Interview with R Munro

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Oh gosh - escape! LOL!

I'm a very creative person and always have been. I was drawing before I could walk. I depicted the world around me as I saw it rather than as I knew it as other youngsters did, and my art only got increasingly sophisticated as I got older. By ten I was writing. I read books all the time and love their stories. My own fantasies became so vivid I couldn't help myself and began composing all manner of stories for myself. I never treated it seriously and everything got filed away and later disposed of, but some I remember to this day and now I'm spending a little time revisiting them and even writing them afresh. I'm terribly unwell now, so writing is an opportunity to not have to worry about the mundane and pedestrian, to swoop and soar and feel alive again. That's joy for me.
What are you working on next?
I have a rather epic historical drama in the works, a new sci-fi for youngsters mapped out and if one book I have in the works is successful, maybe a sequel or two there. When I'm not writing, I paint, draw, sculpt and carve. I am seldom idle!
Who are your favorite authors?
How much space is there with this thing? LOL!
I have broad tastes. I can get a kick out of reading Dickens one day and John Fowles the next. HG Wells, Isaac Asimov, Tolkien, Eddings, PK Dick, Pliny the Elder, Homer, Giovanni Boccaccio, Cicero, Eco, Heinlein, OS Card, JD Salinger, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou, Yeats, Robbie Burns, Byron, Shelley, Rupert Brooke, Mark Twain, Orwell, Shakespeare, JK Rowling, Jane Austen, FS Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Woolf, Kafka, Nietzsche, Bronte, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pratchett, Adams, GB Shaw, AC Doyle, Hemingway ... aargh ... and so many others...
In my youth it was Dr Seuss, HG Wells, Homer, AC Clarke, ER Burroughs, Enid Blyton, Dahl, Brothers Grimm, HC Anderson and many others I can't remember now.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Other than my bladder ... the prospect of creating something new, whether that means words or art. As I live in Sydney, I'm also intrigued to see what happened in the rest of the world while I slept, including whether or not I sold any of my writing or art I have available online.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, drawing, painting, reading, sculpting, carving, reading, eating or sleeping. It's very straightforward. As I have Social Anxiety Disorder, I'm actually not one for leaving the house, which eliminates all the worry of going out anywhere. Sometimes it's very frustrating, so I use my creativity partly as a way to deal with that. I also have Aspergers, which can be a challenge to live with, but I harness the OCD part of that to concentrate on what I'm doing to the point where I can crank out a novel in a few weeks rather than months or years. Trouble is I then take months to write the next one! LOL! I also spend time in the garden of the house I live in, which is very lovely and therapeutic. The wild birds are a delight and just being around nature brings gladness and joy like nothing else.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do! It's long gone, but I vividly recall a story about a diver exploring the wonders of a coral reef. He encounters a family of fish who are startled by his presence, and he quickly comes to realise they might be mere fish, but they still love and care for each other a great deal, and he should be mindful as a guest in their environment. I wrote that when I was about nine or ten.
What is your writing process?
I'm actually quite methodical. I'll map out the story arcs, twists and turns, beginning, middle and end, and simultaneously map out character arcs, and how the two affect each other. From there it's an exercise in fleshing out the characters and their personalities, idiosyncracies, relationships with other characters and even their relation with real life people I've encountered over the years (I didn't always have Social Anxiety Disorder). From there it's colouring in. My first published novel "Terror in the Ranks" was an exception. I kept in my head the big-picture stuff, but for the most part it was a seat-of-the-pants joyride for me.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I think there were numerous stories I encountered that affected me, but the first that stayed with me was HG Wells "Time Machine", which I first encountered aged 8. To this day I remain deeply connected to that story, and deeply dissatisfied with its Hollywood treatment. The fact it was written and set at the end of the 19th century gave me - the reader - a time-travelling glimpse into another era, and then racing off to another time entirely was a marvellous introduction to other places and times entirely. After that I went to read Homer's Odyssey, which affected me even more, igniting a passion for history and the peoples of other times and places. It opened my mind to the idea of alternative perspectives, too. Very formative.
How do you approach cover design?
Being an artist, I have the advantage of being able to design and execute my own covers. I'm very much across the basics of graphic design, the language of colour and composition, the psychology of structure. There are so many options these days for authors to get covers done, including very inexpensive DIY covers, but I'd like to think my own designs provide a uniqueness that guarantees cut-through.
Describe your desk
A simple melamine-clad plank of chipboard resting on two 40 year old Ikea cabinets. There's a simple desk lamp, a small battery-powered radio, the laptop I use to write on, a stack of empty picture frames, a pile of books (top of the pile is Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird"), an Epson printer, pens, a pile of random papers (bills, sketches, test prints of art I have done, a recipe for chocolate pudding which I can't eat as I'm diabetic), and two magnifying glasses. Admittedly a tad random.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Terror in the Ranks" was actually based on a short I wrote as a reaction to a terrorist attack in France. Actually, it's all too easy to label it a "terorist" attack, when in reality it was a psychopath who'd been enabled by an excuse of religious conflict. If it were a true religious conflict, it would have been an attack on a religious institution (such as the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center cathedrals of commerce in New York), not a bunch of innocent bystanders celebrating a national holiday in a seaside town. I happen to like France a very great deal, and enjoyed my time there. Attacking the place just rang so wrong that it upset me more than I was prepared to accept. Not being able to do anything practical, my next step was to write, but rather than write about France, I chose to write about something closer to home. I think a lot of people forget terrorism isn't the exclusive domain of Islamic extremists, and it's important to look closely all around, especially at the monster within. From there I built an elaborate conspiratorial framework which is as absurd as any James Bond novel, but instead of some impossibly capable front-man like James Bond, I gave it a seriously flawed hero, foul mouthed, physically damaged, always tired and cranky, but nevertheless passionate and doggedly determined. It's a story of contrasts, and also unusually it's set in Australia, a country where I might live, but also a country capable of far more than a lot of other countries might reckon. Besides, James Bond has never made it here ;)
Published 2016-10-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Terror in the Ranks
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 81,650. Language: Australian English. Published: October 18, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
A “rollicking good”, “gripping, hectic roller-coaster” and “frenetic” thriller delving into a murky world of intrigue and suspense, as a senior agent of the Australian Federal Police uncovers a chilling conspiracy of political corruption and terrorism preparing to be unleashed upon the world.