Interview with pulp and fiction writer Shannon Muir

An emerging
voice in new pulp and genre fiction, writer Shannon Muir wraps up this week on Reviews and Interviews.
She’s here to talk about her pulp tale, “Ghost of the Airwaves” and the Newshounds anthology.
Bio:
Shannon
Muir’s most recent genre fiction release is the Single Shot “Ghost of the
Airwaves,” a New Pulp tale, preceded by her debut genre fiction story
“Pretty as a Picture” in the anthology Newshounds from Pro Se Productions. Prior to venturing into the
world of New Pulp, Muir is best known to genre readers as co-writer of the
long-running webcomic FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY with her partner,
Kevin Paul Shaw Broden (featured in Pro Se’s anthology THE BLACK FEDORA, his
own story in Newshounds, and the
self-published REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST). She tends to gravitate towards
writing stories with females in leading or influential roles, which can prove a
challenge in the time periods that pulp stories are set in. Muir aspires to
bring different perspective to a classic time period by taking on this
viewpoint. Muir also has credits in new adult contemporary fiction, as well as
published textbooks on the animation industry, a field in which she’s held
writing and production positions as part of her nearly twenty year career
focused in family entertainment. She currently resides in Glendale, California.
Welcome, Shannon. Please tell us about
your current release.
My current
release is a digital single (short story) from Pro Se Press entitled
“Ghost of the Airwaves,” which is a tale of mystery and murder in
radio’s golden age. A radio actress’ husband is murdered under mysterious
circumstances, and police are certain they know what happened. A mysterious
letter sent to the actress by someone known only as “Ghost of the
Airwaves” sheds new light on the case and she’s determined to see justice
done… no matter the cost.
What inspired you to write this story?
I actually
wrote a live action TV script in college that was produced and got national
recognition from a television honor society called FROM THE FATAL HEART. In it,
a modern day DJ with a love request call in show thought his wife committed
suicide after battling with a disease, but finds this not to be the case. After
years went by, there were things in that script I wish I’d done better despite
the accolades – I wished the DJ had been more proactive and wondered how the
story would have gone with a female lead. I switched genders, moved the time
period and the focus of being on the radio, and let my imagination fill in the
blanks. This story is the result of that and I really love how it turned out.
I also
decided to give this a try after I really enjoyed doing another story for Pro
Se Press that was media-based in nature, based on their pre-established
characters. The anthology, called Newshounds,
followed a group of folks at a newspaper using the written word to right wrongs
in the big city. The story that I wrote for it, “Pretty as a
Picture,” primarily focused on the two women of the group as they worked
to uncover dastardly dealings at a charity benefit.
Excerpt from “Pretty as a Picture”
found in Newshounds:
“Are you
out of your mind?” Margie Haviland insisted to her editor in the main
press room of the Partisan, a paper known for exposing more than a few
dirty downsides of the city and fighting for the everyday citizen. “You
expect me and Viv,” Margie said, thumbing a finger at Vivian Bailey, the
tall and knockout female reporter of the group, “to just go and crash some
charity function?” ‘
“Definitely
not crash it, at least not openly,” Red responded, much calmer and
collected than the saucy, petite Margie. “We don’t want to call attention
to ourselves. But the reality is you and Viv are the only female reporters
we’ve got that can swing this kind of a high pressure undercover job. As you
know though, there are, shall we say, added complications.”
“Such as
the fact that Margie comes from the same rich elite that will be attending this
function,” pointed out Ted Boland, the lead male reporter for the Partisan.
“Some of these folks could even be family or friends.”
“Trust
me, they’d be no friends of mine,” Margie all but spat in Ted’s face.
“I left that life behind a long time ago.”
“Not
only are you our top photographer, you also know how to get around and what to
look for,” the editor reassured Margie. “That’s why you and Viv need
to do this. Augustus Morton says he’s doing this all as a charity benefit,
allowing a sneak peek at next year’s European styles before they trend in the
States. All the proceeds would be to benefit business
scholarships to further the education of young people, including internships
with Morton’s companies.”
”Internships
with him will just teach them how to play dirty pool. This Morton’s got a
history of being nothing but trouble,” stressed Viv. “He looks so
great on the surface with what the public sees, but as you all know we’ve
turned up a few dirty things about him. Unfortunately, we never quite witnessed
his involvement in those dealings.”
“Which
is why we can’t miss this time, doll,” Ted responded.
“You’re
walking on thin ice calling me doll and you know it, Mr. Boland,” Viv
threw back, not even giving him the respect of answering with a first name.
“All
right you two, we get it,” spoke up Dice, the circulation manager. “I
think everyone knows what’s at stake here. We
all got to play it like pros. Viv, Margie, come up with a strategy of how to
get into this special event. The big thing, our friend Augustus Morton,”
