I am a retired college professor of English (24 years), and I also worked at Caltech in Pasadena as the Supervisor of Management Development at the Industrial Relations Center. I also worked as an editor, TV news writer, and freelance journalist. I now devote my time to my fiction and to an editing business, English Majors Publishers and Editors, LLC. I am married to Ellen, who is also a retired college professor, and we live in San Diego.
Do you write under a pen name?
I wrote some horror under the name “E. Z. Graves” and “Efraim Z. Graves. ” Most of my fiction is under “Jim Musgrave. ”
What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I was inspired by an inner need to create with words, and I was an autodidact, as my immediate family did not have a writer in its midst. In high school, I was on the school newspaper and year book, and in college I majored in Radio and TV Communications. My Master’s Degree was in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. I write both genre and literary work, as well as non-fiction.
What books have you written so far?
Forevermore: A Pat O’Malley Historical Mystery
Disappearance at Mount Sinai: A Pat O’Malley Historical Mystery
Jane the Grabber: A Pat O’Malley Historical Steampunk Mystery
The Digital Scribe: A Writer’s Guide to Electronic Media
Sins of Darkness
Iron Maiden an Alternate History
The Necromancers or Love Zombies of San Diego
Freak Story: 1967-1969
The President’s Parasite and Other Stories
The Mayan Magician and Other Stories
Catalina Ghost Stories
Are your books or characters based on real life?
Yes, since I writer “historical fiction, ” many of my characters are based on actual people. However, they are given dialogue to reflect the plot of my story.
Who is your favorite character from your books? Why?
Detective Patrick James O’Malley from my historical mystery series. He is a Civil War hero who is out of a job, and he has psychological hang-ups like many vets do. I like him because I grew-up in a Navy family, and I am also a vet.
How long does it take you to write your book/s?
I can write one of my Detective Pat O’Malley books in two months. They are always 12 chapters (with a prologue and epilogue) and run under 60,000 total words.
Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
I have a clear focus for the plot, but I write each chapter to “surprise myself. ” If I am not interested, then I imagine my reader will follow suit. Therefore, I need to include surprises that happen to the characters and cause them to react/think/plan.
What makes your writing unique?
I can easily weave actual history and setting details into my story lines to serve my plotting needs.
Any advice for the editing process?
Hire a professional.
Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I have been published by a big publisher (Harcourt-Brace), and I have also published independently. My negative experience with the big publisher caused me to “go indie, ” and I have not regretted it as yet.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you believe in yourself, then get somebody who is a “really good” writer (and not a relative or friend) to verify that belief. I did this with one Jacob M. Appel, a writer I met online who has recently won the prestigious Dundee (Scotland) International Literary Novel Award. Jacob also teaches writing in New York City, and he was won more story contests than any writer I have ever known. When he said my writing was “superb” and he compared me to guys like T. C. Boyle, Tom Wolfe, George Saunders and Steven Millhauser, and I really started taking myself seriously! Unless you get accolades from other writers, then I would not consider fiction writing as a profession. There are too many scam artist publishers and vanity presses out there to “fly by the seat of your pants. ” Besides, it gives us indie authors a bad name when too much crap is published to muddy the readers’ waters. Their time is too precious to be wasted on “wannabes. ”
What books have most influenced your life?
Camus’ The Stranger. All of Franz Kafka’s work (he should be read like history). Mark Twain’s work (humans are funny).
Who is your favorite character from any book and why?
Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye because he was like me as a teenager.
For reading, do you prefer ebooks or physical books?
If there was one author you could meet with and learn from one on one, who would you choose?
Either Shirley Jackson or Lawrence Block.
If you could write a book with any current author, who would it be and why?
Jacob M. Appel because he likes to add humor to his literary fiction the way I do.
What is the best review of your work you've received to date?
My short stories were reviewed by Jacob M. Appel (The Mayan Magician and Other Stories). He said: “With the publication of The Mayan Magician and Other Stories, Jim Musgrave joins the ranks of the George Saunders, Steven Millhauser and Kevin Brockmeier at the heart of the modern American short story’s second great renaissance. Musgrave writes with commanding authority of both the past and the future, of adventures at home and abroad. He is a skilled stylist and a powerful raconteur. Musgrave’s characters are memorable, courageous, and—like his prose—intensely compelling. ”
What format(s) are your books available in?
Paperback and ebook. There are also a few hard cover.
Is there anything else you would like to share or tell us?
Thanks for letting me share! Keep writing and reading. I’ll be appearing in San Diego at the Upstart Crow in Seaport Village on August 29, 2013 (7-9 PM). I’ll also be on a variety of online blogs starting on August 27, 2013 and continuing for 90 days.
Pat O’Malley Historical Steampunk Mysteries
I'd like to thank Jim Musgrave for stopping by. Be sure to check out his books. As always, thanks for reading.