Campbell Interview: Mur Lafferty

Welcome to the second of my interviews with this year’s finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. You can read them all by clicking the Campbell Award tag. For now, meet Mur Lafferty: author, podcaster, and owner of a very cool hat.

1) In exactly 25 words, who is Mur Lafferty?

Photo by JR BlackwellA carbon-based life form, podcaster, editor, and writer (obviously). I like martial arts, gin, and dogs. Contrary to popular belief, I do own dresses.

2) Tell us about the kind of fiction you write, and where we can find some of it.

All of my fiction can be found linked at – I wrote superhero satire (Playing For Keeps, Swarm, 2008), afterlife adventures – aka Bangsian Fantasy – (The Afterlife Series), lunar gladiatorial adventures (Marco and the Red Granny, Hub, 2010), and zombie audio dramas (The Takeover). I also write for scripts for others (The Leviathan Chronicles, audio, and Nanovor, animation scripts), have a history of writing for role-playing games, and have a love of writing Christmas short stories. I have a book (title TBA) coming out in 2013 from Orbit concerning a woman working on a travel book for monsters.

ETA: Shortly after this interview went live, Mur announced that she would be giving her fiction away for free for the next two months. Details are here.

3) What has been the best moment of your writing career thus far? (And if you’re comfortable sharing, what was the worst?)

Gosh. One best moment? Campbell nomination? The phone call from Orbit? Those two tie, I think.

Worst moment was coming to terms that my afterlife series, which is by far my listeners’ favorite of my work, would not find a home with a publisher, and I’d have to be content with it living in audio and epub.

4) If you had to incorporate that wonderful red hat into a superhero costume, what would your superhero name and powers be?

OMEGA MUR – a mild-mannered woman who, upon imbibing caffeine, loses all fear and gains super strength and rage. A child of Daredevil and the Hulk, if those two wacky kids would ever get together.

5) As a writer, where would you like to be in ten years?

One thing I’ve discovered is a love of writing for many different media. I’d love to be writing books, but also scripts for web series, and still putting out original, episodic podcast fiction. Of course, being a best-seller, Hugo-winner, and “making enough money to live off of” are nice goals too.

6) You run or work with several different podcasting sites (Escape Pod, I Should Be Writing, Princess Scientist’s Book Club, and the Angry Robot Books Podcast), and have podcast at least one of your novels as well. What is it that draws you to podcasting?

I was drawn to podcasting in the beginning, 2004, when it was a new medium – that excited me. I wanted to play with all the new ways of storytelling. I didn’t need NPR to publish essays, I didn’t need the BBC or a US radio station to do an audio drama, and I didn’t need a publisher to make an audiobook. I was able to build an audience for my work well before I got a book deal. Podcasting has been instrumental for building my career, when I never expected it to.

7) For anyone who might want to get into podcasting, what resources would you recommend, and what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about doing a successful podcast?

Microphone: Start small. A  $20 mic from the store will do just fine.

Software: Windows – Audacity is free. Mac – Garageband is free. (Aside – Audacity is also available for the Mac, but crashed a lot for me, so I got Amadeus Pro, which is quite affordable and much like a stable Audacity.)

Host: – The first podcast host, designed to handle the greater demands of large audio and video files.

Other resources: Tricks of the Podcasting Masters, by Lafferty/Walch (Come on, I had to!), Podcasting for Dummies, by Morris/Terra

Advice: Interact with your listeners. Give them a place to contact/follow you and respond to them; when your voice is in peoples’ ears, it creates an intimacy not found in providing text.