# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
We are authors, Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt, whose latest novel, ‘In A Town Called Paradox’, was published in 2021. We have written ten books between us, some fiction, some narrative nonfiction, some published by traditional publishing houses in the US, Canada and the UK, others published by our Prestwicke Publishing imprint. We are full-time authors, members of the Authors Guild and the Independent Book Publishers Association.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
We write narrative nonfiction as well as fiction, so several of our books are based on real-life stories. For example, ‘Lost in Tibet’ is the true-life story of five young American airmen who, in 1942, were stranded in pre-Chinese Tibet. Another of our non-fiction books, ‘Along the River that Flows Uphill’, tells of the misadventures we had on an Orinoco riverboat when we were commissioned to write an article for the magazine of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society. The ‘highlight’ (or possibly the ‘lowlight’) of this adventure was our threatened kidnapping by FARC guerillas. Our latest book, ‘In A Town Called Paradox’, although fiction, has a true-life setting: Utah in the 1950s when the Big Five Hollywood studios arrived to film their blockbuster movies.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
As writers – and former journalists – we are always on the look-out for stories that would make a good book. We might be inspired by someone we meet, a sentence we overhear, a place we visit, or an event we attend. The setting of ‘In A Town Called Paradox’ was inspired by our travels in Utah where we came across disused movie sets that had been built by Hollywood when they were filming in Utah decades ago.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
For covers, we like one strong image that stands out even when reduced to a thumbnail. As for titles, they can be a headache. Also, don’t get wedded to the one you select as publishers often will try to change it.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
As co-authors of several books, we’ve worked out a more fluid system of passing text between us and/or knowing who should write which scenes or sections of a book. We have also learned that once a manuscript is supposedly finished, you need to let it rest for a month or two and then re-evaluate it. That way, you can better see it as a reader will.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
When we first started writing, it surprised us just how long it took to write a good book. Also how, in non-fiction, you have to allow time for the whole story to emerge as your research uncovers new information. This was especially true of ‘Lost in Tibet’, where documents we uncovered during research at the British Library in London showed us that our story was more than one of physical hardship suffered by the airmen in the story, but had international political and cultural significance, too.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
We always balance the two. First, we won’t start writing a book unless we are totally committed to it; so we make sure it satisfies us in terms of its characters, story, setting, and so on. We want to write books we’re proud of, ones that are researched and structured well, and that are built around important conflicts and that ultimately have satisfactory resolutions. That said, you cannot ignore readers. You know you can’t please them all, but if you write only for yourself, you’re in danger of being your only reader.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
A major role. There’s a lot of technique in creating emotion, but if you want your readers to respond emotionally, you have to be emotionally engaged too.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
When we’re writing a book, we look at everything through the lens of that book. We both keep notebooks on hand, or dictate ideas into our phones as and when they occur. You never know what sound or scent or image will kick your imagination into gear.
# What are your plans for future books?
We’re still promoting ‘In A Town Called Paradox’, but we’re also working on another title, with a third one bubbling away in the backs of our minds.
Author website: http://www.starksmurcutt.com
‘In A Town Called Paradox’, Amazon link: http://www.amzn.com/B08LG9XZL9
‘Along the River that Flows Uphill’, Amazon link: http://www.amzn.com/B00C0K6Q38