Simply Being A Writer.

Recently we asked our Author, Robin John Morgan, for his take on his life as a writer. We know how seriously he takes his writing, but we are also very aware of his tongue in cheek approach to life, so we thought he would provide us with a thought provoking and light hearted look at his own life. We are happy to say he did not disappoint, have a read:

Being Simply a Writer. Written by Robin John Morgan for VCP.

I was asked if I would like to describe my point of view of life as a writer, it seemed a little odd at first, I thought, “Have they any idea what they are doing asking me?” Because in many ways I have no clue as to what most others writers feel like, and I am not entirely sure if I know. I pondered the point, and wondered if it is a feeling one gets with publication? Well if it is, it saw me coming and hid, I really have no idea, I am pretty much doing the same thing I always have, which is put one word after the other, and hope that it will make sense to someone.

I am often referred to as “Author,” but the thing is, I am not really that comfortable with the term, I have always seen other authors as special or sacred, of which I feel neither. I usually when asked, reply that I write for a living, I like that, it can imply many things, and it gets me out of the hole of having to then explain that I actually write books for a living. I think in many ways I am a bit of a closet author, but actually that suits me down to the ground, as it means I have space to simply do what I do, which is write, an act I see as a process whereby I convert vast quantities of Caffeine and Nicotine into legible words on a page. Being asked to describe my life as a writer for the purpose I assume of educating new writers, felt to me like an invasive operation at first, but as I sat back to consider things, I made what is my usual approach to everything that I write, which loosely put, meant I drank lots of coffee, grabbed a pad and made sufficient notes to act as some form of guide.

I felt I should at least ponder the point for a while before giving a commitment, and so after some thought, and lot of scribbling, I have put together the following in hope that it provides a little insight into my view of the world, whilst doing my best to flog a book or two along the way. I should add at this point, I see myself as just some bland and actually quite ordinary bloke whom like most of us, has lead a life filled with ups and downs. Women have never fainted at my feet, and I have never really been in step with the rest of the world, to put my life in a nut shell, I have made the very real choice of avoiding people, whilst watching them from a distance, in the vain hope of learning about humanity. I have published a few books, and I have one or two followers on facebook, so I think it’s safe to say I am nothing that special or out of the ordinary.

Since publishing my first book, which was a very surreal experience, which involved a great many terms I have never heard before, like “Interior” which I assumed was the inside of a house, but was happy to discover it was the term given to the actual writing in the form of pages. I have to admit I also encountered a lot of myths about writers, and I am happy to report that none of them fit me, so if there really is some sort of special person who becomes a writer, I think I managed to dodge that particular bullet.

What I do know about being a writer is that most people think my life is easy, in their minds, I rattle off a few words, back it in a cover, and hey presto I am a millionaire. Oh if only it was that easy, the sad truth is very far away from that fact, most people just laugh when I tell them this, as if I just made a ridiculous joke. I understand that I cannot talk for all writers, but I am sure a great many would agree with me, when I tell you that it is a bloody hard graft, and at times it can be soul destroying. I think it was Ernest Hemingway who once said, he would sit in front of the type writer and bleed.

Not only do I write, I also occasionally work with a few other writers, and for myself that provides the unique opportunity of being able to compare notes on how others approach their work. It is one aspect of my working life I find fascinating, as it does allow my curiosity to kick in, as I peep into another writers world, and make notes on how they work. It is startling at times to see how similar or how completely different we all approach the task of writing. This leads me to form the view that we all approach writing from a different perspective, and being me, I chose the isolationist and often more indifferent approach.

In most cases when I talk of writing, I tend to speak from the point of view of my own working practice, as I am obviously a well versed expert in my own approach. I have found my own little selection of comfy habits that allow me the time and space to isolate myself, and set too with the task in hand. I also find it easier to simply state my own journey from secret writer to author.

Most people appear quite surprised when I first talk openly about my own writing, which is actually quite rare, as the introverted part of me which is the writer, tends to shy away from being around too many people, but in a one on one situation, I tend to express myself better. They are really quite shocked when my opening response to their question is usually, “I wish I had never published anything, I was happy before then.” Odd as it may sound, writing makes me extremely tired and grumpy as I drain my brain at high speed onto the page, and when whatever piece I am working on is done, I collapse and sleep for several hours. Not writing makes me even more grumpy, because the plot is always in my head, I can be shopping when a great idea comes out of nowhere, but I am out in the middle of the street with no desk or computer, and that drives me frantic, as I have to keep a mantra going in my already crowded head to remember all the shopping, and the new addition to the story.

My wife has become a well-seasoned professional who notices as we chat that something completely unrelated to our conversation has suddenly popped into my head, and she sees the sudden change in me, and packs me off with a smile to my desk, knowing the urgency coursing through me as I have to write it down. Honestly at times it’s like a curse, have you any idea of what it is like to be at a party when your head explodes into life? It is really awkward as all you want to do is find a quiet spot to scribble stuff down. Most people find it rude when my eyes glaze over as I slip into my own little world, and I pull an idea apart and reconstruct it in my brain. I have been called aloof, a snob, ignorant and downright rude in the past, but they do not understand that is the level of conviction and dedication all writers have to the things they write about. It’s not our fault; we literally can never switch it off. You want to try living with all the characters I have created, having nervous breakdowns or getting into trouble and chatting away furiously in your head every second of every day. The story never sleeps, and sadly neither do I now I am up against deadlines.

I realise this can appear all bad and somewhat off putting, but it isn’t really, as like all things in life you adjust, and find your comfort zone in which to manage your writing life. I find being a writer also challenges me to be a better person. I think it is easy in ordinary life to make snap judgements about situations, events and people. I would even say that in my long life I have seen society change into something so different than the days of my youth, something maybe I would have missed had I not been reflecting on everything. I don’t think people are as kind or open as they used to be, and in many ways I think recent times has shown how closed off people have become from each other. The wonderful thing about being a writer is that I have begun to understand how every person and every event has a story behind it, and in many ways my view-points on life have changed as a result. I no longer rush to judge what I see at first light, I actually tend to look for a deeper understanding of why things are the way they are, and in your everyday life that can make a massive difference in the way in which I interact with everything.

I also feel that one of the greatest points of being a writer or a reader is that through the books we consume, we learn this art of looking on the ways others live or have lived in the past, and I feel from that we can gain a lot of insight into people and our own lives, which is great fuel for creation. I am now a part of that process, and I often sit back and reflect on life and its many wonderful attributes, some of which become parts of the stories I write.

Now I am not saying being a writer also makes me a better person, I still have the real ability to be an utter ass hat, but I do think that because I try to see the story in most things, it has helped me to be a more informed watcher of the world. I think I understand myself a lot better than I used to, and that has given me a little more inner peace, I think I deal with life better now than maybe I used to.

I came into publishing quite late in life compared to many other authors’, I think maybe I had to grow up a little first. I have always written things down, and created small stories in my head for the kids etc. I was a secret writer for years, and I loved it, I loved the process of creation and the freedom to play around with endless ideas that stretched the limits of my vast imagination. I still do, only now it is considered work, and where as before, well that was my way of having some alone time to keep my creativity well exercised. Don’t get me wrong I still love writing, I am not sure I could go a day without stringing some words together, it is as important to me as breathing, but the problem I find is that as soon as I publish, it all gets far too business like.

Back in those carefree days of a none published writer, all I had to do was write, today because of the way the world of books works, which by the way is so aggressive, not only do I have to write, but I have to do it to a deadline, and then once done, I am involved in so many different process’s that suddenly my writing takes a back seat to everything else, I really do not like or enjoy it.

Most writers struggle to get the word out, and contrary to popular belief, it is only writing royalty that get all the big promotional stuff to support them. Us mere mid to lower list writers, have to get out and about and do it ourselves, so instead of writing with all the time and freedom in the world as I used to, I have web pages to maintain, social media sites to update and keep fascinating, promotions for book sales, and a whole host of other tasks to do every day. It is a lot of work to do before I can even consider sitting quietly alone to put down my latest idea. It can be exhausting and very frustrating, and for myself it is not that much fun, especially considering I hate leaving my desk or the house.

