On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, author James Murdo discusses his new book, Echoes Of Gravity, and what inspires him.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author James Murdo about his career, what inspires him, and the creative work that went into his new book, Echoes Of Gravity.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a bit of an overthinker and I like to do things myself. Fortunately, these are good things for an author dealing with multiple plotlines. While it’s exciting exploring where a plot can take you, determination is needed to make sure everything makes sense.
When I’m writing, I’m thinking about what “could be”. Mixing facts with fiction is a delicate recipe because I never want a reader to feel hard done by from a plot resolution. In many ways, writing my type of science fiction is like being a far-flung futurist, since I deal with gargantuan machine intelligences and alien civilizations that I want to be realistic.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I’m not sure when I crossed the divide from being a science fiction fan to wanting to be a writer. I attempted to write a few different novels since the beginning of my university degree (quite some time ago), but it took a while before that became a serious ambition!
When did you take a step to start writing?
In the late evenings, constructing a draft for my first novel instead of winding down to sleep, about 5 or 6 years ago.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Years and years. From putting fingers to keyboard though, I think about 18-24 months.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Echoes of Gravity took me about 12 months to write. Like with all my books though, many of the ideas have been there for some time.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Echoes Of Gravity?
All the stories I write are based within my Wanderer Universe. However, with each story, I want to write something quite different.
For example, with Fractured Carapace, I wanted to write purely from an alien perspective as a “right-of-passage”. I thought that my brand of science fiction wouldn’t be authentic without at least one truly alien story. With Long Paradise, I wanted to write a complex mystery involving time travel. With Siouca Remembers, I wanted to write an epic tale of first contact intermingled with more fantasy elements that could be ultimately explainable with technology.
That leads me to my current work, the Tapache’s Promise Trilogy (book 1 is called Echoes of Gravity). For this, while still being driven strongly by plot elements, I wanted to focus on the bonds of friendship between four protagonists, and what happens when they are tested by incomprehensible forces.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Echoes Of Gravity?
Every time I start a new story, my plotting goes mostly out of the window. The biggest challenge is always deciding where to jump in, since I don’t always like to start with the beginning. A similarly big challenge is being able to stop and produce the first draft, instead of the endless re-writing! With Echoes of Gravity specifically, I tried to lay off overcomplicating technological points, since I do have the capacity to get carried away.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Echoes of Gravity has four protagonists, although two are more prominent. While sometimes I use famous personalities or historical figures to help me construct a character, each of these was inspired by people I’ve known. They’re not individual, but “mergings” of 2-3 people each. I have each of their main characteristics written down to help me visualize how they could react in certain situations.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
A documentary on scientology.
What is the inciting incident of Echoes Of Gravity?
Without spoiling too much, the protagonists are on a generation-type ship that encounters a significant problem half-way to its destination.
What is the main conflict of Echoes Of Gravity?
There is the overarching mission to uncover the origins of a “probability wave of death” that kills artificial intelligences. Then, there are the individual plotlines and conflicts that emerge as a result. A key conflict concerns betrayal.
Did you plot Echoes Of Gravity in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I plot to varying degrees, but then I very much write freely. I think of writing as discovering a story.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Echoes Of Gravity need?
My publisher, Cranthorpe Millner, supported me with editing. Fortunately, they did not ask for major plot changes, although I still had thousands upon thousands of corrections and suggestions, which I am grateful for.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
If you’re finding a particular part of the story hard, move on then come back later.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you are planning to write?
Aside from completing the current Tapache’s Promise Trilogy (book 2 is planned for release around September 2022), I have completed a draft for a short space adventure/mystery featuring Ascended Biologicals.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment?
If I’m completely honest, I don’t stop to dwell. I’m always keen to get onto the next book!
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
- Echoes of Gravity by James Murdo.
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