QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS - ROZ MORRIS
Roz Morris, bestselling ghostwriter whose titles are unfortunately a trade secret. First novel under her own name is My Memories of a Future Life, currently on submission with Jane Conway-Gordon. Blogs at www.nailyournovel.com , tweets far too much @dirtywhitecandy and is learning to waste even more time on Facebook.
What’s it like ghosting as another writer?
It’s like being an actor playing a real person; you have to understand what people find interesting about them. Then you develop a voice and perceptions that will please their readers.
Which writer would you be for a day?
I’d like to be two. One is Verlyn Klinkenborg, who writes about rural farm life in upstate New York. He will start with a piece of baling twine in his pocket that becomes an ethereal adventure catching runaway horses in the middle of a foggy night. My other choice is Ian Fleming. I’d love to test-drive his panache for a day. All my favourite writers, fiction or non-fiction, have this sense of the extraordinary or flamboyant in everyday things. Their best writing makes me want to be them.
Where do you get your ideas?
I get them everywhere. In fact, I don’t think I have ideas; they have me.
My underlying themes are…
...odd relationships and haunted souls. Or they are at the moment. No doubt that will change.
I get most excited by..
...tension, longing and anything unconventional
Longhand first or straight to computer?
Computer. I make abbreviated notes for myself on whatever I can grab, particularly when I’m out shopping or at the gym. But often I find I can’t read them. My handwriting is my own worst enemy.
Email or phone?
Email. I am an introvert in real life; an extravert on the page. Most writers are.
First drafts are…
...much better when edited about 20 times, then buried in soft peat for three months and edited all over again. (Apologies to Douglas Adams.)
Hacker or adder?
Both. My WIPs are in a constant state of riotous flux. Eventually they are drilled into submission.
Character first or plot?
Not plot, but problem. What if a character was in such-and-such a situation? Then who might find that the most testing time of their life?
I know I have my story when…
Every song I hear on the radio seems to be about it, like when you fall in love.
Left on a cliffhanger or told all?
Whatever makes the book end properly. But I find cliffhangers a cheat if they’re done only to entice you to read the sequel. Part of the bargain with the reader is that you finish the story.
You really must read…
The Eclipse of the Century by Jan Mark. Although it takes a while to get going, it is such an original and strange story of a man who thinks he has foreseen the afterlife.
Which 3 writers, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?
Emily Bronte, because she’d be so wild. Gavin Maxwell, because he loves wild places and writes like an angel. And Jack Vance for his extraordinary imagination and wry humour. I’d have to have three dinners as I want to talk to them one to one, not watch how they mixed, rivaled or networked. That’s a thing about writers; in their books you have them to yourself, so that’s how I would most enjoy them.
The most important thing for a writer to have is…
A family who understands. And doesn’t mind that you’re not making much money. And doesn’t think you’ve failed if you keep having to rewrite, or if it takes you a long time to find an agent or publisher. You need that secure base so that you can venture forth and do battle.
I would advise an author to…
Find a critique partner whose judgement you trust and who likes the kind of novels you want to write.
An author should never…
...think they’ve finished when an editor has said ‘yes’. That’s just the beginning.
If I wasn’t a writer I’d be…
A composer. I want to make experiences that people love.