with Mark Murphy
We are delighted to welcome novelist Mark Murphy to Omnimystery News.
Mark's debut thriller is The Shadow Man (Langdon Street Press, July 2012 trade paperback and ebook formats), and he is on tour this month with Tribute Books; we encourage you to check out his schedule and visit all the host sites, where you can find interviews, reviews, and have the opportunity to win a copy of the book from participating sites.
Today Mark introduces himself to our readers, and answers a few questions about The Shadow Man. For a chance to win a copy of the book, see the entry details at the bottom of this post.
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I'm a gastroenterologist. That's my day job, and it's a busy one. But I have an alternative life as a writer. That alternative life is a reflection of what I see every day. It is seen in the beautiful and ancient city that I live in, filled with ghosts and intrigue, drawing its very lifeblood from the sea to its east and the marshland that gave the city its name. It is in the practice of medicine, a veritable parade of characters who waltz through my exam rooms every day. It is in the love of my wife and children—the driving forces behind everything that I do in my life. And it most certainly in my love of the written word—the subtle nuances of spoken diction, the deft use of description the place a reader in a certain contextual location—that makes me revel in what I do in my writing life.
Photo provided courtesy of
Those are the things I derive my writing from. I'm simply a reflection of what I have been given to describe.
And what a wonderful gift that is.
Please tell us about your new book.
My current release is a thriller called The Shadow Man. It is the story of a Savannah surgeon, Dr. Malcolm King, who is accused of being a serial killer. He suspects he is being framed for these crimes by another surgeon, but does not know who that person is. Dr. King must race to determine the identity of the killer before anyone else, including his family, can be harmed — and before the police capture Dr. King for these same crimes.
Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?
I've always been a writer. I edited my high school newspaper, winning several writing awards in the process, and actually enrolled in undergraduate school as a journalism major before switching to a pre-med track. As a clinician, I wrote several book chapters and medical journal articles, but it was the death of my wife's close friend Lisa Erickson that catalyzed a renewed interest on creative writing. I spent a couple of summers at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, wrote a short story about Lisa's death called The Funeral that saw publication in a short story collection in 2004, and began writing a regular column for the Savannah Morning News, my hometown newspaper, two years ago. A little over a year ago, my car was nearly struck by a dark-tinted black SUV my way home. I thought about honking at him, but deferred this gut response. The car just looked ominous. And then I thought, "What if you honked at a car like that and the driver was a psychopath who then hunted you down?" That was the initial premise for the novel—being targeted by a serial killer. The rest just took off from there.
The cover of your book is very dramatic. What can you tell us about it?
The cover of the book is a black-and-white nighttime photo of the Forsyth Park fountain, an iconic structure in my hometown of Savannah, which is the setting of the novel. It was taken by a local Savannah photographer named Tim Nealon. I found it online and obtained permission from Mr. Nealon to use it. It's a creepy, shadow-draped image, with Spanish moss draping the surrounding trees and a starry night sky overhead. You could almost see a killer lurking in the edges of the photograph, if you look hard enough. It's also an image that is instantly recognizable as Savannah to anyone who has ever visited our city. I thought it was beautiful and provocative, and the perfect image for the cover of this novel.
What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?
Marketing will be done through traditional print media (reviews via various media outlets, etc.), web-based media (social websites, blog tours, and my personal website) and personal appearances (book launch party, book signings, etc).
What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?
Probably the closest similar recent work was the John Hart novel called The Last Child, which won the Edgar Award a few years back. Hart's work is a well-written thriller set in the south with a twist-filled plot that kept me guessing the entire time I was reading it. I could not put that book down while I was reading it. That's the effect I was striving for with my book. However, I'm a big Stephen King fan — the protagonist's last name is a tip of the cap to him — and there are a few Stephen King touches in my story. Also, the Savannah setting is unique. In fact, I think Savannah is an integral part of the fabric of the story — a mysterious character woven throughout every facet of the story.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
In writing a novel, I outline the entire plot before I begin the first line of the work. I then flesh out that skeleton by writing a chapter or so every weekend until I am finished. Since I am a practicing physician, this requires a great deal of discipline. I'm up every Saturday and Sunday at 4 A.M. so that I can get in four or five writing hours each weekend day.
Open your book to a random page and tell us what's happening.
Page 43: Detective Sam Baker is interviewing Malcolm King about the murders, and — to his horror — it becomes clear to Malcolm that he is the prime suspect. Moreover, he realizes that Detective Baker has physical evidence linking him to the case — and enough physical evidence to convict him.
Is this the first of a series to feature these characters?
Yes, there will likely be a sequel to The Shadow Man. And I am currently writing a young adult sword-and-sorcery series called "The Bloodsword Trilogy".
Tell us what you're reading at the moment and what you think of it.
I'm currently reading the "Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R. R. Martin (currently on book 3 in that series, A Storm of Swords), which I really love for the complex plot structure and in-depth characterization. I'm also reading Wiley Cash's A Land More Kind Than Home, a well-written Southern gothic tale reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor. I love O'Connor's writing; she's a Savannah native, and arguably the most talented Georgia writer of all time. Anything that echoes her writing is an attraction to me.
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A physician currently living in Savannah, Georgia, Mark Murphy is also a lifelong award-winning writer. In the midst of a busy medical career which included several academic publications, Dr. Murphy's decision to attend the Iowa Summer Writing Festival led to the inclusion of a short story, "The Funeral", in a 2004 collection of works entitled O! Georgia! A well-received regular newspaper column in the Savannah Morning News followed. The Shadow Man is his first novel.
You can learn more about the author on his website, Mark-E-Murphy.com, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.
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The Shadow Man
Publisher: Langdon Street Press
There is a devil in the night, silent and invisible, moving in the dream realm between life and death. And he's coming for you …
Savannah surgeon Malcolm King had a perfect life — a loving wife, devoted daughter, and a thriving medical practice. But when a random airport parking lot hit-and-run links him to a dead body in a Florida hotel and an acquaintance is found dismembered and stuffed into a garbage bag, Malcolm finds himself on the run as a suspected serial killer. But he's no murderer. Or is he?
Who is the mysterious Thin Man who lurks at the edges of his vision? Are the ravens that crowd the skies overhead a warning of impending doom — or do they exist at all?
With the help of Seminole tracker Billy Littlebear, Malcolm tries to untangle the web of clues left behind by a mysterious chameleon-like killer known as the Shadow Man. But will he be too late?
For a chance to win a copy of The Shadow Man, courtesy of Tribute Books, visit Mystery Book Contests, click on the "Mark Murphy: The Shadow Man" contest link, enter your name, e-mail address, and this code — 7679 — for a chance to win! (One entry per person; contest ends October 15th, 2012.)