by Lisa Schreiner
If you’re one of the millions of fans of the television show Impractical Jokers, the hidden-camera show where four lifelong friends pull pranks on the public (and each other), then you know who James “Murr” Murray is. If not, then it’s suggested that you turn on TruTV right now, as it’s likely that an episode or a marathon of Impractical Jokers is running at this very moment. Enjoy a few episodes and get to know Murr, along with his three best friends (Brian “Q” Quinn, Sal Vulcano and Joe Gatto), laugh until your sides hurt and tears roll down your cheeks. Then forget everything you learned about Murr in those episodes. In his debut as a published author, James S. Murray shows a completely different side from his charming, funny and silly personality that we’ve gotten to know in the over 8 years the show has been on the air.
“Awakened”, which Murray wrote along with Darren Wearmouth, a novelist from Manchester, England, is a perfectly executed Sci-Fi novel that brings the reader right into the action from the beginning. Taking place in present-day New York City, “Awakened” delves into one of the more uneasy urban legends of Manhattan: what lurks underneath the historical streets of the greatest city in the world. We’ve all heard the stories about alligators in the sewers and those who dwell in empty subway tunnels; what if a variation of the two were true?
The excitement of a brand new, revolutionary subway line, that brings New Jersey commuters into New York City in the matter of minutes, is palpable. Politicians including the mayor and the president of the United States are in attendance for the inaugural ride…along with some uninvited guests. Chaos ensues when the doors to the subway cars open and reveal a scene straight out of our nightmares. Blood covers nearly every inch of the interior of the cars, windows are shattered, and the 65 passengers that were on board are nowhere to be found. In a post 9/11 world, everyone’s immediate reaction is fears of terrorism, and rightfully so. But, what created this unthinkable sight is a form of terrorism no one had ever seen before.
Wearmouth and Murray’s passionate description of chaotic scenes, impossible decisions and terror bring the reader right into the thick of it. The “terrorists” are presented in such a way that make you feel truly horrified.
“Awakened” is guaranteed to keep the reader captivated from cover to cover…as well as reluctant to take a subway ever again.
On June 26th, the day of the in-store release of “Awakened”, Murray and Wearmouth dropped by Book Revue in Huntington, New York to talk about the book, do a little q&a and sign copies for the packed crowd.
“I wrote this book 14 years ago,” Murr told the crowd. “I have a degree in English from Georgetown and I always dreamed of being a fiction writer. I had this idea; my friend dared me to write a short story. I had been talking about this tale of a creature in the subway. So my friend said ‘write the damn thing!’ so I wrote the short story and I sent it to him. Twenty minutes later, he calls me and says ‘You have to write the book around this story. What is this story?’ And that story is in the book almost untouched from 14 years ago. So I spent a year of my life writing the book. I sent the manuscript out and it got returned to me, unopened, by hundreds of agents and publicists. It sat on my computer for 14 years. When you feel rejected in some way, you start to internalize that and start to think ‘Maybe the book wasn’t good, maybe all this time was for nothing’, and you start to internalize that rejection. So fast forward to to 14 years later, I send the manuscript to Harper Collins and one day later, they bought it.”
Darren Wearmouth was on a list of accomplished authors that had been sent to James, to help polish “Awakened” and make it ready for publishing. On Wearmouth, Murray had this to say:
“I interviewed all these guys and girls, amazing writers in their own right. And, I met Darren and we just hit it off immediately. We liked the same things. It was like an instant love affair. He would take a chapter and polish it up and then I would take it back and polish it up some more. It worked really seamlessly. It’s a really great partnership. And I have to say, it’s been such an honor and pleasure to work with him for the past year.”
You can purchase “Awakened” now through the links listed below, as well as your local book store.