Welcome to the one hundredth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Back in interview no. 43, Winn Smith asked who was going to interview me (Teresa Morrow and Who Hub already have and Winn will be later this month) but I thought seeing as the centennial interview falls on my birthday (no presents please ) I’d interview myself. As you do. I normally say that if you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further but if you feel you know enough already from my blog or website then don’t feel obliged… unless you’d really like to. A list of my fellow interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello, Morgen. Firstly happy birthday.
Morgen: Thank you. I’m having a lovely day so far. Just back from 24 hours at Norfolk and had a wonderful time watching the dog eating waves. Before we begin, I’d just like to say what a pleasure it is being here.
Morgen: Ah, that’s nice, you can come again. OK, so… you know how these interviews start…
Morgen: I do. I need to tell you something about myself and how I came to be a writer.
Morgen: That’s it.
Morgen: I’ll warn you now that I do tend to waffle.
Morgen: That’s OK. I’ve got a long blog home page.
Morgen: So just tell me if I’m…
Morgen: You are… your first answer please?
Morgen: Oh yes (what a hard taskmistress, is she like this with everyone?). I’m a… 44-year old (today, hoorah!) single white female (that was a brilliant film, one whose follow-up was decidedly dodgy as they often are).
Morgen: Sorry yes… I did warn you. I live in Northampton, England in a 1930s house with my Jack Russell / Cairn (and a bit of everything else) dog.
Morgen: He’s very cute.
Morgen: Thank you. He has big brown eyes and he’s not afraid to use them.
Morgen: And you came to be a writer how?
Morgen: Sorry. I’ll try to behave from now on.
Morgen: Please do.
Morgen: This talking to myself is feeling weirdly easy.
Morgen: You were saying?
Morgen: Sorry. Yes. Short and sweet: moved counties c. 15 years ago. Didn’t know anyone. I worked as a temp in the day, went to evening college, brushed up on the languages, then computer skills then September 2005 I looked for something else in the University prospectus and there was creative writing – a Monday night critique workshop with Sally Spedding…
Morgen: Who I interviewed recently on my podcast.
Morgen: You did. Special episode 32. That was fun.
Morgen: And what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Morgen: Now there’s a question.
Morgen: Uh oh.
Morgen: A bit of everything.
Morgen: That wasn’t so painful. Dare I ask if you’d like to elaborate… just a little?
Morgen: Sure. Four and a bit novels (lad lit, general, chick lit, sort of lad lit and part of a dark one) and lots of short stories, monologues being my favourite.
Morgen: So humour and crime?
Morgen: The last one is sort of crime. I’ll have to come back to you on that one.
Morgen: And I have written poetry but…
Morgen: The poets reading this are going to shout at me…
Morgen: I’m sure they won’t.
Morgen: I don’t ‘get’ poetry.
Morgen: I’ve written some. There’s an autobiographical poem on my blog’s My writing page. The first piece I read out at Sally’s workshop was a humorous piece of a family’s evening told through the eyes of a six-month-old boy. I’m still fond of it and should do something with it.
Morgen: But it got shot down in flames.
Morgen: Oh dear.
Morgen: I nearly didn’t go back to the group.
Morgen: Oh no.
Morgen: But I thought “I’ll show them, I’ll write something better”.
Morgen: And you did?
Morgen: I did. Can’t remember what now but it must have gone down well as I kept going back and it’s what led me here.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Morgen: Apart from a writing workbook which is ready to roll, I’m working on a load of short stories and rejigging the novels (into novellas and possibly an anthology for the chick lit, picking out the best half a dozen or so characters) as eBooks…
Morgen: there were more characters than that then?
Morgen: Yes. Izzy met one a day (for a month) with another dozen at mid-month speed dating event.
Morgen: Ouch, that’s a lot for one novel.
