Our Interview with Morgen Bailey!



Cover for 'April's Fool (free short story)'


I’m ‘Morgen With An E’, a writer of over 6 years (although I do remember writing when young and dabbling with limericks in my 20s, although I’ve always had my head in a book; formerly Stephen King but my tastes have softened somewhat) who is passionate about the craft, and wanted to share with you my knowledge and experience gleaned to-date, having studied under the tutorledge of Sally Spedding, Judith Allnatt, Sue Moorcroft, Joanna Barnden and Myra Schneider, and most recently Helen M Hunt.

I write fiction, mainly short stories and novels with some poetry, and have been published in the UK. I also submit to magazines and competitions in the UK and overseas and won Ripping Pages competition January 2008 with a poem ‘Fight for life’, was shortlisted in the Verulam Writers’ Circle ‘Get Writing’ Competition 2010 with ‘Feeding the Father’, a based-on-a-true-story monologue, which was also shortlisted in the Writers’ News Short Story Competition October 2010 (so near and yet so far). I won the Northampton Writers’ Group Members Only Short Story Comp July 2010 and was also shortlisted at Verulam Writers’ Circle ‘Get Writing’ 2011 Competition. ‘Feeding the Father’ (and others) is now available as a free eShort here (one of five free shorts) and will feature in an upcoming anthology ‘It’s all about me’.                                                              
                                                         excerpt of bio from author’s site

Morgen is the type of woman who is always busy with a writing project of some sort. Whether its writing a book or interviewing authors, or in this case being interviewed. She keeps up with a blog and into many competitions. We were very pleased that she found time to be interviewed by us. So sit back with your favorite hot mug of beverage and please give a warm welcome to Morgen!

1. What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?

I try not to start with a character’s name. This may seem odd but it’s easily done as the characters usually are the story and I’m often picking out ‘John did…’ or ‘He went…’ in others’ work and it’s made me think about my own. Short sentences to start are also good as it makes the pace quicker, and a story should always start with the action. I’m as guilty as anyone though of rambling on then finding I can chop the first few paragraphs as nothing much has happened (and hopefully feeding them in later). There’s either got to be a dilemma or some reason why we would care about the characters or we lose the reader’s interest and they go on to something and, probably, someone else.

 Inspiration is really varied. It could either be a newspaper clipping (as Feeding the Father was), a single-word prompt (as April’s Fool was: ‘April’). The Dark Side was from a photograph on a course (lead by short story writer / course tutor Joanna Barnden) and The Threadbare Girl was just hearing two clocks ticking intermittently and that’s how that story starts. All the stories in Story A Day May were written from prompts on the http://storyaday.org website May 2011 so ideas can come from anywhere really and I’m really lucky in that respect; it doesn’t take much.

2. Are you an organized writer? Do you do things like take notes and make lists of characters?  Or do you free write and work it out as you go?
I’m very much a ‘see how it goes’ writer. I wasn’t for my first novel (for NaNoWriMo 2009). I plotted it from beginning to end. Not a huge amount but a few pages in a nerdy folder but then as soon as I started writing, the characters took over and the outline went rather out the window.

The nerdy folder sounds like I’m organised and I am for things like NaNo because of the word count and time limit but I don’t structure my free time well enough. I get between 50 and 100 emails a day so most of my time is spent with those and writing, unfortunately, is way down on the list of priorities, as it is with many writers and we don’t know why. I’ve heard countless authors say they write once the house is clean and tidy but it’s only going to get dusty and messed up again. There’s a lure though, of procrastination, and it’s hard to resist. We put off the actual writing but when we do it there’s nothing better. Humans are weird.

3. What is your normal writing day like? Do you write when you are inspired or do you have a schedule?

I wish. If I wrote when I was inspired I’d be writing all the time… actually that’s no bad thing. I’m more of a morning person so if I do have a project to do, I clear the urgent emails first then get cracking. I’d rather get up at silly o’clock than have to keep Swan going in matchsticks (for my eyes – is that a universal saying or only us Brits?) late at night (she says as the clock goes from Friday to Saturday). Once I start writing I can crack though a few thousand words (9,651 on day 23 of 2011 NaNoWriMo has been the most in one day – thank you nerdy Excel spreadsheet). I’ve been a secretary for 20-<coughs> years so I type quickly and the words flow but I need to be given a deadline for it to become a priority. Maybe once I escape the day job I’ll have loads of assignments to keep me on the straight and narrow.

