Interview with Lou Morgan!

We're getting closer and closer to the launch of the MAGIC anthology, which is now tomorrow at Foyles, Charing Cross Road! For more details of the launch click HERE. And so I am back today with another of the fabulous contributors to the MAGIC anthology, asking about their influences, inspirations and what they would do if they had the ability to cast one spell...

Here we interview Louise Morgan, writer of the story BOTTOM LINEin the MAGIC anthology:

1] What was the idea that inspired you to write this story?
Bottom Line came from a few places. There used to be the most extraordinary magic shop near my house, which had an enormous head over its shop front: a ventriloquist's dummy, big enough to take up a sizable portion of wall. It also had wonderful window displays (like the one they had last Easter, which was a blood-smeared window and a were-bunny mauling a mannequin of a small boy, surrounded by smashed Easter eggs…) and I'd always wanted to use it somewhere.
At the same time, I wanted to write a story about addiction: about regret, and about a man's relationship with redemption. When Solaris approached me about contributing to 'Magic', someone quite close to me was actually in rehab, and the concept of magic as an addiction seemed like a natural fit - after all, magic is power, and power is addictive. The title is a nod to what's known as "inner circle" or "bottom line" behaviour - an act which, once engaged in, leads to loss of control over an addiction.

2] What do you think about the short story form in general?

I like short stories, both as a writer and as a reader. From a reader's point of view, a short story is like a holiday: a novel can transport you to another world, but a short story gives you just enough time to go for a walk on the beach and maybe take a couple of photos. It's a snapshot of other places, other lives.
As a writer, the thing I love about short stories is the challenge. I'm not exactly known for my brevity, so having to make every single word earn its place is rewarding. I like the process of really looking at a single concept in detail and building a world around it - just because you're talking about a few thousand words instead of a hundred thousand, it doesn't mean the world the story inhabits should feel any less real. You just have to be a bit tougher on yourself when it comes to communicating it!

3] What does your writing process involve?

It varies a bit, because I'm infuriatingly inconsistent. Mostly it involves a lot of swearing, because I write on a slightly creaky Macbook which is hopelessly out of date and on which everything crashes all the time. I'm not even kidding. The greater part of my day is spent telling it to pull itself together. Of course, the sane thing to do would be to take it and get it updated and / or fixed, but that would require a level of organisation on my part that I just don't have. (Also, I'm a little scared of what they'll tell me. It's a bit like my attitude to the dentist, really.)
More often than not, however, it means sketching out a rough idea of the story in a notebook and spending a week or two turning it over in the back of my head, fleshing it out. It can be a lot longer, or it can be pretty solid in a day or so… it depends on the story. Then it's just a case of sitting down and writing it, instead of staring out of the window or making endless cups of tea. Although I do that too…

4] When it comes to writing, who are your biggest literary influences?

One of the most important - particularly when it comes to short stories - is Michael Marshall Smith. He was one of the first authors to kick start my interest in genre, and his short stories are outstanding. As an author, he has an incredible voice which is present in all his work but which never overwhelms the characters or the story he's telling. Neil Gaiman has also had a fair amount of influence on my writing… along with almost anyone I've ever read, I suspect! And while he's not technically a "literary" influence, I can't imagine a version of my adolescence where Joss Whedon doesn't deserve a hat-tip.

5] Are you reading anything at the moment and if so, what?

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. It's been sitting on my bookshelf, staring at me, for a couple of years now and although I've wanted to read it for ages, something always seems to get in the way. When she won the Booker for the sequel, I thought might as well just get on with it - and I'm so glad I did. It's absolutely glorious, and the writing's extraordinary.

6] Why were you attracted to contributing to the ‘Magic’ anthology?

There were a couple of reasons: first and foremost for me was being able to work with Jonathan Oliver and Solaris again - I learned so much working on my novel Blood and Feathers with Jon, and really enjoyed the whole process, so why not? Secondly, I've read both the End of the Line and House of Fear anthologies and loved them… except for that time I was reading one of the creepier stories from End of the Line on the train home one night. In a carriage on my own. And then the lights went out. Didn't like that bit so much, but I'm digressing…
If I needed any reassurance, that came when I heard who else was involved. Audrey Niffenegger… Rob Shearman… Will Hill… to name but a few. You don't turn down the chance to be in the same book as some of your favourite authors, do you? 

7] What are your upcoming projects after ‘Magic?’

At the moment, I'm working on the follow-up to Blood and Feathers, Rebellion, which will be out in summer 2013. There's also a couple of other bits and pieces in the background, as well as another story or two, but with annoying predictability I can't actually say much about them yet, so they'll have to stay in the box. Which I may or may not be sawing in two later.

8] If you had the ability to cast one spell, what spell would it be?

I think I'd hope to hang onto it until I really, really needed it. All magic comes with a price; everything has to be paid for eventually. I'd want to be sure that whatever it was, it was worth the sacrifice. 

Lou Morgan is a short story writer and novelist. Her first full length novel, Blood and Feathers, was published in 2012 by Solaris. Louise currently lives in Brighton

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