Morgen: It is but I’m fond of them all (some are very peculiar) and will use them all at some stage, but just split them out into other things… but to answer your question…
Morgen: If you wouldn’t mind…
Morgen: I’ve had some competition successes and been published in Woman’s Weekly and NAWG Link magazine but I’m rubbish at submitting which is a fairly major part of getting things published, isn’t it?
Morgen: It does help.
Morgen: But recently fellow interviewees Nathan Weaver (LINK) published a self-contained (soon to be the beginning of a) dark story I wrote for http://storyaday.org back in May 2011 called ‘The Threadbare Girl’ (which I’m going to include in one or two of the eBook anthologies – one for the Story A Day and probably the full thing in another) and Tia Bach published an article I wrote for her on my NaNoWriMo experience. Neal James has another short story (a dark second person) appearing on his blog in January 2012 which will be exciting (for me anyway). I’ve got a short story going into October’s Link and I’ve been asked to write another couple of articles so it’s all going swimmingly.
Morgen: You mentioned NaNoWriMo, the 50,000+ words every November. How many times have you done that?
Morgen: Three: 2008, 2009 and 2010. And I plan to keep doing it even though I’m concentrating on short stories.
Morgen: Did you ‘win’ each time?
Morgen: I did. I scraped through in 2008 (53,000) and 2010 (51,000) but flew past the finish in 2009 (117,540).
Morgen: Wow, that’s some typing.
Morgen: Thank you. I’m fortunate. I’ve been a secretary since I left school so I can type quickly. Like anything it’s just practice. Give me a blank template of a keyboard though and it would take me ages to write in each letter.
Morgen: That’s funny.
Morgen: I know. I only learned recently that the letters were jumbled up because the typists were too quick for the original machines so it’s was the best way of slowing them down… not sure how long for or who decided on the order of the letters but hey ho.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Morgen: All of it but I’m enjoying it. I’m on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and of course this blog helps get my name known. I was chuffed when I’d been quiet on LinkedIn for a while, but still had the thread emails coming in, then commented on something and someone, I think it was KS Brooks (hi Kat), said that people had been wondering what had happened to me, which was lovely and it really is like a family, like Litopia is. Linton (who’s done an interview for me which will go up early October) did a disappearing act too and the same thing happened with him. Even if it doesn’t get any books sold (when they finally come out… note to self: get editing!), it’s so rewarding to be a part of that… Facebook’s the same; there’s Sue Welfare’s (hi Sue) weekly beginnings competition (which I contribute towards when I can – and has actually started off some pieces that I definitely want to continue; the latest being to continue ‘Just as dawn’ and I love sentence beginnings)…
Morgen: You’re waffling.
Morgen: Sorry. I think I’m done on that one.
Morgen: Great. You mentioned competition success earlier, do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Morgen: I had a spate of sending stuff out to competitions (Writing magazines and Writers’ News mostly) and have won a couple of local ones, was shortlisted a couple of time in the Writing Magazine and a couple of times at Verulam Get Writing competition (Geoffrey Guiver won this year’s… hello Geoffrey!) so they’re on the CV.
Morgen: Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Morgen: I do, and I love it. It’s like someone being called a middle name because they prefer it to their first name. I had this conversation with my mum a while back and she said I could have picked one of my middle names; I have two. Elizabeth is the one I’d have gone with if I’d found out, or thought about it, earlier… or a variation probably Libby but it was too late by then but now I prefer Morgen (despite it often being spelt with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘e’). I don’t think anyone knows about the Libby thing, not even my brother (hi Martin) and not sure how my friends would react now… guess I’ll find out when they read this. But no, never been keen on my first name. Which, is Alison by the way. Ali as in Ali McBeal has been a suggestion but I’ve never warmed to it (despite liking the TV series) and ‘Al’ always seemed too butch so it’s been plain ‘Alison’ until Morgen came along, and it’s what I am online so it’s easier.
