|Posted by Morgan Bell on February 12, 2018 at 3:30 AM|
Welcome to another great Writers on Wednesday interview. This week I am chatting with Australian author Morgan Bell ...
Tell me a bit about yourself …
I am 32 years old, I grew up in Newcastle NSW, and I am currently living in Sydney. I work as a Traffic Engineer and Technical Writer for Local Government. I have two cats, Romilly and Sansa, they are twins. I love Tom Hardy films and clove cigarettes and old-school grunge rock and queer culture and scarves.
Tell us about your most recently published book?
I recently published a book of fifteen very short stories, a collection of micro-fiction, flash fiction, vignettes and traditional short stories. I had a wonderful review describe it as “a hybrid of unfiltered reality, humanist morality play and whimsical Bizzaro”. The main themes are fear, time, aging, anxiety, and jealousy. There is everything from speculative fiction to awkwardly excruciating suspense to condensed domestic drama.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
For a long time I was infrequently writing non-fiction opinion pieces for uni magazines and websites and blogs, but that kind of writing seemed to date quickly and I struggled to consistently produce content, because it felt like work. In 2011, the year of my 30th birthday, I did a google search to find out if there were any local creative writing groups in my area (Newcastle). I felt like a total fraud attending this group at first. I was half motivated to stay on with it as an excuse for socialising with like-minded people, and I half went to listen, as every meeting had live readings of flash fiction from all of the members. I was first published in the Newcastle Writers Group Anthology 2012, a very short story that was just a hand-written scribbling on a scrap of paper that I got down while listening to everyone else read. That first story “It Had To Be Done” is included in my debut collection Sniggerless Boundulations. I moved house in December 2013 and found a treasure trove of all these little scribblings that, upon further examination, when run together, were a perfect snapshot of the inner-workings of my mind. I basically published it for myself, but I have gotten a really great response from all sorts of people that I never expected would buy it.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
I had the incredible opportunity to interview a 93 year old woman, Daisy, a close family friend, about her childhood memories from her rural northern England home town, about a month before the family took her back to the UK for her final tour. Daisy passed away in England on her holiday, after living over half her life in Australia, and was able to be laid to rest at her mother’s grave in the UK. The transcript I prepared of Daisy’s childhood stories was originally intended to be read at a school assembly of the primary school she attended in the 1930s in England, to give the current students an idea of how much daily life had changed in the last century. It was instead used in the UK funeral service and Australian memorial service. I crafted elements of the six page transcript into a 500 word short story for a competition celebrating inspirational women. The YWCA Newcastle published my story “Midnight Daisy” on the project website, included it in the exhibition launch, and invited me to do a live reading of the piece for Newcastle ABC radio. Daisy’s daughter and grandson have been really enjoying Daisy’s story being featured so highly in the project, and it has put smiles on all of our faces imagining how much Daisy would have enjoyed all this attention if she were here to see it. She was a real character.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I recently contributed a short story to the 2014 Hunter Speculative Fiction Anthology (http://hunteranthology.blogspot.com.au/) called “The Switch” which is based on Germanic folklore. It is due to be published this year. I also just finished the cover art for my next collection of short stories, which will be entitled Laissez Faire, and be made available in Kindle ebook and Lulu print on demand hard-copy.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
I prefer to read paper books, but it is much easier to publish an ebook, so I am my worst customer. It might be because I get incredibly distracted on my computer with all my social media, or because I scan/skim so many electronic documents for work, but I can best concentrate on a book when I hold it in my hands.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
For me indie publishing all the way. I can be as weird as I like, experiment with form and length, be intentionally provocative. And im a qualified technical writer so I can edit and format my own manuscripts and do my own page/cover design. But having said all that, my primary motivation is not to monetise a hobby that I enjoy so purely, it is to express myself without censorship.
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
For perfecting the craft of the short form Australian author Cate Kennedy does it best in her collection Dark Roots, every story sticks with you and haunts you, she is the master. If you want a classic novel you can’t go past Angela Carter’s feminist dystopia The Passion Of New Eve.
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
When I was a little kid in the late 80s/early 90s my parents used to haul me and my sister all around the country in a brown 1985 Toyota Corona like we were a tribe of travelling gypsies. I moved at least eight times that I can remember before settling in Newcastle. Many of the moves were between the eastern seaboard and Perth WA, via the Nullarbor Plain. Two adults, two kids, two cats, no air-conditioning, and a mattress on the roof. When my dad couldn’t stay awake to drive any more he would pull into a budget motel and make one of us kids go in and ask what the nightly rate was. If it was sufficiently low we would then try to sneak the cats into the motel room. We once lost a cat in Millicent SA due to this absurd routine. If you took in this lost cat and gave it a nice life, thank you.
Newcastle Writers Anthology 2012 http://www.amazon.com.au/Newcastle-Writers-Group-Anthology-2012-ebook/dp/B00AHM0INU/
Twitter @queenboxi or www.twitter.com/queenboxi
Midnight Daisy – She: True Stories http://shetruestories.org/midnight-daisy/
Midnight Daisy – ABC radio recording https://soundcloud.com/1233newcastle/she-morgan-bell-air
Originally posted on Kathryn White's blogspot Kathryn's Inbox in March 2014.