Red underscored sarcastically, “emphasized in his little invite is that
this charity fashion show will culminate with the unveiling of his new personally
discovered star, name of Kitty Kline.”
“Knowing
you Red, you researched like crazy about this star doll of his,” ace
reporter Ted added in. “So, what kind of dirt did you uncover?”
“That’s
the thing. I came up with nothing.”
“You
mean she’s squeaky clean?” asked Margie.
“I mean,
I found diddly squat. All my years in this biz and I can’t even turn up a hint
as to who this gal is.”
“If she
even exists at all,” Viv pointed out. “Maybe that’s the ultimate joke
of it. Morton’s pulled bigger ruses and gotten away with it.”
“That’s
true,” Red agreed. “But what’s Morton’s game, if that’s the
case?”
A young woman
came into the room just then, about eighteen
years of age. She seemed mousey and vulnerable at the same time, even though
her blond curly hair would probably make her look quite alluring if she just
lost the glasses. Margie didn’t see an ounce of professionalism in the girl. As
for the three main men of the Partisan, they were rather easily
distracted.
“I’ve
got your mail, Mr. Dillinger,” the young lady said to the editor of the
paper. “Should I just put it on the desk?”
Redmond
Dillinger just sighed, exasperated.
“Kathy,
how many times do I have to repeat this? No interrupting when we’re having a
meeting here. It could wait,” Red reminded the young woman, but very
gently. He was going really soft on her, something that didn’t get by either of
the ladies.
“But
sir,” Kathy responded innocently. “Your next big story could be in
this pile.”
She batted
her eyelashes.
“That
may be true, but I won’t be able to psychically read it in the middle of a
meeting and change course. Believe me, it can wait.”
What exciting story are you working on
next?
Besides
having several other stories still waiting in the wings to appear with Pro Se
Press, I am working on my own collection of short stories called DYING WITH HER
NAME IN LIGHTS. These stories will still be entertainment industry focused in
nature, and many occurring in historical time periods versus the modern day of
my other independently published work. However, these would be a bit more
character driven versus the action-driven nature of what I do with Pro Se
Press. Having said that, I still think character is an important part of any
story.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I
considered myself a writer for years, back when I was a child. If you mean as a
published author, my very first stories were in print (in exchange for
subscription copies) to a bi-monthly high quality Play By Mail magazine called
PAPER MAYHEM. Basically, think board games by mail, but that’s oversimplifying
some. Anyway, I started doing fiction based on the game I was in at the time,
with the permission of the people that ran it, and really fell in love with
doing that. If that sounds in a way like fan fiction, I guess you could call it
that, albeit sanctioned fan fiction. I continued until 1998 when the owner,
Dave Webber, unexpectedly passed away. Without that support, I don’t think I’d
have ventured further into submitting to outlets like Pro Se Press or others,
as well a self-publishing a few stories I want to tell that I think have too niche
an audience to be distributed by others. In the future, though, I hope to do
more work such as I have been fortunate to do with Pro Se Press. Tommy Hancock
and his team are very passionate about new pulp and genre fiction, and are
getting a lot of interesting materials out there; I’m glad to be part of it.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I do not
write full time as I hold down a regular job as well. Fortunately I take public
transit, and have mastered the use of the smart phone. While at time a
challenge to do, I have a Microsoft Word compatible program on my Android and
will tap out short scenes or outlines, and then email them to myself for easier
integration. It’s really helped.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
To be
playing LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE on one of my dual monitors while working out
story problems in Microsoft Word on the other.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
Believe it
or not, a writer. My sister and I collaborated on our first novel when I was
around 10 years old. Teachers in the fifth and sixth grade had my poetry and
stories on display at the local mall as part of school district creative arts
displays; I kind of started getting a hint that way. Later, once I became a
teenager, I also wanted to write for animation; years later, I became one of
two Western writers to write for a Japanese produced program. Definitely, my
childhood dreams did come true.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
My hope is
that I am able to create characters that are interesting enough that readers
will want to follow them on whatever adventure they are on – a murder mystery,
a saga of self-discovery, or a flight of epic fantasy. I believe that at the
heart of any story that will impact a reader there must be a strong character.
That doesn’t necessarily mean deep, though mine often are. What it does mean to
me is that the reader truly buys into the fact this character has these
adventures and behaves in consistent ways. Most of all, I hope readers keep
exploring and discovering the worlds created by all kinds of writers, for what
we do is meaningless without readers to enjoy those words.
Links:

Thanks, Shannon!

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