I was really impressed by self-published author David Morgan's paranormal YA book, The Boo Hag. When he offered to do an interview for the blog, I jumped at the opportunity.
1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
I see people who like a fun, maybe a little creepy, paranormal story, people who love to root for a strong female protagonist, and people who enjoy a nice love story—whether it be the love between friends or the romantic kind.
2. I was thrilled when you asked me to read a paranormal which DOESN'T include vampires, werewolves, fairies, or zombies, all of which are getting a bit too common for my liking. Can you remember when you first heard of the boo hag? What made you decide to write about one?
I had a dream, a vision really, of a skinless woman floating over me inhaling my breath. I woke up in a cold sweat and…no, that’s not true. I actually found out about boo hags on Wikipedia. A little less glamorous. I actually wish it were the first answer. But the truth is I had thought of Lenny years ago, and even Brian, but I hadn’t gotten the right story for them. Originally, they were going to be part of some kind of teenage government trio that did paranormal investigations at their high school, but I never could get it to start the way I wanted it to. I also had a separate idea for a story about a crazy villain I heard about in a British Lit class in college. I took the characters of Lenny and Brian and added them to the other story idea, and I came up with what we have now. Sort of. I knew that Lenny was going to be a target, but I also knew I wanted to write a trilogy, so I had to find a bad guy to kick the whole story off. Once I stumbled across the ol’ boo hag on Wikipedia, I knew I had my first antihero.
3. On a similar note, are there any creatures you'd like to see more of in YA books today?
I’d actually like all other writers to vacate the idea of writing any kind of paranormal book whatsoever. Then I’ll come in and fill that void. Just kidding. I don’t know that there is any creature that should come out and be the, you know, new vampire or something like that. It’s all about keeping things fresh. If you want to write about werewolves, write about werewolves, just bring something new to the table. I can tell you this, though, if it’s new unique baddies you want, stick with me. In Lenny’s story alone, I have a couple more coming that are uncommon to say the least.
Can't wait! And I'm trying to see if I can guess what they'll be, but I'll avoid doing so for now...
4. What advice would you give to authors just starting out?
I don’t know what better advice I could give to a new writer, since I am one myself, than something I wrote on my own blog (writerunsolicited.blogspot.com) recently about not getting down. I’m gonna copy what I wrote over here for my response.
It is hard to make it as a writer. And there are times when I feel a little bit defeated. Like the odds are against me. It’s hard to sell books when you’re buried in 300,000th place on amazon’s bestseller list. It’s not exactly easy when somebody tells you they didn’t love your story. It is less than fun when the bestseller you are in your head is confronted with the worstseller you are in reality. But, when it gets tough, I remember that I chose this for myself. I remember how great it is when somebody loves my writing and let’s me know. I remember that one copy sold is more than no copies sold. And I remember what my boy Jacob from the tv show Lost, incidentally the best tv show ever, said. Anything that happens before is progress. All this is progress, and the struggle will make the end worth it all the more.
Have a goal in mind, and then work tirelessly until you get there. Then once you’re there, work even harder. And enjoy the ride.
Great advice, thanks!
5. What made you decide to self-publish your novel?
This was definitely not a decision that I came to lightly. There is a certain bias out in the world against self-publishing. I know because I had that same feeling for a long time. But not long after I finished writing The Boo Hag, while I was submitting queries to agents, I started researching self-publishing a little more. The truth is, the world is changing. Yes, it helps to have a publishing company. Of course it does. Of course it helps for the book to be in stores. But the fact that a self-published writer goes without those things is not necessarily the sales death sentence that it was just a few years ago. With e-readers and great Print-On-Demand companies now, self-publishing is a great option for a writer just starting out and perhaps beyond. I decided to give self-publishing a go, because I trust myself to get the word out there on my writing. Since publishing The Boo Hag, I have contacted hundreds of bloggers for reviews, interviews, and guest posts. It’s going to take work to make it as a self-publishing author, but I’m putting in the hours, and I’m starting to see results.
I understand why there's something of a stigma attached to self-publishing still, but hopefully the rise of quality self-published books like your own, and Scott Cramer's Night of the Purple Moon, which both more than hold their own against the majority of traditionally published books I've read this year, will help dispel that stigma.
6. One of my favourite aspects of The Boo Hag was the central trio of Anna, Lenny and Brian. Who's your favourite fictional trio?
I thought of a few different more modern trios, but I feel like none of them could outdo my pick in terms of fun and preadolescent mischief. I’m going with Scout, Jem, and Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird. They just remind me way too much of those fun school’s-out summers from back in the day for me to pass them up.
Fabulous pick from an amazing novel!
7. Your description of teacher Mr Brown, who's interested in the paranormal, is especially vivid. Who was the most memorable teacher you had when you were at school?
Being a writer, it would only seem natural for me to pick an English teacher. That one who sparked my creative interest. But I’m not gonna do it. I did have some good ones, but none were better than my elementary school PE teacher Mr. Jackson. I was a pretty active kid to say the least, so I tended towards liking PE anyway, but on top of my preferring his class over the more academic pursuits, I could tell that he really cared about his students. I once had my picture taken while I was attending a local soccer camp, and not long after that the picture appeared in the paper, Mr. Jackson took me into in his office to see that it had been cut out and placed on the wall over his desk. It was cool to know that a PE teacher cared enough about me, and was proud enough of me to put a grainy black and white picture of me from the newspaper on his wall.
8. What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve been all over the place with my books this year, trying to keep up with my goal of fifty books for the goodreads challenge. It doesn’t seem like much, but when you try to balance work, family, writing my own books, and trying to read that many books (which is hard for me anyway because I’m a slow reader) has been tough, but I’ve kept up and am even ahead of the pace! I just finished a contemporary YA called The Summer of Skinny Dipping. It was good, but, as contemporaries often are, a little depressing, so I’m reading a fun book now. I lucked out and found that Storm Front by Jim Butcher had no wait for my kindle from the local library. I was pretty excited because I have been wanting to read it for a long time. I’m about a third of the way through and really loving it. If you don’t know, it’s based on a wizard, Harry Dresden working as a kind of private investigator in modern day Chicago. Like I said, really fun read, but also it’s an idea just begging to be adapted into a YA novel. Veronica Mars with a paranormal angle. It would be awesome.
I've just bought The Summer of Skinny Dipping! Looking forward to starting it.
9. What books would you recommend to people who enjoyed the Boo Hag while they're waiting for the next book in the series? (There IS going to be a next book, yeah?)
There is going to be a second. I couldn’t just leave it like that! If you’re reading this and saying to yourself, “Leave it like what?” I think you know how to find out. :)
I actually have the books pretty well planned out, and in the end it will be a trilogy. So, while you’re waiting you should read…wow, so many great books to choose from. I’ll give you a suggestion for MG, YA, and adult, so you can pick based on your preferences. For MG, I’d say if you haven’t already, read the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. They’re fun and a good stepping stone to the YA paranormal. For the YA suggestion, I’m gonna step outside my genre, and say go with a classic. My all-time favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye. Read that. It’s wonderful. And then reread The Boo Hag! And finally, if you’re looking for an adult book, go with the book I’m reading right now, Storm Front. Like I said, I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s a lot of fun and very well-written.
I'll avoid mentioning my thoughts on Catcher in the Rye! Will definitely take a look at Fablehaven though, which sounds really cool.
10. What's next for David Morgan?
Let's hope the dream comes true! Very best wishes, and I'm really looking forward to book two.