The modern media world is not a place for introverts like myself, I am constantly told if I want book sales I must sell myself and dazzle, but the simple truth is, I don’t want to dazzle, and I am happy to not have photos of me plastered everywhere, I mean have you seen my face, who the hell is going to buy a book when they have seen that? I am sure there are many sparkling and dazzling writers in the world who bang on about the joys of life on twitter all day, posting details of their every movement, and I am thrilled they feel so at ease, but honestly that is not really who I am, I never was before and I am not sorry that I am still a tad dull in that respect. I absolutely hate the idea of sitting in a shop with a four by four foot picture of me on the wall behind me, just thinking about it makes me shudder, and want to hide under the bed.

I hate selling my book, yeah I know everyone tells me my attitude stinks, but honestly think about it. I hand a book to a person and say “here read this its brilliant,” how messed up is that? I wrote the dam thing, and if I am completely honest, I think it’s a bit cheeky and rude to do such a thing. People tell me I am old school and to modernise more, and maybe I am a little, but the way I see it, if someone who is not me hands a book to a person, and says “it’s a great book read it,” well that’s OK because they are recommending it based on their own enjoyment. I think it’s somewhat hypocritical to recommend my own book, I have no problems recommending another writers book, I have read it and enjoyed it, so I am honestly telling the person it’s worth the money, why does no one in the book industry understand this?

It is so hard to sell your own work, it puts me on the spot which is lethal, as I usually feel so ill at ease I shift into humour as a sort of survival mode, and I cannot lie, it has got me into a lot of trouble. I once had a customer ask me “what happens at the end of the book?” I mean come on, am I the only person alive who finds that to be a stupid question, seriously what writer living or dead would give away the final plot? My unappreciated response which I cannot deny amused me, and completely put the customer off was, “the words stop.”

It’s not me is it, that is funny?

In this particular case, obviously not, I suppose me laughing did not really improve the situation, as my wife looked on a little displeased with my efforts. I am honest about it, I don’t want to do it, all I want is to do the one thing I love, I want to be sat at my desk ploughing through the fields of my imagination, using it as the inspiration to make my next story even better than I planned in the first place.

The absolute worst things for me are all the sycophants. If I am absolutely honest when I am out and about and friends meet up with me, seriously people, you don’t have to buy the book or read it in order to know me. I am still me, I have not changed, I still wear my jeans and tee, I don’t shave nearly as often as I should, I am always going to be scruffy even if I was rich, and no I honestly don’t give a rats ass if you have read it or not. Don’t tell me you are going to buy it just to cheer me up, because I know you have absolutely no intention of doing so, honestly do you not think I will know when the weekly report shows nothing sold? I hate it, my life has become a long stream of embarrassed people who feel the need to impress me by committing to a purchase, I honestly only want people to read my books if they are genuinely interested in the kind of stories I write. The same goes for critics, honestly if you hate it toss in the bin, my interest is only in those who find the things I write about thrilling, your over bloated sense of self-importance is right at the bottom of my I don’t give a s..t list.

I tell all new writers I work with to ignore the critics, I cannot tell you how many times I have read something written about mine and other authors books, which was factually inaccurate to the point where I honestly wondered if they had read more than the books description. I have no idea why these people are so important, because if you look them up on google, you usually find more often than not, they have hardly any real writing experience, so why are they fit to judge something that can take years to perfect? Do not waste your time looking at them, look at the screen you write on, there is no such thing as a perfect writer, I find mistakes in every book I read, it is human nature and we all suffer from the same affliction.

It can be a fun experience though when that neighbour who has ignored you for years, and ignored you for reasons you will never truly understand, suddenly spots you and races over to smile and welcome you like you have always been their best friend. My wife and I see them and giggle, they rush over to ask how I am doing, and they always ask the same question, I actually wait for it, and say the very same words in my head as they speak it. “So what is like to be rich and famous now?”

I want to laugh hysterically. What is this myth that all writers are like JK Rowling or Dan Brown? It is a documented fact, look it up, ninety percent of writers do not even earn the minimum wage, most of us have a second income or working partners, hell if I add up my yearly income from writing, I could hardly afford a decent long weekend away in a good quality hotel.

So let me just set the record straight for those who do not understand, we write for no other reason than it is an affliction, seriously it’s like a limp or mumbling to yourself, we have no idea why we write. It’s certainly not for the money, we just do, it is in our DNA or something, I have never been able to explain why my brain has this massive overload of noise and words, it just has, and assembling them in some sort of cohesive pattern on paper gives me a momentary rest and a quietening of the traffic, that’s it, that is why I write.

If I was famous I would still be scruffy, the only real difference would be that more people would stop me and want to talk when I am in a hurry so everything would take me twice as long to do, and I would probably end up in some magazine as an example of how famous people let themselves go with age. Honestly I am not in hurry for that particular bus. Writing gives me great joy and I have absolutely no idea why, all I know is when I sit alone in the quieter moments of my day, and I tap away on the keys, something so magical happens it blows my mind. I get excited and filled with some sort of meditative euphoria. I lose track of everything as I hammer away, and all the pictures in my mind come into some sort of sharp focus, and that’s it, when I am done I collapse and sleep, and it is a deep contented happy sort of sleep that makes me feel wonderful. Honestly it is like a drug, in some cases I would say better than a drug, all I can say is I need it, and I want it, and I am as happy as can be when I am doing it, there really is no other way of explaining it.

Whatever this elusive trance like state I enter for long periods of some days is, I want to live there forever. I have sat for ten hours working and not even been aware of it, for me it is quite normal to work until late into the night, and yes I get tired, but not until that last line, and then it hits me. The following day I read through the previous night’s work, and I can honestly say, there are times I sit back with a satisfied smile and I think, “Where the hell did that come from, did I even write this?” I am sure there is some sort of magical word fairy that nips in whilst I sleep and enhances the stuff I write. It is a very odd sort of experience, and all I can say is that it is all down to the deep level of focus that washes over me when I write, because I can say without a doubt, when I write, I say things a hell of a lot smarter and with deeper meaning than I do in my normal moments of life, something I think my wife would be happy to confirm.

Much to the disappointment of all six of my adoring fans, I don’t write for you, I write for me, this is my story and written as I want it to be written, I am sorry if this crushes anyone, but it’s the truth, no one has a say, not even my wife, I work everything out alone, I write alone, I do the first edit alone, and then and only then does my wife get to see it. I know a couple of people who listen to the points of views of others, and I find it is not for me, I would advise all writers to close out others, and take no heed of their comments and views. I strongly believe you should only involve another party once the writing is done. I have worked with a beta group of readers, but I did it to hear their comments on the finished work, it was a great help as it gave me a deeper insight into the reader and how they view my work, and yes as a result I improved the way I wrote, but I never once allowed another living soul to dictate the story line, that I fear is a road to hell. After it is written, that is when I sit with my wife and work through the manuscript.

We both share the responsibility after that in cleaning it up because I am a lazy writer who makes about a million mistakes. To me, she is the queen of comma’s and speech marks, I miss hundreds, and she finds them and highlights them for me to add later. My only rule of writing is get it down as quickly as possible, then edit the shit out of it, and guess what, even then I still miss stuff? It really is impossible for me to proof read my own work, I think it is some sort of psychological thing, I know what’s coming, so my brain adds the missed words or full stops, and I simply do not notice I skipped them during writing.

At some point once you become a writer, everyone gives you their advice on how to write, which I find ironic, because everyone waited until I was actually published. A little advice before hand would have served a much better purpose, but once done they all came out of the woodwork, it was in my humble opinion a tad too late, the book was already out on the shelves, and there was not a great deal I could do to improve it at that point.

Believe me you will meet that person who will take a great deal of pleasure in pointing out your short comings, they will give you a kind word and then slap you in the face with comments such as, “I have read your book, it was a good read.” This is the compliment so wait for it, “Although… I am not sure I would have written it that way, your style is somewhat different.” I have learned to bite my tongue and smile, whilst imagining ripping off their head and using it for a football, but the sad truth is there will always be one or two ass hats who will try to put you down. It was about this time in my life after publishing, I encountered a term I have grown to despise. “The Craft.”

When people talk about the craft of writing I usually yawn and fall asleep, is it a craft? I have no idea, I simply know that when I read back what I have written, which is usually out loud, if it’s not right, I notice and make changes, if that’s a craft, then wonderful, I have the gift. I usually use a text to speech program on my computer, which reads my own writing back to me for editing purposes. I set it to a dull boring voice and believe me when you have written something wrong, it leaps out of the speakers at you, it’s a good tool that I have really come to love.

