How long have you been writing?
I started writing in 2000. It actually started out as a hobby, a passion, a way to pass the time. I got serious about writing with the intention of seeking publication in 2006.
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?
Growing up I only wanted to be one thing, an NHL superstar. I never thought much about writing. Actually the only time I wrote was when my teachers made me.
What books or stories have you written? Published?
I’ve completed three manuscripts and published one of them. “Dead Man’s Hand” was released in October 2012 by Imajin Books. All of my stories are in the crime-thriller genres.
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?
I grew up reading suspense/thriller stories so it only made sense that I write them. All three of my manuscripts can be categorized as crime thrillers, mystery/suspense novels. “Dead Man’s Hand” takes readers inside the head of Calvin Watters, a sadistically violent African-American Las Vegas debt-collector, who was once a rising football star, now a murder suspect on the run. The book I’m currently working on follows the career of a female rookie detective with the LAPD.
How did you get inspiration for the characters?
As far as characterization goes, “Dead Man’s Hand’s” protagonist Calvin Watters faces racial prejudice with calmness similar to that of Walter Mosley’s character Easy Rawlins. But Watters’ past as an athlete and enforcer will remind other readers of (Jack) Reacher of the Lee Childs series. The Stuart Woods novel “Choke,” about a tennis player who, like Watters, suffered greatly from a dramatic loss that was a failure of his psyche, is also an inspiration for “Dead Man’s Hand.”
Are the books based on personal experiences?
No. I’ve suffered sports injuries like my protagonist so I know how he feels, but this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence. There is not a single moment in time when this idea came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies. “Dead Man’s Hand” became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field and adding my wild imagination. The Internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?
Get a part-time job to pay the bills (ha ha). Just kidding. Honestly, for anyone who wants to be a writer, you need to have three things: patience, determination and thick skin. You can’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your ultimate goal. You will hear a lot of “nos,” but it only takes one “yes.” The writing industry is a slow-moving machine, and you need to wait it out. Never quit or give up on your dreams.
Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?
It improved not only the story I was working on, but my overall writing and perspective. I’ve worked with editors, agents and publishers and each time I learn something new. Every professional brings a different perspective to the table and because writing is such a subjective business, it’s imperative that you have many sets of professionally trained eyes revising and editing, besides yourself. Take advice and be able to receive constructive criticism with a grain of salt. I don’t think you can ever stop learning in this business.
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?
“Telling” too much. The first draft of “Dead Man’s Hand” was more than 120,000 words. After working with editors, the final published version was 80,000 words. I did too much “telling” and not enough “showing.” Also learning to be patient with the whole process was definitely a challenge.
How did you find time to write your books?
I started writing when I was young and playing professional hockey. A couple of hours a day on the ice and in the gym and then the day was mine. I also suffered a serious eye injury in 2000 and couldn’t play, so I had a lot more time on my hands. Now that I’m older, with a family and full-time job, makes it a lot harder to find the time to write. I’m most productive early in the morning before my kids wake up, but lately I haven’t had any time to write.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?
Writing allows me, for a short time, the freedom to leave my everyday world and explore new avenues, to be in another place and time. It allows me to get inside the head of characters—to think, do and say whatever I want with no rules or restrictions. It means liberty and freedom to express myself.
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?
I’m never more at ease than when I’m sitting in my writing office early in the morning, a hot cup of tea in front of me, letting my fingers rest on the keyboard and my brain relax and let go. There’s no better, more calm feeling in the world. Everything around me disappears and I get tunnel-vision on the monitor in front of me. Just ask my wife.
Has writing made you a better person?
I like to think so, but that is determined through the eyes of the people around me.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?
I love to read, and I always have. It only makes sense that I write what I read, so naturally I like to read crime-thrillers. I try to support other new and up-and-coming authors. If I’m in research mode, then I read documentaries, etc. But my first choice is fiction. My first chapter books were the Hardy Boys. They introduced me to the mystery/suspense genres. My first adult novel was “Cujo” by Stephen King. Some of my favorite authors now are Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly and Greg Iles.
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?
Extremely. Reviews are what many readers look at before determining what to buy and put you in good standing in the industry. Many promotional opportunities are designed to cater to those novels with the most and best reviews. Reviews are considered vital in a writer’s pursuit for success.
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?
Since my first novel is relatively new, I haven’t yet received a review less than three out of five stars. The first time I received a three-star review I felt unsettled and uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure how to react. But the reviewer had nothing but good things to say, as well as some constructive criticism about the book so the three stars didn’t seem as bad. You have to learn to have thick skin and let these reviews bounce of you. Just remember, it’s not personal.
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec, with his wife, two daughters and pug. He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).
Murphy’s debut novel, “Dead Man’s Hand,” was released by Imajin Books on Oct. 20, 2012.
For more information on Luke and his books, visit his website, “Like” his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter. Buy “Dead Man’s Hand” on Amazon.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know Luke. I love his honest answers and agree with all he’s said here.
Thanks for hosting me, Jason. I had a lot of fun.
A professional hockey player turned crime author? Wow. I love it! “Dead Man’s Hand” sounds like a great read and Calvin Watters an interesting character. Thanks for the interview, Luke and Jason!