“Becoming the Beach Boys” author Jim Murphy hails from the DVM Class of 1997
Written by Kelsey Foster
May 1, 2016
At age 36, looking for a career change, Jim Murphy decided to apply to veterinary school. He had “always admired the profession of veterinary medicine as providing a unique opportunity to combine science, medicine, and communication/people skills to help people protect and preserve the bond they share with their companion animals,” but had spent most of his career working in Washington, D.C. at the Postal Service Headquarters as a writer, congressional liaison, ceremony coordinator, and speechwriter.
With a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Manhattan College in New York, Murphy had already completed the prerequisite coursework, so he spent the next year volunteering at various veterinary clinics before applying to, and gaining acceptance to, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. For the duration of the program, Murphy commuted 600 miles round-trip each week between Washington, D.C. and Blacksburg, Virginia in order to obtain his doctor of veterinary medicine degree. Currently, he works as a veterinarian at the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic in Washington, D.C.
Murphy credits his former professors’ dedication for his success as a veterinarian. “They shared their knowledge with joy and wonderment, not intimidation, encouraging you to celebrate the study of veterinary medicine and fulfill the dream of becoming a veterinarian, the finest profession in the world. That’s what good teachers do. They leave you with the lifelong gift of learning,” said Murphy.
In addition to his current work as a veterinarian, Murphy also maintains a strong passion for writing. In 2015, he published “Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963,” a 436-page biography that chronicles the Beach Boys’ early history and rise to fame in the early 1960s. “As a lifelong fan of the music of the Beach Boys, I read everything I could find about them. But every book gave conflicting facts and short shrift to the band’s early days. So, in April 2006, I decided to write a brief article, maybe ten or twelve pages, on the band’s origin,” said Murphy. “Well, over the next eight years, that short article grew into a 436-page book based on 75 interviews with 83 photographs, 12 appendices, 1,100 endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. When my 30-page book proposal was accepted by McFarland Books it brought back memories of being accepted into veterinary school. It was that momentous,” he continued.
Murphy is currently working on a novel closely tied to his veterinary work in Washington, D.C. “I am writing a novel inspired by a true story a client related to me 10 years ago about a black and white border collie he found on the side of the road at 3 a.m. driving home after a red eye flight from California. It was the kind of story that makes you take a step back or sit down… It will include everything I have come to know and love about dogs,” he explained.
His own dogs, three terriers named Wendy, Tinker, and Gabby, were his built-in support system while writing “Becoming the Beach Boys.” “When I was writing the book, I would take walks in the woods with my three terriers… and there, in the peaceful serenity with them, I would work out problems with the manuscript. Dogs have a magical way of making you appreciate that one perfect moment.”
When he is not working or writing, Murphy also plays the guitar, piano, acts in local plays/films, serves as a Eucharistic Minister for St. Edward the Confessor, and is a member of the Bowie, Maryland Citizens for Local Animal Welfare (CLAW).
Written by Kelsey Foster, a master’s degree student in the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences