Monday, November 6, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Dev Murphy


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by Dev Murphy. Dev is the author of I’m not I’m not I’m not a baby (Ethel 2023). Her writing and illustrations have appeared in Brink, The Cincinnati Review, The Guardian, ANMLY, Tarpaulin Sky, Diagram, and elsewhere. She was born and raised in rural Ohio, but currently resides in Pittsburgh, where she works as a how-to writer for wikiHow. Find her online at 

What made you start writing?

My older sister writes too, so I wanted to copy her, probably. But I also distinctly remember reading Holes in like third grade and marveling at how everything came together and thinking Wow, this is what you can do with a book. And I wanted to do that. I don’t really write stuff like Holes though, ha. And then my grandmother would give us books all the time, for birthdays and Christmas. She gave me a lot of fantasy and poetry, like Hans Christian Andersen and Millay, which has definitely influenced me as a writer.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I’m usually working—I write how-to articles for wikiHow (yes, it’s a real job)—or I’m making perfume or drawing. My book has lots of abstract comics scattered throughout, actually.

Describe your book in three words.


Describe your book poorly.

Sad fearful woman believed in God one time; makes mistakes occasionally; doodles about it.

What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

Peter and Wendy and Jane Eyre have been favorites for years. I also really love Kate Bernheimer’s Gold Sisters Trilogy, Sabrina Orah Mark’s Wild Milk, Rilke’s Book of Hours. Last year I discovered Barbara Comyns and got obsessed with her. Really I love books that are a bit surreal, spiritual, and lyrical. And sincere: sincerity is probably the most important quality in a book.

What is your favorite book from childhood?

Peter and Wendy, for sure. I also loved The Outsiders. I was so obsessed with The Outsiders, I wrote my own screenplay for it in seventh grade because I didn’t like how Coppola had done it and wanted to make my own movie.

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading Cindy Crabb’s Encyclopedia of Doris and just finishing up Joy Williams’ Honored Guest. Beautiful, tender, and funny writers, both of them.

What’s the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

Maybe Bernheimer’s Gold Sisters Trilogy, or Comyns’ The Vet’s Daughter. Such brilliant, strange books.

Which literary invention do you wish was real and why?

Hmm. Maybe the door from Howl’s Moving Castle that opens onto different places depending on where you turn the wheel.

What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

Honestly, probably the Gilmore Girls background music, all the la la la’s.


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