Monday, 17 January 2011

Interview with Roz Morris

Guess what! I've got our very first interview for the new year wrapped up in a neat little package for you all. And what an awesome writer I get to present to you! Please welcome author Roz Morris.

Hi Roz! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I've ghostwritten eight bestselling novels which I can't name because they're a trade secret. I freelance edit, mentoring other writers to help them shape up their novels to a state where they can be presented to the market, and I'm coming out from under the ghostly sheet with novels of my own. I'm represented by Jane Conway-Gordon in London. The rest of the time I work as a freelance magazine editor - and occasionally as a movie extra!

Wow, I'm amazed by you already. How long have you been writing?

I've been writing for about 20 years in a serious way, but there's never been a time when I haven't dabbled with stories. I also went through a period of dabbling with music. So I guess I'm manically creative.

Sounds like it. Many people, including myself, aren't exactly sure what goes into ghost writing. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

In essence, it's writing a book pretending to be somebody else. Mostly you write for celebrities, or people who have hit the headlines in some way. Perhaps they've already published their memoirs (possibly also ghosted) and have branched out into novels – but need help with the craft of fiction writing. And they're not always non-writers. Sometimes the megabrand established novelists use ghosts, outsourcing some of their early draft work to keep up with demand. And if a mega-selling author dies, a publisher might hire a ghostwriter to keep their brand alive beyond the grave.

Ghosting is done by writers across the entire spectrum of success, including those with strong-selling titles who are established under their own name. Often they do it between novels of their own – on what in Hollywood is known as the ‘one for them, one for me’ principle. If you can do it, it's a good way to make a living and a refreshing change from working on your own, because the ghosting process is a collaboration with your 'author', and usually their editor as well. It's also a great way to recharge creatively - the novels I've ghosted have stretched me into subjects and genres I may not have ventured into otherwise, and my own work has broadened because of it.

Most writers who ghost do it after some success under their own name. I got lucky with the novels I ghosted and now I'm breaking out as me!

How exciting. Can you tell us move about the books under your name?

I have a novel out on submission, called MY MEMORIES OF A FUTURE LIFE. The MC is a pianist who is struck down by a mysterious injury that stops her playing, and steals away her creative and emotional life. It's an injury to her soul as well as to her body, and the story follows her as she gets drawn into a strange and nightmarish experience in search of a cure. The genre is modern fiction, quite literary but with a thumping plot. I don't do wispy books that languish around aimlessly and eventually come to terms with everything. It opens with a scene of yoga rage.

I've also written a non-fiction book, NAIL YOUR NOVEL - Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish with Confidence . I wrote it because I realised most of the writers who come to me for editing help struggle to deal with the huge job of writing and revising a novel. Because of this, they also can't assess their novel's structure - which is essential to whether it works or not - and they don't dare to make major changes because it all looks too complicated. I disembowel my drafts quite blithely because I've developed ways to take control of my manuscripts, and so I thought the most helpful thing I could do for people was to write a book about how I do that.

That's awesome. What are you working on now?

My second novel as me. It's called LIFE FORM 3. It's too soon to talk about it yet, though I'm in love with it and very excited.

Ooh, intriguing title. So, what’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Finding the one best path through the story. Which is why I disembowel a lot.

Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Listen to your writer's instinct. If something isn't working, don't ignore that voice. Think how you could do that character or plot thread differently, no matter how inconvenient. There is always a solution, although finding it may take several days. Also, experiment. If a scene or a way of introducing an idea doesn't work, that has still told you something.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

At the moment I have two places for writing. One is my study, which is my internet computer. There I have my desk I salvaged from an old dining room table and painted a pale grey lilac I mixed myself. I love pretty containers. Batteries and USB drives are in a Michael Kors sunglasses case, which pleases me whenever I pick it up because it feels heavy and strong. My pens are in a box from a bottle of Laurent Perrier rose champagne that Dave and I shared one Christmas. To my left is a wooden box with slots for letters - a present from a friend who died one Christmas Eve in a road accident. I'm surrounded by shelves of books and other nonsensical necessities, including a shoe from my horse. Next door is Dave's study, and the sound of his one-finger typing is an essential creative backdrop.

