M. R. Sellars
|M. R. Sellars|
February 20, 1962 |
|Genres||Thriller fiction, Paranormal fiction, horror fiction, mystery (fiction)|
|Notable work(s)||The Rowan Gant Investigations, The Special Agent Constance Mandalay Novels|
Murvel Russell Sellars, Jr. (M. R. Sellars) (born February 20, 1962) is an American paranormal, thriller, horror, and mystery writer. He is best known for his Rowan Gant Investigations series about a practicing Witch turned occult detective, who aids the Saint Louis police department in solving bizarre crimes. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers, and a former member of the Horror Writers Association.
Born in Fulton, Kentucky, Sellars spent the first one and one-half years of his life on the family farm before the family relocated to Saint Louis, Missouri in the early sixties. His sister, Sandra, was born in Saint Louis in December 1965. He resided in Saint Ann, Missouri during his childhood and teen years.
After graduating Ritenour High School in 1980, Sellars attended college, majoring in Journalism and Literature before eventually pursuing a career in the growing field of computer and electronics technology.
Married to "Kat" Sellars, October 1987 to present.
It was while working as a computer technician in the repair center for the now defunct chain, Crazy Dave's Computertrend, that Sellars met his wife, Kat, who at the time was his immediate supervisor. He details their meeting, courtship, and eventual marriage in a humorous, and per his own words, "sometimes sappy," series of entries at his blog, Brainpan Leakage.
Although working as a computer network and printer technician, Sellars continued to pen short stories, as well as full-length novel manuscripts. He sporadically submitted them to agents in search of representation. For a period of several years, he gave up on hopes of publication, however he still wrote on a regular basis. Per his own accounting, sometime during the fall of 1995 he was looking through some of his old works and was inspired to write Harm None, which he finished early 1996. He once again started seeking representation, and after several "near misses," finally sold the manuscript in 1999. Harm None: A Rowan Gant Investigation was published in May 2000, and became the first in the series of "Rowan Gant Investigation" ("RGI") novels to be published over the subsequent decade. Of note, it was followed in May 2001 by Never Burn A Witch: A Rowan Gant Investigation, which was actually the original working title of Harm None.
In addition to the "RGI" series he has also penned short works of fiction for anthologies, and in 2010 launched a second series centered around a different protagonist, FBI Special Agent Constance Mandalay, a recurring character in the Rowan Gant novels. (see bibliography below)
The Writing Process
Sellars refers to himself as a "seat of the pants" type of writer, starting at the beginning and working his way toward the ending, conducting research into the story and writing notes, but not creating an extensive outline. In a 2011 interview with The Big Thrill magazine he is quoted as saying he doesn't really know where a story is going to take him until he gets there.
In the same article, regarding research and the writing process he went on to call himself a "harmless sociopath" when it comes to getting into the mindset of a particular story, and outlines his three basic rules for the process.
(See referenced article for actual quotes)
PRINTING ERRORS: M. R. Sellars' writing career faced a major hurdle at the very outset. Due to a printing error, the initial run of the novel, Harm None, was produced from the wrong set of files, which were unedited and had been intended solely for use in producing Advance Review Copies. Unfortunately, several thousand copies of the erroneous version made it to market.
This error brought about harsh criticism from reviewers and readers regarding the typos and formatting errors, yet in many cases the novel was still praised for the story itself. The novel was quickly reprinted with the proper, edited files, and the cover was altered to distinguish between the versions. It has been rumored that some rare edition collectors have sought out copies of this flawed printing, and though unverified, a pristine, autographed copy supposedly sold for almost $200.00 at a charity auction.
While the eventual success of the Rowan Gant Series shows that the printing error was able to be overcome in due time, even more than a decade after its release an occasional flawed copy will surface in a garage sale or second-hand bookstore, and then be picked up by a reader who is unaware of the circumstances behind the gaff. Subsequently, Harm None will receive a fresh negative review on the web. November 2009 Sellars penned a blog entry about the longevity of the unfortunate mistake in response to a complaint email he received from a reader.
