Thursday, May 17, 2012

Interview with Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I would like to welcome author of One for the Murphys Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Lynda is part of the debut group Class of 2k12. One for the Murphys is available in stores now so pick up a copy!

What is it like to be afraid of love?

Well, I don’t think people are afraid of love—they’re afraid of not being loved. Or loving and not being loved back. Or being hurt in some other way. And it is sad to say, but when a person has been hurt, they sometimes decide that the gamble to put themselves out there is not worth it. It isn’t always a conscious decision; sometimes it just feels like “it’s the way it should be.” Like some directive that has been programmed into the cells.
A person like this is ready for battle when met with aggression—ready to fight. However, when met with affection, the need for flight rises to the top of the priority list. Their senses are on high alert. Their pulse quickens. Their heart pounds. Their eyes dart. Unfortunately, they are unable to hear the logical part of themselves—or someone else—tell them that there is actually no danger.
This is one of the saddest things on earth, I think. A person that wants to be loved but their bodies have been conditioned to “stay safe.”

What leads someone to believe that love is bad and what can readers learn from this?

Well, I think that people who learn that love is “bad” or “dangerous” learn that from experiences that give them an incorrect idea of what real love is. Love, of course, isn’t bad. Love makes everything else worth it.

However, if unkind things are done by people that are supposed to love you and this is your only experience (because you are sheltered or young) then you can incorrectly associate those things with love.

Is Carley afraid of love? Maybe it isn’t love she’s really afraid of. She’s afraid that love won’t be hers to have. She’s afraid that she isn’t worthy. When she gets to a point with the Murphys when she feels she could have it, she does something to try to get rid of it. It feels unnatural to have it. Perhaps, rejecting it first is better than being rejected.

What can we learn? That love—the real, healthy kind—is worth taking the chance for. It’s worth getting hurt a few times in order to seek out the real thing. When I was young, I used to listen to a song called, “Shower the People.” I took a lot of advice from music then. What I gathered from this song was to keep putting your chips on the table. If you love someone, show it to them. And if it doesn’t work out—it’s okay. It won’t destroy you. It’ll hurt, but it won’t end you. Better to go after it with the hope that someday you’ll find the real thing. Better to try to conquer these fears rather than lie down in front of them.

What was it like to get the call that your novel was being published?

My agent, Erin Murphy, had warned me that, although she had a scheduled call with Nancy Paulsen, she was probably going to request revisions rather than offer a contract upfront.

The next day, I was sitting at my desk with my cell, when the ring tone I’d set for Erin started to play—“Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” by Stevie Wonder.

I answered.

Erin: “Now…what song is it…that plays when I call your phone?”

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered?” (I’m still completely clueless here.)

“Well that’s perfect, because we have an offer on the table from Penguin!”

Okay. Imagine cannon balls launching into the air. Imagine a runaway train. Imagine me in my office.

I reacted even before it had sunk in. This was good old fashioned shock. And, for someone who is supposed to be good with words, I had a whole lack of eloquence thing going here, too. “Oh my God! Really? Oh my God. Really? Oh my God! Really?”

So, I finally calmed down and thanked Erin for all she’d done. For her faith in me and in my book. For making a dream come true. And we both got a little weepy. At the end of my life, when MTV counts down my ten best moments, this will be there.

Now, I’d always imagined how cool I would be telling my family about this kind of success. Clever. Calm. Perhaps leaning against a door frame, dropping it into conversation and watching the shock on their faces. I would be collected and able to take it all in.

Not exactly. My body hasn’t moved like that since I ran hurdles in the 10th grade. I went leaping and screaming into the kitchen, my voice blaring and choking at the same time. “The Murphys sold! Oh my God! It sold! The Murphys sold!” My husband, who was in the kitchen, spun around and I could hear my daughter running down the hallway upstairs. We jumped around screaming. I remember saying, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” My son was playing with the kids next door. The three of us threw open the front door and ran next door in our bare feet to tell him.

I am one blessed woman, let me tell you. I have a super-supportive family and network of friends.

Also, Erin Murphy is my agent. And Nancy Paulsen is my editor.

What are you most excited about and what is the biggest fear?

I am most excited about getting into schools to do writing programs with kids. I have already visited some classrooms and have had a blast! The kids are so great—insightful and honest. And they make me laugh! I received a batch of thank you notes from a class that blew me away with their thoughtfulness. I’ll save them forever!

To be honest, I don’t have fears in reference to my writing career. A while ago I did though. I worried about whether I’d be good enough compared to others, have a second book. I mostly worried about how the publication of MURPHYS would make me vulnerable—such as answering some of your questions here for the world to see. I worried about things that I should not have worried about.
Now, I have settled in and feel that what will happen is meant to be. I’m going to work as hard as I can, set my sights on the future, get into schools and make connections with kids about MURPHYS and writing and heroes. I’m going to work on my next novel. There is nothing to fear in all of this awesome stuff!

What kind of research did you do for One for the Murphys?

Well, I did research in terms of the foster care system such as how a child would visit a birth mother who had lost custody, etc. However, most of the story comes from my heart and soul. It is a fictional story, but the emotional thread of it is true. The emotional arc of One for the Murphys is my very own story. So, I guess you could say that my research took a lot of years!

What inspired you to tell this story?

Well, there were a few things that came together, I think. The final catalyst was a conversation that I had with my nine-year-old son about Luke Skywalker and how he wanted to have Darth Vader be his father in one way, but really didn’t want it in another. I began to think about what that would be like. To long for something and wish it away at the same time.

Also, I’d seen the Broadway show, WICKED, at about that time and was so struck by several elements in the story. The writing and music are incredible! I thought a lot about the idea of “Defying Gravity.” I played the Wicked soundtrack while writing a good chunk of the book which is surprising, as I usually cannot write while listening to music with lyrics. However, it seemed to propel the story forward.

It is also important to note, I guess, that I lived with another family for a few months when I was young. Staying with them gave me a close look at a kind of life I had not been familiar with—but the kind of life I decided I wanted when I got older. That stay changed my view on what my life could be. What I could be.

Lastly, as a young teacher I met a woman 22 years older than me who became a friend, mentor and adopted mom-figure. Some sad things happened when I was young and she spent a lot of time helping me understand those things and move past them. Her initials are JM and so when I first began to “hear the Murphys” in my head I wanted to pay tribute to her. So I named the foster mother Julie Murphy so that they would have the same initials. I also dedicated the book to her with a descriptor, “Maker of Miracles”—its acronym being “mom.” (Carley would approve!)

All of these things simmered until one day, Carley stood in my head and began to tell her story.

I saw that you area also working on a YA novel. Can you tell us a little about your future projects?

Well, I actually changed gears to work on a MG when Penguin expressed interest in another book that would follow the same tone and audience of One for the Murphys.
My second novel, ALPHABET SOUP is officially under contract with Nancy Paulsen Books and I couldn’t be happier! Set in the 70’s, it’s about a fifth grader named Lucy who can’t read so she acts out in class to hide it from everyone until a teacher sees through her bluster.

THANK YOU so very much, Cari, for having me here at your fantastic blog! SO appreciated!

I want to thank Lynda for stopping by today! To learn more about Lynda visit her online:


Twitter: @Lynmullalyhunt


  1. Great interview! Love can be sweet, enduring yet hurtful. I'm adding this book to my tbr!

  2. Thanks so much, Savannah. And THANKS, Cari, for featuring me on your totally awesome blog! Honored to be here.

  3. Such a great interview. Loved this! Congratulations on One for the Murphys and Alphabet Soup!