We chat to the beautiful Rachel Morgan, who proves to us you can be a writer in South Africa.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Or did life step in and change your plans?
I always planned to write something, but I didn't plan for 'writer' to be my job title. I thought writing books was something one did in one's spare time or while off work raising children or when retired! But while doing my masters in Biochemistry, I started to realise that scientific research wasn't for me and that I wanted to write and be published NOW, not in the distant future!
What was the first book that you wrote?
My first book I completed was an other-world YA fantasy where magic and angels and demons (spelled deemons because ... why not?!) exist. A girl wakes up in the middle of nowhere with no memory of who she is or how she got there, aaaaand ... lots of stuff happens after that! Only one other person has read that book so far. I haven't been back to it since finishing it and moving on to Creepy Hollow!
Out of all your books that you've written which has been the most well-received?
Um ... geez, I'm not sure. I think they've all been received similarly well! It's easier to compare series than individual books. My fantasy series definitely has a MUCH larger following than my romance series, so there are generally quite a lot of people who are excited when a new Creepy Hollow book comes out.
Out of all your books, which one did you enjoy writing the most?
I think perhaps The Faerie Prince. There was a lot of character interaction and relationship development that I really enjoyed writing in that one. But every other book has parts that become favourites while I'm writing them, so this is hard to answer!
Do you have a specific place to write?
I have this weird thing about lighting. It has to be just right! Warm and comforting, not too glarey and bright. So I move around the house following the light, from my study to the dining room table, to the couch, and sometimes to the bed (where I try to remain awake!). Of course, if it's pouring with rain and really dark and grey, that's even better than perfect light. When I get tired of my home, I move to a coffee shop. And again, it has to be a coffee shop with the right 'mood' or 'vibe.' I have a few favourites!
What's your cure for writer's block?
I don't think I've ever experienced true writer's block. More like I reach a point where I have several vague ideas of how to get my story where it needs to go, but nothing clear. After mentally beating myself up for being able to figure things out (which isn't helpful!), I take a break and read something totally different from what I'm working on, or watch a TV series or a movie, or go for a walk. My story problems generally figure themselves out in the background.
Your favourite books?
Oh, so many! Where shall I start? The Harry Potter series, the His Dark Materials series, the Throne of Glass series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Anna and the French Kiss, the Lunar Chronicles ..
You can have dinner with four authors or literary characters, who do you choose?
You know this is impossible to answer, right? Hmm. Sarah J. Maas, J.K. Rowling, Laini Taylor and Cassandra Clare. I think. Ooh, wait, Philip Pullman! Can I have five?! Okay, in all seriousness, if this is a dinner in which I actually interact with people and eat food (instead of sitting in awed and intimidated silence), then there are a bunch of super-awesome indie author role models I'd love to meet if I ever travel to the right parts of the world. Plus the amazing South African authors I chat to online but haven't had the pleasure of meeting in real life yet.
When you're not writing, what are you doing?
All the other stuff that goes into running a self-publishing business! Organizing promo, checking the status of various ads, answering emails, organizing newsletter subscribers, designing book covers and promotional graphics, updating meta data on already-published books, packing parcels to send to readers, etc. (Sometimes I am also sleeping, eating, or reading!)
What does a typical day look like for you?
I'm not a morning exerciser, so my days do NOT start with exercise! I try to start most days with some Bible reading and talking to God. After breakfast, I try to "briefly" check any emails or social media notifications from during the night (i.e. from everyone in the U.S.) that need attention. Then I move to actual writing. Depending on how close I am to a deadline, writing can either take up the entire day (and most of the night) or be interspersed with social media checking (not productive, I know). Afternoons are when most of the stuff mentioned in the previous question happen.