Interview Author Jim Murdock for The Blankenschipf Curse
1. When did you first become interested in writing?
I didn't particularly like writing in school, but I always liked to read. I think perhaps
reading good books made me want to touch people in the same way that those books touched me. Also, I think there is a desire in all of us to be immortal and writing is one way to accomplish that. There was always a doubt in my mind as to whether I could write.
Once I started writing, I realized that I could write, at least at some level, and that made me want to write more.
2. Where did you get the idea about writing The Blankenschipf Curse?
That came to me only after I sat down and started writing. I took a creative writing class (from Harriette Austin). I was looking for something to do and I had thought of writing my life story for some time. I have several folders of information that I've collected on my family over the years. Everyone else in the class was writing fiction, so I decided to try my hand at that. I remembered a story while reading about the history of Swainsboro, Georgia years before. I was a short, amusing incident that was just mentioned in the book about a boy who got his head caught in the spindles at the church altar while taking communion. So, I wrote a fictional piece about that incident. Then, other amusing incidents that I had experienced or heard about came to mind, and from that the idea of the curse developed.
3. Did you know before hand what direction the book would take? That it would develop into a curse?
No. I had no idea. It was surprising to me that when you sit down to write that ideas come to you while you're writing. And once your mind is fixed on an idea, thoughts come to you even as you sleep. There have been times, as most writers will tell you, that I've had to get up in the middle of the night to write the thoughts down so I wouldn't forget.
4. I notice that you have some interesting and unusual names in your book. How do you come up with these names?
I just like names, especially unusual names. It's fascinating to me. Sometimes the names that I give the characters affects what kind of character they turn out to be. At other times the name has no affect. Sometimes I worry that if I use someone's name they will think I'm talking about them. That is just not the case. That wouldn't be fair and I wouldn't do that.
At times a name will start out being a good character, and at other times, a bad character
depending on how the story goes. The main character's first name is Rube(a favorite uncle)
and the last name, Winters, is my mother's maiden name.
5. How in the world did you come up with the name Moochie?
I was looking for a name for a woman and my wife, Andrea, told me about a friend that she worked with while in high school that went by the name Moochie. I just added Dunlop
as the last name because it seemed to fit the character.
6. This is an unusual book, was that by design?
No. It just happened that way. I think if I had known more about writing and the different genres, I would have tried to stick to a more traditional pattern. This book is unique for several reasons. There are many parts of the book that are humorous and yet it has a serious side. One part of the book resembles what may be called "New Age" thinking. It's a mystery in the sense that the main character and his family have had to look for the solution to the curse, and a clue is given in the form of a riddle by the enforcer of the curse. The last two or three chapters in the book are religious because Dr. Wilkins is receiving information from what he considers the Universal Source or God, and the curse is finally broken by information found in the Bible. Perhaps the most unique part of the book is the use of what I call a rogue narrator. That particular part is a fantasy because the narrator takes on human qualities and secretly inserts his thoughts in the form of "inside information" into the book with the help of a cousin who works at the company who prints the book. It's a book about health in that the information received through meditation tells the reader how to live a healthy life. Lastly, there is a card holder on the back page of the book with a "prescription for living," and the "five steps of forgiveness."
7. What do you mean by the five steps of forgiveness?
As you may remember, the Bible tells us that we must forgive others seventy times seven times. These are the steps you must go through to neutralize the negative subconscious memories that may still be affecting your heath even after many years.
I don't want to give those away before you've had a chance to read the book.
8. Why is forgiveness so important?
Because, in my opinion, if you follow these steps it can change your life and the lives
of your family and friends for the better. What we think about has a tremendous affect on our health and our relationships with others.
9. What was your objective when you set out to write this book?
I didn't really have an objective when I first began. As the book progressed and I began to pray for guidance I asked that I be able to write a book that would be entertaining to the reader and one that would bring a positive message, something that would help the reader.
I think I was helped to do that, at least I hope so.
10. Could you please tell me a little more about yourself, your background?
I was born in a sawmill shack in Hartselle, Alabama. I moved to Decatur, Alabama
at the age of five. At the end of my sophomore year in high school my family moved to
Dundee, Michigan where I finished high school. I attended Eastern Michigan University
and graduated with a B.S. degree(physical education, English and political science).
I earned a master's degree while teaching for seventeen years. I changed careers in 1977
and became a doctor of chiropractic. I practiced in Marietta and Swainsboro, Georgia for
twenty years. I'm now retired and practice only part time. I'm now a writer and enjoying
every minute of it.
11. Your family?
I met my wife, Andrea, at Eastern Michigan University and we've been married 47 years. She is a cancer survivor and my hero for her courage and unwavering faith through
it all. Our two sons have been a blessing: one is an engineer who is now in marketing for
Carrier Corporation and the other is a respiratory therapist in Vidalia, Georgia. We have
four wonderful grandchildren.
12. What are you doing now that your book has been published?
I'm currently working on another novel called Moochie's Place about a couple who
start a restaurant in Athens, Georgia. This story has a wonderful cast of characters who
are really fun to work with, including the smartest parrot you've ever seen.
13. What is your usual pattern when you're writing? Do you have a schedule?
To be honest with you, I don't really have a pattern, nor do I have a set schedule.
I probably do most of my writing in the afternoon. Sometimes in the middle of the
night if I have an idea that won't let me sleep. I'm the kind of person who must have every-
thing in order before I start writing(all papers filed away, all chores done, etc.)
14. Do you ever get what's called writer's block?
No. As I mentioned before, it's important to have all things in order before I start.
Every now and then, I get stuck while I'm waiting for the next idea to develop or a
story line to reveal itself. I don't fret about it, it's just a matter of time and patience.
15. Does anyone help you by reading what you've written, give advice, etc.?
My wife usually reads what I've written and tells me what she likes and doesn't like.
Also, I belong to a writing group(there are 5 of us including my creative writing teacher)
and we meet once a month. We provide each other with 10-20 pages of what we've
written that month. At the meetings we critique each persons work(give advice, suggest
changes, tell what we like and encourage each other.) Being a member of a group
encourages you to write so you will have something to present for the next time. It's nice
to get together with like-minded friends. It's a social as well as a learning experience.
I also meet with an informal group on Wednesday mornings at a coffee shop where we
write some and talk a lot.
16. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I would tell them that it's very important that they enjoy writing. Make it a pleasure,
not a chore. I think the creative juices flow more easily when you are in a joyful state of
mind. Also, a writer must realize that chances are slim that they will be able to make a
living by writing. There are those who do, but the percentage is small. So, why not enjoy