At this point, I should mention, I simply love writing. I got your ordinary everyday education in the 1970’s, which Ok I do consider to be of a higher standard than today, much to the disapproval of my teacher friends. I loved English and English Literature; they were my favourite subjects which finally makes sense to me now, as I have spent thirty five years working in horticulture before having a writing career today. I did want to be a journalist, but was told not to even try when I left school, as I was too fast a writer whom scribbled my illegible scrawled notes on stories across paper like a spider had raced through the ink pot. Like now, my mind had a habit of running off without me, which I now realise is my true passion about what I am doing, but back then a story that was filled with missing commas and words was not acceptable. I realise now that scribbling down is OK on a computer as later on it can be edited at leisure, but sadly there were no computers then, and so I took up working in the dirt, something I found involved a lot of research and working with plants, which is still applicable to scruffy writer me in the work I do now, writing about woodlands and trees and the magic within them.

I don’t see myself as complicated; although I am sure a few people I know would give a good counter argument on that. When writing I like to keep things as simple as possible, I like my work to be easy to follow, I like it to be a captivating and a straight forward read for the reader. I try not to concern myself with the views of other writers, in my opinion they have their way and I have mine, and never the twain shall meet. I believe with passion that communication is the greatest asset of humanity, and that writing is the greatest achievement of mankind. It is the simplest of things, and yet it is profound on many levels. I can take what is trapped inside my inner self, and use words on a page to convey that to another human being in a another country who I have never met. I can make them smile, or even make them cry; now tell me there is no such thing as magic? It has to be the greatest thing ever, and I have the joy of doing it on a daily basis, it is not a craft, it is a gift, and I for one am delighted to tell you all that every single one of us has the skills to do to.

I discovered the craft when joining an online forum for new writers, which was one of the tips recommended to me after I had published my first book. This site had lots of people talking shop, and I settled in to take it all in. One girl in particular was very young and offered a small piece to be critiqued, I read it and I enjoyed it. It was a little thin and needed a some padding out, but I felt it was worth working with and would in time be a nice little story, and I told her so, which really delighted her. She did confess she had been terrified of uploading it to the site, but I commended her bravery and told her to keep going. Suddenly, well let’s just say for politeness, this grumpy old badger came online and absolutely assassinated her piece. He tore it to shreds and banged on line after line about “The Craft.” I thought he was cruel and just plain nasty; it was not that bad a story, certainly compared to some of the other flowery drool I had read on the site. Her story was imaginative and inspired, but he just banged on about the standards of the writing craft, and for want of better words, he publicly crucified her.

He was wrong, his behaviour in my mind was just plain horrible and nasty. I messaged him to complain and tell him that he had gone overboard, and that her story had a lot of potential. OK I realise I am not schooled in modern writing, I have just developed my own way over time, people say I have a particular writing style, but to be honest I would not recognise it if it hit me in the face. I just write the only way I know how, and I may not be rich or famous, but I do have some fans who love what I write. I argued my point that writing has changed since Queen Victoria was on the throne, which ok, probably didn’t help us bond, but language is changing all the time, and the younger more modern writers embrace that, and I think it should be considered, we are far too quick these days to hoist the classic literature banner and disregard new work.

I love the classics, but just take a moment to look at how JK Rowling got panned by the critics, so did Dan Brown, and yet both of them have written books selling millions of copies. The way I see it they tapped into something at the time the rest of the book industry hadn’t, and it was that approach which made them the stars of modern literature they have become today. He completely disregarded my points and stuck to his mantra of the “Craft.” A lot of people today are leaving reading, modern technology has crept in with film, TV, and instant video channels, and maybe it is some of these young new writers who will invigorate the book world, I feel they should be encouraged, and as much as classic literature has its part, the literature of tomorrow will be completely different. Sadly my voice fell to the floor unheard as I was dismissed for not supporting the craft. Needless to say I left the site and any ideas of embracing this so called craft went right out of the window for me. Today I stick to what I know, which is very little, but it makes me and the few who read my work happy.

I came to writing alone, and after 43 years of my life usually writing all kinds of odd bits and bobs. I have had one story in my mind for a long time and made a huge pile of notes on it, so much so, I realised it had become a fire hazard, and if my house ever caught fire, I would be burnt to death in minutes. It made complete sense at the time to convert the huge mass of stacked hand written papers into digital documents, and hey guess what; when I had finished, suddenly I had like a whole other space by the wall for yet another bookcase. Being a little bit of an obsessive freak, I realised during the digital conversion of my stack, that it would be easier in the long run if it was all filed in some sort of organised and tidy way, and by the time I had finished, I had a book.

Disappointed aren’t you? Well sadly I did not set off to actually write the story in full, I just got carried away at a time when I needed to escape from reality, and it just so happened that it became my first manuscript. Holds hand up, “Hi I am an accidental author.”

I feel the shame and hang my head riddled with guilt. I wrote a book by accident, it was never some sort of challenge or goal, I knew I could write stuff, I had been doing it for years. The problem was this time I got caught, and sadly that person felt the need to tell everyone. I cannot put into words how reluctantly I handed over what I had written for them to read, seriously for a moment I considered wrestling them down and binding their mouth with tape. Absolutely no one knew, it was my hidden pleasure, and I never meant for anything to ever be read, but my gabby friend just had to tell the world, and then my dad. Have you any idea how hard it is to change the subject every time someone mentions reading to an avid reader like my dad? It was a nightmare, ducking and weaving, until finally he cornered me, and I had to hand the thing over to him so he could read it, I wanted to die on the spot.

That was when all the attention and hype started, all I wanted was to be left in peace, but oh no, they were obsessed. I had a constant stream of conversations on how I should publish. Well they weren’t exactly conversations, they were more one sided, them telling me to publish, and me trying to change the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I love authors, Tolkien, John Wyndham, H G Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Pullman, all of them my absolute ideal of great writers, I just felt like I did not belong in their company, and I would rather have remained lost in a room somewhere else with my trusty old desk top PC. That is when it all started, everyone hassled me telling me “you must publish so I can buy it.”

Let me just clear the air at this point, as nice as it is to be told by everyone, “it’s a great book publish it and I will get a copy,” once again I would like to remind you all, that you are all actually very big liars. Is it like some secret trend to harass writers into doing something they don’t want to? I made a list of every person who promised to buy a copy, all two hundred and thirty one of them; I know I am a little weird like that. But in all honesty it does sort of play on your mind, or it did mine at the time, I started thinking wow this is unreal, if all these people want a book, then how many others might buy it? Listen to me now, “Do not do it, it’s a trap.”

By the time the first book came out, on launch week I sold fifty of them, yep just fifty; and hardly any of them to the people on the list, it was a good lesson to learn at that point. It is like a sickness, and I would say to anyone who wants to be a writer and put a book out, a lot of people will say they will buy it, but when you hold a copy in front of them you will get one of two responses, the first being “Oh dear I don’t have enough cash on me at the moment, can you get it online?” The second excuse which is by far the most used, “What I have to pay for it, I thought we were mates?” Everyone wants a copy, but no one wants to shell out money for it, my wife and I work on the assumption that out of every two hundred people who say they will buy a copy, only one will, and to date we are pretty accurate.

I blame the current obsession we have with celebrity culture, when confronted with an author, people go into some bizarre default setting that makes them smile a lot and make unrealistic promises in the hope that you will like them. I have one friend who introduces me as “His friend, the Author,” it used to be “hey guys this is Rob,” But sadly not anymore.

I find it a most peculiar phenomenon, it is almost like these people feel a strong desire to be liked by a famous person, the problem with that which they have not already stumbled on is very simple, ‘Most writers are just ordinary folks and not at all famous’ in truth we are a bit of a disappointment, although I do love the idea of some random women rushing home to boast about meeting me, and being confronted with a lot of confused family faces, who look at her like she is mad and say “Who the F**k is that?” followed by “Never heard of them” It does cheer my day. The truth is with over two million books published a year, there are one hell of a lot of us, we are not rich and we are certainly not famous, which is something I am currently quite happy about.

I sat and worked out, that if I take into account, all the places I have visited to photograph for my work, which I use to help me describe places, and all the books I have bought for my research, all the paper I have purchased for print outs, the heating of my home to write in, the electric used by the computer and lighting, and all the fuel I have burned up traveling around for research, I would easily need to sell well over one million books to even come close to breaking even. If I add to that all the man hours involved in the production of the books I write, and they were then charged at minimum wage rate, at my current selling rate I would need three hundred years to fully recover what I have invested in my writing life.

