Ahoy there me mateys! Yesterday I reviewed feel me fall and enjoyed it. So what better way to celebrate then giving ye scallywags a better introduction to the newest member of me crew, Matey Morris. Arrrr! So without further ado . . .
- How did ye find this Captain and what made ye choose to send a parley communiqué?
I found you through Goodreads, and I figure that’s the place to find readers/reviewers/bloggers who might be interested. So I approached. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of The Captain, but I’ve found that The Captain is a seaworthy person!
- When did ye start scrawlin’ yarns?
I’ve been writing (mostly bad) stories since elementary school. But it was never an activity where I thought: gee, someone can do this? I remember seeing Ray Bradbury’s picture on the back cover of a book, holding his cat. And he looked so happy in that photo. That’s probably the first inkling where it clicked that people actually did this for a living. (Of course, growing up in Illinois in the 70s, becoming a writer was like saying you wanted to join the circus.) It’s always been my North Star, even if I’ve sometimes gotten a bit lost along the way.
- How long did it take ye to write this yarn?
Writing itself is the easiest part of the whole process. And the most fun. The hardest part is coming up with an idea that a) seems unique, at least to me, and isn’t a rehash of every other book out there; b) an idea that won’t run out of steam and c) is an idea that can sustain the amount of time necessary to write, re-write, and re-write again. It’s so easy to fall in love with an idea, and 2 months later, find you’re not interested anymore. So, I spend a lot of time on the front end, pulling an idea like taffy, before I ever set a word on paper. The writing then happens quite quickly, probably because the unconscious has had a lot of time to simply let it bake. All in all, I spent over a year working on Feel Me Fall.
- What was the hardest part of writing this yarn?
Akin to finding the right idea, the hardest part is sometimes spending time in the headspace of whatever I’m writing. (I worked on a YA horror, and while I’m happy with the outcome – to be published soon – I won’t do a horror again because it’s just not a headspace I want to spend that much time in!) It’s hard to “be there” with the characters with all their faults, trying to survive. I’d love to write a comedy – it seems like it would be a blast to write. Unfortunately, I’m not really a comedy writer.
- What did ye enjoy most about writing this yarn?
I can’t really differentiate between this yarn, versus another. They are always a puzzle, with their own problems and challenges. No matter how much I write, no story is ever easy. And I don’t think they should be. If they were, it would mean I was repeating myself, telling the same basic story over. And I don’t want to do that. What I like about writing itself is finding that solution. There’s something great about feeling as if you are using the gifts that you have. I can’t play basketball. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. I can’t do many, many things. But I find when I write, that I’m tapping into My Thing. And that’s a wonderful feeling.
- Why did ye choose to sail the self-publishin’ route?
Two of my other books were published by Amazon’s crowd-sourcing imprint Kindle Press, and they’ve been very helpful with promotion. I actually tried a campaign with Feel Me Fall, but it wasn’t selected. My theory is that they had a plane-crash novel already. But I could be wrong. So, it’s not as if I purposely chose the self-pubbed route. It’s much harder to promote. But I felt the book was strong enough that I didn’t want it sitting on my hard-drive. Self-pubbing has been an experiment and learning curve for me. So far, I’ve enjoyed it. I think the key with any type of writing (and this is easier said than done) is to remove the expectation from it, and that means all of it – the idea of good reviews, money, attention. Of course, I’m not a robot, so my Zen attitude gets a lot of practice rubbing against the real world!
- Are ye a full-time writer? If not, what be yer job that pays the bills?
I was a full-time TV writer several years ago. I had a writing partner, but we broke up, and it kind of killed any momentum I had. So I turned to books. But unless you’re Stephen King, or a number of “name” authors, writing books doesn’t pay the bills. In fact, after the cost of copyediting, cover and paid promosmany writers lose money on their books! It’s like an insane hobby. So, as a day job, I’ve worked freelance doing editing, research, and UX writing, and a variety of other jobs to keep me afloat.
- What be your ambitions for yer writin’ career and plans for the future?
I’d love, of course, to be a full-time writer, making a living. Maybe that would be through books alone, or maybe a book-to-film option, or maybe going back to TV writing. Either way, I like writing stories. Can someone pay me to learn how to surf?
