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Interview | L. J. Morris

 Author L.J. Morris’ debut novel DESPERATE GROUND is a raw, violent thriller that leaves nothing to the imagination but instead, paints vivid pictures of the viciousness of the world, Ali Sinclair finds herself in… Find out more about the book and the man behind the story, author L.J. Morris in this Author Interview!

Desperate Ground 

When the secrecy of a nuclear weapon agreement is thrown into doubt, a disgraced intelligence operative is recruited to find out if the deal is still safe…

Ali Sinclair, wrongly convicted and on the run from a Mexican prison, is enlisted to infiltrate her old friend’s inner circle and find the evidence.

The only people on her side are an ex-Cold War spook and the former Royal Marine that was sent to find her. Together they discover that the stakes are much higher than anyone knew, and the fate of the world is at risk…

But when you live in the shadows who can you trust?

Book Info 

Available at Amazon UK Amazon US

Paperback  222 pages
 Publisher  Bloodhound Books (21 April 2018)
 ISBN  978-1912604234
 eBook  1717 KB (30 April 2018)

Author Interview 

L.J. Morris Author Image

Whenever I tell anyone that I am a writer and my debut novel, Desperate Ground, is about to be published, there are three questions that I get asked more than any others.

Q Where did you get your idea from?

The overall idea for Desperate Ground took shape, bit by bit, over a number of years, before I started to write it down.

The first idea I had was of someone being released from prison after serving a sentence for something they didn’t do. They had been abandoned and written off by everyone. I wondered how someone who had been treated badly by the authorities would feel when asked to go back to work for them and what would motivate them to do it.

With that idea in my head, I was also influenced by current and historical world events. The Cold War, the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the realisation that global corporations and organisations were becoming more powerful than governments. All these events had an influence and gave me a framework to hang my story from. All I needed now were characters.

The team I created for Desperate Ground were a combination of people I’ve met and others I’ve read about or characters I’ve seen in films. The character of Frank McGill had already appeared in two short stories so was quite well formed before I started on the novel. Originally, he was the main protagonist but that soon changed when I created Ali Sinclair.

The character of Ali Sinclair is based on someone I know well, and I had always pictured her being the one who stepped out of the prison in the beginning. By the time the novel was complete, the location of the prison had changed, and the release had become an escape, but the character of Sinclair stayed the same and became the focus of the novel.

The rest of the team took shape as I wrote. I made an effort to create personalities for them, and some secondary characters, that I could grow and use again. My current work in progress uses the same team of characters and follows on from Desperate Ground.

Q When do you get the time to write?

I get this one a lot. I think this is because people can’t imagine fitting writing into their lives so assume that I can’t either. I have friends who would think nothing of spending hour upon hour watching football. When I’ve suggested that they could use that time to write instead, they’ve looked at me aghast. How could they give up football? I suppose making the time to write depends on your personal passions and priorities.

Like many other writers, I’d like to write full time, but I need a day job to pay the bills. This is more common than it should be, even for some well-known names. That leaves us with the dilemma of finding the time to sit down and write after a full day’s work. Although, I am lucky enough to be able to work for only four days a week and write for the other three.

I’d love to say that my normal day writing involves a morning cup of coffee then polishing off a few thousand words before taking the rest of the day easy. Unfortunately, my writing day goes something more like this;

Get up, breakfast, cup of coffee, check email, procrastinate, check social media (for far too long), go on to google and search for something I don’t need to know (pretending to research), cup of coffee, procrastinate some more, quickly write down a thousand words then delete them all, bed.

Okay, it might not be that bad, but everyday life does get in the way and the day job still takes up more time than I’d like it to. It’s much easier now that my kids have grown up, and I get more time to myself, but there are still way too many opportunities for procrastination.

My next project for the year is to build my own writing space at the bottom of the garden. No internet access, no TV, no more excuses to stop typing. With any luck, that’ll make the whole novel writing process a little easier and a lot faster.

Q Do you plot or make things up as you go along?

Since I became involved in the writing community and met more fellow writers, I’ve heard the question “Are you a plotter or a pantster?” asked regularly. For those who haven’t heard this before, I’ll try and explain my understanding of the terms.

A Plotter is an author who writes the outline of the plot down, sometimes in great detail, before they start writing. This ranges from a series of bullet points that map out the main events to a detailed chapter by chapter synopsis that includes every twist and turn.

A pantster is an author who begins writing and sees where it takes them, coming up with plot twists and events as they happen in the story.

Every author has their own way of doing things and one process isn’t better than another. Authors have to find what works best for them and use that.

Personally, I have an opening scene in my head and an idea of where I want to end up before I start to write. Everything else, I make up as I go along, and the endpoint will probably change in the process. I guess that makes me a pantster.

Some will say that this is bad as it is possible to go down dead ends or paint yourself into a corner, but it works for me. Besides, I like seeing how my characters cope with dead ends and freshly painted corners. I also think that if I’m not sure where the storyline is going, the reader will get the same experience.

I hope I’ve given some insight into how I write but, most of the time, I’m not sure where it comes from. Like most other writers, I’m a people watcher and pick up a lot of character traits that way. Sometimes, and other writers will understand what I mean here, I just listen to the voices in my head and write down what they tell me.

Thank you for this insight in your writing routine and your inspiration to write, L.J. Morris, and good luck with Desperate Ground! 

About the Author 

L J Morris is an author with a love of books and storytelling that he developed as a child.

After a career in the Royal Navy, which spanned most of the 80s and 90s, he settled back in Cumbria and soon realised that an unsuccessful attempt to write a serial killer novel at the age of 12 hadn’t blunted his ambitions.

He started to write again and has enjoyed success with his short stories appearing in several anthologies. Although he still enjoys writing short stories, his passion has always been for thriller novels and he has spent the last few years following his dream of being a published novelist.

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