Author Interview: Morgan Sales

In the virtual studio today is Morgan Sales, author of Halcyon Rebirth. Before we meet him, I propose we familiarize ourselves with his novel. Without further ado, here’s Halcyon Rebirth‘s description: 

Gabriel Jones never believed in the occult, or in demons, or witchcraft, or ghosts, or for that matter the bogyman. He makes a rather poor living as struggling writer and journalist. When money becomes tight he agrees to take a commission to write an article or two about occultism in the more rural areas of Britain. The writer heads to the sleepy village of Stonebank along with his less sceptical friend Anji. “Just a day or two. Dig up a bit of local history and get some nice photos.” That was the plan. Plans change. Halcyon Rebirth takes Gabriel on a journey of self-discovery and revelation, unearthing the darkness beneath the mundane veneer of rural life. He will never be the same man again.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born, grew up and still live in the town on Mansfield in the East Midlands region of England.  For Robin hood fans (assuming such creatures exist) the town is about fourteen miles north of Nottingham and we even received a mention in the 1938 film ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ staring Errol Flynn.  The fact that I have to go back almost eighty years to find something even remotely noteworthy should give you some idea of just what a bustling metropolis Mansfield is.  I went to a local school and wasn’t really much a fan of the entire concept of education back then. I behaved and kept my head down but didn’t really go above and beyond.  I did however enjoy creative writing and created the character of Gabriel for a piece of GCSE coursework. A character who would occasionally jump to the front of my mind over the coming years.  At some point my outlook must have changed because I ended up trundling off to university and achieved an upper second in Computer and Network Engineering.  Yes, computer and Network Engineering, not an English based discipline and not creative writing of any sort. Up to this point I wasn’t much of a reader let alone any sort of writer (not that I claim to be any sort of writer now).  The was the point in my life however where I started to read a lot more.  I was at university in the city of Sheffield but lived twenty-five miles away in Mansfield. This meant fifty miles worth of bus journey every day. That’s when I started reading, reading a lot. The character of Gabriel still surfacing in my mind with bits of story attached.  I left university and took up ICT (computer) teaching as a living. This brings me nicely on to question two.

2. When did you start writing?
A friend and I were sitting on a pub back yard, drinking and whiling away an afternoon in the sun. He’d been writing for fun for years; never finishing anything but just scribbling as a pastime.  By this point I’d formulated a few scenes and plot points for Gabriel but still had no clue as to a full story.  I told my friend as much, he gave me some advice: “Just start writing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have it planned out. Just see where it takes you.” I’m paraphrasing a little but that was the gist.  So I took it from there; I put pen to paper, well, finger to keyboard and the character of Gabriel Jones (originally Gabriel Lancaster) was born.

3. Why did you start writing?
In short, for fun. I never really expected to finish the book, the damn thing took me seven years of on and (mostly) off writing.  I wrote as a creative outlet.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
As I said earlier, it grew from a very abstract idea over many years.  The more fleshed-out concept didn’t really come about until I sat and started writing. I didn’t even decide upon the final ending until a few months before finishing.  Originally I was seriously considering killing off one of the major characters.

5. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title. How did you arrive at this title?
That’s a good question which I don’t really have a good answer for; to this day I’m not sure that Halcyon Rebirth was a great title and I’m not sure if it does my sales a whole lot of good.  It just seemed to fit in the end, possibly because I simply got used to it.

  • Were there other titles which you were considering?

Halcyon Genesis was one.  The friend I mentioned earlier read it as a work in progress. He joked about the number of pub scenes and jovially suggested I retitle it ‘Gabriel Jones: Confessions of an Alcoholic.

6. Does your story have a moral?
I don’t know if you’d call it a moral or not but I wanted to include the idea that we as humans are capable of just as much evil as any supernatural conjuring.  I summed it up in a reoccurring line in the book: “Some monsters are men, and some men are monsters.”  The same concept is present in the novella but the line is absent.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Gabriel has to be my favorite; I think because I’ve been carrying him around in my head for so long.  There was also a character from a novel I currently have shelved, he was intended to be a throwaway character who existed to move the plot along and get killed in the process. I wrote a scene in a spit and sawdust pub where he verbally eviscerated and terrified a massive thug who was trying to extort money from him. After that I couldn’t bring myself to kill him so altered the plot a little to keep him alive.