4. Who is your favorite author and how did they inspire you to write?
I have two: Roald Dahl and Kate Atkinson but if I had to pick one it would be Roald (who I thought would be my ‘desert island’ choice but I’d go with a massive encyclopaedia and the luxury would be an endless supply of pens and paper). Although I love Kate’s books, nothing beats Tales of the Unexpected for me, especially as I watched the TV series when I was younger, and I love writing them. Also my father (a photographer) met Roald a couple of times (although he didn’t recognise him the first time) as they lived near each other and my father took photos of one of Sophie’s birthday parties – sadly I don’t think we have his copies of the films any more.

5. It’s easy to see that you have a passion for writing but is there any part of it you don’t like?
I’m not a fan of editing (although I love critiquing others’) or research which is possibly why I don’t write historical (that, and it was my worst subject at school). I am passionate, well spotted. My mum said to me recently, “don’t let writing take over your life” and I didn’t like to say she was a few months too late. I’m also rubbish at marketing. Although I’ve listed most of my books earlier my mentions tend to be just a Smashwords link at the end of my blog posts by which time the readers have, hopefully, gone off to buy the guest’s book(s).

6. Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?
<laughs then cringes> Erm, no. I’m terrible and only tend to read when I have a book for someone I’m interviewing (usually coincidental). It’s got to be my biggest sin – every writer should read heavily. I adore reading but struggle for time to get everything done as it is. I have just bought a Kindle though so I’m improving and do plan that when I leave my day job (soon, hopefully) I’ll have a better routine, with a night doing nothing but reading.

7. What brought you to this style of fictional writing? Is there personal life experience in the writing?

There has been. My poem ‘Three quarters of a whole’ (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/my-writing) is very personal. I’m not really sure why I tend to write ‘dark’ as I had a happy upbringing, if a little uneventful. I do like reading and writing humour too, so I’m not a lost cause.

8. Your books have been published with Smashwords. Does this mean you see the publishing industry headed this way?

  I would say it’s definitely going through a transition. We, as writers, have much more say over our ‘product’ and I’m really excited that I’m starting out on my (serious) journey now. Whilst it’s never been tougher to get an agent (and I’ve not ruled out going the traditional route), I do think they realise that they’re going to have to work harder than ever. When I started writing six years ago it was tougher to get a publisher than an agent but quite a few authors I’ve interviewed have direct publisher contracts and with social networking etc. it’s bound to have reduced the distance between ‘them’ and ‘us’.

9. Do you have any online sites where others can read more of your writings?

  I have a website (http://morgenbailey.com) but that’s just a home (and contact) page which points to the blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com). There is the ‘my writing’ page I mentioned earlier but that only has a 60-worder and the poem on it. There are a couple of my stories on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/flash-fiction-fridays and there will be a story a week on the http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/tuesday-tales page.

My books are currently just on Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morgenbailey) at the moment but once I escape from the day job I will be editing the novels (there are four and a bit of them) and putting them on Amazon, with maybe some more on Smashwords, we’ll see. The best place seems to be Amazon (although I’m still umming and ahing over joining their KDP Select Programme), and Smashwords has been pretty quiet but then I don’t tout them much so perhaps I should do more (although I’ve done quite well in this interview!).

 10.  Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?
  Oh yes. Hoorah! I’ve recently joined (delighted to be invited) Tuesday Tales online writing group and we get to write a story a week from the prompts given. My first was Two backwards, one forwards’ from a prompt of ‘save’ and I really enjoyed writing it. The next one is ‘love’ (then for Valentine’s is ‘heart’) and whilst I don’t usually write romance, one or both might be.

11.  Who would be your first choice to play the down-trodden wife in your book “April’s Fool”?

  I think Kathy Bates would make a great April. Just seeing her in Misery, I know she’s got guts. Not that April is mean, she puts up with a lot but I’d like to see how Kathy gets her revenge. It’s one of my earliest stories and I’m very fond of it so, thank you for reading it and asking me about it. I’m touched.

12. If you could meet anyone from any time who would it be and what would be your first question?
  Having watched the film ‘My Week With Marilyn’ I’d love to have a chat with Marilyn Monroe. And then there’s Roald and Kate.
The soppy side of me (which is only just below the surface, especially when watching movies) would love to have more time with my father. He died in 2001, long before I came to writing, and a few months before I got my dog (they would have loved each other). I know he’d be proud of me – he often said he was. I’m proud to be half of him.