Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Featured Author Interview: Murray Pura

Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. 

For more than 25 years, in addition to his writing, he has pastored churches in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Alberta, and has traveled extensively throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

His novels include the Snapshots in History series, and The Danforths of Lancashire series.

The following is an April 2013 interview with Murray.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live by the Rocky Mountains. Pastored for over 20 years but write full-time now. Our kids are grown up and in university. My wife is a BN, RN and works in primary care. She tries to keep up with my published books but so far is about  three behind.

How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write?

I always wanted to write and began producing stories when I was 8 or 9. Writing them for my mom. Had my first story accepted by a magazine when I was 14 and it was published when I was 16. So the writing was always there. It really was unstoppable. I had to write. It was like a fire in my bones. Still is.

What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?

That it brings in spirituality and the supernatural in a very down-to-earth daily-life kind of way. People are going to work, raising their families, struggling with their finances and they are praying about everything and seeking God’s will day in and day out. And meeting him in their daily lives too. I like that ordinary extraordinariness.

How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?

Entertained. Motivated. Moved. Challenged. Inspired. Encouraged. Blessed. Grateful. Seeing themselves and the world and God in new ways.


What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?

People have become so emotionally involved they’ve cried through a book. Or read it through the night until they’ve finished it. Or never wanted the story to end. Or loved a book so much they literally thanked God for it and wrote me long emails. Such responses humble me, affirm my calling as a writer, and motivate me not only to write more and more but to write better and better.

How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

I was already writing a lot before I became a Christian at thirteen. I simply turned it over to him. At first my Christian stories were like sermons, something a zealous convert is likely to do with his or her pen. God himself showed me the stories in his Word and the stories of all sorts of Christian writers. I realized stories didn’t need to be sermons to convey truth, they simply needed to be good stories, stories as good as I could make them. So I felt guided into being a storyteller made in the image of God just as I was also a human being made in the image of God.

Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life?
I used to do professional acting in my 20s and I wouldn’t mind doing some of that again. I’d also like to write more devotionals and books on theology. I have two Masters degrees so doing a bit of teaching on the side would be nice as well. I’d love to be writer-in-residence at a school, or several different schools, one year here, two years there. I think I’d enjoy working with students who wanted to be writers for God. I think I could inspire them and motivate them to go for it and be the best authors they could be for God, God’s people, and the entire human race.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love hikes and wilderness camping. I love to use my home gym – it has quite a bit of equipment. I am learning acoustic guitar. Despite all the writing and research I do, I still like to read recreationally in every sort of genre, fiction and nonfiction. My musical tastes run along the same lines, very eclectic, and I thoroughly enjoy my extensive CD collection. I like reading the Bible in Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin and have the books and tools that help me do that.

What can you tell us about your latest novels?

Ashton Park came out in January and it’s the first in a series of three novels set in Lancashire, England. We follow a family from 1916 to 1923 in the first book, all their trials and tribulations, their loves and their heartbreaks, their relationships with one another and with God. It’s been well received.

Whispers of a New Dawn just came out on April 1st and RT Reviews gave it a top rating. It’s the sequel to The Wings of Morning, a popular novel, and it’s the same characters twenty years later, when America is on the brink of getting swept into the Second World War. The characters are Amish American so the prospect of getting entangled in a world war is a great concern for them.

I should also mention I do a lot of eBook serializations and two of them are just winding up this April – The Rose of Lancaster County, set in 1730 in Colonial America, and A Road Called Love, a contemporary romance and adventure. Both will now be sold as complete eBooks and, after sixty days, will also come out in paperback.

The Wings of Morning (Snapshots in History #1)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]

The Face of Heaven (Snapshots in History #2)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]

Whispers of a New Dawn (Snapshots in History #3)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com]

What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?
Look for the second novel in the series that began with Ashton Park. It is entitled Beneath the Dover Sky and follows the twists and turns of the Danforth family from 1924 to 1933.

In September my first Christmas novella, An Amish Family Christmas, will be released. It tells the story of a young man with Amish roots returning home from a combat tour in Afghanistan where he served as a medic. But because of his military service his family doesn’t welcome him back.

I’m currently writing and publishing two ongoing eBook serializations. One is called The Painted Sky and takes place in 1866 in the New Mexico Territory. The other is entitled Seven Oaks and is set in 1861 on a Virginia plantation.

I’m also directing an American Civil War series called Cry of Freedom. There are about fifteen authors involved in the series and new stories will be released as eBooks every two weeks. The first is already out and has been well received. Cry of Freedom runs from April to November at which time it will be available as a complete eBook collection as well as in paperback. My story in the series, The Last Waltz, comes out April 15th.

Ashton Park (The Danforths of Lancashire #1)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]

Beneath the Dover Sky (The Danforths of Lancashire #2)
[Pre-Order:  Amazon.com]

An Amish Family Christmas
[Pre-Order:  Amazon.com]

What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?

I’ve traveled a lot in the UK and Europe and Asia but still haven’t reached New Zealand or Australia. I’d love to do that some day. One of my goals is to write stories based on my experiences in other nations and cultures and I hope to produce the first of those stories and novels in 2014. I should say to the New Zealanders that your country was the first to reprint a number of my short stories in the 90s and early 21st century, long before I was picked up by any well known publishers, and your people gave me a lot of encouragement and affirmation. New Zealand will always hold a warm spot in my heart because of that.

Do you have any parting words?

One of my favorite books is The Old Man and the Sea. So let me leave you with a quote from Ernest Hemingway. What he describes is what I aspire to. Cheers and God bless.

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”

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