Although I’m biased I can understand why the likes of Ruth Rendell (Barbara Vine) and Joanna Trollope (Caroline Harvey) as it distinguishes their different genres. I picked a name that could be male or female, really because I write a variety of genres and went with Morgen as that was the name of a dog I used to have, plus it means ‘morning’ in German (I am a morning person) and my family has been friends with a German family since I was an early teen. The middle daughter (hello Heike – thank you for the lovely necklaces et al) and I are planning on going to Edinburgh book festival next year (for the first time) and I asked on Facebook if anyone else is going and I think we’re going to end up hiring JK Rowling’s castle. My cute dog mentioned earlier by the way is the Bailey of the ensemble.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Morgen: I’ve tried the agent route, admittedly only to about a dozen; seven or eight via email (all but one replied with a ‘no’) and I’ve had four agent pitches; a 3-minute with HarperCollins’ Scott Pack (not an agent, he was great, very supportive) at Verulam Feb 2011 and three (very interesting) at July 2011 Winchester. I don’t think I’d do it again until I had something really meaty to offer them; on reflection the writing I was presenting to them wasn’t really me, or my best work if I’m honest but definitely an experience, and one I would recommend any writer doing if they’re at all interested in getting an agent, which I think deep down, most would be as it’s the best way to reach the big boys (publishers)… and girls of course.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Morgen: Can you ask me again in 6 months? This is a one-off? Oh, OK. Yes, they will be; eBooks only most likely. At the moment they’re either with, or back from, my editor Rachel or myself so the process has been fine, if not a little slow (me getting them to her although it’s ticking along nicely at the moment – I’ve had something back from her, the workbook, which needs only minor tweaking and she has the Story A Day anthology so I’m hoping to get something else to her before that comes back; I’d rather it were that way round).
I have an eReader but use it rarely as I never go anywhere. I have a Mac Air so that tends to go where I go but I tend not to get past emails, the internet etc. One day I’ll make the most of the eReader because I can see how brilliant they are, it’s just that I don’t travel much (at all) – I didn’t take it to Norfolk as I knew I wouldn’t get time; I took Matt Hilton’s ‘Cut and run’ but that remained unread (this weekend for sure Matt!) – I did go through four writing magazines picking nuggets for my writing group’s handouts, which ultimately end up on here.
I can read a book or magazine (usually a writing-related one as I just mentioned, I subscribe to the UK ones – Writing Magazine, Writers’ News, Mslexia, New Writer, Writer’s Forum… and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast, and I buy Woman’s Weekly fiction specials… which I keep meaning to subscribe to – so it keeps me busy, in fact I’m about 7 months behind with those so they’ve taken over the book reading; sorry Matt & Trisha Ashley (they’re my two ‘on the go’s at the moment)). Yes, I can read or edit as I walk (writing’s not so easy but I can do it) so I do that when I’m walking the dog or to / from work. Other than that it’s just out at the cinema or meeting friends (I joined http://meetup.com a little while ago; it’s great!).
So, no, to cut a short story long (as Martin and I used to say my dad did) after all that I have an eReader but don’t really use it. Audiobooks are also a big love of mine and can be listened to in conjunction with pretty much anything else so that’s a time-saving bonus.
Morgen: What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Morgen: The Woman’s Weekly story and yes, absolutely, it’s great. Paid or unpaid it’s still exciting to see my writing (fiction or articles) out there and especially so when I get feedback. Elaine Saunders left me a message on my Facebook page earlier this week to say she was jogging at the gym to my podcast – I don’t think I’ve ever helped anyone lose weight before, other than letting my Mexican neighbour use my cross-trainer which she does more than me.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Morgen: I have. I’ve had 27 or 29, I can’t remember. I catalogue them (have I said already that I’m a nerd?) but I’m pretty sure it’s not quite up-to-date.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Morgen: Mostly the blog interviews, it takes a fair amount of work but I’ve got this week off so have been able to catch up a little. While Rachel has the anthology I want to crack on with the next book as I need to keep my momentum going.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Morgen: If you count a line or two then yes. Mostly it’s during the two writing groups so I guess the beginnings of a dozen pieces a month. I’m happy with most of them so I guess it’s quality over quantity. I’m very good with deadlines though so get writing for NaNo and StoryADay but then they were both before the blog interviews but I need to not let them standing in the way so find a way of doing both – I will, I just do. The most in a day was during NaNoWriMo, just under 10,000 words.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Morgen: Sort of. I get stuck sometimes but then I either come back to it later, sleep on it, or if it’s near my writing group night I’ll run it past them.
