Michael Murphy, author of Scorpion Bay

Tell us a little about your main characters in Scorpion Bay. Who was your favorite?

Handsome and popular newscaster, Parker Knight is a rising star at a Phoenix television station.  Just don’t call him “pretty boy.” His life is shattered in the opening chapter when his wife, a prosecuting attorney, is killed in a car bombing. When authorities seem unwilling or unable to pursue the most obvious lead, Parker uses his investigative newscaster skills and his background in the military Special Forces to go after the man he thinks is responsible for his wife’s murder. Parker is driven by the sudden loss of his wife. In spite of his quest for revenge, he vows not endanger the lives of his friends, but before his wife’s murder is solved, he learns he needs friends more than ever.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

This is an easy one; definitely Tina Banks. Author Alisha Paige recently mentioned during Academy Award time that if there were Oscars for literature, Tina would win best supporting actor in a novel. Tina “steals” every scene she’s in. She is the most interesting character in any of my seven novels, like an onion, she has many layers.

At the start of Scorpion Bay, the best friend Justin has a new girlfriend, Tina Banks. Tina enjoys being the center of attention is of the high maintenance category of girlfriend and prone to say and do the outrageous such as keeping a pet boa constrictor in her apartment. But Tina is also funny, gorgeous, and a deeply caring person, and Tina knows what she wants out of life. Parker and Justin would not have survived their numerous scrapes without Tina being there to help, especially at the end of the novel when their lives are in danger.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Since I write mystery/suspense novels, I’m always researching police procedures, and the latest in forensic medicine. I did so for Scorpion Bay, including taking an eleven week citizens police academy that allowed me to drive a police vehicle, shoot weapons officers use and see the inside of a jail, which fortunately I’d never seen before. My main character is Parker Knight, a Phoenix newscaster. A local television station was very generous in showing me how newscasts are made. I hope the authenticity shows through in Scorpion Bay.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I write mostly mystery/suspense novels, so it’s fast paced with twists that will surprise readers, but my style of writing includes splashes of humor. The writer who has influenced me the most is Nelson DeMille, a great writer of thrillers and suspense, yet there are always laugh out loud moments in his books. I strive to do the same and in Scorpion Bay a tale that deals with murder, revenge and a desperate quest for justice, I think I’ve found moments that will make my readers laugh. At least I hope so.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I’ve always been an avid reader. I read Gone with the Wind when I was nine, all 1,027 pages. Guess I was a geek even back then, but reading novels has always been important in my life. Writing them, especially the kind I enjoy the most, mystery/suspense with a touch of humor, seemed like a logical thing to do.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

Surprisingly, my audience consists of an equal number of women as well as men. The male audience likes the suspense, danger and humor, while women seem to enjoy the surprising touches of romance and tender interactions between characters that doesn’t always occur in mystery and suspense novels.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

I allow myself one Diet Rockstar per day whenever I write. And on days that I don’t write, I usually sneak one anyway. I think I’m addicted. 

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most important thing I’ve learned about novel writing, is how much rewriting is involved. Learning this has made writing easier. Now when I write a first draft, I don’t worry about the details. I focus on characters and plot. When I’ve completed the first draft, it’s like an artist sketching an outline on a canvas. I go back repeatedly and add color and depth to the manuscript.

I’ve also learned to give myself freedom to cultivate characters and relationships. Often I’ll find characters surprising me. This allows characters to grow and develop providing depth to characterization and scenes.  In nearly every novel, I’ve had one-scene characters become so likeable that they just have to spend more time on the page.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Unlike most mystery/suspense novels, mine are primarily character driven. In Scorpion Bay for example, not everyone would react to the death of their spouse the way Parker Knight does. His reaction and love for his wife drives the story.

In my opinion a good story has conflict throughout and characters the reader will care about. I don’t believe the story, what happens to the characters is nearly as important has how these events impact the character’s lives, how they’ve evolved and grown, or in some instances, how they’ve stuck to their principles and are not changed by events in the story. An example of this type of story would be the movie High Noon. 

What are you working on right now?

My current work in progress is a real departure for me. It’s a story about the Woodstock nation, as they are now and what it was like those three magical days in August of 1969. There’s plenty of humor and of course sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Hey, it was the sixties!

Click here to read the first chapter of: Scorpion Bay

Click here to read an excerpt of: Scorpion Bay

Click here to buy: Scorpion Bay

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