Monday, October 13, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Morgan Bell

     Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I was an avid letter-writer as a kid. My family moved around a lot and I kept a sense of inclusion by corresponding with old friends. This was back in the 80s and 90s before the convenience of Facebook. Longing for a sense of community was what propelled me back into the written arts in my thirties. By the powers of Google I uncovered a local creative writing group in Newcastle NSW that had weekly writing exercises and oiled the cogs of writing and storytelling that had lay dormant for a while. I've always written in some capacity, whether for work, for uni, or casual blogging, there is something truly freeing in articulating your thoughts in the written word.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?  

My initial ideas, and shorter complete pieces are written pen on paper. I try to centralize where I write them, but if a story pops into my head I will grab the closest writing tool to me. I have stories (or the seeds of stories) written on the back of envelopes, on scrap paper, on post-it notes. Sometimes I will write directly into the computer, a word document is great for cutting and pasting to reorganize.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I enjoy anything collaborative, such as writing groups where everyone is encouraged to read aloud, and live reading nights for anthologies or competitions. Constructive feedback and the pooling of ideas when someone is stuck, it’s the organic and genuine part of writing where all ego is removed. Not my least favourite, but my most difficult, is plotting longer pieces. I am plotting a novel at the moment and it is quite the exercise organizing so many thoughts. I may choose complex narrative structures just to challenge myself, because I love the challenge, but I concede it is not easy.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

My characters are often composite characters of real people from my personal and professional life, with a healthy splash of myself thrown in for good measure. I take the most base and universal feelings from the human experience and parade them across the page for everyone to recognise. You want to get to know them because getting to know them is getting to know yourself. All the characters are mirrors of the inexplicable – and often self-defeating – things we all do.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

My favourite thing to do is author interviews. As a former blogger myself I really appreciate other indie writers opening up their little corner of the interwebs and inviting me in. I am in internet persona exactly as I am in real life, a perpetual visitor and guest. To promote yourself as an author, contribute to competitions and anthologies and festivals. To market a specific book, do a Goodreads giveaway, run Rafflecopter giveaways, have a dedicated website or blog which you update regularly with fresh links to boost your google ranking, design a one page promo leaflet, a bookmark, a banner etc to distribute to reviewers and giveaway winners.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I hope to be somewhat more organized in the future, but I currently have no set routine for writing. It is something that I squeeze in, in between every other life activity I'm
doing. I am happy doing that for the moment, just pottering around and enjoying my erratic bursts of creativity. However when you look at the routines of highly productive and mass-published authors like Kate Forsyth, they treat writing like any other day job and have start and finish times and scheduled meal breaks and the income they make from writing sustains them.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I put out my debut collection of short stories earlier this year, it is entitled Sniggerless
Boundulations and as the tagline suggests it is the horrors of life in fifteen slices. It is full of tension and unease and delicious anxiety and jealousy. They are only little tales – most fall into the category of micro-fiction or flash fiction – but they are concentrated and potent. I am hoping to get a second collection together (entitled Laissez Faire) by the end of the year, I am nearing completion, just need to transcribe it all to the computer and finish a couple of pieces off.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I am trying my hand at novel writing with a project called Daughters of Mallory. It is a speculative fiction novel that riffs off a few fairy tales and literary characters. It is very much about women, and mothers and daughters. It is quite an ambitious project but I'm moving along at a semi-decent pace. I've been very inspired by the episodic structure of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club and the films of Tarantino. Its about time we had a postmodern Australian feminist dystopia!

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

I once asked the director of the Hunter Writers Centre, Karen Croft, how did she keep uncovering these wonderful writers, how did she know prior to them coming along to our writers group that they would be so talented. She said she believed everyone was a writer. That sentiment really struck a chord with me. We all communicate every day, we all tell stories, we all pass down family history orally, we convey jokes and tall tales. Everyone is a storyteller, and everyone’s story is important. If you have something to say then you have something to write.

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Thank you, Morgan!
Get Morgan's book here
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