Interview with Gary William Murning Part 2 of 2


Gary William Murning
Interview by Mike

Gary's debut book, If I Never, was published by Legend Press in August of this year. Gary is a writer from the northeast of England who enjoys literature, current affairs, music, the arts and sceptical enquiry. I caught up with him last month to see how he was getting on post book launch.

For part 1 of this interview click here.

Some of the violence in the book is treated with comical undertones - was that because you wanted to soften the tone of the book with humor?

I'm not sure why that happened that way, actually. It just developed naturally, and I certainly never made a conscious decision to soften the violence. I think it just fit with the general tone of the novel... there's a mildly comic undertone to most aspects of it so I guess it just bled through (no pun intended) into the more violent scenes.

Often in novels it takes a while for the boy to get the girl - in If I Never they get together in an interesting but very quick way, although the novel does spend a lot of time reflecting on the nature of their relationship - how key was all this to the story you wanted to tell? 

I hate preamble. It's something I was quite prone to in my earlier work and these days I like to cut to the chase, so to speak. The relationship between Price and Tara is fundamental to the novel -- the one thing that interested me most of all -- so I suppose the quickness of their developing relationship stems from my own selfish need to get to what interested me most. I didn't want it to be a novel about falling in and out of love. I wanted, I suppose, it to be a novel about being in love whilst having to contend with some quite extreme external (and internal) pressures. So, yes, it was quite important to get right into the thick of who they were together.

People often react out of their belief systems and perceptions and this seemed key in the book with the George controlling the behavior of Price and Tara; is this something that interests you?

Absolutely. With this novel in particular, I was fascinated by the idea that long-established behaviour patterns and, yes, beliefs, to a degree, dictate the choices we make. I liked the notion that some of my characters' instincts, at the beginning of the novel, at least, were to maintain the status quo -- however painful that might be. Change was being forced upon them and they could either go with the flow or resist... the novel, I suppose, is in part about how they learn which is the best choice to make under their very unique circumstances.

There are characters in the book like Richard and Claudia who are cut off from society by their disabilities - was it important to you to show those specific characters.

Not especially... this is something I've been thinking about quite a lot just recently, actually. As you know, I have a disability myself -- but I've never really considered myself a "disabled writer". It's not usually at the forefront of my mind when I work on a project, and, in fact, many of my novels don't feature characters with disabilities at all, and when they do, they are just characters like any other character... what I mean is, I don't approach writing them any differently. Both Claudia and Richard had an important part to play and a point to make, but it wasn't really about their disabilities. Not within the context of this particular novel.
Even when I do write about issues that arise, quite specifically, from an individual's relationship with his or her own disability I tend to feel that disability itself is not the issue. To a degree, the old idea that societal reactions are the disabling factor rather than the disability holds some water in this context. By that I mean that disability comes from the outside rather than the inside -- massive generalisation but, basically, what I'm saying is that all my stories, whether disability-centric not, are intrinsically human stories. I'm sure we can all relate to feelings of difference, of exclusion, of isolation -- of having to work hard to fit in and earn a place for yourself in life. Yes, the circumstances where someone with a disability is concerned can be quite extreme and unique, but these are stories and characters that should speak to and of something in all of us.

You mention you like music, what kind of things do you like and do you listen to them whilst you're writing or do you work in silence? 
Oddly, I don't seem to listen to music half as much as I once did -- but my taste is pretty varied. I enjoy everything from Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations to 1980s electro-pop, Soft Cell etc. Anything that's good or different, basically.
I never listen to music while I'm writing, however. It just doesn't work for me -- it pulls me out of the world of the novel. I don't always get it, but silence is always appreciated when I'm working.

Can you tell us something about the next book you're working on?

Yes, I am currently working on what should hopefully be my third Legend Press novel, As Morning Shows the Day. At heart, it's a novel about secrets and lies -- about how the things we are told in childhood ultimately shape the people we become. Set largely in the 1970s, in the north-east of England, it builds on certain themes that I touch upon in what will be my second Legend Press novel, Children of the Resolution. It isn't a sequel -- as far as characters and plot are concerned the two novels completely unrelated -- but the two novels are, in many respects, thematically paired. I think they'll sit well together -- and by the time As Morning Shows the Day is finished I think I'll have said just about all I want to say about what it is to grow from a boy into a man. I hope!
After that, it's another very different novel -- currently in early development stages -- called Out Of Season. But I'll tell you about that another time.

Visit Gary's site at

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