I’m pleased to be joined by author of His American Classic (and Her American Classic), GJ Morgan. He’s sharing a really enjoyable #TenThings today. Be careful if you ever meet him – he may steal from you!
Ten things about me.
I am a fully qualified Chef
When I was around fifteen my parents divorced and I lived with my dad for about a year. I quickly realised he couldn’t cook, so I had to learn quick. Taught myself from Ready Steady Cook and whatever other cook books I could find. By the time I left school rather than be the journalist I’d planned on being, I decided I loved cooking more and got a job as a Chef in a hotel.
I studied Fashion
Turned out being a Chef wasn’t for me (I literally never saw daylight). So, I looked towards another passion which was Fashion. For the next two years I studied Fashion Design at College and actually was about to do a degree in London, when I met my now wife. I knew straight away that the only reason I was going to London was to buy clothes, get into extreme debt and meet girls, or should I say “the” girl.
So, my wife’s gain was the Fashion worlds loss. Ha!
I failed at writing my first novel
The first time I attempted writing when I was in my late teens, just after my parents divorced (my way of dealing with it I suppose). A few years later I attempted a novel, a two year project, but it was too big in scope, a family saga, epic in size and scale. I eventually realized it was bigger than my capabilities. I’d hit a low, wasted hours and years. I had been defeated.
Though failing needed to happen. I was trying to be all my favourite authors all in one God awful book. I realized very quickly that I was not as good as my favourite authors and couldn’t write like them and probably never would. And though initially devastated that soon turned to relief. Meant I could start writing like me, or at least try and figure out what me might sound like.
I decided to go back to basics, wrote tiny stories, threw my thesaurus away, stopped plotting future plot twists and instead simply focused on one character with one problem in one room. Cut out all the clever and just wrote words on a page.
Then in 2009 I went on my honeymoon. Two things happened (one a gift and one tragic) and an idea for a novel was born. I was ready. A failed novel in one hand and a fistful of new confidence in the other. What could possibly go wrong?
The inspiration for my current novel was Michael Jackson and a consummation
Me and my wife got married on 20th June 2009 and about half way through the honeymoon we found ourselves in a basic but beautiful little island on Fiji, where the bungalows overlooked the Pacific and the residents looked after the food and entertainment. One night after a standard supper of card games and sunsets we both found ourselves the next morning with dodgy tummies which we initially blamed on tinned lamb tongues and bad wine. However, whilst my discomfort lasted an hour on the toilet, my wife’s stomach ache lasted a lot longer. Later my wife returned from the bathroom and held out a pregnancy stick and a nervous smile on her face. I was going to be a father.
If I’m being honest despite being overjoyed, it kind of tarnished the rest of the honeymoon. My wife’s stomach aches and nausea did not subside and in fact worsened very quickly (we later found out she suffers from Hyperemesis Gravidarum- basically means being sick for the whole pregnancy). Being so remote and far away felt a vulnerable situation, we had no internet, no doctors and two flights across the world still to go. In truth home was the only thing on our minds and not being there felt a risk to both my wife and unborn child.
In LA, a few days before the end of our trip, despite my wife feeling awful we decided to make the best of a bad situation and went on a Hollywood celebrity tour. The tour guide was brilliant, showed us the sights you’d expect, but showed us much more, jokes and little facts that felt just for us.
But there were two things we did that day that stuck with me, the first was just a throw a comment from our guide, something about how if you hang about in the right parks or restaurants and if you do your homework you can actually meet a celebrity quite easy, get a photo, get an autograph, get to touch them even. And the second was Michael Jackson’s house.
Michael Jackson died on June 25th, so when our guide took us to his mansion, it was already filled with flowers and memorials and fans paying their respects, not to mention news trucks and the media. It was chaos and it was sad and as we took photos I felt both happy to capture it (being a big fan), but angry at myself for being part of the intrusion.
Later that evening, my wife went to bed early and I wrote the prologue to “His American Classic” on hotel paper (which I still have somewhere). There was no research, not even an idea as such. Just things fizzing in my head, celebrity, fame, invasion of privacy, fatherhood, my pregnant wife. Thought it was a story worth telling, though it was a story that stayed in a pile of other stories for several years. Till a house move and a kick up the arse later I finally dug it out and gave it a go.
