started out with a dream or vision that came to me so strongly that I fell in love with it. It is that love that inspires and drives me to write. I want to know what happens. I want to see how it ends. I want to know these characters and do their story justice, so I listen to them, ask them questions and have them tell me their story. When they do tell me, I write it down into what becomes my story outline. From there, I start asking my characters how it happens. I try to see the story as it unfolds in my mind because there is a big difference between knowing what happens and understanding how it happens. The “how” is the actual story that you’re telling. The “how” becomes my chapter outline and then I write each chapter based on the chapter outline. The structure of the chapter outline then allows me to get full immersed in just writing/telling the story because I’ve worked out the plot. I know the story’s twists and turns and I know the journey of each character. Now all I have to do is discover the details and surprises. It’s my favorite part of the process because, at this point in my writing, I’m the audience and the conduit. I’m not trying to work anything out; I’m just running with my characters and trying to record everything that I feel and see and know so that you, the reader, will feel it, too.
Where did your creative spark begin? Can you trace the path/timeline that got you where you are today? Honestly, I never thought I would be here – an author of 4 novels. This was not in my plan, but I can tell you that I’ve been a science fiction fan since I was 7 years old, watching Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back in the Uptown Theater with my mom and sister. So when I got the idea for the Order of the Seers Trilogy, I was so excited and so humbled that I had an idea for my very own science fiction story that I knew I would not let it go. A lot of my life has been about focusing on what I wanted to do vs. what I thought I could do. If I wanted to learn something, do something or try something, I’ve always been the kind of person who would just focus on the steps to getting it done and try hard. Even now, I almost never stop to think, “Can I do this?” Up until very recently, my answer to that question would usually be “No! Of course you can’t do that! What are you thinking?” But I don’t give myself a chance to have that conversation. Usually I think, “Do you want to do it?” and if the answer is “Yes” then I focus on the how and, eventually, when I look up, I’ve gone farther and accomplished things that I never imagined I could do.
When did you know writing was for you? I’ve been writing poetry since I was 11 or 12 years old. I’ve always enjoyed the process of giving voice to your thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams. I kept a journal pretty actively right up until my mid-30s, but I never shared my poetry or essays with anyone and honestly never wanted to. Up until I published my first book, writing was always a process of internal discover and that was enough for me. I published Order of the
Seers because I believe that the idea for the story, and every story idea I’ve gotten since, is a blessing to me and a blessing is not complete until it’s shared. I never wanted to be a writer who shared their work, but I believe that the stories that are coming to me now are meant to be shared. But at the end of the day, I still write because I love the story. I don’t think that will change.
Why speculative fiction? What other genre(s) do you write? The idea for Order of the Seers came to me 4 years ago while I was washing the dishes. I connected with it immediately because I’ve loved sci-fi for a long time. Speculative fiction is a genre that has given so much to me as a young girl looking for new ways to see the world. I’m so honored that the story of Order of the Seers came to me because I never would have attempted speculative fiction otherwise. I just completed my 1st children’s book, titled Ellis and the Magic Mirror with my son, so I guess now I’m a children’s book author, too. We wrote the book together because my son asked me to write him a book that he could read and I’m so grateful that he did. We had a wonderful time creating that book together. Right now, I’m working on a historical romance and once I’m finished with that I will start writing a 2 part-space opera along with the 2nd book in the children’s book series. So I guess I write in whatever genre I feel like. LOL! It kind of makes sense for me though because I read almost every genre, so I’m open to inspiration from any direction.
How can people connect with you? Folks can check out my website at cerecerenniemurphy.com. They can also find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Cerece-Rennie-Murphy-205753729546299/ and on Twitter @cerecermurphy. Thanks again for the opportunity to do this interview. It’s been a pleasure.