If you want to write for the money, by all means try, no one, not even the biggest publishers can predict what will and what won’t sell, and yes you may have a best seller inside you, no one will know till you do it. I personally believe that it should never ever be about the money, writing is not a way to stay afloat, it is a joy of hidden magic that lives inside you, and you can choose to release it into the world, or hide it away forever, it is up to you. What I can say is I have had equally as many days of wonder, as I have despair, and I am still doing it. It involves a lot of self-motivation; there have been days where I sat in bed staring at the cat, who was far more motivated than I was, although I hadn’t fed him at that point which explains a lot. I have days of endless frustration deleting a months’ worth of writing because I knew it was simply not good enough, and have started again from scratch. Writing on a bad day can be the equivalent of chewing dry sawdust, as the frustration to get it right builds inside me, I feel sorry for my wife who bless her tolerates my grumpiness as I walk around the house itching to write and unable to type a word.

The good days are glorious. It can come in the form of a wonderfully written piece, or a lovely email, a comment on social media, a sales report, or a good revue from a total stranger. I still get a buzz knowing someone I will never meet is so touched by some of my words; they feel the need to write something nice about my book, it really can lift your day, week or year. There are a few people who get very excited when they know I am about to release a new title, and it is wonderful to see their reaction and the excitement they feel, I really feel happy for them, and take great heart from it. There is no greater thrill than looking at the book case and seeing your own name on a spine and thinking, wow I actually did it, and those days have far more value than mere money.

By far the most joyous moments come when you are completely alone, walking free in your make believe word with people who are as well known to you as your best friends. I sit with the head phones on looking at the screen, with my mind ablaze with the images of my own creation, so lost in thought and focused, nothing can touch me as the magic surrounds me and holds me trance like in this theatre of joy. My mind, my heart and my soul join as one mixing with every experience and emotion I have ever had, and I smile as I tap away with my characters or cry the tears of their pain, no film can come close to the immersive experience of writing.

At this point I will add a very important health warning. You do get lost in space and time, and believe me you will not be aware of anything else, so when as happened with me, my eight year old daughter got up at two in the morning with tummy ache, and I was sat in the almost darkness of my room typing away lost to everything. I did not notice her pale white figure approach, until she touched my arm with her cold white hand. I do not jest when I state it was almost the last line I ever wrote, such was the terror that coursed into my heart filling it with fear and surprise. She scared the living hell out of me, which in turn scared the hell of her, as I leap straight up in the air with a scream of abject terror. So be advised writing can traumatise not only the author, but also their children. This is probably why I don’t write ghost stories, I feel it is taking far too big a risk, in what can already be a slightly risky situation.

I left my known profession to become a full time writer, most people thought I was insane at the time, and maybe I am, but there again I sit at my desk and write down all the day dreams that as a child I was told were bad for me, so I actually get to do it now for a living which is delightful. It was a huge step for me to walk into the unknown, and life took a downward step in comparison to before because of it, but I don’t think I will ever regret it. I am now fifty three years old and actually a lot happier than I have ever been. I will freely admit that I can juggle bills better than a circus clown juggles batons, but any idea of switching career now is unrealistic for me having done this for almost ten years. It has been suggested, but I love doing this too much, and there again, if I really do sit and think about it, what else can I do now at my age?

Writing suits me, I have always been a tad rebellious, and I have spent most of my life searching for some form of liveable peace and freedom, I just wish I had realised sooner that I have always had it. Most self-help books will tell you happiness and peace come from within, well I am living proof, as I look inside on a regular basis to find the materials I need to work with, and yes, after 35 years working in every kind of weather outdoors, I have found my small place of peace and happiness sat before a computer screen, inventing new worlds and new people, and then telling their story as only I know how. Life can be tough for millionaires, but I am not one, so if there are tough days for me too, I ride them out day dreaming until all the happier days come along.

So when I was asked what it is like to be writer, and after a great deal of thought, I feel it is safe to make the following statement compared to those I have observed in other professions. Being a writer is a simple life that suits me, and the truth is: 

 

 It doesn’t suck. 🙂

 

 

Robin John Morgan is a Husband, Father, and Author of the Heirs to the Kingdom series of fantasy adventure stories published through Violet Circle Publishing.

 

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Another World for Book Day

20-logo-right-downNothing makes world book day better than discovering a new fantasy world to live in for a while. As part of World Book Day’s 20th year, we are introducing you into a captivating world of adventure and fantasy.

The Woodland Realm Comes Alive

Heirs to the Kingdom (HTTK) is described by author, Robin John Morgan, was one of those ideas that grew into an obsession. What started as a side project to occupy the author as a mixture of hobby and simply something to help pass the time in his quiet hours as a single parent, raising his daughter alone, grew over a period of twenty years into a filing cabinet stuffed to the brim with notes, sketches and diagrams, of the many ideas he connected to what we now know as his central characters of Robbie and Runestone. In 2006 during a spring clean, he made the decision to sort through all of his material and rather than have a cabinet stuffed with paper, he thought it would make more sense to sort it out and transfer it all on to his computer.

bowmanfrontWhat followed was a year of copying down all his notes of what had become a fantasy existence for his two central characters who lived in the year of 2038 and beyond. Having completed the task of getting everything on the computer in a rough sequence, Robin decided to use his free time to slowly put it all into an order than would create a timeline, and show an alternative way of life in his make believe world, and Heirs to the Kingdom, the fantasy series of books was born.

What began back in 2007 as the writing of one continuous story, should find its completion this year with the final book of the series, after ten years of constant writing back to back books. His series of stories all based around his two characters and their friends and family is based around two central ideas. The first being his love of old tales from the past, which always state the hero will rise up again to return and save the day, and his second idea of what would happen if the world was struck with a catastrophic disaster that wiped out the larger percentage of the population? With nature back in charge and small groups rebuilding their communities the basic premise of the story is set, and into the mix his two teenage lead characters are placed.

HTTK begins on New Year’s Day 2038 in the snow, and as Robbie one of the central characters rises to his daily duties on the farm, he faced with the monotony of his dull life. What he thinks is a boring isolated town in the middle of nowhere is far from the truth, and as the story starts to unfold, we start to learn of sinister figure in the south, Mason Knox, who claims to be a descendant to the line of the one true King Arthur.  The country is recovering from the deadly virus that killed most of the population, and the survivors are slowly trying to rebuild from scratch a life based on what surrounds them in the wild natural world that has swept over the destroyed remains of the once era of Modern Man. But it appears our sinister figure in the south has the idea that he alone has the duty to rebuild the world back to his view of things, and so begins the separation of the people and a struggle to fight to protect the lives they have built.

carnacfrontThis is a series that develops into a full and fascinating struggle between two ideas of how the world should be, mixed with a blend of fantastic characters. When our lead hero’s companions reveal that they have some odd and mysterious powers, the story starts to twist and turn into an adventure of fantasy, built on the foundation of a very realistic way of living away from modern life as we know it, and what is seen as the Woodland realm really does come to life with some fantastic and very well thought out and insightful writing. This is without doubt a gripping adventure fantasy series that has all of the everyday aspects of life mixed with fantasy in a way that really does draw the reader into Robin’s make believe world. It feels very real and timeless, and has many moments that have you caught within pages unable to put the books down. It is thought provoking and emotional, as well as action packed with a thread of humour throughout its core that draws you deeper and deeper into this wonderfully written tale. 2017 should see the final part of this slice of life fantasy adventure story reach its final conclusion, and so now is the perfect time to get the first book and walk into a superb fantasy adventure and enjoy a year of thrills, tears, and laughter whilst fighting for survival.

These are all good reads with a high word count that makes for an immersive reading experience, they are written in an easy to follow style, which will draw you quickly into the story and captivate your imagination. The books are available now and entitled:

dunnottarfrontBook One – The Bowman of Loxley

Book Two – The Lost Sword of Carnac

Book Three – The Darkness of Dunnottar

Book Four – Queen of the Violet Isle

Book Five – Crystals of the Mirrored Waters

Book Six – Last Arrow of the Woodland Realm

Book Seven – The Bridge of Sequana.

Book Eight the final book in the series should be out later this year and will be entitled, The Ravens of Berengar.

Update with crumble at VCP.

