Today I had the pleasure of interviewing David Alan Morrison, author of Guild of Immortal Women.
David received his B.A. in Deafness, Theatre, and Cultural Diversity and his M.A. in Theatre Arts. His plays have been produced in Louisville, Seattle, Lexington and Houston. His middle-grade fantasy, RESCUING AWEN has been adapted to a graphic novel, his memoir TRAVELS WITH PENNY; OR, TRUE TRAVEL TALES OF A GAY GUY AND HIS MOM has been nominated for LGBT awards and GUILD OF IMMORTAL WOMEN was an Indebook finalist. All are available from Amazon.
Tell us a little about yourself – your education, family, etc.
I had the kind of upbringing that makes a very boring bio-pic; middle class family living in the suburbs of Chicago, family dog, neighborhood schools. My dad was a truck driver and my mother worked for the phone company. My dad’s family was from the deep south, causing a wonderful juxtaposition with my mom’s New England family. Luckily, they were all kind of crazy and dysfunctional. It’s the most interesting character study a writer could ask for.
What started you on your journey to become an author?
I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. As a kid, I would watch unhealthy amounts of TV and, when I didn’t like the show, would re-write the endings. It evolved into making me the kind of writer who spread scraps of paper around my room (and later my apartments) with fragments of ideas, plot points and quotes.
What is a usual writing day like for you?
I wake up, drink much too much coffee, procrastinate by cleaning my house, washing dishes and talking to myself. Luckily, this kind of mindless busy work helps my mind free itself to the point that – about 7 pm or so – I have written whole scenes in my head. I then head to the computer and hash out several pages of material in a frantic flurry before heading to bed. It’s not the most effective way to write, but it works for me.
Do you have a specific writing style? Are you a plotter or a panster when it comes to writing?
I have spent much of my writing life flying by the seat of my pants. I’ll envision a scene and write it, then repeat this process until I have lots of ideas to work with. Only then do I back up and begin pulling the pieces together by writing a plotline. It has its own set of problems, such as discovering plot holes that you could drive a truck through. My latest work I’m trying to reverse that process and layout the plot first. So far, it’s maddeningly slow, but much more useful.
How much of your work is based on first-hand knowledge? Is anything you write based on real people/events and if so, how did they inspire you to create your work?
Much of what I write about has some link to real life: a quote I overheard, or a scenario I’ve experienced. If it’s not a direct link, I do base a lot of my dialogue and action sequences on some real life events. It provides an authenticity to the work.
Do you get writers’ block and if so, how do you overcome it?
I get writer’s block all the time. If I’m blocked on a current project, I force myself to sit at the computer and write something: emails, letters, thank-you notes…anything that makes me get words on paper. The more drudgery sort of work the better, as after a short time, my brain can’t handle the monotony and it starts being creative.
Who are your main influences in the writing world? Do you have favorite authors?
I love the early Stephen King work. I idolize Janet Evanovich – she’s a genius. I thoroughly enjoy reading new authors – the Stephen King of tomorrow is out there.
Are you trade or indie published? How has your experiences differed from your expectations prior to becoming a published author?
I’m indie published. This had a dramatic effect on my self-esteem, as I thought nobody’s a “real writer” unless they were published by Random House (or some other publisher). As time went on, I realized this is not true. The Indie publishing market has opened up a whole new world. The work is harder when you’re doing your own PR, but the rewards are great. Plus, good writing is good writing. It doesn’t matter how it gets out into the world.
Do you have any regrets as an author?
I wish I had been more fearless at a younger age. I wish I could have been less self-conscious.
What is the hardest part about being a writer?
The loneliness. I enjoy going out, meeting people and doing social things. A writer’s life requires solitude. I’m still balancing solitude and loneliness.
How long on average does it take for you to complete a book, from the first time you sit down to write until it becomes a published book?
The time frame varies so much this question is impossible to answer. My advice to new authors is this: finish the book! There is plenty of time to edit and change later. Just. Finish. The. Story. Figure it will take about the same amount of time to do your edit, then another ¼ of the time to fret about if the work is worth it. You can cut down this time by ceasing the fretting. It’s worth it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write. Read. Be honest with self-critiques, for it takes a lot of manure to yield a rose. Don’t pay attention to people who don’t “get you” or “understand you”. Be true to the material. Kill some of your favorite scenes – they mean a lot to you, but probably bores the reader to tears.
Below is an excerpt from David’s current WIP:
He glanced to the clock again. 2:36 AM. Maybe he should pop a couple of the Quaaludes Kevin had given him. But as much as he craved sleep, a small part of him feared slumber, for recently, during the few hours his body did shut down, horrible dreams haunted him, dreams in which a red-haired woman stalked him from the shadows.
All his life, he had enjoyed vibrant, joyful, colorful dreams that stayed with him long after he awoke. But nowadays, he awoke from catnaps shaking, covered in sweat, and infused with a deep sense of fear. For all the meditation, journaling and therapy, he could remember only portions of the dream; a violent, angry woman dressed in bright red with a name that sounded noble, like Veronica, Vivica…something with a “V.” His brain allowed previews of the picture, but never the entire film.
Ever since the accident, his relationship with Jake had deteriorated, his sleep patterns had been destroyed and the only steady commitment he could fulfill was the volunteer position at the animal shelter. It was as if his whole world had been overturned like a giant Etch-A-Sketch. But through it all, good ol’ what’s-her-name in the red dress had seared a place for herself in his nighttime jaunts. And he knew that in his dreams, she was killing people.
Dane knew he should tell Jake that these vivid dreams had started again, but he didn’t want to concern him. Admit it, he said to himself, you don’t want Jake to think you’ve totally lost it. You’re afraid he’ll think less of you.
But there was also another reason he couldn’t tell Jake about the dreams. He harbored a feeling that was impossible to describe, an inner sense that through the dreams, he was fighting some kind of battle…a battle that was his and his alone. It’s personal.
Check out David Alan Morrison on the web: