Mid-way through April, we spend time with author, Gary William Murning...
I currently have three novels available—If I Never (Legend Press, 2009), Children of the Resolution (2011) and The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts (GWM Publications, 2012)
The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts is very much about the driving need that we as individuals have to constantly strive for more. The driving force, I guess, behind cultural development, the building of civilisations and so on—but also, when given free rein, the possible architect of dissatisfaction and despair.
Hungry Ghosts are taken from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. They have huge cavernous stomachs and are constantly hungry. They also have, however, very small mouths (or thin necks, in some versions), so they can never consume enough, quickly enough, to satisfy their appetites.
Although I don’t use these specific ghosts in any literal sense, I liked that image.
And so I started playing with it, settling on a fairly suburban setting—a very ordinary family, a group of friends who, like said family, have problems of their own, and the discovery of an old diary buried in the back garden, a diary that belonged to a rather hedonistic occupant of the asylum that used to stand where the housing estate in the novel now stands.
It’s a pretty full on, disturbing novel. Lots going on, lots to think about, and it’s probably my most complete novel to date. To use the vernacular, they go on quite a “journey”.
For someone unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your writing?
Eclectic. I don't like writing the same novel over and over again. I tend to borrow genre motifs and play with them in ways that appeal to me—exploring the themes that such motifs can suggest and (I suppose this is true of all my work, the one common element) making character central. My overriding instinct as a writer is that as long as I can make my readers believe in my characters wholeheartedly they'll pretty much follow them anywhere.
What else do you have in the pipeline?
I've been playing around with a few ideas over the past couple of months. I have another couple of novels ready to go so there hasn't been any real pressure to rush. I think I have finally settled on one particular idea, however. A novel called Juniper Faraday—about a journalist researching/interviewing a woman who has murdered her husband for very unusual reasons.
What writers have had the most influence on your own writing?
Many writers have influenced me in many ways. In the early days, writers like Stephen King, Clive Barker, William Peter Blatty and Peter Straub made me want to be a writer. I learned from them, as well, of course, principally by, to begin with, trying to emulate them. I soon learned, however, that there were other literary directions I wanted to go in. I discovered writers like John Irving, Joseph Heller, Ken Kesey and a whole host of others and started trying other things. I loved horror (and still do) but quickly realised I couldn't write it in the genre exclusively. There were other stories I had/have to tell.
What was the last thing you read?
To the End of the Land by the Israeli writer David Grossman.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
To those who've already bought my work, thank you. To those who might buy my work in the future, thank you and I hope you enjoy it. To those who say they will never buy my work…