Its been a very busy couple of years for VCP, their transformation back at the end of 2013, from just a promotion vehicle of Heirs to the Kingdom into a publishing company has taken a huge amount of work. Last month saw them produce their seventh book, which was a children’s book, and we took some time with Robin to chat about his experience’s this year now he has settled into his role as Editor and Writer.

Crumble's Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

You have a new book out, and it is for children, which is something very different from the fantasy adventure books you write, how does that fit in with the VCP statement of looking for high quality Fiction?

He smiles. It is, and I feel it fits in very well, there is no rule that I am aware of that states Fantasy/Sci fi or Adventure genres are not for children as well. I actually think that using fiction is the very best way to expand the wonder of the world for children, I mean look at the classics such as Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland, I read them as a child, and still do today to my own children, so why not a tale of a little dog called Crumble, especially considering, that the story is based on the real life observations of the authors dog, with a lovely fantasy twist.

So how does a post apocalyptic writer go about selecting what is indeed a beautifully illustrated book about a small dog who appears to be homeless with no friends ?

To be honest it was a member of the family who recommended Mike to us, he contacted us and gave us an idea of what he had, and we asked him for samples of the work so that we could look at it. I think what caught my attention first was the artwork, as soon as I saw it, I felt a strong sense of my own experiences from childhood and the wonderfully illustrated pictures of that time. I then read through the sample few chapters we had, and I felt it fitted in well with my own personal view of what the story should reflect.

So you examined the manuscript and then from that you make the decision. You say your own personal view can you elaborate on that?

Well I must admit I do have a very broad range when it comes to what I read. The thing is, I feel that firstly the book has to be in one sense or another believable. Ok for me that was an easy task, I just gave it to my six year old daughter and asked her what she thought, it got her approval and she wanted the rest of it, so that was a good start. Once I got the full manuscript I read through it a few times, and in my mind I wanted it to hold within it a positive message, I feel many of the books for children today are a little light on ethics, so for my part, I am looking for something that gives children an idea about how we live and how to handle it. That is mainly because even in a work of fiction, I feel there should be good messages and truths of the world. Crumble had that, it has a few issues I liked such as dealing with loneliness, and how befriending someone can make a huge difference to their life, I also like the importance of a stable family, and that sometimes family are not always your relatives. Those messages told me this was a book that was very positive for children, and so I wanted to work with Mike.

So you had a good book and good illustrations, and as we know Mike Beale is a first time Author, which is a bit of VCP’s mantra is it not?

It is, I am not interested in famous or celebrity authors, they have the name and reputation to get the big boys on their side, in most cases the major publishers prioritise them above everyone else. I am interested in those looking for a start up, I want to help and promote new writers, I do feel especially as we have lost some very big name writers in the past five years in the fantasy genre, my part is to encourage and help the new writers that are trying to get a foothold. The market for writers is probably one of the most competitive, so its hard work, I like to think VCP are doing their bit to find some good quality writers who will move on to bigger things in the future. Mike Beale presented a good package and I do think that Crumble is a wonderful step up for children going from mainly picture books into something more structured towards reading for life, which is also another one of the reasons we wanted to do it.

So this really is what we adults would call a proper reading book, but it is aimed at six years and above?

Yes, it is laid out with each chapter clearly marked; I find a lot of the books that school gives to my daughter are still very basic and filled with bright pictures. I think I am a little old fashioned in my approach, because when I was six, I was given proper books to read and I do think it played a huge part in my love of reading. I think we do not have enough children reading, and it is something I feel strongly as a book producer and a parent that we need to try and get our children away from the TV or games consol and reading more. The layout of Crumble reflects that, it is in a larger print, but it still has the defined chapters with the illustrations carefully placed to flow with the text, and I know for sure my daughter and my son have both really enjoyed reading the format.

So You put out HTTK book five in February, and its now been six months, has all that time been spent working on Crumble with Mike?

Not all of it, we were busy earlier in the year promoting the fifth HTTK, I think we began working with Mike in May, I have also been pretty busy writing in between, as I do, as I am always making notes writing back stories and actually writing the series. So for me personally it’s been a very hectic year, but that is good because I hate it when things slow down, I like to stay on the keys as much as possible.

It must have been a different experience working with another writer; we all know how reclusive you can be, not to mention how you avoid writing forums etc… What has it been like for you.?

Chuckles a lot. I avoid forums for writers simply because I have my own set way of doing things, so at times I find they have far too many rules that get in the way of the creative bursts. I honestly believe that shutting yourself away and just focusing on what you want write is the only way to do it, on the few occasions I have stepped out into the world and been involved with these things they have filled my head with notions that were very unhelpful, so for me personally I avoid them.

Working with Mike was actually really fun and a complete eye-opener for me, because I suppose I got see how another writer who works alone with a few supporters to muck in, actually works. Our stuff is at opposing ends of the spectrum, as he writes for children, and my stuff is pretty complex and adult, so yes, for someone like me who loves nothing better than seeing how other people achieve things it was fascinating working with him, he is a really nice guy, and it was easy to see where such a lovely story came from, because he does have a very quiet and caring nature, which again I felt was beautifully reflected in Crumble.

You say your styles are opposite each other, is that not a problem when editing, surely you would phrase things differently?

To be honest no not really. Look we have a very relaxed and informal way of working, lets be honest I am never going to be all about business dinners and fancy presentations. The way I work is very casual and informal, and that creates the right environment for creativity. We did a lot of research into children’s literature to get a good idea of what was expected, long before Mike gave us the manuscript we were pretty much pulling apart the book world to find out as much as possible. Once we started working, we would look at what he gave us and then comb through it and look to try and add as many improvements as we could, it is the very same system we use for HTTK, the only difference being is it is with another writer.

We used the same approach with Ted on Wordsmith with the poetry book. We made suggestions, but at all times the decision lay with the author, which is a rule I set at the very start of VCP, as we want a company that treats Authors fairly, and to be honest we do a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure it. Mike felt comfy at all times, and questions he asked, we gave full answers to. At the end of the day we take it step by step, we gave him our thoughts on things we felt were important, he went off and looked at it, and then came back with his thoughts, after discussion we moved to the next stage and repeated the process until finally we arrived at the final manuscript everyone was happy with, and that was then published.

I look back to my own experiences of first publishing, and that is the greatest aid to ensuring I am taking into account all of the authors feelings, so with that in mind, every aspect of the formatting was given great consideration, it was a lot of work checking and placing each illustration and line of text to ensure it looked the very best it could, and would appeal to the smaller readership it was planned for. I would like to think for Mike it was a better experience than my first time.

So there is no time limit on producing the book?

No we take it step by step until we are all happy, I am never going to say hey in ten weeks you will have a book, I feel that approach which I know some publishers do, is a none starter, as it rules out the fine polishing process, and we are looking for high quality stories, that we can put into high quality print. We try to work to a very high standard, I demand it, and so we will work with an author until the manuscript is right, by the same chalk, I will refuse a book if I feel it does not sit well in our catalogue.

Crumble came out on August 31st, so what now are you taking a break before moving on again?

I did take a small holiday, I wanted to get the kids away as we had been working most of their school holiday, as we wanted the book in full circulation before the children went back to school, so we took a few days in Scarborough, which was wonderful and we relaxed and had a lot of fun. I do admit I never stop working, so while I was there I got some pictures that would serve well in HTTK, after all Scarborough is a main part of the earlier stories. I came back and started the final edit of Book six, which is the next thing we will working on for late Autumn release, and obviously I am doing a lot behind the scenes to give Crumble a good old push into the world of readers.

So Book six soon and then what, as you are almost at the end of HTTK, will you walk away forever and just write other stuff?

The next project is Kingdom six, I want that out as I know I have readers who really want it due to the cliff hanger ending of five, and I don’t want to disappoint them. As always we are looking for writers who fit our remit and so we are pushing that aspect of VCP, and behind the scenes I have a few things lined up for the end of HTTK, I think it is safe to say writing wise I have a constant stream of ideas, so whichever one gets my pulse racing fastest will be the new project when I finish the last HTTK book. Will I finish the series and say no more, I am not entirely certain, I have not given it a huge amount of thought as I am still writing it, but I must admit these characters have been a huge part of my life, in my house they are almost like family, so I cannot really say I am done with them yet, a break would be nice, I wanted to write the Bowman to prove I could write a book, I did it and it grew into a series, so maybe the next challenge is to write something completely different, after that I will have to see.

So VCP is still working towards it goals, has your idea of it changed about where you want it in the future?

