Daniel Pagan Murphy is the author of “The Four” series and Luna Reyes and the Emperor of Light, as well as the upcoming Luna Reyes and the Lands Beyond. He was born in the Mediterranean coast of Spain to a Spanish father and English mother. He is an elementary school teacher and has been living in Taiwan for 12 years. In his free time, Daniel enjoys traveling, playing games, cooking, and daydreaming.
Genre: Middle Grade/YA Fantasy.
Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Luna Reyes and the Lands Beyond. It is the second instalment in the series. There were many inspirations behind it, but I really wanted to let my love for classic adventure stories shine through. I also have a deep love of pirates so that was something I definitely wanted to weave in. As an overarching theme, Luna Reyes and the Lands Beyond continues to tackle big problems such as xenophobia and the issues with monarchy as a form of government, whilst still keeping things fun and light-hearted by featuring many lesser-known fantasy creatures. On a more personal level, my own childhood and my experiences growing up as a mixed kid were some of the things that inspired me and that I drew from when writing this book.
Q2: What advice would you give to help others create plotlines?
I am a pantser, so for me what works best is to just sit down and write. I love thinking of ways to self-reference earlier parts of the story, and for me that’s what makes world-building fun! The problem with this method is that it does involve a lot of backtracking and double-checking to make sure the continuity is there, but that’s just the way I write. I couldn’t see myself planning out an entire story first. My advice would be to just follow where your story takes you and trust your instincts!
Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?
I am a big fan of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman. I particularly admire the way all three of them can so seamlessly craft stories that can resonate with both adults and children on different levels, and that’s something I strive towards in my books.
Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
Very eclectic. I try to write 1000 words a day, or even 2000 when I am trying to finish the first draft of a manuscript in a rush. Inevitably though, life gets in the way, or inspiration fails to come. I feel best when I hit that 1000 words mark, but I’m happy with anything over 500. It takes me around four months to complete a book.
Q5: Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?
Both, depending on how inspired I am that day. Sometimes the words just flow and I feel elated and can’t wait to keep going. Other times, it’s a slog. I do feel a lot of satisfaction when I’m done, though, no matter how hard it is.
Q6: What is the best writing advice you have ever heard?
Just write. No, seriously. One of the biggest barriers to writing is the fear of the blank page/screen. I still struggle with it sometimes, but I find that writing anything at all often opens up the dams and that those fears are unfounded.
Q7: How do you come up with character names for your stories?
It really depends, although I tend to borrow from real people in my life when I can. I try to give the characters names that mean something. My book series The Four features the horsemen of the apocalypse reincarnated in the bodies of teenagers, and their names reflect who they are: Marcus Lerouge (Marcus means warrior and Lerouge means “the red”, so he is the red horseman, War), Dorian Moors (Dorian is a reference to The Picture of Dorian Gray, a character who famously cheats death, Moors sounds like the latin word for death, mors, so Dorian is Death), etc. I’m a language nerd, so I love to find these little connections that can hopefully act as easter eggs for readers.
Q8: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?
Write as much as you can. Write reviews, cards, books, and anything really. I find what really helps my writing is to remember to empty my thoughts now and then. We live so addicted to stimulation that we forget that the best ideas come when we just let go. I’ve found that just letting my mind wander as I walk to work instead of focusing on my phone works wonders for coming up with ideas.
Q9: What are you working on now?
Q10: What are you currently reading?
I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I’m going to start on The Time Machine and American Pastoral soon, very excited for both of them!To find out more about Daniel Pagan Murphy, check out the links below:
Amazon Author Page