Morgen: A question some authors dread (I guess because it’s sometimes impossible to answer?), where do you get your inspiration from?
Morgen: Everywhere and anywhere; patterns on the pavement after a patch of rain, newspaper clippings (I have literally hundreds of those – one of my Verulam shortlists, a monologue called ‘Feeding the Father’, was inspired by one of those), snatched conversations (I’m a devil for pretending to turn my iPod volume up / down when I’m actually pausing it as an argument walks by), an odd (or not so odd) word anywhere – I can look around my room and start with something, I’m lucky in that respect.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Morgen: A bit of both. Like most of my interviewees have said, I’ve had a nugget and gone with it, seeing what comes out.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names?
Morgen: It depends what I’m writing. If it’s from a picture (which we use in our Monday night writing group) then I’ll just look at it and see what I think the person’s name is, otherwise I’ll either pick a name from the air or it’ll just come to me as I write the piece, sometimes I change them if it doesn’t suit. I do have baby name books which really I should perhaps refer to more often as I want to call all my characters Elliot (the men anyway, unless it’s a surname). Not sure where that desire comes from other than being the surname of a school friend Natasha and we did get in contact again on Friends Reunited a while back.
Morgen: What do you think makes them believable?
Morgen: They have to be realistic and a reader as to empathise with them. Unless you’re making someone plastic for a reason (perhaps as an antagonist) readers get bored with perfection. And some flaws can be fun – there are plenty of those in my chick-lit novel.
Morgen: If you write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Morgen: The only non-fiction writing I do is writing-related so I’m either given an idea (Steve Bowkett of the NAWG Link magazine has either asked me to do something or leaves it to me… I say that as if I’m in there all the time – only two issues so far (April 2011 and August 2011) with the short story (twist on a fairy tale which they’d asked for in the August edition) coming out in October.
Morgen: If you write poetry, do you write to form or free verse? What would you say is the difference between a piece of prose and a prose poem? Why do you think poetry is so popular and yet so poorly paid?
Morgen: Ha ha ha ha… sorry. I have written poetry but it’s not my strength. At all. Really it isn’t. Oh no. It’s not me.
Morgen: Although there was…
Morgen: You mentioned short stories earlier, apart from the word count, what do you see as the differences between them and novels and why do you think they’re so difficult to get published?
Morgen: You do have to be much, much tighter in a short story; every word literally does have to count, and it’s easy to forget that but you literally have to look that closely when editing it. If you can lose a word, do it (for instance do you need ‘completely’ before ‘dead’?). In novels everything still has to be relevant – narrative drive; move the story forward or tell us something about that character. If we don’t need to know what Sam had toast for breakfast (yes, guilty of that in novel one) then take it out.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Morgen: I run two writing groups; every Monday, one critique, the other writing workshop and I love them both. I’m lucky and have a great bunch of people, some of whom (three) come to both sessions. I belong to two others locally and release a podcast every Monday morning (although I think it’ll be later in the day this week as my brother’s visiting from Switzerland… hoorah!). Then there’s Litopia every Friday and Sunday nights. And I go to lit fests, talks etc. Live and breathe, and it’s always a pleasure never a chore, as Hugh Laurie said to Joely Richardson in Maybe Baby (if you’ve never seen it, do, it’s hilarious… especially Rowen Atkinson and Dawn French.