I have always wanted it to be a publisher of quality, which will never change. I am looking for new writers who I can work with, and again I hope over time VCP will grow to be a publisher people can say produces good quality reads. We are still a tiny company and have a ways to go, and I am enjoying the journey. I believe in evolution and I think that will always be our way to go, we will learn and expand as we need to, and hopefully create something that will bring joy to the readers of the world, be them little or large. We have had to incorporate and get use to a lot of new technology in order to do this and we are growing each day with more and more competence, we set a plan at the start and so we are following it, and to date we are on target, we have print pretty much running very smoothly, and so we are now looking at digital, as we want to take our authors onto every platform, we have been busy with that behind the scenes, and will start with digital platforms once we are satisfied we have the right level of quality control on the books, that is not that far away now.

You had a lot of nervous moments at the very end of 2013, how are you feeling now?

For me personally it was a huge leap of faith, I knew I had done the research and could in theory do it, but ending my contracts with my other publisher and going solo was a scary moment, especially as it killed my income for six months. I am a lot happier now we are moving forward and doing ok, we have seven books out and an eighth on the way so it’s a big case of so far so good. I have really enjoyed it, and I have also had the joy of seeing two new authors step out into the world, and that has been a really rewarding aspect of all this. Ted has done really well with Wordsmith and I think Mike has started very well, and I hope will see some success, as I think Crumble deserves it. I still feel the most positive thing is getting the word out that reading is wonderful and enhances your life, and I know we have convinced a few more to do it more, so considering December 2013 and now, I am very happy with the way it has all gone.

So What are you up to now?

At the moment I am preparing book six, as I said I want that out soon, but I am also looking at the night of HTTK thing, we have been asked quite a few times to do it, and it is entirely my fault, as the experience of the launch night in Bolton was so bad, it did put me off promoting locally and doing public events. Currently and  in between Promoting Crumble and getting out the next book, I am looking at ways that could be possible. I have a lot of ideas, but because readers of HTTK are pretty scattered and I have done less promotion at home, I am not that sure of the numbers, so I am looking at a small event with a view to expanding it should it be successful. I must admit I do like the idea of meeting the readers and talking to them, it is during those kind of conversations you learn a lot about peoples experiences of the books.

It sounds like a pretty exciting idea, what kind of things do you have in mind?

Well we have had a few suggestions from people who would like to see some readings and ask questions, so I think that would be the model to build it round, you know a sort of introduction, and then maybe some guest readers etc… I am sure I can sort something out where I can do some signings of books, and that sort of thing, I have a long list of ideas, it would be nice to bring Louis and Jacy in on it to chat to people about their artwork and stuff, it could be quite interesting, as I say at the moment we are only really looking at it.

It does sound like a great idea and so I will look out for it, and it is looking very positive for Robin and VCP. Book Six of Heirs to the Kingdom will be hitting the book sales stands soon and we do hope that VCP and its authors do well. Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale is available now from all online stores, or from your local book shop, as well as all the other VCP published books on the VCP website.

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale illustrated by Maureen Fayle

Crumble's Adventures

Crumble’s Adventures

ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

Submitted for VCP by Jo Lane.

Robin John Morgan talks Crystals and Mirrored Waters.

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five, Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin john Morgan

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five, Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin john Morgan

With the release of the new Heirs to the Kingdom instalment today, we took a little time a few weeks ago to talk with its Author Robin John Morgan.

This is the fifth book in the series entitled “Crystals of the Mirrored Waters” and as we discovered is a very important marker in the series, of which we still do not know how many books there actually going to be.

The question most people want to be answered, and if you have read the fourth book you will know if you have. Robbie the lead character leans into an unidentified young boy and lifts a golden dragon on a chain from his shirt, and turns back and questions Ally “You Knew?” For us avid readers, it just about blew our minds, as we want to know who the King that will rule is. Book five will reveal all and Robin smiles.

“Its in there, you will have to read it to find out though.”

It has been a topic of debate for some time, as many of the readers have put forward their theories and we can now state clearly (Having read an advanced copy) we have all been hopelessly wrong. Obviously we are aware of spoilers and so are being very careful of any of the detail within the book, but what we can say is that the start of this book is very different from the first four, and it does take a very different approach as it introduces the reader back into the story, which is something we did want to ask Robin about.

“Yes it is  very different, I wanted to take some time just to fill in the blanks, and in a way come back round in a circle. Book five is an important stage within HTTK as I feel that with the arrival of a new king it wraps up one very important aspect of the story. During the writing process, which compared to the last four was a much longer intense affair, I wanted to take this particular moment to fill in the gaps and in a way paint a wider picture of events from the past. If you think about it, back in 2006 I placed all the notes I had in order, and then from about June 2007 until May 2008 I wrote the first rough drafts of the first four books back to back. Those first four were really written at fever pitch as I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, but once I had completed them, I then sat back and added more notes to help me edit the books and shape them to a closer match to the versions of the books I have published. I mean there have been many changes and additions since then, but the story has remained relatively unchanged from those earlier writing days, which I also will add was at a particularly difficult period, with five my life circumstances had changed a great deal, and I had the time to take much longer in the planning and writing, and that also let me work much deeper inside the story.”

The start of Crystals of the Mirrored Waters is somewhat reflective, and in a way almost historical.”

“Yeah I think that is the point, and is the reason why this is such an important book in the series as a whole. Before this book we know that there has been a struggle to rebuild back to the point where the story begins in Loxley with book one, and since that point there has been a lot of references to past events. Look to the past is a huge theme in the earlier books and it is at the start of the fifth book that I think the process of reflection is key to the future, and so I felt that had to be a very important starting point in fully understand the past and the present of Heirs to the Kingdom. I also had so much more time, as I had finally finished with my horticultural business and could focus on just writing this story, that alone had a huge impact on my approach to this book and those that will follow, in a strange way this story is a reflection of my own life, especially some of the more emotive aspects, and those first five chapters do reflect that.”

So really the book is almost a history of the story and your own life running hand in hand? (He laughs)

“I think there is no doubt; I mean those first four were written in all the spare moments of what was a fight with the local authorities as I felt myself losing everything I had ever worked for slipping away, and it was intense and frustrating and heart breaking. I do smile at it now as at that time I did feel like Robbie facing those overwhelming odds and I was riddled with doubts as I fought my hardest, to be honest I think I would have preferred a sword or longbow and taken on the local council one by one in combat, it would have felt a lot easier.”

So you get to five, and life is calmer and more relaxed, and is that why it took much longer to write this particular book?”

“It is and it isn’t. (He laughs at me) It was nice to be able to work in a more focused way, I think I just took a huge deep breath and let myself calm down a little. I was quite ill when I final closed down and made what was a hard decision to quite horticulture, it had been my life for over 30 years, and walking away felt like a huge emotional pull, and for months it was hard to focus on writing, I guess I did a lot of soul searching and looking back at my own life, it was a process of reflection and in many ways a time of healing for me. I needed to make that first important step forward, so I looked to the roots of this story and did a lot of writing of small bits to give me a background to the story, and I soon found some of it was based very much in my own past and my early years growing up in the woodland.”

So that explains the dedication. This book is dedicated to your brothers, and does refer to those times you had together as children.

“I know most readers do not really understand why authors dedicate books, but for the author it is an extremely important aspect of the book, for me personally it was important that I made five a tribute to my three brothers. Some of it is the past, as we were all very close and at that time, and when we all ran wild in the woodland it was for me a deeply special and important time in my life, and they were a large part of it. But you also have to understand that five is a very important aspect of this story, five members create a circle of power, and each family creates a circle of its strongest five, which is where the tables around Runestone play a vital role in Heirs to the Kingdom. I suppose the symbolism for me is what is important, my love of this very special place we grew up in, is the foundation of whom I have become, and that moment from my own past was shared with my brothers. It is the reason I love the wild so much, it is the very heart of where this story came from, and so I could not write this turning point which looks to the past in order to shape the future of Heirs to the Kingdom, without including my brothers who are still one of my strongest circles of power. We were pretty poor as kids and yet we overcame so much, my eldest brother has a force of stamina that I am in awe of, my next eldest brother against all the odds has achieved so much to be proud of considering his starting point in life, and my youngest brother who has the craziest sense of fun, has brought a huge amount of laughter and joy to so many people in his lifetime, and I find them inspirational and have taken elements of each of them into my writing, which has indeed made the charters of this story much more interesting to read. As I said the readers probably won’t see any of this, but I hope my brothers can, and that is why it was so important to me that the fifth book was for them.”

