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.


Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks so much, Roz. I would so love to be the proverbial fly on the wall to find out just how the process of ghost writing works. Very best of luck with your novel submission.

Marisa Birns said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview. What Roz Morris said about favorite fiction having a sense of the extraordinary in everyday things so resonates with me!

And, yes, editing for how many times it takes to unearth the story is the only way to go.

I love reading about the creative process for other writers. Thank you both for this post.

And good luck with your submission!

Gillian McDade said...

I must check out Verlyn Klinkenborg. Thanks for participating, Roz. I also avoid the longhand scenario, preferring to go straight to the screen - although I think we are in a minority! My handwriting is illegible, because I've been used with shorthand for so long.

Caroline Green said...

Great post. I loved your phrase about 'test driving' Fleming's panache, there Roz! Great to hear about how your creative processes work and best of luck with the new novel.

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

@Susie @Gillian - thank YOU for having me! It was great fun.
Re ghostwriting.... I wrote a piece about it on my blog which might fill in some gaps - http://www.dirtywhitecandy.com/the-business-of-writing/how-ghostwriting-works
However, there's a lot of really juicy stuff that never makes it into the books - usually for being too libellous or downright illegal. You can certainly develop an interesting relationship with your co-author.

@Marisa - glad you liked that! To me that sense of the extraordinary is the essence of a good story.

@Caroline - thanks! Fleming's voice makes his novels special.

And thank you, everyone, for your good wishes with my submission.

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

Er, that link got chopped. Here's a shorter version:

Roderic Vincent said...

"Every song I hear on the radio seems to be about it, like when you fall in love."

That's it. I know exactly what you mean.

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

@Roderic ;)

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Anonymous said...

I'm rather confused by ghostwriting. If you are good enough to write novels, why on earth wouldn't you want recognition for it yourself? Why write a novel and let someone else put their name to it? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me!

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

Hi Anon
Ghostwriting in fiction is far more common than you think. A lot of authors who are already published under their own names ghost-write. It's interesting to have a change of pace between novels of your own. Also you're guaranteed that it's going to be well publicised, because no publisher will pay for a ghost if they're not going to market the book well. Thirdly, it diversifies your income sources - and we all have to make a living.