I love my study, but sometimes I need to uproot myself from the lure of Twitter, blogs and Facebook. I have an Asus eee PC, about the size of a piece of folded A4 paper, which I originally bought as a writing machine to slip into my handbag. When I need to be alone with my WIP, I take it to the dining room, where there are no distractions, and submerge.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

The ability to breathe under water. Like being able to fly, but less far to fall if it goes wrong.

LOL, makes sense.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: serendipity, coagulate, and tic-tac-toe.

Her control over the pen was so random that the figures on the tic-tac-toe grid coagulated in dark blobs and she filled a line only by serendipity - but then that was quite promising for a marmoset. (Yikes, that was hard, Dorothy!)

But you did brilliantly! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you.
Let's hear your shout outs.

Ooh, how long am I allowed? Cassidy Webb, KM Weiland, Victoria Mixon, Elizabeth S Craig, Darcia Helle's Bestseller Bound, the Unruly Guides, Laura Schultz, Italia Trent, Nancy Denofio, Meg Collins, Daisy Hickman, Sena Quaren, Kim Koning, John Poindexter and Kevin McGill for being generous spirits who always give great vibes. And thank you, Dorothy, for hosting me here.

You're very welcome. :) And finally, where can people find you online?

I have a blog, I'm on Twitter @dirtywhitecandy , on Facebook as me. I also have a Facebook page for my blog, and if any of you have a book out you are welcome to post a pic of it on my blog's FB page with one proviso - either you or one of your friends must be reading it, and if possible, in an interesting place!

Roz, thank you so much for talking with us today. I've really learned a lot, and I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.


Gina said...

Love the fact that her creativity lends itself to things other than writing...makes for a great outlet when you need a break. I've heard of ghost writing before...takes talent that's for sure. Gotta love the writing test answer...too funny. Thanks for the interview ladies! Best of luck in your future endeavors....

Laura Pauling said...

Great interview! Roz always has great posts on her blog!

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview and Amazing Lady!!! Thanks for the shout-out hun! BY the way - very impressed on your writing test...I bow in admiration!
This is a lady everyone should follow if they don;t already.....on top of being one smart lady and writer and editor...she is an all-round LOVELY gal!
Great interview!

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

GMR - hello! Just checked out your blog and I'm going to have to add it to my reader. Yes, I do find that other creative activities give my brain a bit of light relief - the problem is the urge to paint a table, customise jeans etc can get a bit too distracting. I recently house-sat for a couple who had a piano and I spent a lot of time giving myself extra screen breaks to take advantage of it!

Laura - great to see you here; your blog is a must for me too.

Kim - big hugs back to you and your very creative blog.

Unknown said...

"Yoga rage" - I love it. Sounds like a great book. Can't wait until I get to purchase my NYT bestselling copy! Thanks, as always, for sharing your unique and helpful perspective, Roz. And thanks for hosting her today, Dorothy!

Paul Joseph said...

Another interesting interview, Dorothy. You are by far one of the most skilled in this craft - I always look forward to them. And Roz was a great selection. I enjoyed reading more about ghost writing. Best of luck with your current submissions.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great interview! I enjoyed learning a little more about Roz, whom I know through her great blog and Twitter--and hearing a bit more about ghosting, too. :)

Roz Morris aka @Roz_Morris . Blog: Nail Your Novel said...

Hi Katie - thanks! Several publishers are sitting on that novel right now, so who knows... any other publishers out there, ask to see it now ;)
Hi Paul - nice to meet you and thanks for the good wishes.
Hi Elizabeth - thanks, your blog is one of my must-reads (as is Katie's) and I enjoyed getting to know more about you through your interview at The Creative Penn.