Morgen: Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Morgen: Generally my writing group. The critique sessions though are only fortnightly (the workshop’s the other Mondays) so there’s only so much I can read out in the time. I have the wonderful aforementioned editor Rachel (hi Rachel) who I knew already but she’s just setting up her manuscript services company (the website for which I shall be no doubt be touting fairly heavily when it’s live although I’m not her only client so there’s a headstart there already). She really is the key to me being happy about the content my eBooks before I launch them, although we both know I have the final say (the great thing about self-pub) but she’s the vital second opinion which everyone needs regardless of how good their writing is.
Morgen: Before it goes to Rachel, do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Morgen: I use to, but yes. The more I write the more know where I’m waffling as I go along…
Morgen: now there’s a surprise
Morgen: …so I curb it.
Morgen: How much research do you have to do for your writing? Have you ever received feedback from your readers?
Morgen: Research is my least favourite aspect of writing although the internet does make it much easier. I don’t really have much out there at the moment. I had some great comments from The Threadbare Girl and can’t wait to get my eBooks out there as I just love knowing that people read what I create – assuming that someone will. And of course hoping that they’ll like it. The other great thing about eBooks is that if someone spots a mistake it can easily be tweaked and resubmitted, no waiting for a second edition / reprint.
Morgen: What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Morgen: I usually grab a cup of tea. I’m a dreadful snacker so have to either get something like a sandwich before start writing or I’ll be scrabbling around for sweets or crisps because I’m too busy to get something proper (if a sandwich counts as proper). I’m usually eating something pretty bad when I’m on Litopia as I’m usually rushing around just before it (especially if it’s a Sunday night and I’m getting the headset configured and Skype set up – Litopia’s on tonight by the way – it’s great… Dorothy Koomson was one of the guests last Friday; My Best Friend’s Girl is one of my favourite books and I’ve just bought ‘The Woman He Loved Before’) and as food always gets mentioned I’m found out pretty quickly (I’m too honest I guess) and the other chatroomers tell me off.
Morgen: Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Morgen: A computer if I have it handy but otherwise it’s paper which is fine because I then edit as I type it up (when I get round to typing it up, she says conscious of the stack of notes in a tray to her right). I prefer to edit on paper and yes, I use a red pen.
Morgen: Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Morgen: I like classical music. I’m typing this while I listen to my iPod’s Top Rated (not sure why as I have iTunes on the computer but it’s still running from when I took the dog, who’s currently on my lap, exhausted from his beach escapades) and I can type something like this with words going on, probably easier as I know the songs but prefer classical because of the lack of words if I’m trying to create fictional ones. Silence for me is too… silent, but I struggle to concentrate in a coffee shop, fine for checking emails though.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Morgen: This is the question I was looking forward to as I LOVE LOVE LOVE second person. Normally I use a mixture, I suppose mostly third person, but my heart always beats a little faster when I write second. For anyone not reading this I’d say please do give it a go (let me know if you need help) or take a look at my sentence starts page on this blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/sentence-starts).
Morgen: The page that you love touting. Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Morgen: I wasn’t keen until I used one at the beginning of novel two. It was originally Chapter 1. It’s not gone to Rachel yet so the jury is still out.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Morgen: LOADS. Well, that’s not true. I have loads of stories to go through which may make the grade, now I’m older (no sniggers please) and wiser (ditto). Novel 5 was very self-indulgent and about a real life person so if that did go ahead I’d have to change nearly all of it. I really like the story actually so I may.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Morgen: Easy. Never knowing what’s going to come out. You know it’s come from your sub-conscious but it surprises you all the time. Least favourite is not having enough time. My life is 90% writing-related (with 10% thinking about writing) so I can’t complain but an extra couple of hours here and there would be good.
