Author Morwenna Blackwood avers she doesn’t recall ever starting to write. ‘It’s just something I have always done,’ she begins, speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction. She goes on to state matter-of-factly that the first proper story she wrote was about a frog. ‘And that was when I was six years old,’ she tells us with a smile.
A ‘Write’ Course, the Right Course
While Ms Blackwood, who dwells in Devon, the United Kingdom, self-published a novel under a different name, she didn’t have a clue how to do it professionally or successfully, let alone how to market it. ‘I’ve since taken it off the internet! Then I found out about a course a local author friend of mine runs, called A Novel In a Year. It takes you through the entire process of writing and getting published, and it works – The (D)Evolution of Us is proof,’ she explains, telling us she got the book professionally edited and then began submitting it to publishers and agents. ‘I got a few offers and decided to go with Darkstroke. They’ve been great! I’ve since written a second novel, Glasshouse, and am about to send it to my editor; novel number three is currently filling a notebook,’ she shares with us.
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Flying by the Seat of Pants
On being asked if she considers herself a pantser or plotter, the forty-year-old, who holds a degree in English from the University of Manchester and a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter, says she is a bit of both. ‘It tends to begin with a phrase that pops into my head, and I wonder who said it and why,’ she tells us, adding, ‘I sketch out a basic plot from there. This plot morphs in the first draft and changes again in the process of self-editing; once I get to know the characters, they do things of their own volition,’ she shares.
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‘My All-Time Favourite is Dracula’
On being asked if there are authors she derives inspiration from, Ms Blackwood says she likes reading author Jack Kerouac because his novels fill her with a bittersweet sense of freedom. ‘I read Edgar Allan Poe for the darkness and weirdness, which resonates with me, and Dan Brown because he weaves thrillers through history. And I always learn something new,’ she explains, adding that she likes to read Clare Mackintosh for page-turning twists and John Updike for sheer observation of the human condition. ‘But my favourite novel of all time is Dracula,’ she declares. ‘I love the description of locations, and the way the story is told as a kind of collage; the main thing about it for me, though, is that it is so chilling I have to carry garlic around with me every time I read it!’ she laughs.
A Writer by Choice
As the conversation assumes momentum, Ms Blackwood lets us know that dawn and dusk are her preferred times to write. ‘I also carry a notebook and pen with me wherever I go because when an idea comes, I have to get it down,’ she explains, clarifying, nonetheless, that because she has got a job and a young child, she tends to write ‘whenever and wherever’ she gets the chance.
Be that as it may, was becoming an author a conscious decision she made? ‘For many years I had thought that at some point I would just magically become a writer. Now I know that if you want to be successful, you have to work at it and prioritise it, so that is what I am doing. All the clichés – life is short, you only live once, follow your dreams – they’re clichés for a reason,’ she says, adding that she would never be happy if she failed to try. ‘ So, yes, becoming a writer is a conscious decision,’ she pronounces.
‘I Consider Myself Very Lucky’
Upon getting to know she has got a young child, we ask her how she manages to juggle a full-time job, writing and doing household chores. To that, Ms Blackwood, who hankers for a doctorate and hopes to obtain it in the future, says, ‘The whole of life is a juggling act, isn’t it?’ She then goes on to add, ‘ My little boy is not quite school age, and I work with cats for an animal rescue charity too; I am busy, but I love it and my writing, so I consider myself very lucky! I am happiest by the sea – just walking along, or swimming,’ she shares with us.
Letting on that The (D)Evolution of Us is only the first book in a planned series, the author says she is almost ready to send book two entitled ‘Glasshouse’ for its professional edit and that book three is taking shape. ‘The novels run alongside one another, and the minor characters in one become the protagonists of the next. They stand alone as novels but do shed light on each other. I’d love to be able to write full-time, and I’m working on making that happen,’ she tells us.
‘Never Underestimate the Importance of Editing’
When asked if she has something to tell budding writers who lose motivation if their works don’t do well, Ms Blackwell quotes late Bohemian novelist Franz Kafka: ‘A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity’.
‘And I agree!’ she exclaims, adding, ‘There’s so much to say, but do your research regarding marketing, whichever publication route you choose. And never underestimate the importance of editing! If you can, get your manuscript professionally edited. Most importantly, get involved with your local writers’ group – as well as making new friends with people who understand what it is to be a writer. It’s a source of support, information, and inspiration. It’s the best thing I ever did!’
And is there anything that she would want to change in the world? ‘Wow. That’s a big question!’ exclaims Ms Blackwood, whose life, we learn, is all up in the air with the Covid situation right now. ‘ I’d like humanity to find balance and respect – for each other despite differences, and with nature and the planet, we all inhabit. In addition, I think it’s tragic that so many of us feel pressured that we should have achieved this, that or the other by a certain age; that we’re ugly, or too fat or too thin; that we’re not good enough; that our life is a disaster; that we’re alone and have no agency. I don’t have the answers to any of this – that’s partly why I write!’ she explains, signing off with a beatific smile.
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