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Interview: Mur Lafferty, Author of Playing for Keeps

Mur Lafferty
Playing for Keeps

Mur has written for over 15 role-playing games, one textbook, one book on podcasting, and several magazines. Her column, Geek Fu Action Grip, appears regularly in the magazine Knights of the Dinner Table. She has published fiction with the podcast Escape Pod, Scrybe Press, Murky Depths and Hub Magazine. She has also worked for Lulu Enterprises, first at as a community administrator, then in June moved to Lulu.TV to work on creating content to build a community on the site. In 2008 her novel Playing For Keeps was picked up to be published in August by Swarm Press.

I discovered Murs story after hearing an interview with her on NPR a few weeks ago. In the interview, she recounted how she came upon the idea for her latest book after her friend Jason remarked that hed like his superpower to be the ability to will elevators to his floor instantly after pressing the call button. I immediately wondered if this Jason was our very own Jason, so when I returned to the office, I asked him right away if he knew anyone who had recently published a novel about superheros. Turns out Jason and Mur have been long time friends, and he was graciously willing to introduce me to her.

CB: What fascinates you about the web?
ML: The opportuniuties to be creative on the web are limitless. Many people have explored how far we can go, but I still dont think theyve found all the different ways. Im excited to explore the collaborative capabilities of digital media.

CB: Is there anything that you would change about it?
ML: Well, theres the ability to be anonymous online, which is great, but it can be severely abused. Harassment is a problem, and I dont know how to fix that without compromising civil liberties.

CB: Do you have a blog? If so, what makes your blog unique?

ML: I dont consider myself a blogger, honestly. I have a number of blogs that run the RSS that keep my podcasts going, and a master blog at where you can get all of my content, but blogging itself, I dont do a lot of.

CB: You recently got your book, Playing for Keeps, published after taking a very web 2.0 approach to marketing it. How did you go from giving away your book for free to being in the Top 20 on

ML: Giving away the book for free put my name in the minds of thousands of people. Many of those people wanted to pay me back and support me (and some just wanted to own the book in a physical form) so when the book came out, they jumped on it.

[Editors note: Mur posted chapters of her book online as podcasts first, then with companion PDFs, which generated lots of attention. Then she used Twitter to generate even more interest and keep her fans informed leading up to the release of the book.]

CB: How do you feel about devices like Amazons Kindle? Will your books be read on a Kindle near you anytime soon?

ML: Im conflicted about the Kindle. I got one as a gift, and Im enjoying it much more than I thought I would, but I sitll dont like the DRM involved with it. I havent decided whether Im releasing [my books] via Kindle or not yet.

CB: As a parent, have you observed any significant differences in how technology affects childhood learning and development in comparison to when you were a child?

ML: I think games, and yes, video games too, are a great way to encourage kids reading comprehension. On the other hand, Tivo has made it impossible for my kid to understand real-time media like radio and television.

CB: If you had one sentence to pitch your latest and greatest idea, what would it be?

ML: Its still under creation. 😉

CB: Who has influenced or helped you the most in your career?

ML: Hard to single anyone out. There have been people who have been instrumental in my writing like James Patrick Kelly and Richard Dansky, and then my husband who has supported me, without whom I could not have worked this hard.

CB: Do you have any desert island books?

ML: American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis.

CB: Your book is about people with unique powers that seem pretty un-super until they are desperately needed. I do believe that everyone has a specific and unique talent that comes in handy at just the right time; it might be something most people know about you or something very few know. What is your super-power?

ML: I can give people nicknames that stick.

CB: If the worlds technological and economic systems were to collapse and revert society to locally-focused, agrarian communities, what role would you assume?

ML: I would be a chef. Im actually working on a story right now about a futuristic dystopian chef.

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