Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Interview with Myra King

A huge welcome to Myra King, prize-winning short story writer and author of the novel Cyber Rules.

Myra is aiming to raise $10,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), an independent international medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid in more than 60 countries. 

All royalties from her latest novel, Cyber Rules, published in 2012 by Certys UK, are being donated to Médecins Sans Frontières.

Cyber Rules
Anthea Stevenson is a farmer’s wife, midlife-challenged and living in isolated rural Australia.
For many years, she has harboured a dark secret. Now caught up on the addictive side of the Internet, she holds another secret, one which ultimately may prove to be far more deadly.

Buy on Amazon UK or

Tell us about your proudest writing achievement.
My first article in 1980, published in Rider Magazine. Seeing my ideas in print and knowing what I write could make a difference in the lives of horses and people. My article was about how the voice is such an asset when riding, how one need not rely on harsh bits or indeed, bits at all, but can have a horse working kindly with just the tone of a few words, or sounds, along with the other more gentler riding aids.

What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
Weaknesses: Getting the commas in the right places. It’s so important to making a sentence mean what you want it to mean. Setting the intonation. Take that old example: What is this thing called love? What, is this thing called love? What is this thing called, love? Same words, totally different meanings, all with the shift of a comma. 

And sometimes I need it pointed out that a story requires a little more. Luckily I have an in-house editor - my husband. I rarely argue with him, I knuckle down to finishing it completely. He’s usually right.

My strengths: a strong work ethic. When I start on a piece, I write every day (even if it’s only a few sentences) without fail, until it’s finished. I’ve also been told my stories and characters seem real. 

Is there a special place you like to write?
I often write an opening line or two in bed, after waking at three in the morning. At other ungodly times, when I’m working on a story, I will be jolted awake with useful edits in my head such as: Myra, you blithering (insert stronger word) fool, you can’t have angora sheep! There’s no such thing. What were you thinking? But mostly I work in my office with the door closed. I need quietness and, if possible, no interruptions.

What do you think makes a good short story?
Holding the reader’s interest with pace and most importantly, voice. Voice goes way beyond dialogue. It’s that indefinable quality of character, which gives the story its authenticity.
Conveying the feel, or sense of place without over-description. Opening paragraphs that entice the reader whether by conflict or seduction.

Believable characters and storylines. These are especially necessary in fantasy, sci-fi, magic realism etc, where a writer must work harder to convince the reader. All genres can shine and, if character driven, be literary fiction as well. A good story should move us in some way, either make us inwardly nod or make us cringe, make us cry, even make us see the world in a different light. Or, and often this is the hardest of all, make us laugh. And to finish it off, a top story should have a satisfying ending.

Are your characters ever based on people you know?
My characters are often a composite of what I know about myself and others I have encountered, but not exclusively one or the other, and I don’t consciously bring these to mind. Sometimes, they are people I have never met. Snippets of conversations I have heard, or things people have done, can set off my character building imagination. And then those characters reveal themselves as I write.

How did the idea for Cyber Rules come about?
Like most writers, I need to write. It’s not an escape, it’s a necessity and a different reality, especially when the writing is flowing well. I began writing Cyber Rules ten years ago, in between jobs. My business had collapsed, due to the insurance debacle that was raging in Australia at that time. I’ve written two sequels to CR since.

There are similarities between me and the MC, Anthea Stevenson. Back then I was new to the Internet and learning the ways and whims of the computer age. Chatrooms were a big deal and it wasn’t long before I thought that all too common writers’ question: What if? 

I only realised how attached I was to Cyber Rules when my then husband (now ex) accidentally deleted the manuscript when it was two chapters from the finish. And yes, he’d emptied the ‘trash’ as well. Being pretty computer inept at the time, I hadn’t saved it correctly on memory stick, either. Luckily I had a hard copy and a daughter who’s a speed typist and who loves me.

Who is your favourite author and why?
Amongst many others, Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m not usually one for rereading stories or books, but I never tire of Kidnapped and Catriona. A master storyteller, his characters not only have flesh and bones, but soul as well. I can feel and hear the Scottish highlands and lowlands, and the pipes of Alan Breck.

What are you working on at the moment?
A YA novel, starring fourteen year old Kaleen Pingelly and her best friend Velvet Brown, named after the heroine of National Velvet fame. Sadly, unlike the character in the film, Velvet is horseless. But she has a gift, a unique ability only Kaleen knows about.  

Myra King is an Australian writer living on the coast of South Australia. She has written a number of prize-winning short stories, including a first prize in the UK-based Global Short Story Competition, and has a short story collection published by Ginninderra Press. In 2010 her short story, The Black Horse, was shortlisted for the US Glass Woman Prize. And in 2011 her story, The Trousseau Box, was selected as story of the week in Short Story America.

Among other print journals and magazines, her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, The Valley Review– Meat For Tea, Orbis, Eclectic Flash, Herons Nest, Red River Review, Little Episodes, Fast Forward Press and The Foundling Review. Myra is also a regular contributor to the e-magazine The Pages.


Marit said...

Another great interview, Maureen, giving us an insight into the writer behind the story. Here's wishing you,Myra, lots of sales, to raise the hoped for amount for Médecins Sans Frontières , and more - and give lots of readers the enjoyment of reading Cyber Rules - with its twists and turns and sinister surprises along the way. It's an excellent read!

Michelle Elvy said...

Interesting to hear about your love of RLS and also your relationship to horses, Myra. Things I did not know. and gosh, how dreadful the story about your ms getting deleted! Wow. Puts a pit right in the stomach. Here's to daughters who love us. Great to come here this morning. Good luck with your project!