We are told from young that we could become anything that we put our minds to, but as we get older and the realities of life begin to hit, the dream becomes deferred and we stray far from it. Queens-bred Victoria Christopher Murray had spent many nights behind closed doors with the dream of being a published author, but it almost didn’t happen. Attending Hampton University majoring in Communication Disorders, the book she always wanted to write was in the back of her mind. After receiving her MBA from New York University she entered the world of corporate America still years away from the first novel. Murray’s first novel, Temptation, was self-published and thrust into the genre of Christian fiction in 1997. Now 17 books later and Murray has so many accolades with more to come, the dream realized. Giving her time to Parlé Magazine, she talks about the genre of Christian fiction, her popular character Jasmine Cox Larson Bush and her new novel, Destiny’s Divas.
Parlé Magazine: Tell us how you started your writing career.
Victoria Christopher Murray: I wanted to write my whole life but I never saw anybody who looked like me or talked like me in a book. I never knew I could really do it and then in 1997 I decided to write my own novel.
Parlé: Who were some of your influences?
VCM: When I was growing up, when I read books by Maya Angelou and Richard Wright, I was wowed by the fact that African-Americans were authors. It was a book written by Yolanda Joe called, Falling Leaves of Ivy. I saw her on BET around the time BET first started and she was being interviewed about the book and the next day, I went to get it and I told myself that I can do it.
Parlé: While you were working in Corporate America, did you ever think you’ll be the author that you are now?
VCM: It was a dream and I’m actually living the dream. I kept telling anybody that would listen to me that I was going to write a book and be with a big publishing company. It was a dream and I am living that dream, it isn’t what I thought that it would be, but it’s a dream nonetheless.
Parlé: What were some of your struggles in writing your first book?
VCM: It was really just finding the time, people say they want to write but they never really find the time. I would have written my first book years and years before that, but life always got in the way. In 1997, I decided to go ahead and write my first book, I made a commitment to write one word a day. I would come home from my business, write a few words and feel so good. Then there were days when I came home felt like I could write a whole chapter. Once I made the time, I finished my first novel in three months.
Parlé: It was originally self-published, how was that process?
VCM: I have my MBA in marketing and my husband has his MBA so the actual process of self-publishing was not that difficult. I read a book on self-publishing, I spoke to a lot of people about it and did as much research as possible. I knew exactly what to do and I did. The bigger problem is once it’s published what do you do to market it. I decided to do what big publisher did, I put myself on a 17-city tour, I used the internet and used every chance I had to tell people about my book.
Parlé: Your first book, Temptation, did you expect it to be generalized as Christian Fiction?
VCM: No, I didn’t even know that genre existed. If you read any of my novels you will know that I love the Lord. I always tell people that my faith goes with me so I wasn’t writing a Christian book, I was writing what I knew. At first I really did not like that label and I felt that it was very limiting. When I found people who were Christians that were shocked by book, I really didn’t like the label. I just finally embraced it and told myself that I was one of the first to write Christian fiction.
Parlé: Jasmine Cox Larson Bush is a character who you made a series for. What is it about her?
VCM: I have written 17 books and 5 are written with Jasmine in the lead role. She was in my first novel as a secondary character and she was really the antagonist. When people finish reading my first book, they loved this bad woman. I was receiving emails asking me to write about Jasmine again. I come up with my story ideas first and on my fifth novel my idea was fit for the role of Jasmine and the rest is history.
Parlé: Are you in the works of writing another book for her?
VCM: No, what I’ve been doing is using my collaboration deal that I have with ReShonda Tate Billingsley where it’s Jasmine versus her bad first lady Rachel. We have another book coming out in January, it’s already finished but we don’t have a title for it.
Parlé: Destiny’s Divas is your newest novel, why did you decide to write that kind of story?
VCM: Every book that I’m going to write is already inside of me and this book about three evangelists who travel and sing together was one that I already thought of. I finally had the chance to write it and the seed was ready for me to tell the story.
Parlé: As an author, do you tend to put little pieces of your life in your stories?
VCM: I don’t think any author can help that. I remember passing a church that had a hair salon and thought how crazy was that so I put it in my book because I thought it was interesting. As far as situations that has happened to me, I haven’t done that before.
Parlé: What advice can you give to the budding novelists out there?
VCM: First thing I tell people is, you just have to do it. We can dream about something forever but we have to do it. You cannot call yourself a writer if you’re not writing everyday and the quality or quantity doesn’t matter. Every time you exercise the muscle of writing you will get better at it.
Parlé: Thank you for your time.