Creative Interviews: Roz Morris

Welcome to my next Creative Interviews session, this time with author, editor and writing coach, Roz Morris.

Roz Morris is the bestselling author of Ever Rest, Lifeform Three and My Memories of a Future Life. In addition to this, she has worked as a ghostwriter, with over 4 million sales worldwide. She has also produced several guidance books for writers and been nominated for numerous awards.

Harrison Hickman: Where did your desire to write come from?

Roz Morris:

A wildly overactive imagination! And a shy, thoughtful personality. And a sensitivity to words. Put all those together and you get a person who asks a lot of questions, feels like they’re the only person who’s noticed how weird everything is, and also how wonderful. All that has to go somewhere, and so I write stories.

HH: Tell us about your first novel, My Memories of a Future Life. What was the inspiration behind it?

RM: I’ve always been fascinated by stories about people discovering other lives through hypnosis. Although there are many possible literal explanations, it’s such a powerful idea, that we might have other lives whispering inside us that shape our destiny now.

I thought, what if somebody went forward in time to their next life? Turn the telescope the other way around? Then they’d be seeing what their life is doing to someone in the future. I thought, who would do that? It would have to be somebody who had lost hope for their own life.

The main character is a musician who has a mysterious injury that prevents her playing. Music is her entire life and soul. She’ll do anything to play again. Medicine has failed her, so she goes to a hypnotist and discovers her next incarnation, maybe. It becomes a journey of a lifetime for the two of them, as they both try to heal.  

HH: Tell us about your other works of fiction, Lifeform Three and Ever Rest. What were the major themes behind both pieces of work?

RM: Lifeform Three is my love letter to horses and the countryside. I become aware of how much we are treading on the past, and of the sediment of time under our feet as we walk on footpaths or pavements or through a wood. Lifeform Three is acutely aware of how our environment is changing and decaying. It’s set in the future, when global warming has caused widespread flooding, so all the countryside has been built on. In that sense, I guess it’s eco-fiction. Just one piece of countryside remains – some fields and woods that are now a theme park where people can come and see what the world used to look like.

The narrator is a groundsman who works there and has his memory wiped so that he’s more efficient. That’s how the world is in Lifeform Three – there are AIs who are specialised for particular jobs. And most of the people are programmed too, by the devices they carry with them – like our phones now, which are spying on us with cookies so they can sell us things. But something goes wrong and the groundsman starts to recover old memories – of riding a horse. He sets out to find his past before it can be taken from him for ever.

I actually wrote it in 2013 – to indulge my fantasy of how the world might evolve. And every day it becomes more true, which is rather alarming.

Ever Rest is about a man who falls into a glacier. His body can’t be recovered so the people who know him have to wait until the glacier releases him. He happens to be a rock star, and his loss is a worldwide tragedy. He remains as young as the day he fell in, preserved in the ice, and his music is played everywhere, but his friends and loved ones must somehow carry on with their lives now. And until he’s found, they will not ever rest. The themes are huge – how we carry on after loss, the bizarre nature of fame, and the music that made us all and how it never lets us go.  

HH: You have an impressive catalogue of works, of both fiction and non-fiction. Notably, your Nail Your Novel series is highly regarded. How do you find providing advice to writers?

RM: Thank you! I started working with writers because I love stories and storytelling. It’s very rewarding to help somebody write the book they hope they’ve got in them. A book is a huge undertaking, and there’s a lot of struggle before it comes out right, but the achievement is enormous. And I learn from every writer I work with. Each person has their own unique strengths and talents, which is always inspiring. It’s also a miracle if you think about it – a person creates something out of nothing. That’s awesome.

HH: On the subject of advice, what advice would you give to authors who are just starting out?

RM: Read as much as you can! It’s how you learn. Notice what works on you, what words push your buttons, what story twists really gnarl your guts. Also notice what you don’t like – and try to analyse why. That’s how you figure out your own unique style. It’s also how you create writing that has power – study what works on you, study why it works and do likewise.  

HH: You have also produced a travel memoir, Not Quite Lost. Tell us a little bit about that.

RM: Not Quite Lost started as a set of travel notebooks. I’m a manic notebook writer and I have a set of notebooks that live in the suitcase. When we go anywhere, if we have adventures, that’s where I write them. Over the years they built into a collection of weird encounters, such as a tour guide in Glastonbury who thought he’d found the reincarnation of a figure from Arthurian legend. I was going to eventually use them in novels, but my husband suggested I publish them as humorous diaries. At first I thought that was ridiculous because nobody would want to read my diaries. Then I mentioned the idea to a few friends who all said they thought it would be fun and they’d like to read it. I guess they’d enjoyed my Christmas letters or something. So I started work and discovered a new kind of writing I could do. When it was published, I got a tour of BBC local radio stations, who all liked it too.

I guess you’re never too old to try a new kind of writing. 

HH: What projects are you currently working on?

RM: The follow-up to Not Quite Lost! I’ve got the diary bug now.

HH: Where can readers go to find out more about you as well as your books?

RM: Find me on Twitter @Roz_Morris, my website rozmorris.org, and my newsletter https://tinyurl.com/rozmorriswriter

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