I think up until this moment I have never really considered the dedication in a book before, and maybe I will think about others in the future when I read. So we finally have the new book and we will all soon know who the new king will be, so I have to ask even though I am uncertain of getting an accurate answer, tell us what can we expect from Crystals of the Mirrored Waters?

Heirs to the Kingdom by Robin John Morgan

Heirs to the Kingdom by Robin John Morgan

 “That is the million dollar question isn’t it? I feel the desire to shout “Plot Twist!” OK, Book one through four imply a lot of what has happened, and in that much they ask a lot of questions, so my first priority was to address those.

I think the question of Why was the death Red, who started it, and why a virus, and how was it certain people survived are all relevant questions which I need to answer, and so I have. I think another important question is why is the line of Arthur so relevant when obviously the Lox household are quite capable of uniting the country alone? But the biggest untied threads that run right through the whole series have to be, who did what and why? These are questions the books have asked, and through book five you will gain a lot of insight as to the goings on behind the scenes, but saying that, I know it will lead the readers to ask yet more questions, and that will be explained in a later book. What happened in the past is a guide to the future, so there is more detail on those past events as they run side by side with current events. There are moments within the earlier books which may not have felt very relevant, but actually those moments will become very important as other books come out.

I suppose the biggest and most important thing in book five is the change of emphasis, you know, the books are named Heirs to the Kingdom, and we have pretty much worked out who all the heirs are… or have we? From five onward the story has to change, otherwise it would become stagnant and the emphasis has to move away from the search, to the actual destinies of each and everyone within the tale, and that starts here.”

Why do I suddenly feel you have answered my question by simply posing even more?

“That’s Heirs to the Kingdom. Look I write this story primarily for myself, but I can assure you nothing is written that does mean something, and that is who I am, and that will be the case whatever I write in the future, am I going to give away the plot, obviously not? The rear cover mentions a few hints and nothing more, but if you read it carefully you may pick out a few things, such as a new realm and a new enemy that is very dark and devious. Book five will test everyone, including the reader and I hope you find yourself in situations you never expected. Harry is in there getting himself in trouble, Jett and Jade are as usual up to their tricks and Robbie and Runestone will be tested, but you all know that as this is their story and it is slowly unfolding. I will say I try very hard to surprise myself in hope of surprising the reader, and this book took two years of carefully planning to get to the final scenario, which I hope leaves the reader breathless. I feel this is a gritty and good paced story, but I will leave it to readers to decide, I certainly think they will really enjoy it.”

So to end, I feel I must ask what I consider the most important question I can ask. Considering how involved she is with all of this adventure, what does your wife think of it?”

“Ask Her? (Giggles) I do believe she loves it???”

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five : Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin John Morgan, (ISBN 978-1-910299-05-0) is out today (28th February 2015) and will be available worldwide via all online book retailers and via your local bookstore, published via Violet Circle Publishing. All of Robins books are available and you can get full details on them via violetcirclepublishing.co.uk or heirstothekingdom.com

New Heirs to the Kingdom

Spring is here, and the leaves of all the trees are slowly opening as our world wakes up from the long weary sleep of Winter. The time is almost upon us, as soon will be time to walk with the leaves above our heads, which for those of you who are in the know can only mean one thing. The new Revised Editions of Heirs to the Kingdom are going into production and are almost ready to print.

It is almost time to sneak off to a quiet remote green space and walk once again in the Woodland Realm, as the first three in the captivating series of books come back into print via Violet Circle Publishing, the new home of HTTK.

So what is and is not new? We had a quiet chat with the Author Robin John Morgan to find out just what why the new editions, and what is in store for the readers, and he told us this.

Why the new Editions? Ok well firstly, I think when I first set out in 2007 to publish the books, I was pretty inexperienced and had some very big expectations of what exactly happens during the whole publishing process and that has very much showed.

I have not been happy with the books for a while, so when we switched publishers I took the chance to take the time out and go right the way through the books from line one, and do a new edit on all three of the previously published books. I have felt for some time that certain parts of the story that were cut in the first editions really should have been left in, and so my first task was to add them back and then focus on smoothing out a few parts of the story I always thought were rough and needing a slight tweak. I guess in the long term I am never going to be completely happy, as I always think there is something I can improve, but I have solemnly promised this is it and I have taken a lot of time to get the books back to the way I want them to be and I am very happy with the way they are now.

Nothing in the story has changed, so for those who own the first editions, do not worry you have not missed out, if anything you will now have something a little more collectable. I have added mainly detail and background description, just to fill out some areas I have always thought lacked a little and disturbed the flow of the story, so I am hoping for those who read these editions they will find them smoother and a more improved and flowing read.

The size of the books are different from the first editions, in so much as they are a tiny bit larger, but the main reason for that was I wanted to try and reduce the price, and with a few more words per page, it has dropped the page count and the cost which means it can be sold for less, which is good for everyone. It’s a new set so we have brought in clearer more fluid sleeves that will match as a series and give the books a more recognisable design, it probably does not matter that much to the readers, but I really enjoyed looking at all the new ways in which HTTK could be packaged, and I love the new more identifiable design which I think relates on a much simpler level to the story.

The interiors are crisper and more fluid, and I am delighted with them, I have had a huge hang up especially about book one since it was first published, as I was not happy with the font size and layout, so I feel overjoyed that I have been able to fix that with the new revised editions, all in all its been a wonderful experience to sit back and read through from the first page and do each book back to back once again. It probably sounds daft, but as I am much further on with the series of books than these first three, it is easy to forget some of the detail and fun in the first three, and to be honest I have surprised myself and had a huge amount of enjoyment revisiting them, I think it has helped me one hundred percent as I continue to work on the latest in the series.

The best news is that after almost two years of problems setbacks and delays, I can finally get the fourth book out shortly after the new revised editions hit the shelves, and that is simply fantastic, as I loved writing book four and still hold it as one of my personal bests in the series and I hope those who have become wonderful fans of the series that have built up along the way will really enjoy it too.

So there we have it, it will not be much longer and there will be three revised and a brand new edition to fill up your Summer with some wonderful reading time. Keep your eyes on violetcirclepublishing.co.uk for the announcement soon.

Walking with Robin John Morgan.

Robin John Morgan.

Robin with his youngest daughter

An interview with Robin John Morgan, By Jo Lane. Prepared for VCP in December 2009.

 It is a few days before Christmas, and the snow is five inches deep and untouched, as it covers our path and all the trees around us. I am walking down one of Robin John Morgan’s favourite woodland paths close to his home besides him, as his son runs in front in the snow and his daughter smiles from his arms. Its cold, but dressed up warm with his long multi violet coloured scarf, and familiar baseball hat, together we admire the trees and the falling snow, in complete peace and quiet.

Robin has managed to publish two books this year to begin his Heirs to the Kingdom series of stories, both of which have been self published, and he has played a very involved role in their promotion. I think he looks paler and tired since our last meeting in mid summer, although as I watch him admiring the trees, heavily laden with snow, I can see the familiar twinkle of life in his eyes, as he absorbs the world he loves so much. I comment on his tiredness and ask about his first year as a self-published author. “How have the books gone to date?”

He gives a faint smile as he considers his answer. “For a complete unknown author, I suppose they have both sold well, although I think that I can see how naive I was back in May when I began to promote the first book. I think my perception of the publishing world was a million miles away from the reality of the industry, I have felt very much out of my depth at times, and I have had to learn a great deal in order to understand and actually get the word about the books out there, people have no idea at all of how fierce and competitive it is out there, its also very closed to self publishers. This is not like Horticulture, and I am no expert in this field, I really have had to start on the floor and fight my way up to gain recognition.”

He stops on the path as he raises his camera to take a photo, something he does to use as inspiration when he is writing. But his tone is still one of optimism. “Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, it has been a year of long hard working hours to get the website built, and promote the book, but at the end of the day, there is nothing more thrilling than knowing that out there are bookshelves in peoples homes with my books on them. I think that alone is a huge reward, and it gives me a thrill to know it.”

“Is self publishing really a lot harder than traditional publishing?” I have to admit that as a fellow writer looking to publish in the future, I was interested in getting the thoughts of someone who was a little further ahead of myself. Robin spent two years trying to get his first book published, but found that the fantasy adventure genre was not one that traditional publisher’s were particularly keen on. Like so many other authors today, he had been rejected so many times that eventually because he had such strong support from readers for his work, he turned to self-publishing. 

