Dr. Devin Murphy will visit the library on Thursday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Murphy is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Bradley University. He will read a few passages and discuss The Boat Runner, his debut novel, during this special program.
Murphy’s book is a work of historical fiction and follows the story of Jacob, a Dutch boy, during World War II. Dr. Murphy was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself and his novel.
1. What inspired you to become a writer?
When I was 12 I loved soccer and my dad bought me a book of poems about sports, edited by George Plimpton. In that book I read a poem about Pele, the Brazilian soccer legend. There was a line about him being so good at this game that if you passed him the sun, he would cage it in the back of the net. That image stunned me. It was an awakening to metaphor, the possibility of language, and that it was important to look for beauty in the world. After that, language and reading became my new love.
2. What are your favorite books/authors?
I tend to love the last book I read the most. I guess it is because I’m still excited by language and stories that they all feel fresh and new to me. Recently I’ve been reading everything by Michael Ondaatje, Willy Vlautin, Simon Van Booy, Rebecca Makkai, and Zadie Smith.
3. What inspired you to write this novel?
My mother’s father was an engineer in the Netherlands who had to go into hiding during WWII. I never met him, but his story was so interesting it wound up finding its way into my writing and got me started on this book.
4. What research was required to write this novel?
I had to go out and learn everything about WWII I could find before even starting. I spent almost a year listening to WWII history courses on tape in my car so I would not waste commute time. I visited every library near me and pulled books from the shelves for years. I actively hunted for those opportunities to make my story more authentic, always looking for moments Jacob could come alive in. It was a lot of fun to expose myself to so much.
5. How do you balance your position as a professor with also being a writer?
Those two roles blend seamlessly together. I struggle with my writing. Then I tell my students where and how I succeeded and failed. Their excitement for learning is contagious and I take that energy back to my writing feeling rejuvenated.
6. What are you working on now? What’s next for you?
My next book is called, Tiny Americans, and it will be published by Harper Collins in early 2019. I’ve been at work on another historical novel as well as planning future novels. So I’m keeping busy as I love what I do.
Visit Devin Murphy’s website here.
Post by Susie Rivera, Reference Specialist
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