Morgen: If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Morgen: How much it can take over. I hadn’t a clue what to do when I left school and still hadn’t until I started writing… and writing… and writing… and now I can think of little else (sorry dog, house etc). And how the characters can take over – I love that.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Morgen: As the great marketing men at Nike say ‘Just do it’. It’s all about practice. The more you write (play the piano) the better you’ll get (play a concerto). And go to courses (I still do – hi Helen!), talks and literature events (the latter is how I met Rachel). Meet other writers. Join a writing group – they’ll point out what works and doesn’t, often something that never occurs to me. And read. Read a lot. I don’t read enough, although I’m getting better. And listen to writing-related podcasts. If you want to write, live and breathe it. Not to the extent of your family not remembering what you look like (hey JVS!) but I only have my dog who I feed and walk twice / three times a day so he’ll never forget.
Morgen: What do you like to read?
Morgen: Short stories mainly – I like the fact that I can read them in one go – and two extremes; the darker the better or humour… pretty much what I like to write. I love Roald Dahl and Kate Atkinson… and of course all the works by every interviewee I’ve ever or writer I’ve ever had associations with and will have in the future.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Morgen: Is there anything other than writing? Oh, actually writing. Everything else. I’m forever thinking, jotting things down but at the moment the only times I write are during my fortnightly Monday night workshops (and I’m thrilled with some of the things I’ve come up with then) and monthly Northampton Literature Group workshops (which I’ve been leading recently ) but I’ve been editing stuff for Rachel so that sort of counts, doesn’t it?
Morgen: I do have a couple of party tricks.
Morgen: Oh yes?
Morgen: I can bark like a seal (do they bark?) and can flip about a dozen coins from the back of my right elbow (is that called something? I know the back of the knee doesn’t have a name), although I’m rusty at both of them.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Morgen: Websites: http://duotrope.com and http://jbwb.co.uk for market information and then specifically http://womagwriter.blogspot.com (I’m hoping to have Kathy for an interview in the not too distant future, I think she’d be really interesting) for short story info. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone out that I shouldn’t have done. Books: this is where I should say Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and I have it but not read it yet (it got as far as my bedside table when it was first mentioned in these interviews). I have shelves full of ‘how to’ books that I’ve not read, shamefully. I would recommend Sue Moorcroft’s ‘Love Writing’ and Adrian Magson’s new ‘Write On!’ but I am slightly biased because I know them both and Adrian listed my website in the back of his (but they are great books). And if you write short stories then Della Galton’s ‘How to write short stories’ because she’s a major short story goddess (that’s a major goddess not a goddess of major short stories).
Morgen: Yes, I think we got that. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Morgen: The UK. England. Northamptonshire. The rose of the shires… or is that Yorkshire. We have roses on our county signposts. As you can tell I’m not from round there ’ere parts. Been here 15 years, Bucks before that. As you can see I’ve not travelled much (this is the… flat above my dad’s shop… then there was… then… then the house I rented when I moved up here, then my first house… and here… oh no, there was Richard’s… so seventh house in 44 years; that’s not all that much is it?
Morgen: Compared to many, probably not. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Morgen: I’d love to say here that I’m on Litopia’s all the time but I’ve not been on it (slapped wrists) other than the Friday and Sunday nights (which are great and everyone should swing by, although Sundays are currently on a hiatus).
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Here (my ‘About me’ and ‘My writing’ pages), Nathan’s website (mentioned in the footer of this interview)… erm… my website (http://morgenbailey.com) but that’s similar to this (although not as pretty / professional looking). There are links to everything I’m involved in on that and in the ‘Where to find me’ menu of this blog.
Morgen: A fair amount.
Morgen: Thanks… yes, I’d like to do more but, you know…
Morgen: I do. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Morgen: I am SO excited by where we’re at right now and I’m so glad that I didn’t try to get loads of work out when I first started. (a) because it was probably dire, although looking back there are some redeemable nuggets and (b) because I can now do what I like, under Rachel’s guidance: my own cover design, price (99p mostly) and content. It’s great… well, I’m hoping it will be when we get there.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Morgen: Um… I think I’ve talked for long enough, don’t you? Is anyone still awake?
