Interview with S.J. Morgan

Author Photo supplied by the wonderful S.J. Morgan herself ☺️

Hey Readers,

I hope you’ve been keeping safe and well! I’m so, so excited to be bringing you all an interview with the lovely S.J. Morgan, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a wonderful book event at Dymocks Adelaide last year (Mid Week Mini Fest) ☺️ It was here where I first heard about Sue Morgan and was completely captivated by the sound of her #LoveOzYA debut, Heaven Sent – you can (and definitely should 😉 add it to your Goodreads TBR here:

And I’m completely excited to read her Thriller Hide – which you can add to your Goodreads TBR here:

And you can find my review of Heaven Sent here:

I’m completely thankful and grateful to the lovely Sue for taking the time to answer some questions, so I hope you have fun reading her answers! ☺️

1. If I may begin by asking about your early years as a reader? I understand that you grew up in Portsmouth, UK (which I’m sure would’ve been fascinating ☺️) do you have vivid, early recollections about being introduced to the love of the written word? What were some of your favourite and most adored books as a child?

S.J. Morgan: We didn’t have a huge amount of books at home when I was little but, from a very young age, I was taken to the library each week, and I still remember the excitement of bringing back a haul of books. Some of my favourites as a child were the Narnia books, My Naughty Little Sister series and Stig of the Dump. But overall favourite was probably Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden. It was set in a small mining village in Wales and I loved it a) because it reminded me of where my grandparents lived, b) because it was full of drama and mysterious family secrets and c) because of the great character names like Mrs Gotobed, Hepzibah Green and Arthur Sandwich.”

2. Congratulations on Hide being longlisted for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Best Novel Awards! So exciting ☺️🥂 – Hide is described as ‘a dark, unsettling journey’ and I can’t wait to read it! It takes readers across Wales and the Australian Outback, can you tell me about the inspiration for the dual setting?

S.J. Morgan: “Thank you for the congratulations – it’s a real (and unexpected) honour to be included in that list. As to the dual setting of Hide, I guess I just drew on my own experiences. The grungy flat that features in Hide was inspired by the horrible, damp and dingey flat I lived in as a student in Swansea. I wanted the main character to live somewhere ordinary, almost small-town and to then be thrust somewhere that was very different and very alien to him. Outback Australia seemed to fit the bill. When I first arrived in Australia, the whole country was new to me. The outback seemed so vast and so empty – I hadn’t been anywhere like it before and I guess it had that sense of ‘otherness’ for me. I loved that weird mix of barren beauty and potential danger in the outback. And it seemed the perfect setting for Hide.”

3. Heaven Sent is a completely refreshing, addictive and unique Young Adult novel, following sixteen year old Evie who is living with her Mother and her Mother’s deadbeat boyfriend, as well as Evie grappling with her Scoliosis. Her life seems dreary until Gabe quite literally comes crashing into her life! I can quite confidently and happily say I haven’t read anything like this beauty before, so what I’d like to know is…what inspired you to write Heaven Sent?

S.J. Morgan: Aw, thank you for the kind words about Heaven Sent. I loved writing it. Like most of my stories, I don’t usually know where it’s going when I begin. I usually have the first scene in my head – perhaps a rough idea what might happen next, but after that, I don’t know. So for Heaven Sent, the opening scene and the two main characters were clear to me, but nothing else. In fact, the car crashing through the wall was inspired by my aunt who had this happen to her not once, but twice! And I guess it got me thinking about ‘divine intervention’ and wondering: ‘what if it was meant to happen? What if the people involved were thrown together by destiny?’ I guess that’s where Gabe and Evie came into my head.”

4. What was the founding moment or realisation for you that carried your want/need to write? Was writing something you’d always wanted to do? I read that you trained as an Occupational Therapist, but had you always had a thirst for crafting stories?