HEALTH: Another obstacle came at the beginning of July, 2001. While on a camp-out with family and friends, Sellars' appendix unexpectedly burst. As he was in a semi-remote, wooded area with no cell reception, it was necessary to transport him several miles to a two-lane highway and contact emergency services via landline from a canoe rental establishment on Highway K in Reynolds County, Missouri. He was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital in Ellington, Missouri, which unfortunately, due to budget cuts, had no operational surgical facilities at that time. After being stabilized, he was transported by a second ambulance to the next closest medical center, Lucy Lee Hospital in Poplar Bluff, Missouri where he underwent emergency surgery. As a result of the extended transport time allowing for the spread of infection in his abdomen, he remained hospitalized for one week, the first two days of which were "touch and go" according to his doctor.
Rumors Of M. R. Sellars' Death
Late 2003, following the passing of Sellars' father, Murvel Rusell Sellars, SR., a rumor began surfacing - especially within the alternative spirituality community - that M. R. Sellars was dead, and that the person making appearances was actually a shill hired by the family to promote his novels, which were being released posthumously by his estate. Although Sellars and his publicist debunked the rumor on several occasions, there were a few holdouts who would cite his father's obituary as proof that he was dead, even though Murvel Russell Sellars, JR. is clearly mentioned as his surviving son.
It has been posited that exaggerated re-tellings via "the grapevine" about Sellars' emergency surgery in 2001, followed by his father's passing in 2003 are what gave rise to the story. In any event, the rumor eventually faded out over the years.
Sellars has toured extensively, appearing as a Guest of Honor (GoH) and speaker/panelist at several Science Fiction/Fantasy Conventions, Alternative Spirituality Festivals, and Mystery Writer Conferences, as well as bookstores nationwide.
- PARTIAL CONVENTION HISTORY
- SF/Fantasy/Mixed Genre
- Archon – Saint Louis, MO – Panelist, Author/Pro Guest 2005-2011
- StormieCon – Saint Louis, MO – Author Guest of Honor
- Name That Con – Saint Louis, MO – Panelist, Author/Pro Guest
- WillyCon XI – Wayne, NE – Author Guest of Honor 2009
- MidSouth CON 30 - Memphis, TN - Panelist, Author/Pro Guest
- Alternative Spirituality
- Heartland Pagan Festival – Kansas – Guest of Honor 2002, Guest of Honor 2003, Author/Pro Guest 2007
- Festival of Souls – Memphis, TN – Guest of Honor 2003, 2005, 2010, 2011
- Pagan Unity Festival – Burns, TN – Guest of Honor 2001 – 2011
- Florida Pagan Gathering – Ocala, FL – GoH (Spring) 2004, GoH (Fall) 2004, GoH (Fall) 2005, GoH (Fall) 2006, GoH (Fall) 2007, GoH (Fall) 2011
- TAWN Fall Festival – Tucson, AZ – Guest of Honor 2007
- Earth Warriors Festival – Clarksville, OH – Guest of Honor 2007, 2009
- ConVocation – Detroit, MI – Author/Pro Guest, Panelist 2003, Guest of Honor 2004, Guest of Honor 2011
- Ostara Fest - Harker Heights, TX - Guest of Honor 2008, 2010, 2011
Unofficial Fan Club
Early 2007, a pair of fans started an M. R. Sellars fan club they named "Murv's Stalkers." The unofficial organization was created on a whim and as a joke according to the founders, with the primary focus being that of presenting Sellars with an imprinted sweatshirt at one of his book signing events in Columbia, Missouri. The founders of the club are pictured (left) with Sellars at the event, making the presentation.
Although started as a joke, and while there is still no official organization behind the club, the name gained traction among readers and many die hard Sellars fans refer to themselves as "Murv's Stalkers" on his Facebook page and at public events where he is speaking or signing books.
