How are you all doing? Guess what? Today, I just had an interview with one of my favorite authors! And I can’t wait to share it with you. It is my first time to have an interview and it became so much extra-special because our guest today wrote the book that has a very special place in my heart.
So yeah. Let’s waste no time!
Let’s welcome, the author of Melophobia, Mr. James Morris!
Karina: Good day Mr. Morris! Welcome to Afire Pages! It’s such a pleasure to have you here. How are you feeling today?
James Morris: Great, and thanks for having me!
Karina: Before anything else, can you please share something about yourself first?
James Morris: My dog, Archer, usually lays down right next to my feet as I sit at the computer. He’s a cattle-dog mix and a bundle of love.
Karina: You’ve worked in the television industry before and you were once a writer for some TV shows. How do you think that experience affected your writing and your books, especially Melophobia?
James Morris: Writing TV is very different than writing books, of course. But I learned pace in TV. If people are bored watching television, they click the channel. You’ve got to keep your audience engaged. So, I’m very aware of keeping the momentum going in my books, to keep the reader hooked.
Karina: How did you come up with the idea of Melophobia?
James Morris: I’m not quite sure where ideas come from; many of them I don’t use because they’ve been done already. Melophobia was about a world without music, and I thought: I’ve never seen something like that before, maybe there’s something in that idea.
Karina: What is your sole purpose in writing Melophobia?
James Morris: I don’t know if I ever have a sole purpose when I write…there’s usually a journey for me, to discover more about the idea. If everything came easily, then it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. There’s always a puzzle in putting all the pieces together and making them work. For me, writing is about me pushing the idea to the limit to see how it all turns out.
Karina: While in the process of writing Melophobia, how music itself became a part of it? Were there any specific song that immediately pop into your mind when writing about Melophobia?
James Morris: When I write, I never listen to songs in the background that have lyrics in them, because they distract me. I usually listen to movie soundtracks, or classical or jazz. But as far as Melophobia, I think of the song by Jefferson Airplane “Wouldn’t You Love Somebody to Love?” (Now, getting permission to use all the lyrics in the book is a whole different story!)
Karina: How long did it take you to finish Melophobia?
James Morris: From idea to finished draft took about a year and a half. But that’s a lot of time first spent pulling at the idea, seeing where it could go, then moving onto a loose outline, and finally sitting down and writing. For me, the writing itself comes fast; most of the work is actually pre-writing: making sure the idea works, that the idea can sustain the length of a novel (and not run out of steam); and making sure there is enough driving force/conflict to keep the characters motivated.
Karina: Merrin Pierce is such a powerful and empowering character. In fact, all of them have strong voices. Who/what inspired you to make Merrin Pierce’s character?
James Morris: I originally thought of setting the idea back in the past, to see how this world all came about as it happened. (Maybe that’s the sequel…a kind of prequel to the events, watching the War unfold. Hmmm.) But I thought it was much more interesting to take a character, Merrin, who was born into this world, and that’s all she knows. And that seemed more like everyone, you know? We all are born into a situation we didn’t create, and we take a lot of our values/teachings for granted, even if they may be wrong. So, it was a way of making her an innocent who discovers that her world is not as safe as she was brought up to believe. Once I had that core, then I knew I had a character!
Karina: How about Anders Copeland? Anders Copeland really tore my heart apart. Who/what inspired you to make Anders Copeland’s character?
James Morris: Misguided love, actually. That’s what he represents to me. Someone who loves you to the point of smothering you. Someone wounded. And I’ve found, the people who betray you are always the ones closest to you (thus the word betrayal, I guess.) And he’s the betrayer.
Karina: Of course, my beloved Rowan Sol. Who/what inspired you to make Rowan Sol’s character?
James Morris: He’s love, un-distilled, you know? He represents what’s pure in the world.
Karina: What is the hardest part in writing Melophobia?
James Morris: I’m not sure there’s a hardest part; writing is a challenge on so many levels, from the macro (and the over-arching plot) to the micro (sentence structure and rhythm). And each book presents its own problems. The hardest part for me is always the pre-writing, and making sure the story works. That’s where I spend a lot of time pulling my hair out!
Karina: What is the easiest and most enjoyable part of writing Melophobia?
James Morris: Once I get to writing, with all the “homework” done, then that becomes a pleasure. It’s fun to sit down and think: what’s going to come out on the page today? That’s the real joy, the doing, the writing.
Karina: Melophobia ended so painfully and beautifully at the same time. And even though readers are really craving and begging for more, you’ve already confirmed that there will be no sequel. Well, it was really hard to accept but we understand that. I am just wondering, was there any other possible ending/s that popped into your head other than that or did you decide right away that this will be the end? If there was another possible ending would you mind sharing it with us?
James Morris: I never like to say never in terms of a sequel; it’s always a possibility, but the idea has to be strong enough to warrant one. As for endings…they’re tricky. If you get exactly what you expect, then you’re a bit disappointed, right? But if something is so out of left field, then you feel tricked. I think the hard part is to have an ending that is true to the book and the world, but yet, is still surprising. I didn’t really have any other endings. I could’ve had a happy ending, but I don’t think it would’ve been as powerful, or memorable. And when I came across the ending, I knew that was the perfect ending. Painful and beautiful, like you said, but hopefully very satisfying.
