We had the good fortune of connecting with Cerece Rennie Murphy and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cerece, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It was a very easy decision for me. When I first started, I did what everyone else said I should do. I queried agents to try to get my book published. But as I started getting rejections, I noticed a pattern in the responses. In addition to the generic rejection letters, I got a lot of “we think this book is great, but we don’t think it will be commercially successful.” At that time there weren’t a lot of publishers willing to take a chance on science fiction written by a woman of color featuring characters of color. But I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I’ve never been one to wait for permission. So, after more than a dozen rejections, it just occurred to me that I really didn’t need anyone’s permission to bring the stories I wanted to tell to the world. I could learn to do it myself and so I did.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
You know that question of “what sets you apart from other people” is a tricky one. I almost feel like it’s a question that other people should answer because when I’m doing my work, I’m not comparing myself to anyone. So honestly, I have no idea if what I’m doing is similar to other writers or drastically different, nor am I concerned with that. I start out every story trying to listen to my characters and tell their story to the best of my ability. From the first book to the last one that I wrote, that’s all I’m thinking about. That focus has kept me motivated, challenged, and happy and that’s where my mind stays. I really think artists spend too much time comparing themselves to other people and it’s detrimental to the creative process. Learning from other people is wonderful, a gift. Comparing yourself to someone else only leads to frustration. Their journey is not your journey. I know that life can seem like a horse race, but it’s not. You are on a singular path, always. There is no one that can be you and there’s no way you can win trying to be somebody else.

What excites me about my work is the story. Before I ever thought or imagined that I could be a writer, I was and am an avid reader. I love a good story! When my stories come to me, in dreams or visions, I’m always so excited to see how it unfolds, to learn how it ends and I can’t do that unless I write them. So, as I’m going along the journey, listening to the characters, I’m the audience watching them, following them and it’s so exciting. I’ve been doing this for more than a decade, but it continues to be my favorite part of the job. When I read what I’ve written and I see the same images in my head as when the characters first told me their story, I know I’ve done a good job. When I can’t see those same images, I know I have work to do. Through all my ups and downs, my love of each story and my belief in my characters has kept me going.

Was it easy? My mom says that nothing worth doing is easy. She says “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” LOL! Nothing about the process of writing ten books while having a career, a husband, and raising two children was easy, but I always knew it would be worth it. Belief in my characters and in the story kept me going, kept me writing, no matter what. I believe that each story is a blessing, and a blessing is not complete until it’s shared. I tell aspiring writers all the time there are many reasons not to write your story. Fear. Doubt. All of them show up to convince you not to do what you know in your heart you should do. You can let fear and doubt win and it will disappoint you. You may regret it, but that’s not the worst of it. The worst part about not sharing the blessing of your work is this – somewhere out there someone needs to read the story that’s in your head. Someone needs to read that story, to see that piece of art to feel less alone, to feel seen, to feel heard. But, if you never write it, never draw it, never created it, then that connection will die with you. That person who needed to read your story will never have that moment of connection because you couldn’t get over yourself enough to give it to them. Now, it’s easy enough to think “Well, my story would never be that for anyone.” The problem is that’s really not for you to say. Imagine your favorite book, your favorite song, your favorite painting. Imagine never seeing it because the artist couldn’t get over themselves enough to bring it to you. Imagine how that would change your life. Imagine how much less it would be because that piece of art was not in it. Every single artist ever has doubted the value of their work. Every single one. Doubt is surely a reason. Fear is surely a reason, but it is never an excuse.

What do I want the world to know about my work? I want people to know that I write stories that hopefully entertain and inspire, with characters who have something to share and something to teach about the power that lies within all of us.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m going to assume that you mean the LA area, but I’m from Washington DC and it is my favorite place to be. If you meant for me to say something about my city, let me know and I will revise this answer.

So, it’s been more than two decades since I lived in the LA area, but I still remember its beauty. I went to Pepperdine University and had the privilege of seeing the ocean every single day. Now, as an East Coast girl who’d seen the ocean maybe two or three times before I moved to LA, I never got over it. Every single drive down Pacific Coast Highway was magical to me. So, if I was showing someone around town for a week, I would almost want to blindfold them as we drove from LAX to PCH and then open their eyes just as you get on that ramp in Santa Monica that takes you down onto PCH. We would spend the day at the beach. I think pretty much all seven days at the beach. There are so many cool bars and restaurants right along the water that we could pop in and eat almost anywhere. We’d have a good meal and an even better view. It’s what I miss most about living in LA and it’s what I look forward to doing the next time I visit.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh, man! There are so many people that I need to thank for this journey that I’m on. First and foremost, I’d like to thank my mother who has always believed in me and followed up her belief with action and support at every turn and moment of my life. I would not be who I am without her. I’d also like to thank the generous community of authors who have mentored me and encouraged me and shown me through their incredible skill and extraordinary kindness how to do this work and how to get better at it. And last but not least I’d like to thank my kids who are a constant source of inspiration and motivation for the stories I tell. And God, always, for everything.

Website: https://www.cerecerenniemurphy.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cerecermurphy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CereceRMurphy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cerece-Rennie-Murphy-205753729546299/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5BtQJapYVrHLevullGnkWA

Image Credits
Headshot: Imagine Photography, Kea Taylor Image of Me at a Convention (head down): Loading Snacks

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