About Margarita Morris:
I was born and grew up in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, moving to Oxford at the age of 18 to study Modern Languages at Jesus College, Oxford. After university I worked in computing for eleven years before leaving to work with my husband on our internet business. I have always loved books and reading and started writing when my children were young. I now write full time and have two novels published with a third on the way. When I’m not writing I enjoy singing in an Oxford chamber choir, swimming and yoga. I live in Oxfordshire with my husband and two sons.
What inspires you to write?
I enjoy trying to produce something that is both really well written but also has a very satisfying plot. I aim to combine a fairly literary style with a gripping storyline. If I’m setting scenes in the past, say the 19th or 17th centuries, then I enjoy playing with the language of the time to add colour and resonance to the prose. I’m also drawn to settings that have a strong sense of time and/or place and I try to bring that alive in my work. I love the way that Dickens makes all his characters count, so I try to do the same with mine. Sometimes writing a novel can feel like a very complicated jigsaw puzzle, but that’s part of the fun.
Tell us about your writing process.
My novels are, so far, all set in a particular time and place so I start by doing a lot of research. For Oranges for Christmas I researched the building the of Berlin Wall and how it affected peoples’ lives. I also found out as much as I could about life in East Berlin and the lengths people went to to try and escape from the East. For The Sleeping Angel I did a lot of research around nineteenth-century death and burial practices, Spiritualism and Highgate Cemetery. The research doesn’t just give me useful facts, but it suggests concrete ideas that I can use in my story. I then produce a very rough outline to get myself started, but I don’t worry about how the novel will finish at this stage. I let the story develop as I write the first draft, always bearing in mind that I need to head towards some sort of “big finale.” If I get stuck, then I take a step back and do more outlining, otherwise I just try to write scenes as they come to me. After the first draft, I re-write as often as necessary until I’m happy with the book. My husband also gives me useful feedback which I always listen to because he’s mostly right. I spend at least half the total time just rewriting and polishing.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to my characters but I do visualise them in a scene and that includes listening to what they are saying. The easiest scenes to write and those where you have a “video” playing in your head and you just write down what you see and hear.
What advice would you give other writers?
Try writing lots of different stories until you find one that really clicks with you. Don’t be afraid to leave something if you decide it’s really not going anywhere, but if you think something is right then stick with it and do your very best to finish it. Always get feedback from someone you trust and listen to what they have to say. And read loads, otherwise you won’t develop an ear for good sounding prose.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to go down the self-publishing route because it seemed like too good an opportunity not to. I’d tried to get an agent in the past, but that is an extremely difficult thing to do and in no way guarantees a publishing deal even if you find an agent. I also enjoy the business side of self-publishing. I built my own website, started a blog and got myself on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. I’m learning all the time and loving the challenge of being an author and a business person.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Well it seems that self-publishing is really here to stay. It’s hard to know what will happen with traditional publishing houses. They’re clearly not dead yet, but I suspect they are going to have to adapt in order to survive. Some successful indie authors have become hybrid authors by keeping their ebook rights and selling their print rights to traditional publishers, so that might be one way in which traditional publishing survives in the future. But traditional publishers will have to offer very good deals to such authors because these authors are savvy business people who are used to controlling their own assets.
What do you use?: Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print