Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Author Interview with Sean Paul Murphy

The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God is
Sean’s inspirational, coming-of-age tale of first faith
and first love and how the two became almost fatally
intertwined in his life.  It is a poignant and
insightful meditation on surviving in the gray area between
God’s sovereignty and our individual free will.
“Unless you’re a big name celebrity or other well-known
personality, selling your memoir is more than just
difficult; it’s often impossible. After all, everyone has
a story to tell, don’t they? When we received Sean’s
pitch, we weren’t certain it would be one we’d
pursue—even with his clear accomplishments in the
film/movie industry. But a few pages in and I was hooked.”
Publisher, Sheri Williams adds, “Sean’s author voice is
crisp and inviting. It’s like having a conversation with a
close friend and sharing the struggles and revelations
he’s encountered. And, best of all, he’s down-right
While Sean wrote this book with the Christian reader in mind, the
audience for the book is definitely not limited to
born-again Christians. It was written in casual,
easy-to-understand, non-theological style to make it
accessible to spiritual seekers of all varieties. Human
beings naturally seek to find the transcendent and eternal.
This book reveals it is possible.

 The Interview

1.      Where were you when the idea for this book came to you?

I felt strongly compelled to write this book after dying on the operating table after routine surgery.   That experience made me realize that, although I was a storyteller by profession, I have never told my own story, which I felt some people would find valuable. 
            2. What makes your book unique? 

“The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God” is my own story.  No one could tell it but me.  In fact, many aspects of my life came as a complete surprise to even my closest friends.  Still, although the book is very personal, I have discovered that many people relate to it very deeply.

2.      Who is your primary audience?

 The book is a spiritual memoir, and since I am a Christian, I suppose the primary audience would be Christians.  However, I didn’t write the book specifically for that market.   This is not a theological book.  It is a very human tale that is both unique and universal in its appeal.  As a teenager I underwent a surprising and extraordinary spiritual conversion that falls well outside commonplace experience.  However, the awkward parallel story of first love, which my faith journey ultimately plays out against, should be aching familiar to anyone who has loved and needlessly lost.  Both stories are well worth telling, but combined I believe they possess a special value.
            Aside from love and spirituality, the book also deals all too knowingly with the subject of suicide.  My love story ends with a suicide attempt on my part.  Fortunately, my life was spared by divine intervention.  My sister would not be so lucky.  Her tragic death allowed me to experience firsthand the suffering I nearly inflicted on my family and friends.  In a final strange irony, the death of my sister resulted in a brief reunion with my lost love that gave me peaceful closure to our relationship, and my relationship with God Himself.

3.      What draws you to this genre? 

I’m a screenwriter.  To date I have written fourteen produced feature films.  I never imagined I would write a memoir.  I have always been a very private person and I was completely satisfied drawing oblique references to my formative life experiences through the framework of  myfilms.  However, after suffering a near death experience and battling a potentially fatal illness, I felt a very strong need to tell my own tale and give my testimony.

4.      What kind of research did you have to do?

Fortunately, I value the written word and I have saved almost every personal letter anyone has ever written me.  That correspondence provided the backbone of my story.  Also, when I began writing I downloaded a hundred or so songs from each of the years featured in my book.  I would randomly play the music of the years I sought to recreate as I wrote about them.  It’s amazing the memories the songs brought back.  It was a very useful tool.

5.      What challenged or surprised you about writing this story? 

The biggest challenge I faced was balancing my need to tell my story truthfully against my desire to protect the privacy of the people who played major parts in my life.  This was particularly true in the case of my former girlfriend, whom I call Kathy Gardiner.  “The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God” is about my relationship with God, but that relationship plays out mainly against the backdrop of my relationship with Kathy.  She is a very private person so I did everything within my power to obscure her identity by changing practically every traceable detail concerning her life.   This was also true of other individuals I discuss, including an old friend I essentially accuse of murder.  On the other hand, I was genuinely surprised how many people wanted me to use their real names in the book.

6.      What did you enjoy most about writing this story?

I can’t say I enjoyed writing it.  It was an emotional rollercoaster for me.  I felt bad for my wife, who had to endure my moodiness at the time.  Although most of the memories were sweet and charming, others were extremely painful for me to confront.  I find the first half of the book easy to read, but there are a number of chapters in the second half that I still avoid.  What surprises me most is that people often talk about how much humor there is in the book.  I’m glad.  I never intended it to be gloomy – despite some of the serious subject matter.  Overall, I am happy I wrote it, if only for the impact it is having on the people who read it.

7.      What do you want your audience to come away with after reading your book? 

I want people to realize that it is possible to have a true personal, relationship with the living God.  I want people to know you can reach beyond the world and touch the eternal and transcendent.  However, there’s a reason I called it the pros and cons of talking with God.  There are cons.  With knowledge comes responsibility, and there is often a temporal price to pay when you ignore God’s will in your life.  Faith might be all you need to be saved, but you must learn obedience to experience all of the riches God has in store for you.   

            9.  What are your plans for the future?

Ideally, I would prefer to move away from movies to books.  I have started a follow-up to my memoir called “Unconditional, or the Pros and Cons of Missionary Dating,” which will prove how little I learned about love during the events of the first book.  I have also started a novel.  However, film work, both as a writer and an editor, keeps getting in the way.

Sean Paul Murphy is an award-winning screenwriter with fourteen
produced feature film credits including the faith-based
favorites “Hidden Secrets,” “Sarah’s Choice,” and
“The Encounter.”   Sean lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  He is happily married
with three step-daughters, and he can be found every Sunday morning playing guitar at his church.
For media appearances, interviews, or to schedule signings contact .

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