S.J. Morgan: “Yes, reading and writing have always been a big part of my life. At school, I adored English (I’d happily do grammar exercises for pleasure!) and I loved writing stories. I still remember the sense of pride I got if the teacher read my story out to the class – I loved knowing that people were imagining things in their heads because of the words I’d written. So, I think the seed was planted then. But I’d never considered doing more than dabbling until after I had children. Then, when I was considering returning to work, I had that moment of ‘but what would I REALLY like to do – more than anything else?’ – and when it was put like that, writing seemed obvious.”

5. Whilst Heaven Sent is a Young Adult novel, Hide is a Thriller. Tell me, do you enjoy reading across multiple genres? Do you find reading different genres helps your own writing? In turn, do you have a go to comfort genre? Or genres that you’ll generally always default to?

S.J. Morgan: “Yes, I love both reading and writing in different genres. I can’t imagine writing (or reading) in one form and sticking to it, but I don’t especially set out to ‘write a YA book’ or ‘write a thriller’. Basically, a plot idea or a specific character comes into my head, and the genre chooses itself. As to my ‘comfort genre’ for reading, that’s a really interesting question. I think it’d be (loosely called) women’s fiction (when WILL they come up with a better name?!!) because that tends to encompass character-driven themes; usually some romance; often intrigue or moral dilemmas and plenty of dry humour. I really enjoy Liane Moriarty and Anne Tyler – those would be my comfort reads and it’s also they type of thing I enjoy writing. It’s a genre that’s brought me no publishing success, however! My women’s fiction novels remain in my bottom drawer. I also love reading and writing short stories. I think writing short stories really helped me with my writing overall. Being able to create good short stories is quite an art and I think it’s a great way to improve your writing skills without having to invest the time and commitment required for a whole novel.”

6. It always interests me to know what Authors have been reading lately so can you tell me about some of your recent reads? Have there been any amazing books that you’ve read and enjoyed lately? What are you excited to pick up?

S.J. Morgan:Ooh, yes. I’ve read lots of great books lately. I read Robert Lukins’ latest book (Everlasting Sunday) recently and adored the writing in that. I’ve just finished Vikki Wakefield’s YA book which I also enjoyed. Before that, I read David Nicholls Sweet Sorrow – his writing style is so fresh and so funny. I’ve just finished the latest Anne Tyler which I thoroughly enjoyed and now I’m reading Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again and loving it.”

7. I’d love to know what’s next for the world of S.J. Morgan? Can you give us a little tease as to what may be coming next from you? 😉 In turn, I’d love to know what a day in the life of you is like? Do you have a routine for when you’re writing?

S.J. Morgan: Haha – a day in the life of me at the moment has no routine and is worryingly unproductive. This year, I’ve had lots of family stuff to deal with plus, of course, the pandemic. It seems that the pandemic has affected lots of people in different ways and, for me, although there should have been more time for writing, it felt as if the world tilted slightly and I’ve been left off-balance, waiting for normal service to be resumed.

However, in normal circumstances, routine is very much my friend. I need routine to get things done. My old routine was to scoot the family out of the house as early as possible, take my notebook to a local café and work for an hour. I’d usually write a scene or two then, back at home, I’d transfer the scene to my laptop and (on a good day) I’d spend hours tapping at the keyboard – generally forgetting to eat or drink and not looking up until I’d realise there was nothing in the house for dinner and I’d have to go shopping.

Once I find my feet again, I’m looking forward to getting back to that routine. I have a YA script that I desperately want to finish. I’ve written ¾ of it but it’s quite rough and I’ve been ‘stuck’ for ages, not quite knowing how to finish it. But that’s my current plan.

I also loved writing Hide, and I’m thinking of doing something else in that genre, but I’m not a good juggler and I work best concentrating on one thing at a time. So, YA first then thriller … with maybe a bit of comforting women’s fiction or a short story in between. Variety is definitely the spice of the writing life for me 😉

Thanks so much for the interesting questions, Brooklyn, and for inviting me to chat with you on your blog.”


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