The Ardent Writer Press
Murray Dunlap – Fires and Other Stories
The Ardent Writer Press welcomes accomplished author Murray Dunlap with his latest collection, Fires and Other Stories, an inspirational set of life messages set in fiction and from Murray’s own experiences.
To say I know pain and suffering might be an understatement. As some may know, I was in a car wreck that put me in a coma for three months. Then I lived out of a wheelchair for six. Then I used a walker for about six more. My memory of this timeline and dates is sketchy at best. I have amnesia and a traumatic brain injury. Memory is no longer my strong-suit. As a writer, this disadvantage is maddening. But, I type on.
I had been given much, much physical therapy in order to walk again. I went to multiple therapists to improve my memory and pull myself out of depression. I have joined several gyms to lose the weight I gained in my wheelchair / walker days. Yes, fifty pounds. I published my first book, but having written it before the accident, I had trouble being proud. I did not remember writing it. The interviews and news felt false. I felt as if I was an imposter. The countless hours of therapy aside, my work had been anything but writing.
I had been married at the time of the wreck. A dear girl, she was overcome with the loss of her younger brother just 6 months before. And then her husband of 5 years underwent profound changes, and no longer resembled the man she had once loved. While I can understand now, at the time I was as confused as a human being can be. I suffered that trauma and loss. But, I brushed myself off and moved.
I was forced to relearn to walk, to drive, and to stop speaking with a slur and crooked eyebrows, and the worst thing (to me personally), a smile that drooped on one side of my mouth.
In the background of this mess, my sister-in-law had gone to Sawyerville Day Camp with Mary Balfour Van Zandt and told her my story of suffering. Mary Balfour had thought, he sounds interesting, but a married man. Then, in short order, I was not. And so began the phone calls and emails that led to plane flights and long car rides.
Through all of this, I have started writing again. First, short non-fiction about my recovery to later, back to my love, fiction. My progress was slow, but worthwhile. I have just heard back about my second book, Fires. It is a collection of short stories –fiction, with nonfiction about my recovery sprinkled in. It will be published by The Ardent Writer Press this year.
A fellow survivor, Kara Swanson, who writes an inspirational blog for brain injury survivors (her injury was in 1996) says, “The curious thing about the auto accident that ended my life was that I lived through it.” I add to Kara’s sage note–just like that, my original plan for life vanished. But, as one life ended for me, a better and more fulfilling life began. Thank you Ed. Ed is the man who ran a red light.
And as you might not know, I have become engaged to the beautiful Mary Balfour Van Zandt. From the very deepest, suicidal despair, to the glorious joy of true love, my life has started making sense again. I had lost track of God and resented my arduous journey, but I have learned that the wreck was not God’s plan, but my recovery and meeting the love of my life was.
So I live a profoundly blessed life. The journey from a fat, brain-injured fool in a wheelchair to a life as a published writer who has found love has been, at times, maddening, but the final result is beautiful. Please know that my life is far from perfect, but the pain and suffering brought me here, and give me greater appreciation of the joy.
I look forward to a friendship with my readers out there. Once published, I hope you give Fires a whirl.
Your Friend, Murray Dunlap
Fires and Other Stories
by Murray Dunlap
– Now Available!
Also by Murray Dunlap
Murray Dunlap has been published in more than 50 periodicals among which are The Bark Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Post Road. His stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, as well as to Best New American Voices. The story ‘Race Day‘ was a finalist for the American Fiction Short Story Award, 2014. His first book, Bastard Blue, was published by Press 53 on 6/7/11 (The three year anniversary of a car wreck that almost killed him). It is a collection of short stories, all fiction.
“Bastard Blue is a first book but there’s more than promise on display within its pages. This collection introduces us to a fully realized talent. Murray Dunlap’s voice is confident, his characters richly drawn, his sense of place as vivid as you will find in fiction. Sentence for sentence his prose is crisp and direct, edged somehow with both menace and hope. He has a knack for creeping up to sentiment in his stories without crossing the line, leaving only genuine, well-earned emotion on the page. This book is so fine somebody should offer a money back guarantee.” – Michael Knight, author of The Typist