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Mur Lafferty: On Adding a Science Fiction Spin on the Murder Mystery Novel

Author Mur Lafferty discusses the process of writing hew new science fiction myster novel, Station Eternity.

Mur Lafferty is an author, podcaster, and editor. She has been nominated for many awards, and even won a few. She lives in Durham, NC with her family. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Mur Lafferty: On Adding a Science Fiction Spin on the Murder Mystery Novel

Mur Lafferty

In this post, Mur discusses the process of writing hew new science fiction myster novel, Station Eternity, her advice for other writers, and more!

Name: Mur Lafferty
Literary agent: Seth Fishman of The Gernert Company
Book title: Station Eternity
Publisher: Ace
Release date: October 4, 2022
Genre/category: Science Fiction/Mystery
Previous titles: Six Wakes, Solo: A Star Wars Story
Elevator pitch for the book: “Murder She Wrote” meets “Babylon 5”: Mallory Viridian is a social pariah because she frequently witnesses murders (and solves them, but people never care about that part). She receives permission to live aboard Station Eternity, a diplomatic and travel hub for advanced alien races that hasn’t allowed many humans aboard. But after a few months of peace, a group of humans visits the station, and Mallory’s forced to solve the biggest murder mystery of her life.

Mur Lafferty: On Adding a Science Fiction Spin on the Murder Mystery Novel

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What prompted you to write this book?

I’m a Gen Xer, and growing up, the biggest joke about “Murder She Wrote” was “Jessica Fletcher is the most successful serial killer in history.”

On watching more shows like “Father Brown,” “Miss Fisher,” and “Midsomer Murders,” I always wondered why people didn’t run screaming when these famous sleuths dropped by—or why the sleuths didn’t wonder why murders happened around them all the time.

I also wondered how someone would actually be treated if this happened to them, and how they’d feel about the gift/curse. And thus Mallory was birthed.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

The idea stayed mostly the same along the way, but the B plots with the aliens got a lot richer over time. I got the deal in 2019, but things got a wee bit tumultuous in the world and in my life in the next few years, so everything slowed down.

I struggled through edits as well, but with the guidance of my editor Anne Sowards, I’m thrilled with the end result!

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I got switched to a new editor during the writing of the book, which is always scary. I’d heard nightmare stories about books being orphaned and then either dropped or neglected by the new editor, and I was so happy that I didn’t get that experience with Ace at all.

The book was also pushed back in the schedule because of the problems I had while writing and editing, but with the pandemic, supply chain issues, and political upheaval (i.e. a previous agent told me political strife is not a good time to release a book), I think this release date will have worked out for the best.

“ASAP” is not always the best option for book releases.

Mur Lafferty: On Adding a Science Fiction Spin on the Murder Mystery Novel

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I sold the book based on an outline, but as a discovery writer/pantser, I found that writing the book from that outline was more challenging than I thought. This is one of the reasons I needed more time to get the book done.

In future books, I need to remember to give myself some discovery time to wander around the plot to really find my way.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I really hope I’ve taken an established and well-loved mystery trope, the everyday sleuth solving lots of murders, and given it a science fiction twist to give it a new and fun angle. I hope it will appeal to people who like one genre but aren’t sure they like the other one.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Celebrate every rejection. I know they’re painful and they suck. But rejections mean that you’re submitting work, which means you’re a working writer. You’re just not getting paid yet. You’re getting hurt and discouraged, but you’re doing the job.

And if you keep doing the crappy part of the job, then odds are that the good part of the job will follow. The only person who doesn’t get rejected is a non-working writer.

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