Murray Lindsay is an indy author from Canada. He writes science fiction with a wild west twist. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.
My name is Murray Lindsay and I’m a proud flatlander. Really. Born and raised on the rolling prairies of Saskatchewan, no matter where I have travelled or how long I lived elsewhere, I have returned with relief. My most recent return met with even greater-than-usual revitalization as I met the woman of my dreams and we have recently moved into the perfect (no, really) house.
My mother (a teacher) taught me to read well before school started. What I read is down to my father and grandfather (Mom’s dad). I grew up devouring a back library of Astounding, Analog and hundreds of SF&F books. I recall being confused when visiting other little chums and asking “Where are your books?” and they’d point to a couple on a coffee table.
I am a graphic artist and illustrator by lifelong trade, sometimes in a shop, currently freelancing out my home. Writing has always been fun. Being an author is heady stuff.
When and why did you begin writing?
From pre-school onwards. My parents kept my childhood doodles and explained the tales I made up to go with the drawings. Why? I can only refer to the fact many kids start out drawing and telling stories. The mystery is rather why a scant few of us keep on going while our peers dump their creativity. I have no answer. Perhaps growing up in a house full of books kept my imagination alive.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve considered myself a writer my entire life. I won’t claim to have always been a good writer, but I wrote. I usually received the accolades of high school English teachers. I wrote a piece of fiction for a final essay in my university class on the History of Ancient Greece. I’ve always loved penning letters, trying to make them fun and informative for the recipient. I’ve Game Mastered hundreds of hours of roleplaying games, which were all set on a world of my own creation. The saga has many stanzas.
Only with the publication of “Home on the Strange” did I dare to call myself an “author”.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
“Home on the Strange” is my first published novel. I have this month finished a fully science fiction adventure with the working title “Patient Zero”, involving a take on “where are the aliens?” question that puzzles scientists and nerds alike. Next on the list is to get back to the next “Brewster & Brewster Adventure”. I fancy the twins will have a trilogy before I’m done.
What inspired you to write this book?
I unexpectedly became filled with the urge to write a Western. I wanted to slap a saddle on a horse and go like stink.
After I realized this loco idea was not going away, I started to think on the matter. I found no desire to travel the very well-worn trails of the American Wild West. Which sent me north to the days of the Canadian frontier. The Canadian west was not too “wild”. I did not fancy fancy-stepping around historical events trying to generate an adventure.
The my first love of SF&F came to the rescue. Off to parallel Earths and divergent histories! A wild west in another Earth’s 21st century!
Do you have a specific writing style?
Energetic and adventurous with humour layered in for seasoning. My fans, friends and family flatter me by agreeing I have a “sparkling way with words” and that my dialogue is pretty snappy.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
The final result is a western with a hefty dollop of oddness and SF poured over it. “Home on the Range” became “Home on the Strange”. I web searched and couldn’t find but a couple of books with that title, and nowhere near the part of the book store I’d be in. Feeling it too good to be true, I added “A Brewster & Brewster Adventure” to guarantee avoiding infringements. Not only that, but it gives a vintage ring that suggests sequels.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Honesty being the best policy, I have to say “no”. It’s a tall tale, some far-fetched fiction, a rootin’-tootin’ race for life and limb across the western Canadian prairie. I’m told it’s a fun ride. That being said, there is a definite undercurrent praising loyalty, friendship, blood-is-thicker-than-water and such values.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find
I’d rank perhaps my major influence as Keith Laumer. An underrated, I feel, SF writer of the 1960’s. Life and death challenges abound, but the hero still slips in a wry observation or sarcastic witticism. I think that blend of comedy and crisis results in an excellent creation for the simple reason it mimics life. And what that guy could do with a simile!
After him there ranks a legion. Jerome K. Jerome, Damon Runyon, Poul Anderson, Glenn Cook, and etc.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I can’t claim any literal mentors, other than perhaps the members of my writing groups. Some of those wonderful folk are a couple of spaces further along on this game board than I. But, all their advice and comments have been so useful at assorted times that it’s impossible to single one out.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
In point of fact, I did all the illustrations (cover and inside), design and layout. “Graphic artist” is my day job, you see. I cut myself a helluva deal in negotiating the fees. Used those skills to lay out and create a proper ePub edition as well.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
For writers, I’ll say my greatest epiphany was when realized that many “Writing Rules” are a matter of taste. It was like seeing parents argue when two favourite authors gave totally contradictory “Rules”. I advise reading many many “How To” books and sources to get a sense of the actual foundation principles. Then pick three of those gurus and follow their teachings. (Of course, I mean award winning, well-regarded, have sold a bushel of books, gurus).
For those going the full publishing route: I feel great sympathy and embarrassment for authors who can not or will not use a professional artist for their covers. Land and sky, but there’s a multitude of wretched covers out there. My advice: if you have no access to a professional, then you should keep the cover as simple as possible.
Don’t think of a basic cover of essentially fonts and colour to be “boring”. It is “neutral”. Better the reader starts Page 1 in a neutral frame of mind than the mocking, sour sneer an amateur cover engenders.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
For my book, and any author’s work, I ask “Tell your friends”. One honest opinion-review from a buddy is easily equal to a hundred “thumbs up” from strangers. And they tell two people and they tell two people…
Home on the Strange – A Brewster & Brewster Adventure