The Ghoul Squad
In 2009, Sellars' publicist created a Street Team/Fan Club called The Ghoul Squad, taken from the moniker bestowed upon the core characters of the Rowan Gant novels by the fictional media outlets in the stories. Ghoul Squadders, as they were called, distributed sample chapter booklets, bookmarks, and discount codes for ebook versions of Sellars' novels. Their promotional activities on his behalf were worth points that allowed them to win logoed coffee mugs and other swag. While the Official Street Team incentives were discontinued late 2010, many fans still consider themselves Ghoul Squadders, and continue to distribute promotional materials.
When not touring, Sellars makes extensive use of the Internet to keep in touch with - and to interact with - his readers. In addition to his personal website and blog, he maintains a healthy presence on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. His often candid, satirical observations about writing and life in general earned him a spot on the Mashable Literary Tweets: 100+ of the Best Authors On Twitter in 2009, and the Huffington Post Books Section Great Authors To Follow On Twitter in 2011.
Characters Coming To Life
MISTRESS MIRANDA: With the release of the sixth book in the Rowan Gant Investigations Series, Love Is The Bond, Sellars introduced a female antagonist, Miranda, who is a serial killer in the guise of a dominatrix. Her story grew to the point of turning into a trilogy, and eventually expanded to a five novel story arc within the series that is now referred to as The Miranda Saga. This exploration of a darker side of sexuality, the rare female sexual predator serial killer typology, combined with the occult overtones of the books, gained its own intense following within the ranks of Rowan Gant Investigations fans.
While at events, it is not unusual for Sellars to meet readers who attend in costume, garbed as Mistress Miranda, seeking a photo op with him. (See photo at right, taken at 13 Magickal Moons, a bookstore in Occoquan, Virginia. Sellars - on the floor - poses with fan in Miranda costume.)
FELICITY O'BRIEN: Other characters from the series have "come to life" on the web, as well. Ripped From The Pages (see external links below) is a blog maintained by one of the founders of "Murv's Stalkers," and contains serious, whimsical, and sometimes in-depth entries from Felicity O'Brien, Rowan Gant's wife in the novels. The entries often detail things that are currently going on in Felicity's - and Rowan's - life, nostalgic musings about her home country of Ireland, and even recipes. The blog entries are separate from the novels, and while remaining in step with canon, depict her life outside the confines of the thrillers. Felicity also maintains a Facebook presence (fictional character page) where she engages readers/fans on her "wall."
FBI SPECIAL AGENT CONSTANCE MANDALAY: In 2011, in advance of the release of In The Bleak Midwinter, the first full-length Special Agent Constance Mandalay novel, Sellars ran an online contest in search of the "face" of the character. Fans entered their pictures into the running, and the publicity team eventually narrowed it down to three contestants. An online poll was conducted, allowing the three contestants to campaign for votes. The winner's photo is now used as the profile picture for Constance Mandalay's fictional character Facebook page.