I suppose you could say ideas just come up based on circumstance and situation. I don’t really go looking for them and don’t freak out when they don’t.
I don’t enjoy writing.
My wife asked me once why I write. I said it is like having to go to work, but you don’t get paid, and you don’t have to actually even go at all, and you mostly don’t enjoy it when you do go. But you still show up every day and moan when you are denied overtime. It is so much easier not to write. And that’s the difference between talking about writing and actually writing.
If I meet you. Chances are I will steal things you say or do
I tend to be influenced by people or situations more than authors themselves. A throwaway comment someone might make, an argument, something I notice when I walk home from work. I don’t read much these days, though I keep buying books. Ones I will probably never read but feel I need to own.
My novel will make you cry and sign and laugh and cry again. But not in that order.
The two novels I have just released are in the romance genre which is something I never thought I’d write. In a strange way the genre chose me you could say, had an idea and went with it.
When I knew I was going to write a novel in the romance genre I tried to think of all the famous romance movies and novels like Dirty Dancing, Lolita, The Notebook, Me before you, Sixteen Candles, Notting Hill. I looked at what made them so popular and why they left such a lasting legacy. I knew I would have to fill people’s hearts and then break them and then fill it with hope and either break it again or let it overspill.
From the reviews I’ve read on amazon it seems to have worked. The 5-star ratings, the way readers describe their reading journey. I wanted people to feel something and feel it long after the novel had finished. I wanted it to be new but most importantly I wanted it to be familiar, even though you’ll not be able to put your finger on what it reminds you of.
I wrote a short film and a TV series.
When my wife was pregnant I was between novels and just wanted to write something short and sweet to keep my brain ticking over, so I wrote a few monologue pieces when she went to bed early. One of them being “Mrs B Tee”, the story of a woman whose husband dies and her life becomes her phone (ringing family/ringing call centres/ringing anyone). Looking at how people deal with grief in many ways, some crying, some finding a way to smile. Years later I entered it in a competition an although it didn’t win someone from the BBC liked it and managed to get funding to make it into a short piece.
Since then it has been shot and edited and is close to being sent out for film festivals and eventually the big wide world.
The TV series – After I sent my novels to my publishers to be copy edited and fiddled with I fancied writing something the complete opposite. A kinda gritty manly TV series with swear words and boobs, like my brain and body needed a change of pace and a different volume. Like I’d overdosed on chick flicks and needed some Jason Statham.
My novel would probably a better film than it is a book.
Everyone whose read it keeps telling me it feels like a movie. And to be honest I already have both the full cast list and soundtrack mapped out for the film adaptation, even the Director (I’m not even joking).
However, as much as I want to I don’t want to tell you them. This isn’t me being cruel, but I decided with the characters in my novels not to over describe them physically, so really the characters you read could be blonde or bald or brunette. How you decide to view them is down to you. One of my friends who read the first draft asked me if one of the characters was black. I asked her why and she said that was how she envisaged them in her head. I neither confirmed or denied, which led to me being given two fingers and a dead arm.
What do you guys think? Do you like to be told a character’s physicality or do you like it being your choice?
My next novel will be short and different than what came before.
I’ve never been quite sure how some authors only write horror, or some only YA. I imagine if they get bored or run out of ideas, or whether or not it’s fear that publishers won’t like it, or their fan base will desert them.
Do you think authors should stay in one genre?
Is Stephen King better writing Shawshank Redemption than Salem’s Lot?
What if E. L James wrote a children’s book about a red room?
Please read my book. You will love it. Read the reviews. Trust me. They are really good!
Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour. His American Classic is available now and you can order a copy online here: His American Classic
From the back of the book
Told from dual perspectives that span two books, this moving and emotionally-driven love story will leave readers breathless and reeling in equal measure.
It begins. Lilly Goodridge always wanted to be an actress, but fame is an unwanted side effect she’s desperate to escape – along with the City of Angels and her enigmatic boyfriend. So she takes a tiny film role across the pond in a quiet seaside town where nobody can find her. Except for Tom. Down on his luck, Tom might not be the greatest tour guide of Hollywood Hills, but he loves living in America, even if America doesn’t quite love him back. With no choice, he takes on a job he never wanted: in search of an actress he doesn’t know, but knows he has to catch.
Follow the rest of the tour