EP74 Let's Talk Faith with Julie Murphy

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

This week we chat with New York Times bestselling author Julie Murphy about her book Faith: Taking Flight! Julie Murphy wrote the best selling and now Netflix movie Dumplin'. Faith: Taking Flight, is a coming of age novelization of the eponymous character originally published by Valiant Comics. We discuss the politics of representation and resisting toxicity through superhero storytelling. Join us as we take flight with Julie Murphy!

For the full interview be sure to listen to the podcast! Available anywhere you get your podcasts!

We're always interested in the writing process. So I'm curious, do you have a writing kryptonite? Like, is there a challenge when you sit down to write or maybe over the process, that that's the thing that you struggle against?

I think that writing in general is my kryptonite. No, I love thinking about it and I love what happens after I've done it. Um, but I do think that the hardest part for me, will always be like the frustration. There's this version of the story that exists in your head and there's the version of the story that exists on paper and having to join those two together is really exciting. But also excruciating because it's so frustrating to see how cool something is and seeing the reality of what you can actually accomplish is like, "Oh, I guess I'm not that cool." Yeah. It's the reason why I keep doing it at the same time because I'll never be good enough, which is depressing, but also, like, I don't want to keep doing something that I can't continue to improve upon.

I've got to tell you that as a would-be writer, I like to hear that a New York Times bestselling writer says this, that's definitely encouraging. I'm so glad because I do feel if a person who is writing at your level still admits like it's difficult, there's a kind of, you know, artistic excruciating, then, you know, the rest of us are not alone in this writing world.

Until you have to be in front of your laptop and actually do the writing alone. Writings a lot like death in that, like when you're writing a novel, the only way you can do it is by yourself. You can only die alone.

I think that's wonderful. On this podcast, like we take comics weirdly seriously. I mean, we have fun, we love them, but we think the art form is really meaningful. And it's really cool to see how somebody approaches it. When I read the novel I was like, man, there are some really serious themes in this. It does not shy away from that. I'm curious also, you know, because you weren't necessarily a huge sort of comic fan, what were the challenges of taking on something that's primarily a visual medium, and then turning that into a sort of like this discursive novelization. Did you take to that like a duck to water or was it like a lot of obstacles?

I mean, the most exciting thing about reading a comic is what you can bring to the table. Like when you're reading it, like, um, There's so many different places where your imagination can fill in the blank. And so in a way, the most, the difficult thing was writing something that would match whatever someone already had in their head. Do you know what I mean? So writing something that the fans of Faith who already existed were going to be excited about and something that wasn't going to conflict with, like their really exciting ideas about what Faith was and what Faith was to them. That was really, really daunting. And I mean, too, like I think that, I mean, every little section of like art or fandom has this, but there's those really vicious fans every once in a while that you have to deal with. And the thing is to be totally honest, the times that I've dealt with really vicious people on the internet, in regards to Faith, there are probably people who don't even read Faith. They're just people who read comics in general and feel very protective over that space. And don't like to see fat ladies in it I guess. I think like knowing that could be a possibility and then knowing that it's a reality was a really difficult thing But then also just wanting to do right by the people who really, really loves Faith, because I know what it means to love something and then see a reiteration of it or like a recreation of it and be deeply offended by it. Like I'm obsessed with Ursula and anytime anyone even talks about any kind of like Little Mermaid retelling or like anything where there's a sea witch I'm like how dare you! Ursula is a drag queen! I think we all have those things, but nothing anyone else ever does will ever be enough or right.

It (Faith) has so much representation for plus size women. Very clearly based on who the protagonist is. And what I'm curious about is how much of that was just you organically writing, your experience and your world, and how much it was an intended kind of political statement?

Yeah. So, I mean, on the one hand, like it's a very natural place for me to go to. Like, I want to write about people who are like me. I want to write about people who are queer. I want to write about people who are fat about people, you know, social circles reflects that that same diversity that you see literally every day in the world. And I think that there's this idea, especially after having worked with some people in film that change has to be slow and that's bullshit because the only effort it takes to make a change is to actually make the change and just do it and just go into it. I know so many queer comic book fans. I know so many plus-size comic book fans. I know so many comic fans of color. Like it doesn't make any sense for us not to reflect those people in these spaces. So it's, it's a natural thing for me, but it's, it's very much on purpose and it's very much, I will definitely say a political decision. You know what I mean? So like I don't know. I mean, Come at me, I guess? My art will always be political and my art is without a doubt political. So there's definitely a reason. And I hope that there's good storytelling there still. And that's definitely, I hope that's why people come to my books to begin with. But I put those characters in those decisions in my books and my work for a reason. And I think that, you know, that's definitely a lot of the reason why I didn't gravitate towards comics growing up. It was such a visual medium, and I didn't readily see myself. And in a novel, it's a little easier to fill in the blanks. Um, as far as like what someone might look like or what a world might look like. So. I think that was a reason why I shied away and I never really thought there was a space for me in comics. In publishing, we have this really great saying that, if you can't see it, you can't be it. And so, because I never saw it, I never felt like I could be it. And then I saw faith and I was like, I can do that. I could write because I can see it. Um, so it's a very real thing.

Faith: Taking Flight is available now to purchase at your local book store or digitally. Head over to iamjuliemurphy.com to look at everything that Julie Murphy has written and also purchase Faith: Taking Flight.

For the full interview be sure to listen to the podcast! Available anywhere you get your podcasts!


Julie Murphy - Faith - Faith: Taking Flight - Writing - Libraries - Librarians - YA - young adult literature - young adult novels - origins - Valiant Comics - coming of age - writing kryptonite - New York Bestselling Author - Twilight - trolls - fandom - LGBTQ - Dumplin' - lesbian veterinarians - Hollywood & Vine - tragedy - pessimism - Scorpios - White Knight Scorpio

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