Meet Author Val Muller

Don't worry, I promise not to make a habit of it.

It's just that Val Muller, author of the middle-grade mystery series Corgi Capers and the upcoming horror novel Faulkner's Apprentice, was kind enough to stop by for an interview and my excitement got the better of me. Note that our names start with "V" and we're both redheads. I feel a kinship forming.




Welcome, Ms. Muller!
Thanks for hosting me!

My pleasure -- it's wonderful to have you. How long have you been writing?
My first "book" came in first grade: The Mystery of Who Killed John Polly. It was my show-and-tell project for about three years in a row!

Do you have any writing quirks? (A favorite pen? Naming your typewriter, that sort of thing?)
I write most of my first drafts by hand. It's taking a toll on my wrist, so I've been trying to teach myself how to compose first drafts on a keyboard. I haven't found a keyboard I "love" yet, but I'll keep on it!

What is the most difficult part of writing for you? How do you overcome it?
I hate editing my own work -- not the first draft of edits, but the final polishing. I get so nervous about it, and I have to keep pulling myself out of the story so I don't get lost in the narrative (and focus instead on the tiny nuances of a final edit). 

Looking back on your writing career thus far, is there anything you wish you'd done differently?
I wish I had started taking it seriously earlier. After college I kind of fell into my job and never took writing seriously. I guess I had that perception that writing was just something that happened to people, not something that a writer actively pursued. Obviously, I woke up!

Do you have any advice for new or aspiring authors?
Read. Write. Repeat.   

It's clear that you've been inspired by your adorable dogs where Corgi Capers is concerned. Was there a particular moment when you looked at them and thought, "I just HAVE to write about these guys?"
Walking them through the neighborhood, a bunch of kids started asking me what kind of adventures the dogs get in while I'm at work. Their interest in my dogs' "secret lives" inspired me to write it down. Plus, my dogs have very distinct personalities, making it easy to turn them into characters.


Do you have a certain line, scene, or character that you're most proud of?
"The bad man" from my most recent horror novel is the character that most stands out to me. He's pure evil, and I've even had multiple nightmares about him. Yikes!

What is the best feedback you've received?
A kid in my neighborhood, a beta reader, told me that she liked Corgi Capers better than The Hunger Games!

Favorite fan interaction?
A fan posted a YouTube video on Facebook. It was a scene where a dog let another dog out of its crate. This is exactly what happens in Corgi Capers, and the fan was thinking of that exact scene when she saw the video. It made my day!



 What do you do when you aren't writing?
My full-time job is teaching. I teach 11th and 12 grade English and creative writing. I like spending much of my day talking about and reading literature. Standardized tests... not so much!

What's your favorite film?
Back to the Future. I've loved it ever since I first saw it. I think, subconsciously, that movie taught me much of what I know about writing.

Ninjas or pirates?
Pirates. Definitely pirates.

That is absolutely the correct answer. Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know about you?
I'm very bad at spelling. Oh, and you can find me here:

Corgi Capers: www.CorgiCapers.com (Currently holding a contest! Enter for the chance to name a character in Corgi Capers, Book 3!)

I'd like to thank Ms. Muller for her time and consideration in answering all of my obnoxious questions with such class! I'll leave you all with an excerpt from her upcoming horror novel, Faulkner's Apprentice, available April 30th! Drop by Goodreads to enter a giveaway!


Excerpt:

As the morning progressed, Lorei grew more comfortable talking to fans and journalists. Before long, she had even perfected her signature. She pulled back her sweater and smiled when her body caught the eye of a patron. For the first time in her life, she felt her luck might actually be taking a turn for the better. 
By the time the line dwindled to the last customer, Lorei was riding a wave of adrenaline. The fame, the success; it was a taste of all she had worked for and longed for since high school.All the random day jobs; all the long, dark hours poring over her writing. It was all worthwhile now. She had even collected a stack of phone numbers. 
But when she looked up to greet the last customer in line, her confidence shattered. The color on her cheeks drained with her adrenaline. It was a man in a worn, brown fedora and a weathered trench coat; it was the same man who had been creeping near her backyard. 
This time, he was close enough for her to examine his face. The face was so gruesome that the man’s gaze terrified her, yet it was so horribly captivating that she could not look away. The face was wrinkled, leathery, and gaunt. Pouches of flesh sagged under his eyes, and when he smiled at her, the flabby flesh stretched tight against his lips. His gnarled and knobby nose reminded Lorei of a haunted old tree that grew outside her childhood bedroom window; it housed a spooky old owl that used to keep her awake with its ghostly hooting. He looked more like a scarecrow than a man. Lorei shuddered as the strange man stepped up to the table and cleared his throat. Other customers mingled around the store, each one clutching a newly-signed book like a precious treasure. Those who had been so adamant to see her a moment ago seemed to have forgotten her existence. She was left horribly alone and had no choice but to confront the man with her gaze. 
His countenance held all the properties of childhood nightmares—unexplainable and visceral and terribly real. His skin was weathered like the aging autumn; gnarled and twisted, it seemed to protest its own age. His bottom lip was swollen and split on one side with scarred-over stitches holding it together. Above the opposite eyebrow was a wide and leathery scar. Shadowed by a heavy brow sunk two piercing eyes, coal-black. The gaze that blazed from them pierced Lorei with the shrillest of winter winds and yet burned through her core like fire. 
“I—” was all she could mutter. She sat paralyzed. The man held no book for her to sign and said nothing. His hands he kept in his coat pockets, his gaze penetrating all the while. He seemed comfortable enough standing in silence. 
Lorei looked again for the manager, but Diane stood absorbed in conversation on the other side of the store. Like the customers, she was oblivious to Lorei’s situation. Lorei and the stranger were enclosed in their own private sphere of existence. Even if she screamed, she knew that no one would hear. No one would look. There was something intangible that separated her from the rest of humanity just then. 
She closed her eyes, hoping that it was all just her imagination. But when she opened them again, the man was still there. He had removed his hands from his pockets, and they were fondling the inside cover of Faulkner’s newest book. He ran his finger up and down the dust jacket, tracing the contours of Faulkner’s headshot. 
“Something sad about his face, don’t you think?” the man asked. His voice was at once wispy and gruff enough to match his appearance. It had the qualities of a lonely fall breeze rustling through the last of the dried leaves that were nature’s only stronghold against the death of winter. 
Lorei could not answer right away. Instead, she was captivated by the sight of his finger. Like his face, the skin on his hands was dingy, stained an earthen color. His nail was long like a claw, and black. It looked dead, like it would soon fall away. He traced the long nail around and around, forcing her eyes to examine the portrait. It hypnotized her so that she couldn’t look away. And then, the familiar and smoldering eyes of Faulkner’s headshot made her forget all about the gaunt man in the fedora.  
       



2 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting me! I had fun with this interview :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your time, Ms. Muller -- you were a delight!

    ReplyDelete

Leave ye scrawlins 'ere, but mind that ye treat one another wi' decency, yeah?