I first met Morgan virtually, in the run up to UK Meet, and then at the event itself. Pleased to say that this confirmed we have only the nicest people there!
So, Morgan, what inspired you to start writing:
There wasn’t just one thing. I wrote poetry as a child which was published in the local paper and the prize was always a book, I wrote myself into the stories I read as I got older, then television took over and my tv heroes became the focus of my imagination: who remembers black and white Avengers when Steed’s sidekick was a male doctor? I also used to write in collaboration with a friend and we had quite a long running saga. It wasn’t until 1977 and 1978 that I shared my writing with anyone else and I submitted a story to Professionals fandom and one to Blake’s 7 fandom and went on from there. Now I find my characters and want to know what their story is and how their lives will develop.
What did it feel like watching your first book fledge and leave the nest?
Profound relief. I did not worry about its reception in the world, my editor, Fiona Pickles, had done the best job she could and it would have to make its own way – some people would like it, some wouldn’t I have no control over that and, frankly, do not worry about it. It’s nice when people like what you have written, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I would still write if I never had anything published.
Why this particular setting and era?
I am a history junkie and I love research. I find the technology of modern society quite baffling sometimes and would never be able to accurately represent the pace of modern life, I am more comfortable writing about the not too distant past Solemn Contract was 1720, Always With Us 1896 and my current project 1910 – 1920 and I think I will always write in these time zones.
Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?
Definitely character driven, I write to sort their lives out and if I can find some plot along the way I am grateful. If a character wants to go in a different direction I will try and accommodate them, after all it is their story – although I was once floored when a character turned up on my hero’s doorstep and metaphorically threw a spanner through the door – took me a while to sort that one out.
If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?
It would depend on the problem; if was physical I would turn to William Middleton from Solemn Contract – brave, intelligent, good muscles (he is a blacksmith) and gorgeous with the celts’ dark hair and blue eyes. If it was legal, emotional or moral it would have to be Harrison Calderwood from Always With Us, as a lawyer he could sort out the law, he is very understanding and sympathetic and had a good moral compass, he would never give me bad advice – also blue eyes and dark hair, is there a type here?
If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication what book would you write?
A fictionalised life of Sidney Godolphin, Treasurer to Queen Anne and friend of the Marlboroughs. I loved the tv series The First Churchills and read up about Sarah – you can’t learn about Sarah without learning about her close friend Sidney Godolphin – and I fell in love with him. I’m still in love with him and it would be his story I would write.
Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn’t finish?
Treasure Island, I don’t know why because I have enjoyed other books by Stevenson, and own several but could not get on with this one. My other failure was Kenilworth by Scott, read Ivanhoe, The Talisman and Quentin Durward but after three times of trying I gave up on Kenilworth.
What’s your favourite gay fiction book and why?
Hard to pick just one. I love Patience and Sarah, the fictionalised account of two real women in America in the early nineteenth century, Maurice by EM Forster but the favourite at the moment is Make Do and Mend by Adam Fitzroy. I love the background of life in a small Welsh Village during the second world war and I love the characters, minor and major: Harry Lyon, naval officer and James Montgomery, conscientious objector plus assorted family and villagers. A very absorbing and totally satisfying read.
What’s your next project?
I am working on Roses and Castles (tentative title) set in and around a Cheshire village and the adjacent canal – the heroes are a lock keeper and his partner and the book is about how the war disrupts their lives.
Always with us, from Manifold Press.
Liverpool, 1896: Wealthy Harrison Calderwood has never given much thought to the poor of the bustling city until he accidentally runs into firebrand Daniel Harper. Through Daniel’s eyes he begins to see how much more could be done to improve the lot of the working people, and at the same time he begins to feel a very strong attraction towards Daniel himself. However this is the Victorian era, Daniel is believed to be a troublemaker, and Harrison has a position to maintain and a family who are expecting him to marry a well-to-do young woman and settle down to a conventional life…