Interview: Morgan Bell by Jerry Beller (Author Alliance) - My Author Friends Interview Series

Posted by Morgan Bell on February 12, 2018 at 5:15 AM

Hello and welcome to the Author Alliance. Thanks for making time to join us today.


It is a pleasure to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to tread the same (online) floorboards as all these other fabulous indie authors. I am excited to promote my new book Sniggerless Boundulations, a collection of experimental contemporary literary fiction, with characters that include killers, nosey office workers, seedy old men, competitive women, a galactic physician, and a haughty abseiler.


What is the title of your latest release?


Sniggerless Boundulations


Please tell us about your latest book release and provide a brief description & tell us what inspired it.


From the official blurb: "Debut collection of short stories by indie Australian author Morgan Bell. A cross-section between dreams and reality. An examination of the horrors of life, with plenty of peering, in the form of vignettes, micro fiction, flash fiction, and short stories. This collection of fifteen stories contains bizarre medical conditions, industrious creatures, conniving cops, killers, dead bodies, a rescue mission, homoeroticism, nonchalant students, a secret garden, and the road to hell."


Many of the stories were inspired initially by writers prompts ie images, words, phrases, quotes, scenarios, from my local writers group or from short story competition themes. When considering how to elaborate on the prompts I was inspired by observed human interactions, song lyrics and theme, especially from the music of Soundgarden and Blitzen Trapper, and the desire to articulate those feeling of unease the come with anxiety and depression. What inspired me to weave all these stories together into a collection was the recurring motifs. It was like a jigsaw puzzle coming together and revealing a monster and the monster clawing its way out of the second dimension.


Is there a specific genre that you focus on?


As a whole my collection, Sniggerless Boundulations, is contemporary literary fiction, but many of the individual stories are actually speculative fiction. On the face of it it is pure domestic realism with the occasional surrealist element or twist. I am working on a post-modern speculative fiction novel - working title: The Daughters of Mallory - which riffs off some fairy tales and nursery rhymes and classic novel archetypes. I have a short story in the Hunter Region 2014 Speculative Fiction Anthology, Novascapes, called "The Switch", which is based on germanic folklore. Other pieces such as "Don't Pay The Ferryman", which was shortlisted for the 2014 Hunter Writers Centre Travel Writing Prize, are portraits of urban/regional Austr alian life.


What do you like best about developing characters?


I love picking out the names for my characters, researching the origins and meanings of names, and working with short and long syllables and dull and sharp vowel sounds to develop a name that is absolutely perfect for a character. I also I love giving my characters unique speech patterns where appropriate. And I'm a sucker for the big reveal of a hidden quality in a character, something unexpectedly bad or good, something refreshingly unusual or comfortingly common. I like my characters to have flaws and vulnerabilities and quirks. Horrible characters are the most fun to write, but they usually have some redeeming personality trait or motivation. I like imagining a reader really connecting and relating to my characters. My work is mos tly character-driven.


Do you have a set writing time? Please describe your writing habits.


Due to the obligations of the daily grind I do not have regular writing times pencilled in to my schedule, I am an opportunistic writer, who snatches little moments of time in between work and socialising to jot things down in my notebook. If an idea is begging to be articulated I find the time, even if I have to stop mid-conversation or write down the margin of my meeting agenda. My most productive writing time is always in the presence of other writers, at writers groups or functions or festivals. Just sharing the same space as other creatives and hearing their work read out or their unique perspective on life really ignites the wordsmith in me.


What motivated or inspired you to become a writer?


I have always been a writer, its just something I really enjoy. As a kid I was a prolific letter writer, we moved around a lot and I had a bunch of penpals. In high school I loved writing essays for english and art history. In my professional life I am a technical writer, drafting and editing documents all day. I became a blogger in my mid-20s, and I wrote radio scripts and op-ed news articles and online content. Then it occurred to me that I ought to pair my love for the written word with my love for storytelling (or gossiping, as it is colloquially known), and in the year of my 30th birthday I joined up to a writers group in my local community (Newcastle, Australia) and started crafting stories according to prompts and competitions. So its all been something of a natural progression.


