To celebrate Passionflower Massacre and Sleepwalking being published as one eBook, I am pleased to welcome the rather talented author, Nicola Morgan (also known as Crabbit) onto the blog to talk about how she writes.
1) You are about to republish two of your previous published books, Passionflower Massacre and Sleepwalking as one eBook. Why have you taken the decision to release them in this way?
Several reasons. The reason to release them as eBooks at all is simple: because, like Everest, they are there. They did well when they were first published and then I moved publisher and they went out of print, as often happens. So, now that I have the rights back I want to find new readers for them. As to why release them as one book: because they fit nicely together, appealing to similar readers, and because it makes it really good value for readers. And it’s easier for me! (But not for my cover designer!)
2) You are known for writing fiction as well as non-fiction, which do you prefer to write and why?
I find writing non-fiction a million times easier, so it satisfies the lazy me. But I find writing fiction twice as satisfying (partly because it’s harder) so it satisfies the high-reaching me.
3) I know you have been very busy writing your non-fiction books recently, do you have any plans on the go, to write more fiction?
Yes, I’m writing fiction. I’ve had a few false starts and not managed to write something I’m satisfied with but I’ve got something very juicy in the pipeline, at an advanced stage. Not for teenagers, though; this time it’s for 9-11s. I don’t know if it will be published but I’m working hard to make it so! It needs a really good publisher, though, and I will not self-publish it.
4) Your writing non-fiction books are very popular among other writers; do you follow your own writing advice?
Well, I guess much of the advice is based on what I wish I’d known a lot earlier, so I do tend to follow it. On the other hand, the advice isn’t really about how to write (as in process) as I believe people have to find their own way of making their words work. My advice is mostly about being ruthlessly critical of what you write, listening to the inner reader, not being delusional, understanding the industry. And yes, I definitely follow all that advice. I do also recommend eating chocolate….
5) You are also well known for public speaking, do you enjoy doing this as much as writing? Does it create a balance in your working life?
I enjoy them both differently. I’m not sure I can say which I enjoy more – it would be like comparing a roast guinea fowl dinner with a seafood and lime starter. But, yes, I think it does create a good balance – well, it would if I did a bit less speaking and more writing! It’s very easy to say yes to speaking engagements and then not leave any time for writing. Which is one reason why I don’t have a fiction contract just now, because I spent too much time last year and this year on speaking.
6) Do you find that the writing gets easier or harder with each book you publish?
Harder. So very very much harder. Arghhhh.
7) Do you plot everything out in detail first, or do you tend to fly by the seat of your pants as you write?
I’d love to plot but I can’t seem to do it. So it’s seat of the pants every time. I terrifies me every always justify this by saying that it’s more exciting. It’s not: it drives me nuts and time!
8) Do you set yourself a time limit or a word goal to achieve each day?
Word goal. (A time limit would be dangerous – I could spend three hours and write three words.) On a “writing day” the word goal would be 3000 words for fiction or 4-5000 words for non-fiction. If it was going well. (But then I’d also spend many days revising. And many more re-revising. Etc. So there’d be no word goal on those days, but maybe a page goal.)
9) Do you have a preferred time to write during the day?
No. Ideally, I’d write first and do the other writer’s tasks later, but the tasks are easier so I usually do them first. I’m weak!
10) How do you deal with your internal editor, waiting to jump on every mistake you make?
I never switch off my internal editor. I long ago gave up trying to tell her anything. Theoretically, switching her off is often a good thing to do but I don’t do it. (As I say, I don’t agree with setting rules of process.) My internal editor is a very effective tool for stopping me going down too many cul-de-sacs.
11) How do you feel about the growing demand for writers to have a greater online presence these days?
I have several things to say about that.
A. It just is part of the job, so we have to deal with it. Make the most of it.
B. However, if we are doing it unwillingly, it’s not going to work very well as there’s a level of dishonesty which doesn’t marry well with social media and which in the end will be a risk or a sticking-point.
C. Therefore, I really dislike the pressure that some publishers put authors under to engage in online activity. The problem is that publishers, being businesses, don’t always realise that doing this as an individual and having to sell yourself is not the same as doing it as a business and selling someone/something else.
D. The opportunities are fantastic and as long as we stay true to ourselves there is more upside than downside. As long as it doesn’t stop us writing the flipping book!
12) What is the one piece of advice you would advise unpublished writers NOT to do?
Listen to the wrong people. (For clarity: DON’T listen to the wrong people!) Too many unpublished writers (and others, tbh) listen to what they want to hear, without weighing it against other factors, such as reason, or wisdom, or relevant experience; too many are prone to listen to one loud-shouting naysayer or cynic, rather than absorbing the more measured views of those who have seen a variety of experiences and who have learned from them.
Thanks Nicola for such honest and interesting answers.
To find out more about Nicola Morgan: