Centre Stage - Chrysalis
Hi there, and welcome back to the blog.
I must start this week by apologising to everyone for being absent for the last number of weeks. March was a crazy month, and if I started to go into it, we would be here all day. (However, if you would like to hear about it, you could sign up for my newsletter and get amongst the inner circle!) Suffice to say, I apologise and will do a much better job of showing up here regularly and consistently.
This is the next edition of Centre Stage, where this month I was lucky enough to have a chat with Harrison Murphy, who talks to me today about his latest release Chrysalis which is available now.
Check out the article below, and I’ll leave a link at the end to purchase the book if you like it.
Q1. Tell us about yourself and your current book?
I’m a civil servant from Lanarkshire, Scotland. I live with my partner and my cat. My debut novel, Chrysalis, is the first in a series of near-future thrillers which will explore the societal implications of a mind-altering implant called a ‘chrysalis’. Although readers may feel like the technology is a long way away from being developed, given the rapid change we’ve seen since I was born, I’m not ruling anything out.
Q2. How long, on average, did it take you to write this book?
I came up with the idea and started writing it in October 2020. It was a good way of passing time during the winter lockdown. It was pretty much finished (editing aside) by late 2021.
Q3. What surprised you the most about writing your book?
It surprised me that I wrote a book, full stop. I disliked English at school, never had any aspirations to be an author and never even read for enjoyment until after I started writing.
Q4. Was the main character inspired by a real person?
As many of characters are either politicians or political journalists, a lot of the plot lines bear some resemblance to real world events, or if they don’t they’re handled in the way that I suspect they would be by our current crop of politicians.
Q5. Which character in your upcoming book do you relate to the most?
This is difficult as all the main characters annoy me in their own way. I actually value the antagonist’s objectives despite disagreeing with his means. The question is could he achieve what he does by the end of the book in any other way? And does that make it okay in a utilitarian sense? I hope to garner some responses from my readers on that question.
Q6. How do you select the names of your characters?
I tend to scour Facebook randomly and create a bank of forenames and surnames that I like the sound of. When I bring a new character into proceedings, I consult that list and put two of the names together. Although there is a character called Ginley Sprott and his name just came to me organically as I was writing his scenes. I can’t explain where that came from.
Q7. How would you describe your ideal reader for this book?
Someone who likes contemplating potential technological advances, how they ought to be used, how they will actually be used and what that says about us - both as a society and a species.
Q8. What can readers expect from your book when they purchase it?
Not just to be entertained, but also be made to think. I like books that stay with me for a while afterwards and I wanted to replicate that feeling with Chrysalis.
Q9. What inspired you to write this book?
I’m one of these people who doesn’t just like to be a consumer, I like to create. When I was a child, I had toy wrestling figures, but rather than just have them knocking lumps out of each other like most kids would, I used them as people in a fictional society, used BB gun pellets as currency and recreated the entire world in a way that I thought was better than the one I inhabited. I get bored with football in real life sometimes, so I have my own football league in an Excel sheet. There’s a system for playing the matches mathematically, as well as a sheet with a transfer market. I do have other uses for those names I glean from Facebook.
I think my interest in storytelling stemmed from the same place; from watching TV, reading novels and thinking about what I would have done differently with them. I think when I considered what I wanted to write about; it’s really a culmination of my interests, in future tech, in politics, in how people interact and how they’re constrained by existing institutions.
The crux of the message that I want to get out throughout the series is my belief that climate change isn’t what will end us as a species, it’s technology and our strive towards perfection – eroding the very base of what makes us human; being imperfect.
Q10. What did you learn when writing the book?
Firstly, that I was good at it. I never set out with the intention of writing a novel as there was no plan. I just wrote a couple of scenes that involved the chrysalis and its effects, realised that one of them exceeded 4000 words and thought ‘this could be a full length novel’
In addition to that, it’s really been a crash course in the conventions of writing a novel.
Q11. Who are your writing friends that inspire you and how do you keep each other motivated?
I have a bunch of writing friends that I’ve made along the way, both people who started out as beta readers and some who follow me on Twitter. Everyone is very supportive and not simply out for their own ends, which is refreshing.
Q12. What is your writing Kryptonite?
It has to be writing romance scenes. It would be describing setting if I actually decided to do it. I tend to like reading plot driven novels, not the ones that take two pages to describe a room. As I wrote the book I’d ideally like to read, I didn’t care too much for describing setting. Sadly, there’s no such way of escaping having to create romance scenes. Somebody always ends up falling in love, don’t they?
Q13. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
It’s a cliché, but telling instead of showing. This was a problem for me in my early drafts and I feel like it’s particularly pertinent to writing speculative fiction. There’s a tendency to feel like you’re actually in the future reporting back to the present day on something new, rather than conveying this through character interaction. I made this problem more difficult for myself by making two of the main characters journalists.
Finally, what is your favourite word and why?
Egregious – a word which means remarkably bad, but used to mean remarkably good. I’d argue that it still means both, especially in politics. One group’s pariah is another’s paragon.
Chrysalis is available for purchase now. I will include a link to check out the book below if you are interested in picking up a copy for yourself.
That’s it for this week. I just want to say a huge thank you for taking the time to read this article, with special thanks to Harrison for a fantastic interview. I hope you all liked it, and I would recommend picking up a copy of Chrysalis if you are interested.
Finally, I hope you enjoyed the fifth post in this series, and I hope to continue this series as usual on the first Friday of every month. If you would like to follow Harrison on social media, you can do so on Twitter at @harrisonmurph1.
Purchase Chrysalis on Amazon - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09RNBM6MV
Until next time.