Interview (& Giveaway): Mur Lafferty, author of The Shambling Guide to New York City

Mur Lafferty is a podcasting guru and editor, and her first book, The Shambling Guide to New York drops on the 28th from Orbit Books! She’s a busy lady, so I was psyched when she took a few moments to answer some questions about the new book, writing in general, and more!

Also, courtesy of Orbit Books, we’ve got a copy of The Shambling Guide to New York City up for grabs, so be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post (US/Canada only.)

Photo by JR Blackwell

Photo by JR Blackwell

Mur, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was around 10 or 11, as far as I can remember. I wrote like crazy through high school and college, and then decided that if I wasn’t perfect at the end of college I wasn’t meant to be a writer. I didn’t write for ten years, but still thought of myself as “Someday I will be a writer.” Finally I got back into it in early 2001 and started getting work via role playing games. I wrote for games like Mage, Vampire, and World of Warcraft the RPG. I started podcasting my essays when podcasting began, back in 2004, and started building an audience. My career has gone down an unexpected road, as I started self publishing audio fiction to my podcasting audience, then got attention for a podcast novel, Playing For Keeps, in 2007. It was published by a small press in 2008, and then I worked on a variety of work for hire projects until 2011 when I sold Shambling Guide to New York City to Orbit.

Your brand new novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City, comes out next week! What would be your elevator pitch for the book?
It’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Neverwhere. A woman discovers the travel book company she’s trying to apply to actually writes travel books for monsters. She gets the job and discovers the underground world of the monsters, their careful balance they strike in living among humans, and then meets a very powerful person determined to tip the balance.

shamblingguideWill you tell us a little about its heroine, Zoe?
Zoe is a woman who has a great deal of uncertainty, but believes that confidence is all in how you offer yourself, so she tries very hard not to let her anxieties show. She’s running away from a scandal in her former home, something she’s still trying to come to terms with. She finds a mentor who helps her learn how to stay alive when working with monsters, but she isn’t a typical superpowered kick ass heroine, she knows her own limitations. This doesn’t stop her from jumping into the middle of every conflict, though.

What inspired you to write The Shambling Guide to New York City?
In 2005, when Katrina hit New Orleans, I got together with some other RPG writers to make a book to benefit the Red Cross, and we made it an RPG sourcebook about New Orleans. I wrote a story about a zombie tour guide, trying to show other monsters what she loved about her city. The idea stuck with me and I tried to think about what other cities would be interesting to view from a monster tourist point of view.

Obviously, the new book deals with some pretty scary folk and situations. What’s something that you find particularly terrifying?
Zoe’s co-workers (those who feed on humans, anyway) are under strict orders by their boss to leave her alone, but there is still a constant tension, especially with the incubus, John, who gets sexier as he gets hungrier. Violence is scary, naturally, but the knowledge that peaceful coworkers could turn on you increases the tension.

Who, or what, are a few of the biggest influences on your writing?
Obviously Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman, but I get a lot of my inspiration for humor from Connie Willis, and the authors Madeline L’Engle, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Robin McKinley were instrumental in making me want to write as a teen.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pants, but I’m trying to learn how to plot more, especially as now i’m working with an agent and editors, and they would like to know what the next book is about, more than, “Uh, they will go to this city to write a travel book, and chaos will happen.”

douglas adamsIf you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
That’s tough. A lot of books that were awesome as a kid sometimes don’t hold up- i honestly fear if I read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy now it wouldn’t be as funny. But that’s probably the one.

You have a long history in podcasting! What do you love most about it?
I completely didn’t expect to make a strong connection with my audience, didn’t realize how intimate the process of putting your voice in someone’s ears is. Also, strangely, I don’t feel comfortable blogging, but when I turn on my mic I feel at ease. That makes no sense, but I love it.

When you’re not at work on your next project (or podcast), how do you like to spend your free time?
I play video and board games, hang with my family, go running, read, cook, and practice martial arts.

What’s next for you?
I just finished THE GHOST TRAIN TO NEW ORLEANS, the sequel to Shambling Guide to NYC, and now I’m writing a novella for the Torment video game project. Later this year I’ll work on my thesis to earn my MFA in January.

Keep up with Mur: Website | Twitter

A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city – for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her resume —- human.

Not to be put off by anything — especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker — Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble — with Zoe right in the middle.

1. You MUST fill out the form below (if you’ve signed into Rafflecopter before, it will remember you!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY by Mur Lafferty to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. You must enter on or before 5/31/13
5. Giveaway book courtesy of Orbit Books
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love that cover to The Shambling Guide. The heroine(?) just seems so blase with the supernatural world all around her.

  2. I love the premise of this book! I keep thinking that it gives “Lonely Planet” a new meaning, especially if the zombies get hungry!

  3. Sounds like a great read! Can’t wait to try it out!

  4. I’d love to read this!

  5. You had me sold at the Hitchhiker comparison!

  6. I immediately thought of the Douglas Adams book. Sounds way cool!!

  7. I want this book so hard . You are a local author to me! Will you be attending ConCarolina June 1?

  8. Looks like a lot of fun.

  9. This book looks really cute.

  10. Congrast to Mur on the new release! Sounds like a lot of fun 🙂

  11. Sounds like a fun tale 🙂

  12. Cathy/greytfriend

    It was fun to see you in the SF Signal link post! This book looks like a lot of fun, thanks for bringing it to my attention, and for the opportunity to win it.

  13. Cute cover

  14. Ha, this sounds awesome 🙂 Love a good urban paranormal!

  15. I’ve been listening to Mur’s I Should Be Writing podcast since the beginning & listened to her read one of her previous books: Playing For Keeps. The podcast is full of good stuff. Her success is a long time coming.

  16. I love this!

  17. This sounds like such fun, I cannot wait to read it. Thank you for sharing with us.

  18. Looks awesome! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  19. I had seen the cover and didn’t take a good look at it so wasn’t that impressed. When I finally actually looked at it and read the description, it definitely caught my interest and now I’m dying to read The Shambling Guide to New York City. It sounds like it’s going to be such a great read.

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