M. R. Sellars Bibliography
- From WillowTree Press/E.M.A Mysteries:
- The Rowan Gant Investigations Series
- * Harm None: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2000) ISBN 978-0-9678221-0-5
- * Never Burn A Witch: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2001) ISBN 978-0-9678221-1-2
- * Perfect Trust: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2002) ISBN 978-0-9678221-9-8
- * The Law Of Three: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2003) ISBN 978-0-9678221-8-1
- * Crone's Moon: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2004) ISBN 978-0-9678221-4-3
- * Love Is The Bond: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2005) ISBN 978-0-9678221-2-9
- * All Acts Of Pleasure: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2006) ISBN 978-0-9678221-3-6
- * The End Of Desire: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2007) ISBN 978-0-9678221-6-7
- * Blood Moon: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2008) ISBN 978-0-9794533-3-5
- * Miranda: A Rowan Gant Investigation (2010) ISBN 978-0-9794533-6-6
- * Ghoul Squad Rowan Gant Investigations E-book Omnibus - RGI Novels 1, 2, and 3 (2012) ISBN 978-1-937778-00-2
- * Death Wears High Heels Rowan Gant Investigations E-book Omnibus - (Miranda Trilogy) RGI Novels 6, 7, and 8 (2012) ISBN 978-1-937778-01-9
- The Special Agent Constance Mandalay Novels
- * Merrie Axemas: A Killer Holiday Tale Special Edition E-Novella (2010) ISBN 978-0-9794533-7-3
- * In The Bleak Midwinter: A Special Agent Constance Mandalay Novel (2011) ISBN 978-0-9794533-8-0
- From Belfire Press:
- * Courting Morpheus (Anthology) includes original RGI novelette "You're Gonna Think I'm Nuts..." (2010) ISBN 978-0-9864831-1-0
- From Dark Moon Books:
- * Slices Of Flesh (Anthology) FlashFic Horror Short "Last Call" (2012) ISBN 978-0-9850290-9-8
- Saint Louis Riverfront Times People's Choice Award - Best Novel by a Local Author (2003) for The Law Of Three: A Rowan Gant Investigation
- Preditors and Editors Readers Poll Best Mainstream Novel Award - (2006) for All Acts Of Pleasure: A Rowan Gant Investigation
- Coalition Of Visionary Resources - Finalist, Best Visionary Fiction Novel - (2009) for Blood Moon: A Rowan Gant Investigation
- WillowTree Press Author Biography Page http://www.willowtreepress.com/?page_id=145
- ITW Members Directory http://thrillerwriters.org/members/
- HWA Website http://www.horror.org/
- Ritenour School District Famous Graduates Page http://www.ritenour.k12.mo.us/pages/Ritenour_School_District/Alumni/History_of_Ritenour/Famous_Graduates
- The "Mahwage" Blogs by M. R. Sellars - http://www.mrsellars.com/mrblog/?page_id=2276
- R. R. Bowker Books In Print http://www.booksinprint.com/bip/
- Original Harm None Manuscript Title Page; M. R. Sellars Writing Workshop, Pagan Unity Festival, 2001
- The Big Thrill, December 2011 - http://www.thebigthrill.org/2011/11/in-the-bleak-midwinter-a-special-agent-constance-mandalay-novel-1-by-m-r-sellars/
- WillowTree Press FAQ page, Item 2 http://www.willowtreepress.com/?page_id=38
- The "It" Effect... - http://www.mrsellars.com/mrblog/?p=4234
- Dedication page, Perfect Trust: A Rowan Gant Investigation, 2002
- Southern Missouri Obituary and Death Notices - http://www.genealogybuff.com/mo/south/webbbs_config.pl/noframes/read/195
- M. R. Sellars' Press Kit via WillowTree Press Author Promotions Group
- WillyCON Author GoH List http://wildcat.wsc.edu/clubs/willycon/links/authors/
- MidSouth CON http://www.midsouthcon.org/
- Bouchercon 2011 attendees list http://www.bouchercon2011.com/attendees.php
- Mashable 100 Best Authors on Twitter List, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Speculative Fiction http://mashable.com/2009/05/08/twitter-authors/
- HuffPost Archives, Great Authors to Follow on Twitter List http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/08/great-writers-to-follow-o_n_921113.html#s323186&title=MR_Sellars
- Felicity O'Brien Fictional Character Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/FelicityCaitlinOBrien
- Constance Mandalay Facebook Page, Fictional Character - http://www.facebook.com/ConstanceMandalay
- Coalition of Visionary Resources 2009 Awards Page http://www.covr.net/2009awards/09book_visfic.htm
- Official website
- Ripped From The Pages (Character Blog)
- Horror Writers Association
- M. R. Sellars Official Biography Available from Publisher
- International Thriller Writers
- Belfire Press
- Dark Moon Books