Actually it happened by accident. Growing up I never thought much about writing, but I was an avid reader. The only time I ever wrote was when my teachers at school made me. I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.
It was the winter of 2000, my second year of professional hockey, and I was playing in Oklahoma City. After sustaining a season ending eye injury (one of the scariest moments of my life), I found myself with time on his hands.
My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was attending a French college in Montreal. She received an English assignment to write a short story, and asked me for some help.
I loved the experience—creating vivid characters and generating a wire-taut plot. I sat down at my roommate’s computer and began typing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it I had completed my first manuscript.
I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing.
Thirteen years later, I still write for pleasure—and I still love it! The fact that I am being published is a bonus.
How long does it take you to write a book?
My story is rare, and not necessarily on behalf of other writers. Writing is not my full time job. I only write as a hobby, when I have free time. But here it is:
In the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write Dead Man’s Hand. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.
The first person to read my completed manuscript was my former high school English teacher. With her experience and wisdom, she gave me some very helpful advice. I then hired McCarthy Creative Services to help edit Dead Man’s Hand, to make it the best possible novel.
I joined a critique group, teaming up with published authors Nadine Doolittle and Kathy Leveille, and exchanging manuscripts and information. Working with an editor and other authors was very rewarding and not only made my novel better, but made me a better writer.
When I was ready, I researched agents who fit my criteria (successful, worked with my genres, etc.) and sent out query letters. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.
After months of editing with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books (Edmonton, Alberta). I’m hoping the next one (if there is one), doesn’t take quite as long.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
These days I don`t have one. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children. I`m too busy playing ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose to write.
But when I do write, I find that I am most productive in the morning, and I always have to have a mug of steaming coffee in front of me.
Before I even sit down at a computer, I have hand-written notes of ideas for my book. This could be anything from plot, scenes, setting, characters, etc. I always write in the mornings, this is my most productive time.
Once I sit down, I just write. No editing, no looking back, I just let it flow. Unless I`m certain, no title until after I`m done. As I write, I keep notes by hand on the timeline.
When my first draft is complete, I go through it twice, once for the creative editing process and the next for flow, repetition, etc. Then I have my former English professor read it over and she gives me her thoughts. I edit it myself again. Then I send it to my agent for her thoughts, then I edit it again myself. Only once my agent and I feel ready do we send it to publishers.
How many crime novels have you written?
I’ve completed three manuscripts but only one novel has been published.
Which is your favourite and why?
That’s hard to say. Dead Man’s Hand is my only published work to date, and I have been getting exceptional reviews. It took me over six years from writing the first word to seeing it in print, so I spent a lot of time with it.
But my first manuscript is my baby. It was what drew me to writing, what ignited the passionate fire in me to write. It also brought my wife and I closer together (we were just dating at the time and she helped me a little).
Where do you get your ideas?
There is not a single moment in time when this idea came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies.
Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.
Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Without a doubt, Calvin Watters.
A 6’5”, 220 pound African-American Vegas leg-breaker.
Watters faces racial prejudice with calmness similar to that of Walter Mosley’s character Easy Rawlins. But Watters’ past as an athlete and enforcer will remind other readers of (Jack) Reacher of the Lee Childs series. The Stuart Woods novel Choke, about a tennis player who, like Watters, suffered greatly from a dramatic loss that was a failure of his psyche, is also an inspiration for Dead Man’s Hand.
When thinking about creating the main character for my story, I wanted someone “REAL”. Someone readers could relate to. Although it is a work of fiction, my goal was to create a character who readers could make a real connection with.
Physically, keeping in mind Watters’ past as an NCAA football standout and his current occupation as a Vegas debt-collector, I thought “intimidating”, and put together a mix of characteristics that make Watters appear scary (dreadlocks and patchy facial hair), but also able to blend in with those of the social elite. Although he is in astounding physical condition, handsome and well-toned, he does have a physical disability that limits his capabilities.
He’s proud, confident bordering on cocky, mean and tough, but I also gave him a softer side that readers, especially women, will be more comfortable rooting for. After his humiliating downfall he is stuck at the bottom for a while, but trying hard to work his way back up.
He has weaknesses and he has made poor choices. He has regrets, but Watters has the opportunity to redeem himself. Not everyone gets a second chance in life, and he realizes how fortunate he is.
Calvin Watters is definitely worth rooting for.
Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Probably one of my favourite characters in a novel is Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. HE is so classic. Tough and bright, experienced and unbroken. I love Bosch’s sense of humour and his ability to adapt to any situation.
If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Wyatt Earp. I love westerns, love reading and watching about stories of the Wild West. Obviously with the title of my book, Dead Man’s Hand, is taken from Wild Bill Hickok of the Wild West. It was so wide open and care-free back then.
What are you working on now?
I don`t have much time to write, but when I get a chance, I do all I can. It could take some time, but eventually I would love to write a series of novels, featuring Calvin Watters. But I will not limit my novels to Calvin Watters, as I would like to write a different series of novels, all in the crime-thriller genres. I’m currently working on a new crime novel, but my wife and I just had our third child, so the process has been stalled and is going quite slowly. Eventually I would love to write more books, including a sequel to Dead Man’s Hand.
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.
He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).
Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man’s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.
For more information on Luke and his books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com, ‘like’ his Facebook page www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorLukeMurphy and follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/#!/AuthorLMurphy