At the same time, there was a growing need for me to return to my first love – fiction writing. I’d gotten into journalism as a way to make money until the fiction took off, but it had taken over my life.
I don’t regret this – those years in journalism made me a better writer, with a better understanding of people, story, the real world and the ability to write under deadline pressure. But it was blatantly clear that it just wasn’t in me to write for my day job and go home to do more writing.
At the same time, a friend had turned 40 and she asked via her blog about regrets and whether we had any. I had a vision of myself on my deathbed, thinking that maybe if I’d tried harder, I might have had novels published and a career as a writer. That vision made every cell in my body shudder.
I chose my fantasy romance trilogy, Dream of Asarlai, to work on. Within twelve months, book one was ready to start shopping around. Eight months later, I sold the trilogy here in Australia to HarperCollins. Just a year after that, Secret Ones hit the shelves.
Making the choice to turn from easy options and give yourself the chance to be everything you can be is a big theme in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy. It’s a big theme in literature in general, really. When I think of the books I love – old loves like Lord of the Rings; in-between loves like Kate Elliot’s Crown of Stars epic; new loves like Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon series – what they all have in common is the moment where characters have to make a choice, take a risk and try to be everything they’re meant to be.
In Secret Ones, Maggie Shaunessy thinks she knows what she wants in life and she’s very happy with what she’s built – she has her dream job as a teacher working with humans and at night can return to the village of Sclossin and live her secret life as a member of a magical race. However, Maggie has quite frankly been kidding herself and then the moment comes – does she believe enough in herself to become what she’s meant to be?
Sometimes, we let life happen to us and allow other people to make these decisions for us. Often, those people – parents, teachers, guidance counsellors – do so with the best intentions.
But at the end of the day, the person who should know us the best is ourselves. The person who knows what we’re meant to be is us. The question is – is that person prepared to do what is needed to realise that potential?
Nicole Murphy has been a primary school teacher, bookstore owner, journalist and checkout chick. She grew up reading Tolkien, Lewis and Le Guin; spent her twenties discovering Quick, Lindsay and Deveraux and lives her love of science fiction and fantasy through her involvement with the Conflux science fiction conventions. Her urban fantasy trilogy Dream of Asarlai is published in Australia/NZ by HarperVoyager. Book one Secret Ones is out now. She lives with her husband in Queanbeyan, NSW. Visit her website http://nicolermurphy.com