Karina: Many readers have been left devastated by your book (including me). Did you ever imagined that your book will make most of your readers cry? How do you feel about it?
James Morris: I cried at the end, too! Had you not cried, or been moved, then I would’ve failed…
Karina: When did you first realized that you wanted to become a writer?
James Morris: I always loved movies growing up, and I knew I loved storytelling. It never seemed possible to be a writer – that was something other people did. But I got hooked with writing after writing some short stories in school. It’s not always the most stable of careers – you certainly don’t do it for the money, and I’ve had to do other things to pay the bills. But there’s nothing better in terms of satisfaction.
Karina: You’ve already written suspense and thriller novels. Would you consider writing in any other genre? What specific genre would you like to explore?
James Morris: You know, I’m open to whatever genre serves the story that I’m most interested. I’ve got a young adult horror finished, and even a paranormal romance. I know many writers write in one genre – not because they aren’t interested, but it’s because it’s a branding thing. People like to know that when they pick up a book by X writer, that they’ll get a story similar to what that writer wrote before. When you read Stephen King, for example, you get an idea of the book you’re gonna read. So, it’s sometimes goes against a writer to explore different genres…what if the other genres stink? What if the author fails? Having said that, I like the freedom to explore other things, and I look forward to sharing them with readers.
Karina: You are an indie author. And we all know that being an indie is so much tougher than working with a publishing house/company. So how was your journey being an indie author? Could you share your experience with us?
James Morris: Indie is a tough gig, mainly because you don’t get the same promotion that New York publishing gets. On the other hand, many “traditional” authors don’t get much promotion, either. I’ve had book agents, and still have one, but I’ve found that traditional publishing is as competitive as any other industry. When you think of a publishing house, they only publish, say, 100 books a year. But those editors are receiving a thousand or more submissions. So, it’s hard to break into. But I like being indie. Kindle Press has been a good experience, and I’m very happy to have found passionate readers around the world (that means you, too, Karina!)
Karina: Do you have some tips or advice to those who are planning to be an indie author as well?
James Morris: My standard advice about writing, for any medium, is write because you love it. There is no other reason that will help you get over the many disappointments that happen along the way. Write because you have a story to tell and share with the world. Some people may even hate that story, while others might love it. But you, as a writer, need to write because you love it.
Karina: Do you have any project/s you are currently working on?
James Morris: I’m currently in between projects, as I’m trying to figure out what to write next. Some people have a million ideas bubbling, but if it takes a year or more to work on a project, I need to be certain that it can sustain my interest for that amount of time, too. Writing is very much like a marathon. It’s easy to get excited about an idea when it’s fresh and new; but does the idea still seem exciting when you’re 6 or 8 months into it? That’s what I have to watch out for. I have to love an idea. It has to pull at me, almost to say, “Write me!”
Karina: Are you planning to write other book/s in the near future?
James Morris: Oh, of course! I will always write! It’s just a matter of finding the right idea at the right time.
Karina: You write so beautifully, Mr. Morris. And there’s no doubt about it. You’ve been in this field for already 10 years. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers out there especially for those who is just starting and doesn’t have any experience yet?
James Morris: You’re making my heart got pitter-patter-pit, Karina! Aside from writing because you love it, I would say: keep writing. You do get better over time. Most of my early work will never see the light of day, and for good reason! I’d also say be open to constructive criticism. There’s a tension in writing from your heart, and then later, writing from your head in terms of editing and getting feedback.
Karina: You’ve already written 3 books: What Lies Within, Melophobia and Abraham Lincoln Must Die. If one of your books will be given a chance to be read by everyone in this world, which of your books would you choose? And why?
James Morris: But they are all my babies! J They’re each very different, actually. I’ve had some people who loved What Lies Within and didn’t like Melophobia as much, and vice-versa. They appeal to different readers. I think, though, that Melophobia has more heart, more emotion, and probably has greater appeal. I have other works that are finished but have not yet been published, and I can’t wait to see how people react.
Karina: Lastly the dedication on your book Melophobia is really one of the sweetest and one of my favorites. And I see how much you love your wife. I just want to know, (sorry if it’s personal), what is your favorite song and what is you and your wife’s theme song?
James Morris: Oh, thanks. She’s been a real trooper. Being married to a writer isn’t all glamour, so I think I got the better end of the bargain in marrying her than she did marrying me! We don’t have a theme song, really, but we did play Sting’s “Fields of Gold” at our wedding. (Then again, we also played the Imperial March from Star Wars, too!) As for my favorite song, wow…I can’t really say. Music is so broad, and I love so much of it, and it changes on my mood. Sometimes I may not even like a song, but I love that it transports me back to a time when I first heard it. Sorry that’s not a better answer, but it’s true.
Karina: That’s it! Thank you very much for letting me have an interview with you, Mr. Morris. It’s my pleasure to have you here on Afire Pages!
James Morris: Thanks again for having me, and all best!
James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.
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Thank you! 💕