Today in my small piece of the internet I get the privilege of being a member of the Blog tour for Lee Murray. For those of you who don’t know who Lee Muray is let me introduce you to her.
Lee Murray is a multi award-winning writer and editor of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (Australian Shadows, Sir Julius Vogel). Her titles for adults include the acclaimed Taine McKenna series of military thrillers (Severed Press) and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra co-authored with Dan Rabarts (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Among her titles for children are YA novel Misplaced, and best-loved middle grade adventure Battle of the Birds, listed in the Best Books of the Year 2011 by New Zealand’s Dominion Post. Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, the first book in a series of speculative middle grade antics, is forthcoming from IFWG Australia. An acquiring editor for US boutique press Omnium Gatherum, Lee is a regular speaker at workshops, conferences and schools. She lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock.
Lee’s latest foray in to the world of kaiju is Into the Sounds.
On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribes’ survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. A soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?
I got to Lee about her favorite monsters and kaiju!! Come on who doesn’t love monsters!!
What is your favorite creature feature movie?
Obviously, I love the Jurassic movies. [Please no spoilers on the latest instalment because I haven’t see it yet!] In a former life, I was a research scientist, so I know exactly how it feels when you open the centrifuge to discover one of your test tubes has exploded in the drum… I love the Kong movies too, perhaps because they were the signature kaiju movies of my generation, but also because of their romanticism: the sweeping landscapes and that sense of awe at nature’s dogged determination to survive, and a need to connect in times of crisis.
In a battle between Godzilla and the kaiju from your first book, who would win?
Difficult question! Certainly, if size has anything to do with it, Godzilla has the advantage since even the 1954 movie version stood around fifty metres tall (164ft). By comparison, the Sphenodon kaiju in Into the Mist ‒ who Taine’s soldiers have nicknamed Sampson ‒ is tiny, just three metres tall (10ft) and fifteen metres (50ft) from head to tail, but I still believe he could hold his own in a battle. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, because my creature is conjured from a real biological Order, the Sphenodontia, he’s equipped with the natural superpowers shared by the other representative of that group, the tuatara, features such as: an armoured hide with spiny ridges and sharp talons, hearing sensitive enough to detect an insect’s wingbeat, and a parietal eye in the middle of its forehead, which scientists believe were for testing the air temperatures. Like his close cousins in the reptile family, our friends the crocodiles and snakes, he’s a formidable hunter, able to learn from past experiences, which means if he survives the first onslaught, my Sphenodon likely to come away with some new knowledge which will make him better equipped in the event that the pair clash again. And finally, my kaiju is not just a primordial monster, he’s also a living mythological creature, a mighty taniwha with its own wairua (spirit) and that gives him the edge.
Why do you think more girls aren’t writing kaiju books?
I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I have a story called Maui’s Hook coming out soon in a fabulous kaiju anthology from Outland Entertainment called Kaiju Rising II. The book is full of wonderful women authors, all writing monstery fiction of the oversized variety: Mari Murdock, Marie Brennan, Melanie R Meadors, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and Zin E Rocklyn, so if readers are interested in discovering women writers in this genre, I recommend picking up a copy of this book as the perfect sampler. And in answer to your question: this particular kaiju anthology was by invitation, so perhaps if we want to see more girls writing kaiju fiction, the answer is “if you ask them, they will come”
What was the oddest bit of research you have done for this series?
Since you asked, here it is: Te Urewera, the setting for Into the Mist, is the name of one of our most beautiful national parks and the spiritual homeland of the Tūhoe tribe. However, it is also the Māori term for “burned penis” named after the war chief Murakareke, who turned over in his sleep one night, rolling into the fire where he singed his family jewels!
Is there any other cryptid out there you kind of secretly hope is real?
Do you think a lot of Harry Potter fans are going to be disappointed if I don’t say Griffin? To be honest, it’s a difficult choice since so many cryptid species might more than a little dangerous if we were to actually encounter them in the flesh. Down here in New Zealand, our mythology supports a lot of potentially lethal cryptids: massive carnivorous birds, serpent beasts, mammoth primates. Let’s hope no one finds the elixir that brings them all to life ‒ unless of course it’s in a story.
What is your personal favorite kaiju book (that you haven’t written)?
I absolutely loved Jeremy Robinson’s Apocalypse Machine. Kaiju fiction is one of Robinson’s favourite genres and all his monster books are great, but that one really hit the spot for me. Now there’s a monster who could give that fifty metre Godzilla a run for its money. A fabulous high action, fast-paced read. Highly recommended.
Lee has allowed me to share a sneak peek of her newest release Into the Sounds.
Letting himself be carried along, David tried to get his bearings. Saltwater met freshwater in these Sounds where the sea carved great caverns into the land, some of them more than 500 yards deep. He could believe it: below him, the saltwater layer was dark as an All Black jersey. Broadnose was sticking to the murky freshwater layer and a shelf about three yards below the surface. The other men, still dragging Wallace, had entered a cave. David’s pulse pounded as they followed them inside.
Not a cave, but a tunnel. Does this go anywhere? Running out of air.
Broadnose moved them swiftly through the silence. A horizontal fissure as big as a truck gaped to their right. Through the murky gloom, David spied movement.
Something was in there. Something huge. Oh my God, it was coming out. David wanted to scream, to tell Broadnose to get them the hell out of Dodge, but the pale man just tightened his grip on David and continued on. Helpless, David could only watch in horror, his lungs bursting, as slowly, slowly, a monster emerged.
It was colossal. More than fifty yards from tip to tail. With a cone-shaped body the size of a whale, it glowed eerily. Squid tentacles, white and thicker than a tōtara trunk undulated in the swell. A gigantic pupil eyed David malevolently.
Into the Sounds is out NOW. Click on the picture of the cover (which is exquisite by the way).