8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Halcyon Rebirth.
Gabriel’s character does develop somewhat through Halcyon Rebirth. In chronological order I’d say cocky, conflicted, terrified, determined, confident.

9. Let’s talk about what a typical writing session looks like for you.

  • Do you listen to music as you write?

No, I like things nice and quiet.

  • What is your preferred writing time?

It’s largely dependent on my mood but I tend to favour mornings and evenings.

  • Do you prefer writing outside or indoors?

When the weather’s nice I like to write outdoors, especially at night.  If I don’t have to get up the following day I’ll happily sit out with an oil lamp, well into the small hours.

  • Do you like to write in public places, or do you seek out isolation?

I prefer isolation for the most part, people mean noise.  Though my partner also writes sometimes and I do enjoy sitting with her and bouncing ideas off her.

  • Do you set daily goals for yourself (in terms of word count)?

When I first started writing I tried this and I know it works well for some people.  For me however, it doesn’t work, I end up just writing fluff. I’d rather write ten good words than a thousand bad ones.

10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
For me they work well for short essay style writing such as blog posts.  My latest blog post was pretty much just a stream of consciousness and I have to admit that it reads far worse than some previous posts that I outlined (at least in my head) first.  As far as creative writing goes, I find that outlining a limited section of the plot tends to help me write a lot I don’t tend to do this for the entire book though.

11. Which genre do you prefer to read in?
I love a good ghost story.  I also like Sci-fi and I love Bill Bryson’s writing.

  • Which genre do you prefer to write in?

I enjoy writing paranormal with a human edge.

12. What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Crystal Deception by Doug J. Cooper and The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson.  It’s taking me a while to get through them because I read a lot less when I’m part way through a writing project.

13. What is your favorite book?
I think I have two.  One is Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Big country. I love his friendly, funny and sarcastic writing style.  The other is probably I, Claudius.  I love how Graves was able to take such care over historical accuracies while still providing such an engaging plot and characters.  Granted it’s largely fictional but the edge of authenticity still made me feel oddly connected to a man who died around two thousand years ago.

14. Any project in the works?
I currently have two. A partly complete and currently shelved sequel to Halcyon Rebirth named Halcyon Moonrise. Gabriel is back as a major secondary character, but there is a new protagonist.  It’d probably be classed as urban fantasy.  It has vampires and is set predominantly in London.  The other work will either end up as a long novella or short novel.  This one is paranormal historical fiction and gives an account of what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke. It’s a bit Lovecraft-inspired. I’m quiet enjoying weaving a totally fictional tale that intersects with real events and real historical figures.

15. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Halcyon Rebirth took years, literally years. I think that’s partly because I wasn’t writing to complete it. I was writing just to write.  I didn’t touch it for much of that time, including a full two-year period. My novella, The Haunting of a Lord, took substantially less than a year.

16. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
Engaging characters who you care about. Or ones who at least elicit some emotional reaction from the reader.  Events don’t mean a damn if they’re not happening to people you can relate to.

17. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing, take criticism on board but don’t take it as gospel.  The same goes for writing tips. I have seen some fantastic writing tips over the years.  I’ve also seen some that are total nonsense.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
Dogs (these days, I was converted.)

2. Ebook or physical book?
Ebook (You can’t beat a library that fits in your pocket.)

3. Nights out or nights in?
In, every time.

4. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Future

5. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Camping in a caravan, I don’t do tents though.

6. Working in a group or working alone?
Group

7. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love.

8. Reading or writing?
Writing

9. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Austen

10. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Animals; I want to know what the dog is thinking.

11. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Abandoned road

12. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
Misunderstood every time I speak.

13. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
Coffin

14. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
Two stories tall.

15. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
The Walking Dead. I’d hunt Carl down and feed him to the zombies, it’d improve that show no end.

Thank you for joining us, Morgan!
Readers: want to connect with Morgan? You can find him on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out his blog and author website.

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