A while back, the lovely Morgen Bailey was kind enough to interview me for her rather fabulous writing blog which is… well… impressive! I decided to find out more about the mysterious lady who spells her name with an ‘e’, not an ‘a’.
Tell us a little about Morgen Bailey. Just start when you were born
and finish up right when I started asking you questions. Feel free to give us the abbreviated version.
Please don’t encourage me! I can talk for England… Scotland… Ireland…
Abbreviated version. OK. Born in Amersham, Buckinghamshire in August 1967. Did the usual school (which I left at 16 to be a secretary because I didn’t know what else I wanted to do), going out with friends, passed my driving test when I was 20. Left home four years later, moving 60 miles north (in theory with work but didn’t happen like that, they ended up moving further south which I couldn’t afford so came up here anyway). I went to computing, language then creative writing evening classes to meet people and light bulb moment happened (eight and a half years ago) after I completed the first homework, a short story. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. It took me another five years to start doing anything about it and I finally left the safety of a ‘proper job’ in March 2012. Although I’m now living the pauper’s life (renting out two bedrooms to Monday-Friday lodgers), I don’t regret it for a second… especially as I offer an editing and critique service and blog design service, and they’ve both taken off nicely. 🙂
Half a dozen online writing groups, at least two websites, your podcast, your teaching work …how on earth do you find time to actually write?!!
(laughs) I write a short story (usually flash fiction) every day for my blog’s 5pm fiction slot, so knowing I ‘have’ to do that (although I don’t suppose anyone sits waiting for it) means I write every day. I’ve also been doing at least a novel a year (for NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo) and other short stories for Story A Day May, which all goes to creating plenty of content for eBooks (all the shorts are up, one novel’s done, six to go). Oh, and at last count, I have twelve personal websites (listed on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/blogs).
You seem to have a flair for all-things online Morgen. Is that something that comes naturally? And how important do you think that skill is for the modern day author?
Yes, hands up. I’m a nerd. 🙂 I grew up with an older (2 years) brother who was my dad’s Computer Manager back in the days of Spectrums and BBC monsters (his shops sold photographic and computer equipment) so it was inevitable, as was getting into the arts; my brother’s a web designer / IT Project Manager, father was a photographer, my uncle still is, my aunt and mother are artists.
Every author these days needs to do their own marketing, even if they have a publisher behind them. Of all the authors I’ve interviewed (over 800), only one has said she doesn’t do her own marketing, yet she’s active on Twitter and Facebook. It’s part of the reason why I set up ‘I Can Build Your Writing Blog’ and being a writer myself, I can help develop them from a writer’s (and reader’s) point of view.
Says here you’ve got half a dozen, mostly-crime, novels in the pipeline – and yet your debut novel (‘ The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’) is most definitely contemporary women’s fiction. Why the sudden change of genre?
TSDSL was actually the third novel I wrote, and the longest (a 117,540-word first draft for NaNoWriMo 2009… all in 28 days!). It then took me a few months, on and off, to edit it before sending it to two first readers. Apparently there are still mistakes we didn’t pick up on so next on the jobs list is to re-edit it.
The first novel (NaNoWriMo 2008) was a semi-crime lad lit, the second (written January to October 2009) was a crime / mystery (which has been edited / first read so just needs me to re-edit and eBook). The fourth was another lad lit, the everything since has been crime (getting darker as I go along). So I guess you could say I settled into crime rather than switched to it. I’ve done a few agent pitches (with the crime / mystery and TSDSL) and one of the agents, at the 2011 Winchester Writers’ Conference, a top (and scary, apparently… although she was nice to me because she knew the crime novelist whose writing class I took over) agent looked at me and said, “You’re a crime writer, you need to write crime.” As it turns out, I do.
Oh, and she rejected both the novels, as did the other dozen agents I’d approached at conferences or via email, which lead to me going the self-published route – via two publishing contracts for TSDSL, both of which I turned down following legal advice… although my heart has sunk when I’d read them so that was a strong hint.
What’s the general gist of the story – you have thirty seconds – Go!
OK, the three-second version is ‘31 men in 31 days – what could possibly go wrong?’ but seeing as I have thirty seconds… 🙂
Isobel MacFarlane is a recently-turned-40 journalist who usually writes a technology column for a newspaper based in Northampton, England, but her somewhat-intimidating boss, William, has set her the task of meeting 31 men, via a local internet dating site, all within a month. Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend and ‘Health & Beauty’ colleague Donna, she knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts, and starts ticking them off as she meets Mr Could Be Right Except For, Mr Not Bad, Mr Oh My Goodness and Mr Oh So Very Wrong. Follow the ups (there are a few) and downs (there are many) of the dating process and intertwined with her experiences, get to know her colleagues and family, including her niece Lola who, apart from being an amazing storyteller, can eat ambidextrously whilst wearing a Princess glove puppet on her right hand, and Baby, William’s none-too-healthy African Grey parrot.
Oops… sorry, think I went over my time there (nothing new).
A little birdie told me that The Serial Dater’s Shopping List is based on personal experience? That true? Did you really go on thirty-one dates in thirty one days? Was it research or were you, you know, on the prowl?
Ha! I didn’t, although I have been on a few blinds dates in the past and the speed-dating middle chapter is pretty true to life (especially the builder there looking for business!). Let’s just say that it’s a combination of real life and a vivid imagination. No one’s fallen asleep on me yet, although I’m single again so there’s always a first time.
Anything else you’d like to tell me (and my readers)
I’m running eight writing-related / I.T. courses next year at four locations in Northampton, England from January 2014. The details are on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/courses/northampton-writing-courses but they are: eBooking, blogging, social networking, planning & writing a novel, short stories, creative writing – beginners, c/w – intermediate, and ideas & inspiration. I do plan to run most of these as online writing courses for those who aren’t UK-based, and the details will be on my blog. As you can probably tell, I love talking about writing and so getting paid to ‘work’ (teach my favourite topic) is a bonus, and I can’t wait!
Thank you, Peter.