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Bewildering Stories

Bewildering Stories Interviews

Mark Murdock

Associate Editor interview synopsis
Bewildering Stories is a big operation, as our Information page shows. Our Associate Editors are an elite group. Their critiques of submissions not only make Bewildering Stories possible, they are essential to making it the best it can be. The Associate Editors necessarily work anonymously, “behind the scenes.” Now we express our appreciation to them with a series of personal interviews.

How did you become involved with Bewildering Stories and when?

Fall of 2007. My wife (also an associate editor) would let me read submissions over her shoulder. I once worked with a friend editing her first novel and loved the experience. So eventually I asked Don if I could give it a shot.

What kinds of stories does Bewildering Stories send you to read? What are they like?

I get mostly sci-fi and fantasy stuff, some horror. Many are not ready for print, only because I can see another draft would greatly improve them. Lots are good with minor considerations, some really good, and some are incredibly good; that’s when I ask Bill to ask the writer for anything and everything they’ve got. On the whole, I am really impressed with the level of writing we receive.

What do you like most about review reading? Is there anything you’d like to tell authors to do or not do?

I like helping make the work better.

Get really good at writing short stories first, with emphasis on “short.” Too many young writers are diving into long pieces that ask the readers for a huge commitment of their time. Unless it’s really good stuff, no one is going to hang with you to the end. Get really good at short, tight pieces, then even the long ones will feel short.

Who are your favorite authors and literary works? Why?

My favorite novel is Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is a 380-page red pill on the nature of reality. I can’t say enough good about it, pun intended for those who’ve read it.

Do you write, yourself?

I am not writing anything formal at the moment but am in an almost frenzied state of research on the engineered collapse of civilization by a psychopathic global oligarchy. We are living in historic, even epic times. And sadly, way too many people are asleep to it. We need to turn off the TV, wake up and start questioning authority again. Get our heads back into reality. For me, writing about it all may come sooner than I think.

Do you read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, or more mainstream literature?

Lately, with a six-year-old kid, I read a lot of children’s books. It’s a pretty cool genre, actually. We read about 4 or 5 of the fun ones, with art, then a chapter book. He’s getting Mark Twain, Kipling, Douglas Adams, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the like, too. But Captain Underpants never fails to make him laugh.

How do you think literature might be used in education, especially in the age of the Internet?

Like it’s always been used: for torture. Force kids to read literature and then force them write about it. The Internet is rewiring our brains and shortening our already tenuous attention spans. A good novel, a real book with paper and ink, is good exercise for your concentration and building critical thinking skills. I’m against the “kindlizing” of literature because it’s so easy to digitally “burn” or disappear them, in whole or part.

What do you do in real life?

I’m most proud of being a dad, stepdad and devoted husband to my beautiful wife who is sure to be reading this. Hi, Sheila.

What is your occupation?

Advertising agency copywriter (a.k.a. hack).

What advice would you give to a young person going into your line of work?

No matter how thick you think your skin is, it’s probably not thick enough. Learn to let go of what you write. Your writing is not your baby. It’s arguably not even yours on some level. If you can dispassionately look at your work as if it were somebody else’s, you’ll go far in any career you choose.

What do you do in your spare time (aside from reading Bewildering Stories subs)?

Spare time? That’s a good one. I am currently practicing remote viewing. My wife makes a list of “objectives” which can be literally anything in the known universe, any time past, present or future. Then she assigns a random eight-digit number to it, and gives me only the number. I sit down with a piece of paper and pen, and following a protocol that I was taught, am able to sense aspects of the objective. It’s fun and continually amazing. Just the fact that it’s possible is incredible. Helps sharpen my sense of awe.

Where do you live, if you don’t mind saying?

San Diego.

Where do you think you might like to live, either in reality or in your imagination?

I would love to live not too far from one of those idyllic American small towns, maybe in the foothills of the Rockies, in a small house with a big backyard, a garden, hiking trails. I’d buy two big dogs with floppy ears and let my kid explore nature.

Either that or Paris. Can’t decide.

Stay bewildered everyone!

Mark Murdock photos

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Murdock
and Bewildering Stories

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