- Do ye have any favorite words in the English language?
Can’t say that I do. And if I did, they are probably swear words that I need to nix from my vocabulary.
- Do ye have any hated words in the English language?
I am not a fan of the use of “asshat.” For some reason, it just bugs me when people use that word. I can’t even rationally tell you why. Maybe it’s because I simply don’t like the person who used the word when I heard it for the first time.
- Name yer top five favorite authors.
Ray Bradbury is a favorite, as I read him when I was younger, and his writing was like poetry on a page. Stephen King when I was younger too – his storytelling is simply excellent. Erik Larson – his nonfiction reads like fiction, and I always feel like I’m learning something. I can’t say I have other favorites. There are too many books on my TBR list! I’m sure there are a bunch of favorites in there.
- Name yer top three recent favorite reads.
I read a wide variety of genres, but most recently: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, The Lost City of Z by David Grann, and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.
- What are yer other hobbies outside of writin’?
Writing can be lonely, and sedentary. You kind of sit. In front of a screen. And I sit in front of a screen for my day job. So I’ve been doing more active hobbies, like swimming, or paddleboarding in Marina Del Rey. There’s something about getting outside, feeling the sun on my skin, and hearing the sound of water. It’s become my therapy. Of course, I still read, and sometimes I cook. But I think I’m happiest outdoors, which is a surprise, because I grew up being pretty much the most inactive person ever. (That’s how getting older is sometimes a fun surprise. I’m like, I can’t believe I’m doing this. This is so unlike the old Jim. And it tickles me that we can still evolve and surprise ourselves. The glory days are not always behind us!)
- Who is yer most favorite pirate? (outside of this Captain of course!)
I grew up before there were any “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, so the only pirates I knew of, were you know, the bad ones. Like Bluebeard. Or Blackbeard. Maybe both? I can’t call him a favorite – I mean, really, he was a pirate in every sense of the word and did bad things – but I remember thinking: that guy was scary. I trust The Captain would do battle with Bluebeard and The Captain would come out victorious.
- What is yer favorite memory involving the sea?
I live in Southern California, though I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. And while there were tiny lakes, there is nothing like the Pacific Ocean. I try to drive up to Malibu and stick my feet in the sand, or linger among the waves. There are some gorgeous beaches, very clean, and the horizon stretches, and I can imagine The Captain and your boat sailing over those swells. I do it as often as I can. This past summer, it was almost every weekend. Mind you: it’s open to the public, and it’s my way of living like the 1%. There is something, too: I grew up wanting to be part of Hollywood, and to move here. I watched 80s movies of kids playing at these same beaches. And once again, it tickles me that I’m here. My career certainly didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I live in an area I love, and I made it happen. I did that. Me. Not that people held me back, but like I mentioned: in the 70s, the idea of moving to Hollywood was not, let’s say, encouraged. But you can make your dreams come true. They might not turn out exactly the way you imagine, but they come close enough.
- Have ye ever gone off the edge of the map? And if so, what happened?
I have gone off the edge of the map, in a figurative sense. On one hand, in a good, way, I say: using the imagination is going off the map, and while writing can be a brutal career, writing itself is a wonderful meditation, an active meditation. I could say even a spiritual endeavor. And I love going off the map. In a bad way, I did get over a prolonged illness recently that took me to the edge of the map. But I think the extremes sometimes gives you more compassion, more depth. I don’t want to promote suffering, but if you suffer, then it forces you to…I hate to use the word “grow,” but it does open your eyes to what’s important to you.
So much thanks to Matey Morris for the glorious scroll exchanges, the chance to review his book, and this parley. I am glad he came back from the edge of the map, that he takes time to enjoy the Pacific Ocean (Arrrr!), and above all that he continues to write and do what he loves.
Thus ends our parley an’ this adventure. I be sad that this adventure be over. But a new adventure can’t start until the last one ends. I do encourage the crew to take a journey to read this fun novel and share ye tales of the experience with yer Captain . . .
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
Secrets and survival in the Amazon
Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.
But can she carry the burden of the past?
Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.
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