Thursday, October 11, 2007

Voices of New Media: Author & Podcaster Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is a force of nature. How else could you characterize a woman who manages to write, host and produce several simultaneous podcasts, write freelance pieces for all manner of publications, write original short stories, write novels of original fiction, hold down a full time job and find the time to be a wife and mother? That list alone is enough to make me tired, much less do it...but Mur Lafferty does all of it, and does it well.

I first found Mur through where I stumbled upon her podcast novel Lessons from a Geek Fu Master. Forty essays later, I felt compelled to look up more information about the person who had just implied that the Food Network’s own Alton Brown was bent on world domination, clued me into to what a “Geekgasm” was and let me listen in on what can best described as the hardest decision a gamer ever had to make…City of Heroes or World of Warcraft. So after a Google search, I managed to find Geek Fu Action Grip, one in what I would soon learn was a veritable plethora of Mur Lafferty related sites on the web. Geek Fu could best be described as Mur’s personal podcast and blog, although in her most recent episodes of what has come to be called the Geek Fu Morning Show, she has been sharing the podcasting duties with one of her best friends and LuLu.TV co-worker Jason Adams. LuLu.TV would be her afore mentioned full time job, where she and Adams also co-host a videocast by the name of This Day In Alternate History. Geek Fu Action Grip was also where the experiment that would become Heaven was initially podcast.

Heaven is another of Mur Lafferty’s several podcasts. It started out as an experimental idea to see if a story she had about the afterlife could be done as a serialized podcast. That idea lasted twelve episodes, turned into a twelve episode second season called Hell, a twelve episode third season called Earth…and there are plans for two additional seasons of which season four is currently being written. Heaven, the series, follows two Earthly friends, Kate and Daniel, in their travels through and adventures in the afterlife. As the series continues, the characters of Kate and Daniel become more and more real through excellent writing and as a listener you are able to easily slip into their universe thanks to the wonderful audio production on Mur’s part. Similar to my experience with Lessons from a Geek Fu Master, I went looking for more by this talented writer and, again, wasn’t disappointed.

Mur Lafferty’s other podcast and blog, yes there’s another one, can be found at and is appropriately enough entitled, I Should Be Writing. It is, according to Mur at the beginning of every podcast, a “Podcast for want to be fiction writers by a want to be fiction writer.” While she is clearly a fiction writer, given the success of the Heaven series, Mur bases her “want to be” status on a professional standard of sales and revenue per word. This podcast has been running since 2005 and has booked over seventy episodes, including special edition daily shows and interviews. With I Should Be Writing, the listener is invited on an all access trip through the issues a writer faces as she tries to write, secure an agent and publish her first novel. Split into three sections, I Should Be Writing first gives us Mur’s personal progress on writing and the other issues she has as a result. The second section of the podcast deals with a topic related to writing, both in general and as a career choice. Topics from villains to query letters are regularly discussed in an easy to understand and un-intimidating way that allows the information offered up to be accessible to the widest possible audience. The third section is set aside for listener questions and comments received via voicemail and email.

With regard to her listeners, Mur Lafferty has taken accessibility to a place to where few people in the public eye dare to go. Anyone familiar with writer, director and actor Kevin Smith knows that his web-presence is nothing short of astounding given his visibility. However, it may very well be dwarfed by Lafferty’s presence on the web. After every podcast of I Should Be Writing, Geek Fu and the Heaven series, not to mention posted everywhere on all of her websites, Mur’s email address, voicemail number and website addresses are freely made available and listeners are encouraged to leave feedback, which they do and which is often addressed on I Should Be Writing itself or via an email from Mur. As a recent, and semi-frequent, submitter of these emails, I can personally vouch for this gifted and patient author’s willingness to help those in need.

While Geek Fu Action Grip, Heaven, Hell, Earth and I Should Be Writing immediately seem as if they would be more than enough to fill anyone’s plate, Mur Lafferty has also found the time for a few other projects. One was to publish a book by the name of Tricks of the Podcasting Masters with Rob Walch that is readily available on and Barnes and Highlighting “tricks” and methods revealed through several interviews, both Lafferty and Walch convey podcasting professional’s advice to those interested in podcasting. Then there are the submission to no less than nine different publications including Knights of the Dinner Table, PC Gamer and SciFi Magazine. Oh, and even before all that there are the numerous contributions to several roll-playing game titles by Zeitgeist, Hogshead and White Wolf Publishing.

How one person can do so much and stay sane, much less coherent enough to continuously push out new and engaging material is well beyond my ability to comprehend, but Mur Lafferty does…and having listened extensively to all of the podcasts mentioned here, she does so amazingly. From her engrossing fiction in Heaven to her warm and honest advice in I Should Be Writing, Mur Lafferty proves herself as one of the brightest voices in new media today. My sincerest hope is that old media, ala the current print and entertainment powerhouses, can move beyond their current paradigms and recognize a voice that represents the future instead of just being afraid of it. If anyone deserves the recognition, it’s Mur Lafferty.

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