Hi Margaret, I am very happy to interview you on my author’s blog. Please tell us how your mystery novel, Sundagger.net is unique? By the way I love the title!
In Sundagger.net, the mystery exists in another dimension. I started out with the idea that sometimes it takes more than one lifetime. It’s sort of like reincarnation without the usual definition of karma.
Tragic events in one family from the past have a chance to be redeemed in the present In Sundagger.net.
The old story takes place in the 12th century when the pre-puebloan people populated the Four Corners area (The Navajo named these natives “Anasazi” or “enemy ancestors”). The new story takes place in Silicon Valley, post 9/11.
The title obviously refers to an internet address but also to an actual event that takes place in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. At solstices and equinoxes, sunlight in the shape of a dagger pierces a spiral petroglyph carved at the top of a butte. This phenomena shows how connected the Anasazi were to the sun and the heavens. Likewise, we in hi-tech California have our own sun daggers, connecting via the internet and other electronic networks.
I see you have a fantastic YouTube video.
Yes, my video Stones of Chaco Canyon can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/embed/8oWkf2t6T_o
The cover design is beautiful, how did that come about?
I knew I had to have an image of Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon where the sun dagger was first observed and I tried to get permission to use several photos from the internet. When that didn’t work out, I had different friends who were visiting Chaco Canyon take photos. Amy Kuettner took the photo I used. My cover designer, Forge Toro, took Amy’s photo and digitally merged it with other story images, using a layout that had elements of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries. So you see, the process took a few years!
I know you self-published Sundagger. Who did you use and what did you like and not like about them?
I began my own small publishing press, WriteWords Press, mostly with the help of BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association), or by talking to other writers. First I had to decide to actually self-publish, rather than hoping to go the traditional publishing route. I’d been submitting my novels for decades to publishers and agents and I had a New York agent in the ‘70s who became famous. But nothing happened. There’s lots not to like in that scenario! What I learned at BAIPA was to take responsibility for my book, rather than hope (or despair as the case might be) that someone else will.
I stayed away from book publishing services, because I wanted to keep all the rights. I didn’t want them to hold the ISBN number or have control. Plus I didn’t really see that they were publishing superior books. I wanted my book to be beautiful, inside and out.
I found that most book professionals in the Bay Area show up at a BAIPA meeting sooner or later. For example, my book designer for Sundagger. net was Desta Garrett, who I found through BAIPA. My cover designer, Forge Toro, I also recruited through BAIPA.
It turned out that all my years as a tech writer helped me in the long run. My advice is to take your time and ask questions till you are satisfied.
Great advice! Do you have plans for another novel?
In 2011, WriteWords Press is going to bring out two more books, one of which is mine, a very different type of novel from Sundagger.net, called Dreamers.
What is this novel about?
Dreamers is an interracial-romance of the ‘60s, set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York. With Dreamers, I am doing my own interior book design. The cover design is being done by Charr Crail.
This sounds like a very interesting read!
Tell us about your teaching experience and receiving an arts scholarship and National Endowment grant.
I’ve been teaching for ages—I had an idea at 21, right out of college, that I could support myself as a writer by teaching, something many writers do. But that didn’t really work out too well and I went into tech writing to make a living. However I did continue to teach—most recently, I taught English Composition at Carrington College, Antioch, Ca. I love to teach writing and English literature.
The writing grants were gifts from the universe that I carelessly made use of! Seriously, I applied and received them when I was much younger and expected instant success as a novelist because I could imagine it in my mind. At the time I thought they fell from heaven as easily as rain. Now I know better.
Yes, our youth is fascinating to look back on that’s for sure! You sell your book packaged with a CD your son produced. That is a great idea. Tell us about this.
I feel like the luckiest mom in the world to have the opportunity to sell my novel with my oldest son’s CD of original piano music. Chris is the one who came up with the book-CD bundle idea. He is a trained classical pianist who became a rap artist and popular piano composer.
I used Chris’ “Winter Glass" from Waterfall, original piano music by Chris Goslow, in Stones of Chaco Canyon. It’s amazing how magical the combination of the book and music can be. After all, Sundagger.net is a story of magic realism. People fly. Coyotes lead. Visions erupt.
Even as a small boy, Chris always supported me as a novelist, urging me to publish Sundagger.net by insisting, “I don’t want to have a mother who is a failed novelist!”
As a mother, I love hearing that your son said this to you!
And now I feel like I've got to mention my younger son, Jonas Goslow's, great effort on my behalf too--he designed my entire Sundagger.net website.
Margaret Murray and Chris Goslow at California State Fair
I love your website! Everyone can see it here: http://sundagger.net
Many authors read this blog. Please give us the details about all the writer's organizations you belong to.
I’ve mentioned BAIPA. I also belong to a writing group, the Rich & Famous Writers, that has sustained me over many years. In fact, I dedicated Sundagger.net to the group. I belonged to the National Writers Union for a decade and now am a board member of BAIPA. Then there’s all the burgeoning online writers groups! If I had more time, I’d belong to more writers’ groups.
Over the years I’ve showed up at various different writers’ groups. I spent a winter on Cape Cod at the Provincetown Fine Arts writers’ colony and a summer at the Squaw Valley Screenwriters Conference. I always enjoy talking about writing and books at all the events I have. A few weeks ago I had a “Meet and Greet” event at Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol and really felt inspired by the fascinating people I spoke with. I love hanging out with book lovers and writers; I feel as if together we celebrate the power of words and their caretakers, we authors of stories. It’s like we’re tapping into an open, yet secret, sacred treasure. Book lovers rock!
Thank you Margaret Murray for your inspiring interview!
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