Saturday, December 12, 2009

Guest Post: Angela Morrison - Author Week (5)

So again, I have Angela Morrison who was really nice to do a guest post for her author week! This is my first ever guest post so I hope you guys like it! Thanks Angela for doing this!

TUBL: For the guest post, can you write about why you wrote SING and STORM? And how you develop such amazing characters?

Hi, Everybody! I first have to thank Reggie for hosting me all week. Great job. I had a lot of fun. She asked me to post about what inspired my novels and how I develop characters. Excellent combination. The two go hand in hand.

I wrote TAKEN BY STORM because Michael wouldn’t leave me alone. My husband and I were diving in Cozumel when I heard about a real hurricane that hit a real dive boat down in Belize. In fact, the edge of that storm was raining on us. The story haunted me. All those divers lost. I followed it on the internet and read the memorial on the club’s website.

And then the questions started. What if the only survivor of a similar fictional accident was a high school guy? What if his parents drowned? Where would he go? What if I sent him to live with his Grandmother who could live in my own grandmother’s tiny house in the tiny town I grew up in. What if he went to my high school? What if he met the only Mormon girl in town?

I introduced this devastated boy to Leesie and then they both haunted me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with their chats unrolling across a page in my mind. I’d roll out of bed and tiptoe into my study and scribble it down as fast as I could.

Michael’s voice emerged from my pen during a freewrite. He changed as I revised, but he always sounded the same to me.

I almost wrecked Leesie. At first, I loaded her up with way too much me. I stuffed all my worst high school experiences into the first five chapters. It was awful. I was working with Ron Koertge, and he told me an editor would want to fling it across the room. Leesie was always crying. In high school, it was my rule to never let a tear slip if somebody could see me. I think I was letting all that pent up emotion out. But poor Leesie. I started changing her—gave her long hair, my sister’s mad driving skills, and a retro fringe leather jacket like one of my sons friends wore. Cut lots. Rewrote. I never got her voice right, though, until I let her speak through her poetry.

SING ME TO SLEEP was born of desperation. When Razorbill decided they wanted a stand-alone novel for my second book instead of the sequel I'd planned for TAKEN BY STORM, I went through my idea files and brainstormed.

My daughter sang with the Junior Amabile Singers when we lived in London, Ontario, and I always wanted to write a book in that world, but I didn't have a story. A recent tragedy that happened in their boys choir and showed the depth of love and strength in that lovely family of singers inspired me to put together a plot outline and pitch it to Lexa.

We kicked the outline back and forth. She insisted Beth needed a boy back home (genius!), wanted lyrics woven through the story, and convinced her boss that the novel would work. And I started writing.

Of course, as Beth, Derek, and Scott emerged as characters the storyline changed a lot. It always does. That's the part I love the most about writing--the discovery as you put your characters into scenes and listen.

That’s my secret for stories and characters. You have to listen. And scribble fast when you’re half asleep. Then work you guts out revising it until it shines.

This fall I finished writing TAKEN BY STORM’s sequel—UNBROKEN CONNECTION. Penguin is considering it now. I don’t know if they’ll publish it, but I do know I had to write it. Michael and Leesie were talking again. They’ve been waiting a long time for me to finish their story. They are actually a bit ticked at me because I’m working on PR for SING instead of their third novel, CAYMAN SUMMER. As soon as we finish SING’s trailer, I’ll be scribbling again.

OMG! I can't believe she's already onto the third novel of the Taken By Storm series!!! And I know how it feels to write when I'm half asleep *ahem, my geography essay, ahem* =)

Peace, Love, and Books,
my signature


Unknown December 12, 2009 at 11:38 PM  

Hi :)
Thank you very much for the great interview with Angela Morrison and thank you to Angela for sharing. I enjoyed learning more about her and her writing. The series sounds like great reads and are on my ToBeRead list.
Happy Holidays,
PS - Is Angela Morrison on Twitter?

Stephanie December 13, 2009 at 2:55 AM  

I loved what she said about spoiling the early draft of a book by loading the character with too much of herself -- packing all her worst high school experiences into the 1st 5 chapters. I've made similar mistakes! :-)

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