Who are your favorite authors? Why?


Oscar Wilde and Angela Carter, they were both breaking down boundaries way before their time, and they produced multi-layered works that were brutal social commentaries. For the same reason Jane Austen is also a favourite. At the moment I am enjoying books from Lauren Beukes, Margo Lanagan, Cate Kennedy, Julienne Van Loon, and Jim Crace.


What is your favorite indie book? Why?


I have a really odd book of short stories on my bookshelf called Writing In A Vacuum by Vincent Collazo, it is trippy and dreamy and philosophical, and virtually unknown, doesn't even have a Goodreads entry. Another indie gem is Dathan Auerbach's Penpal, it is a horror story about a man recollecting strange events from his childhood, it is brilliant at building suspense, and I do admire a book that can maintain tension.


What are you most optimistic about in the current publishing world?


I like how supportive indie writers are of other indie writers online. I have been given author spotlights and interviews on so many blogs, there is a wonderful community spirit. I am optimistic about what a viable alternative self-publishing is to traditional publishing, and creative freedom that that is extending to unknown authors.


If you could change one thing concerning the publishing industry, what would it be?


It would be nice if paperbacks were printed locally with much lower retail prices. Then maybe book stores would come back into vogue. I guess we are probably saving trees by switching to e-readers, but there will always be something magical about rummaging through a stack of books, looking at all the cover art and blurbs, and finding a gem that you keep forever. Full disclosure: I'm a known hoarder.


Who are your heroes? Why?


I idolise grunge rock musician Chris Cornell, he is an amazing lyricist and performer with a good heart and a nice face. I also really enjoy outspoken political commentators like Germaine Greer and Janeane Garofalo and Russell Brand and Bill Maher, I may not always agree with them but at least they are putting new ideas out into the public sphere. My favourite online news programs are The Young Turks (particularly humorous and thoughtful commentary from Ben Mankiewicz and Jimmy Dore) and The David Pakman Show, for truly independent news coverage. I also admire the unapologetic honesty of Australian stand-up comedians Greg Fleet and Judith Lucy, and british comedian Jenny Eclair.


If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?


I would make it socially acceptable for night owls to work their jobs at night and sleep late during the mornings. We all need the flexibility to dream when we are sleepy. That and free unlimited after-hours mental health care for all that need it, that's the idealist in me.


What makes you a unique human being?


I am a triple-A human being: Atheist, Asexual, Australian. I am also a six-foot tall woman, so it would be fair to also refer to me as an Amazon.


What makes your books unique?


It is very short, only 69 pages, and contains some very very short pieces, from 150 to 2,000 words. It has been described as being a "bite sized treat", and as having a "discomforting aesthetic, taking hold of the awkward and suspending that tender unease for as long as the prose can cope" and "recommended for the reader that is ready to explore the rocky path and look deep into the secular modern heart". My writing style has been compared to J. D. Salinger and Stephen King, with "subliminal messages" and a "deliberate distribution of stories" with "many layers". As one reviewer said "Rarely is an author able to so clearly capture and convey emotions and small slices of life in so few words, with the economy of a poet."


Do you have an upcoming release? If so, please describe it.


Sniggerless Boundulations is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, The Book Depository etc. It was released in January 2014 as book a Kindle ebook and a paperback. It is a beautiful slim little book that is a stroll through the busy corridors of my mind. Read it for yourself and describe it to me, you will see yourself in it, it is like a literary mirror to your soul.


Thank you for joining us. We appreciate you taking the time to tell us a little about yourself and wish you the best of luck as an author.


Thanks so much for letting me ramble on. I have really enjoyed this interview and appreciate all you are doing to promote indie authors, this website provides a voice for all us little people, odd-bods and misfits, and people just passionate about distributing their point of view via the written word.

Originally posted on Author Alliance Interviews in June 2014.

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