Morgen: Hopefully one or two… and maybe one of those will be kind enough to leave a comment.
Morgen: That would be great. I love getting the ‘please approve’ emails from WordPress.
Morgen: Well… OK then to finish. Is there a question you’d like to ask me?
Morgen: Why your nose goes so red in the sun?
Morgen: Good question. I’m not sure why I have a Roman nose but yes, my caricature (which was done by Adrian Teal by the way) is fairly spot on although I think I could be mistaken for an alcoholic and my brother especially knows I never remember that I’ve got booze in the house but he helps me out whenever he visits (which is too rarely, although I’m seeing him this weekend, yay!). I walk the dog two or three times a day, walk to / from work, round car boot sales so I guess it just gets lots of exposure (although I do slap lotion on it but clearly not enough). It doesn’t really bother me, adds to the personality I guess, like the glasses.
Morgen: Which aren’t in your caricature.
Morgen: They’re not – they weren’t in the picture that Adrian had, I’m not sure why. Finally we have some questions from the ‘audience’.
Morgen: We do.
Morgen: Yay, great.
Morgen: JD Mader from the San Francisco Bay Area would like to know whether you have a sentence, character, paragraph, etc that you love that you have never been able to fit into a piece?
Morgen: Oh hey JD (did you wife forgive you for spending your anniversary social networking? ). Sentences don’t spring to mind other than the ones I created for my ‘sentence starts’ (which I touted earlier). Neither does a paragraph but I have lots of short stories that I’ve not done anything with. One of my favourite words is ‘cuddle’ and I don’t get to use that often enough. There is a character I’ve used as the antagonist in novel no. 5 and the whole story revolves around him but I’d have to change it as he’s real and I’ve mentioned real events but I wrote it therapeutically so will probably never see light of day but we shall see…
Morgen: Then we have Sarah Tanburn…
Morgen: Oh hey Sarah! She’s RoaringGirl on Litopia, you know.
Morgen: I do. She’d like to know where you get the confidence to get out there and persuade some big name authors to come on your blog and get interviewed? She thinks you have a lovely way of writing the interviews so they are very personalised and tell us about you without intruding on the main event, so to speak. How did you evolve that approach?
Morgen: Ah that’s nice. As for the authors I’ve been very lucky; I either know them already (from my former studies, the podcast or they’re friends of friends) or they’ve approached me because of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or said friends (Adrian Magson in particular has done a lot of recommending for which I’m very grateful) or they’ve read other interviews on the blog and would like to take part (and I’ve been so grateful as it keeps the one a day going). As for the format, well I just slot my reaction in as I read through as if we were sitting together. Having interviewed numerous authors for my audio podcast (either in person or via Skype) I just imagine it’s that. My dad used to say that if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well (I only later found out that he wasn’t the first person to say so, I was pretty young at the time) and I’ve inherited that (and my poor memory) from him and it’s a format that’s proving popular so absolutely worth spending the time on.
Morgen: Marta from…
Morgen: Oh, one of our readers of Sunny’s interview? I’m hoping she’ll do an interview with me too.
Morgen: Indeed. She has five questions for you…
Morgen: 1. who was your first and/or favorite english/writing teacher and why?
Morgen: Gosh. I remember Mrs Haines from primary school – she was lovely, although I think she was the one who told me off in my first term (so I would have been 5?) for talking too much.
Morgen: What a surprise.
Morgen: I think my favourite overall there was Mr (Mike) O’Toole because he was passionate and I got to see more of him than anyone as he used to come in my dad’s photographic shop. I discovered an Our Lady’s group on Facebook recently so I’ve been chatting on there although there’s no-one from my year there, or teachers… yet. I liked my secondary English teacher because I liked the subject but I can’t remember her name (sorry about that).