We move onwards across a small almost frozen stream, as he elaborates on his experiences. “I worry about the way traditional publishing is going. They use to create their own celebrities; today they seem to be more interested in using names that are already well known, lets face it if you are an actor or TV personality, then you can pretty much guarantee a publishing deal backed with thousands of pounds of advertising. New writers to fill the void of those who have passed on really have no option but to self publish, the biggest draw back is, that out there are thousands of talented hopefuls all trying to get their book in the mainstream. Doing all the promotion like I am with a small team, takes up two thirds of my day, and then the chances are that it will generate few sales. The traditional publishers are at the heart of the game, but they are spending their money on recognised celebrities, as they are a safe bet, although I must admit I find it hard to understand why there are so many books on Micheal Jackson or Jordan, I would have thought one good well written book on both of them, would have done the job nicely. David Eddings passed away recently, but there is no one new to replace him, and even if there was, it looks like the traditional publishers would refuse to publish them. I have spent six months stacking one brick on top of the other to build a firm foundation and get myself a small corner dedicated to HTTK in hope of pulling a few fans together, now I need them to read the book and start talking about it, word of mouth on the internet really has become a self publishers advertising hope.”

I have known Robin for some time, and I understand how having a challenge appeals to him, in his life he has faced many, one in particular reminds me greatly of his writing, although its not often he will speak of his experience fighting to save his business two years ago, which indeed lead him into trying to publish his first book. I decided to raise the subject as we made our way out of the trees and up a steep bank onto an old disused railway. “Robbie and the group face some very testing situations in the second book, and the writing comes across as being very intuitive, is that a result of writing it towards the end of your campaign in Denton to save the market and your business? Do you think much of the struggle you felt at that time is reflected back on the pages?”

We walk slowly through the untouched snow, which is half way up our boots as he thinks for a moment. “I suppose the hardship and the feelings of desperation do rise a little from the pages. There are instances in both books that remind me of moments when I felt I was fighting impossible odds. In life things just come out of nowhere and knock you flat, I hope that the way the book twists and turns does reflect real life. It would be nice to know that something so hard and heart breaking as that time in Denton, could at least have a positive on my work by giving it greater depth. I hope so, for myself, I have always wanted the series to feel like the reader was looking in on a real life, if they are carried along through the story because it does indeed feel very real that would be a big plus, I have tried very hard to give it that sense of time and motion.”

Listening to Robin talk about the story, you sense how much he has invested in creating the realm of the woodsman set in the future, for him in many ways this is simply one story of a life shared by a small group of friends and family, to myself and everyone else in the world, it is a series of books that inter connect and follow the progress of Robbie and Runestone as they approach their life, and the destiny laid out before them. One thing that has left me thinking is the endings of the two books, and I wanted very much to hear Robin’s take on them. “The ending of book one felt very much like I sensed a great relief in Robbie to have survived, and yet with book two I did feel a sense of sadness mixed with happiness. Book two does have quite an emotional roller coaster effect, and I must admit it did not have the big happy ending I expected, was it part of the plan to create an ending that would leave the reader wanting more?” 

He gives a small laugh. “Do want me to tell the truth, or should I lie?” Robin’s smile widens. “To be honest the ending was never planned that way. I do want the books to carry the reader along at a good pace that draws them deeper into it; it is the one thing I love about reading. I love that feeling where you are completely lost in the story, and do not want to put the book down, I know from those who I have spoken to that has been the experience for a lot of people, which delights me, as I really love this book. If you think about it, sometimes we get what we want in life, but its not always the huge thrill we expected, life has that way of just taking the edge off an experience or task. Book two was a very fluid and natural process; the writing did come quicker and was to a degree more instinctive than book one. I do think that knowing I could write a full-length book helped, having set one out and established the characters and the story. I had the space to just get in the detail and bring the story more to life, there is a lot in book two I never planned, it just came to me as I wrote it, and it felt very natural, I really had a lot of fun writing this book, it was a very enjoyable experience, and I hope that those who read it will want to continue with the next book.”

Having spent a great deal of time walking through the falling snow, another very relevant aspic of Robin’s work is apparent as we return to the warm surroundings of his home in the form of his family. Apart from publishing two books this year, Robin also became a father for a second time, with the birth of his daughter Iona shortly before The Bowman of Loxley was released. Iona carries the name of very important character who appears for the first time in book two, and I wonder if his own sense of family is what bonds the family of Lox so closely. Robin’s father was separated from his life from the age of four, and he was reunited at the age of 30, it’s a large gap, and yet today they seem as close as any other father and son. “Is the bond between Robbie and his father a reflection of that of your own father and yourself?”

“It is, very much so. I think both of us have worked very hard to repair the vast span of time we missed out on, and although it has not been easy, I think we are very like Robbie and his father in the books today. Growing up without knowing whom your father is, does give you a strong inner sense of independence, but there is always something lacking. We don’t always agree on things, but I think we are as close now as could be.”

“Is it true it was his love of book one that convinced you to publish?”

“Very much so. I never expected him to like it to be honest, there are parts of the story that are just pure fantasy, and my dad is a very grounded person. I am not sure to be honest why I thought he wouldn’t enjoy it; it was a massive boost and a nice surprise when he did. It is true I had no intention of publishing it; writing was just my way of expressing the creativity that builds inside me, it was my dad who convinced me to try and get it published. He really has played a massive role in supporting me through this, I think he certainly has a lot of Lox in him.”

One of the main characters from book one is of course Billy, who plays a very devious and dirty role behind the scenes, at the mention of his name it obvious from Robin’s partner he is not a popular character. “What made you write the role of Billy as the villain? He really is quite devious in this book, where does that come from?” 

Robins gives a hearty laugh. “I love writing Billy, he is such a wonderful and rich character. It’s so easy to hate him, yet there is so much more to him than first meets the eye. Billy comes from a lot of places; there have been one or two people who have passed through my life who are very like him. I think people are too hard on him, but it’s been interesting to listen to those who have read the books and absolutely hate him with a passion. I don’t think this book will help endear him to the readers much more, but like everything with HTTK he has his place, and of course his own destiny to fulfil.”

It is true that I have not spoken to a single reader who shares any sympathy at all towards the ex brother of our hero Robbie, yet listening to Robin talk, I have to admit I am a little intrigued. Book two in the series of Heirs to the Kingdom does without doubt grip you hard and leave you with many unanswered questions, so the most obvious question to ask at this point would be about the third in the series. “The Lost Sword of Carnac has been out now for almost two months, it was released just six months after the first book, does that mean we have only four months to go until the next book?”

“I am not sure at the moment, I do want to keep the momentum going with the series, but I have a lot planned for the start of this year, so I will sit back and watch what happens with Carnac. There is no doubt it will be released next year (2010) Its just that no specific date has been set for it, the manuscript is pretty much done, I just want to have another read through and see if it needs a little tweak before I put it through its final proof read. Once I am 100% with it I will look at the calendar and make a decision.”

“Can I ask what you have in store for us all with book three?”

He gives a happy chuckle. “You can ask, although it will not get you very far. (More chuckles) as the web site states ‘beware the darkness’ book three will take you all in another direction, and it is a slightly darker book than the first two, I think it will surprise and delight the readers, and as with all the books, it will increase the depth of the story and show more insight into each of the characters. It will be out as soon as I think its right.”

Once again Robin plays his cards close to his chest, yet it’s been a very interesting and enlightening day out in the snow. Again I have far more notes than this space allows, but its been nice to see Robin so relaxed and sharing a little more of the man behind the books. Since he began writing this series back in early 2007, he has not stopped, and I am sure we still have the very best of this story to come. I am encouraged by his remarks of increasing the depth, and I am looking forward to the third part of his beautifully depicted story at some point in this coming year. The adventure will continue, and I am sure I will have more opportunities to write about HTTK and its author in the future for VCP, until then I will sit back and give the books another reading, and try to work out more of what I think future books will hold. Heirs to the kingdom part three entitled, The Darkness of Dunnottar will be with us at some point, so cross your fingers and hope its sooner rather than later. If you have not had a chance to read these books, then you have the time to catch up with the rest of us, for now I say a hearty thanks to VCP for the invite to write here, and to Robin, who I know hates interviews, for such a pleasant afternoon in the snow with his family.