Canadian author Luke Murphy is my guest on Moving Target today. Luke’s debut thriller, Dead Man’s Hand, was released earlier this month by Imajin Books. It’s set in the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas, and centers around Calvin Watters, at one time a rising football star and now a debt collector intent on socking away enough money to begin a new life. When more bad luck hits Calvin…well, why don’t read Luke’s novel find out for yourself? Dead Man’s Hand is available on Amazon.
Luke said he’d discuss why he started writing fiction and how he got published.
Here’s a little about my road to publication:
It can almost be said with certainty that I didn’t follow the path of the average writer. As a child, I never dreamed of writing a bestseller, never aspired to write the next classic novel, I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period. That didn’t quite turn out as I’d hoped.
I was born in a small rural community in Western Quebec. Like every boy growing up in Canada, I aspired to be an NHL superstar.
With the death of my mother in 1992, losing a battle to cancer she had fought so hard against for years, I sensed it was time to get serious about reaching my dreams, and moved away to pursue hockey.
From 1992-1995, while playing for the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the Central Hockey League, I noticed a shift in the game of hockey and realized that the odds of making it to the National Hockey League were unfavorable for a kid who stood 5’9’’ and weighed 160 pounds. So, my goals shifted. I accepted a hockey scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology. If I couldn’t make a living playing hockey, at least I could achieve an education and open doors for my future.
After four rewarding years at College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, I wasn’t ready to give up on the game I loved. I’d been told my whole life that I was too small, not a good enough skater, and I didn’t have what it took to make it.
The summer after graduation, I received an invitation to the Florida Panthers Rookie Camp – I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. I trained hard during the summer, on and off the ice, and showed up for camp in the best shape of my life. I had a successful camp, scoring the game winning goal against the Ottawa Senators. Unfortunately, I broke my hand in an awkward hit in my fourth game that ended my camp, but my hard work paid off. The Panthers offered me a Minor League contract, $500 a week to play the game I loved. I spent six years in the minors, and retired in 2006 with no regrets.
I come from a family of avid readers, and even as a child, I always had a passion for books. Whether it was reading novels on road trips or writing assignments in school, literature was always part of my life.
In the winter of 2000, after a season-ending eye injury, I had a lot of time on my hands. Some of my favourite authors at the time were Greg Iles, Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. I loved suspense/thriller books, movies and everything about the genres. I realized that I wanted to be like these authors — entertain readers and allow them to escape reality and enter another place and time. One day, with an idea in mind, I sat down in front of a computer and began writing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and, before I knew it, I had completed my first manuscript.
I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. Ever the perfectionist, I didn’t see my novel at the level to compete with bestselling authors. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work and family obligations.
Then I made a decision – I enjoyed writing so much as a hobby, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of getting it published and making it available for friends, family, and readers around the world to enjoy.
I`ve never been one to take things lightly or jump in half-way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the internet, reading up on the industry and the writing process. I attended writing conferences, made friends with published and unpublished authors, bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.
When I felt I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, I started to write Dead Man’s Hand with an idea in my mind and an outline on paper. It took me two years (working around full-time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.
I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing everything I could to improve my writing and my novel.
I sent out hundreds of query letters to agents. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, my years of hard work finally paid off. I was offered representation by Jennifer Lyons of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.
After months of work with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April 2012 when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books.
Now I’m living my dream. Doing something I love, and making a little bit of money doing it.
My one piece of advice for all aspiring writers…you need to be persistent, patient and thick-skinned. You`ll get a lot of “nos” along the way and meet people who’ll try to bring you down. But remember, it only takes one “yes.” Stick with it. Anything is possible.