Morgen: 2. if you were a literary character, who would you most likely be?
Morgen: I love Jeff Lindsay’s Debra Morgan (Dexter’s sister) but only from the TV version not the book (I’ve not read the latter, I have a couple of them) because apparently she’s quite different (presumably not as feisty). And of course I like their surname.
Morgen: 3. what is your favorite genre?
Morgen: oh no, I have to choose one? I’d say dark comedy. That’s cheating isn’t it? OK then dark. I know it’s not a genre but it’s what my writing invariably is.
Morgen: 4. if you were an animal, which animal would you be? if you were a tree, which tree would you be?
Morgen: Having watched Planet of the Apes today I’d say ‘Caesar’ the chimp because he’s smart and ends up being in charge and if you watch it, for the second part of the questions, I’d pick the tall tree he ends up (although he has a better head for heights). I quite like the oak because it’s old and wise. That’s a great Alan Parsons Project song by the way… Old and wise. A sad one, I’ll warn you.
Morgen: Thanks. 5. what one thing changed your writing and when/how did you have that “ah ha” moment?
Morgen: Wow, these are good questions. This is going to sound really dull but it’s really only practice that’s changed it. I have learned a lot by going to workshops but it’s then implementing what I’ve learned as I go along. I’ve not explained that well. I do plan to do a ‘key ingredients’ to writing blog post which will explain what I’ve learned. “ah ha” moment is just as tricky. I do remember it; a few months ago but it was realising how much I enjoyed writing and that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life, and take it more seriously, I can’t remember what prompted it. Sorry.
Morgen: And then we have Litopia’s Thomas Tyler.
Morgen: Oh hey TT!
Morgen: He’d like to know what keeps you writing?
Morgen: Easiest question of the evening: passion.
Morgen: And then…
Morgen: There’s more?
Morgen: Another from ‘TT’ yes.
Morgen: Oh great.
Morgen: He asks: What desire do you wish you didn’t possess?
Morgen: My desire for tall men? Apart from some foods (Banoffee pie) that’s what springs to mind. I’m 5’10 (well, 5’9¾) and tall men are rarer than million-pound novel deals. OK, maybe not that rare but my heart sinks (to use a cliché) every time I see a tall guy with a little women… it’s a waste. And invariably when I do meet them they say how lovely it is when they meet someone they don’t get neck ache talking to. My life would be complete (pretty much anyway) if I met a 6’4 guy who lived locally (and didn’t mind that I’m so buy) who loved writing, even a speck to the extent I do. But I am so busy that I don’t mind being single… whenever I see a couple arguing it reminds me there are advantages to singledom. There’s no writing-related desire that I wish I didn’t possess because everything’s worth it to me. Even words I don’t use (although I couldn’t think of any for Dan could I, I guess I mean ones that are edited out, aren’t a waste because it’s all practice and they may be turned into something else one day, the joy of copy / cut and paste.
Morgen: Well, thanks Morgen. It’s been… interesting.
Morgen: Thank you. I’ve had fun… a little weird, but fun nonetheless.
Morgen: Have we stopped recording now?
Morgen: It’s not being recorded.
Morgen: No. You know how this works; it’s all typed.
Morgen: Sure. So I’m free to go?
Morgen: You are.
Morgen: OK, great, because I’ve got a busy evening.
Morgen: You have?
Morgen: Litopia starts in an hour then I’m going out to play pool.
Morgen: I’m rubbish at pool… my bowling’s a bit iffy too.
Morgen: Mine too.
Morgen: Well, have a good time.
Morgen: Thanks. Oh there was just one thing… hello?… hello?… are you there? I think she’s hung up…
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is being serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
- Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group (http://novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/508696639153189)
- Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group (http://poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/388850977875934)
- Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group (http://scriptwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/319941328108017)
- Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group (http://shortstorywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/544072635605445)
We look forward to reading your comments.