Interview with Laura Murray

Describe your desk
My desk?! Wow. OK. First of all, I have many desks. My actual desk only has my computer on it some of the time and is located in an office. It always has bills, cards, magazines, taxes, etc on it and looks a mess. But I know where everything is! I do periodically clean it up but it never stays that way. That is my "official" desk.

My computer is currently on a folding table in my living room. It is covered in research, books, papers, pens, and empty soft drink containers. I homeschool, so I need to be out where my children are. When I'm not working on a book, or when things are not crazy at my house, the computer goes on my desk and the folding table gets put away.

I also have a laptop. Thankfully all of my devices are linked. So I can access my writing no matter where I am. So, my desk is constantly moving! Sometimes I am writing in the car (not while driving), on my couch, in my bed, at a restaurant, or anywhere I need to be. My family is constantly on the move and our activities keep us busy. So my ability to write has to adapt to the craziness of my life!

All in all, my desk moves and is located all over the place. No matter where it is located or on what it is located, there are always research papers, pens, books, electronic devices (iPads, phones, etc) and all sorts of other things. It may not be the most organized method, but it is the only way I can balance writing, authorship, being a homeschool mom, being a wife, volunteering and advocacy.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy, for me, is seeing people appreciate my work. I have been writing for a long time (for the government and businesses). My specialty is in analysis. So it is always so rewarding to see that my writing has helped someone understand an issue.

I also take a lot of time and effort to make sure that my conclusions are sound and are based on good data/information. That can be very difficult at times. Sometimes, the best is sketchy. But I work as hard as I can to have a good foundation (as best as it can be), in order to have the best analysis. I want others to be able to use my work for whatever they are doing and for them to trust that my work is dependable. Whether it is advocacy, politics, food questions, or something off the wall, I always want what I do to help someone else. When I achieve this, I feel great!
What do you read for pleasure?
Wow. This is a difficult one! Well, I tend to vacillate. I am always reading up on current events, terrorism, Christian persecution, and, of course, the Bible. I love to interject other things into that reading to liven things up! It may be a book on hobbies (such as gardening, photography, crochet, or whatever else I have a sudden interest in!). Many times, I throw in books on Bible related topics such as angels, End Times, analysis of specific books in the Bible, Bible characters, parenting, and such. Sometimes, I just see something on tv (usually on the History Channel) and all of a sudden I'm researching something I've never heard of. I love to read in order to learn. So most of my reading comes from a question that popped up in my head. Being so analytically minded, I tend to not want the answer from someone. I want to read all sides of the issue and come to my own conclusion.

I do sometimes read for the purposes of experiencing emotion. During these times, I want to leave earth so-to-speak! I want to be whisked away on a pirate adventure or taken to some fantastical land with flying dragons! When I am not reading to learn, I very much want to be taken on a journey. I use to read romance (the kind that weren't too racy!), The Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, books by Frank Peretti, mysteries of all sorts, detective stories... I'm open to a lot. But it has to catch me right away. I want to be so immersed in the story that I don't notice what is happening around me. Because I am now a mother, it is hard for me to make time to be lost to the world like that.
How do you approach cover design?
I am by no means an artist! So I must rely on others to create my cover design. However, I am very particular about what the cover conveys. For example, my cover for Nigerian Genocide. It conveys horror (but not too much), it shows the Christian aspect of the book, and it captivates both on the shelf and online. There is always a fine line between graphic and too graphic when dealing with these types of issues. I like to be right on that line!

Also, the title and by-line have to be spot on. They need to appeal to all kinds of readers. You will never appeal to everyone, but as many as possible need to be captured. Let's look at the words on the cover for Nigerian Genocide. The title itself is pretty self explanatory. I am writing about a genocide in Nigeria. The subtitle of "Christian Persecution in 2014" shows the reader that I believe Christians to be the victims of this genocide. The rest is a little more complex. The by-line is where you pull that reader in. The title made you look at the book, but the by-line makes you read it. "Emboldened tribes" makes the reader wonder "Why are they emboldened?" "Tribes in Nigeria? Are Christians in tribes?" This phrase brings in readers who may not know much about Nigeria, Christians, persecution, tribes, or anything of the sort. "Rising Islamic Caliphate" is a little complex. Many may not know what a caliphate is. But some do. This phrase catches those people. The ones that are familiar with caliphates, Islam, extremism, terrorism, persecution, genocide, and the like. "Disappearing Community" is self-evident, but it gives credence to the cover image. It makes that cover image come to life, in a way. It connects everything.

All in all, the cover for Nigerian Genocide pulls in readers that don't know anything about the subject. They see the book and become interested because of the graphics and the feeling the cover gives. It appeals to those that follow issues of terrorism, human rights, extremism and African issues. It garners interest from the Christian community who may not know of the persecution. The balance of technical wording and laymen wording allows the reader to see that this is not just for the data-driven or just for the story-chaser. It is for both.

A cover design is so important for a book. Not only does the author have to portray what their book is about, the author also has to pull in his/her readers. You may not judge a book based off of its cover, but if no one reads the book because of the cover, you have a problem!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up everywhere! My family moved a lot and that did not change when I left the house or when I married! I am always moving around, but I love it. It significantly influenced my writing by developing a mind that was able to see and appreciate the different things in life. It enabled me to be able to analyze things well, to see all kinds of different beauty, to see all kinds of atrocities, and more. I really grew up seeing the extremes (both good and bad) of life. It gave me the skills to look at things as they are, not as we want them. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
When did you first start writing?
I have always been writing. The type of writing that I do may have changed, but I have always been writing. I don't ever remember not reading and writing. In school, out of school, fact based, fictional stories, newsletters of my travels, email communications, letter writing campaigns, ... the list goes on. I think I've pretty much written in almost every capacity. What I do remember is that I should never write poetry! I am terrible at it and avoid it at all cost! Teachers spent hours with me trying to help me and it never caught on. I spend hours reading commentaries on poetry trying to understand it. For some reason, I am extremely lacking in this area! It is probably for the same reason that I cannot create my own book cover. That creative part of my brain just doesn't work!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
This is a pretty complicated question. I originally wanted to write children's curriculum for faith-based organizations. It wasn't long before I realized that Christian persecution was my passion (along with some other things!). There wasn't much out there on it, and what is out there was expensive. In addition, what was out there wasn't a detailed analysis. I wanted to take my skills in research, data, and analysis and apply it this issue. I wanted it to be available for decision makers, those that have a heart for the issue, advocacy groups and anyone interested. Through researching, I found that I could make my writing available to people at a very good price, and sometimes free. In addition, I could do things the way I wanted them done and get it done a LOT faster. Traditional publishing takes a while. What I want to write is time sensitive. Waiting six months just doesn't work.

All in all, it boils down to these things:
1) I can write what I want and get my message out.
2) I am not constricted by time. I can get my information out in a timely fashion so that it is available for organizations that need it.
3) I retain the rights to my work.
4) I can make my work affordable for people.

I am not against traditional publishing. In fact, I am still pursuing it for other ideas I have. However, being an indie author gives me a lot of freedom that I would not otherwise have. The decision is very much a factor of what I want to do with my work.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Earlier this year, Boko Haram made headlines with its kidnapping of 276 school girls. I was already familiar with this group through my previous work. However, while I was following the story, it came to my attention that no one seemed too concerned with the fact that over 90% of these girls Christian. This fact made me dig deeper.

As I dug deeper, I realized that Boko Haram was more than a terrorist group. It was actually trying to wipe out Christianity in Nigeria. I was floored. No one was reporting it like this. No one seemed to making the connection.

Soon after, ISIS came on the scene. There was no question in the media about what it was trying to do. I began to realize that the world may be missing out on what is really going on. So I started digging deeper.

It turns out that Christian persecution is more the norm than it is an exception. I was appalled. I felt a calling to bring this to light. But I wanted to do it in a certain way. I wanted to use hard data for the analysts in places like the government, I wanted to use stories so people could understand what data couldn't capture, I wanted the everyday person to be able to understand what was going on, and I wanted it to be affordable so people on the street to advocacy organizations to the government could get it.

In addition, I felt the need to create a one-stop-shop for this type of information. So many organizations only have their own sources to rely on. The media only follows high profile stories, missing out on many things that happen. Governments don't always get the correct information because they rely on other governments who may not have high ethical standards. This book is my start to doing this. As I have researched, and as this book has come together, I've found more issues than answers. But the process is getting better and better as more contacts are made and information is made more available. This book is a great start and has helped me create an even better template for next year's book. Hopefully I can get more coverage of more countries.
What are you working on next?
I am preparing to publish monthly reports on Christian persecution worldwide. The first will be January 2015. I will continue to work on full books for specific issues/countries, but I want to make monthly reports available.

I am also continuing my work on Nigeria. I will be publishing a follow on book in 2016 that covers 2015. I hope to add other books to this as well. So in addition to a Nigeria series, I would like to have a few other country series.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I spend my time with my family. I home school and enjoy going on learning field trips. I also love cooking and traveling; both of which I do with and for my family.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I happen to have an iPad. However, I have the Kindle app and a few others in order to read eBooks. I really have no preference as long as I can highlight and make notes. I think all readers allow you to do that, so I'm pretty happy with any of them. Like I said, I have an iPad which works great for me. It syncs with all my other Apple devices, so that's pretty cool.
Published 2014-12-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Nigerian Genocide: Christian Persecution 2014
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 36,570. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics and Current Affairs » Islamic militancy, Nonfiction » Politics and Current Affairs » Terrorism
As the world watches genocide in Iraq and Syria, another genocide is happening in Africa. The systematic annihilation of Christians is happening in Nigeria. Christians are being destroyed by acts of violence, intimidation, rape, kidnapping and murder. Both Boko Haram and the Fulani tribes have set their sights on ridding Nigeria of its Christians.