Search This Blog

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blog guest - B.A. Morton - horror, crime and historical author

Continuing my infrequent blog guests of my namesake writers, today I’m pleased to welcome Babs Morton.  Babs lives in UK’s Northumberland National Park, an inspirational place indeed. She writes a crime series (Mrs Jones, Molly Brown), a historical series (Wildewood Chronicles), and standalone horror, Bedlam.

NM - Welcome, Babs. Glad you could drop by. I’ve just finished your thriller Mrs Jones and enjoyed it. I found the characters very engaging. The pace you set forced me to keep turning the pages.

I believe that a sense of place is important in fiction. To date, you have two detective books featuring Connolly, both set in New York; the characterisation, and the setting seem believable. Yet you’re British and live in the north-east of England. How did you achieve that semblance of reality?

B - Gosh, a vivid imagination, I guess. I’ve never been to the US, but I do watch a lot of movies ;)

NM - Are you drawn equally to crime, horror and historical novels, or do you have a preference?

B - I enjoy all genres. It really depends on where my head is when I’m in the mood for writing. I suppose if I was forced to choose, I’d say crime, psychological crime. I do love a twisted plot and a twisted character doesn’t go amiss either.

NM - As you’ve got two ongoing series at present, you’re obviously drawn to find out what happens next to your characters. Who is your favourite character from one of your books and why?

B - That’s difficult. I love them all for different reasons. Tommy Connell from Mrs Jones is a loveable rogue. He’s always going to do what’s right, but he’ll generally go about it the wrong way. If you met him, you’d likely want to knock some sense into him, but you’d like him and you’d trust him. He does have darker moments and things he’s not proud of, but by and large he’s a good guy. Probably my favourite character to create was Joe McNeil from Bedlam (which is also destined for a 3-book series). Joe has big issues, emotional and psychological, and the task was to get right in there with this totally messed up guy and create a situation where readers would root for a drunken, drug addled copper, and where they would care about what happened to him. Tommy Connell made me smile, Joe McNeil made me cry. Aw, bless them both.

NM - Where do you find inspiration?

B - Almost everywhere. An image, a snatch of conversation, anything really. I listen to music a lot when I’m writing. Mrs Jones popped into my head after listening to the song of the same name. Wildewood is more personal as the story is loosely based on the history of the valley where I live. My home was built on the foundations of a medieval chapel, and I have a great interest in medieval history. The theme music to that series would be Sting’s A Winter’s Tale.
Bedlam grew from a short story competition entry. I wrote it the night before my daughter left for Australia. I was very emotional and I think it flavoured the writing in a unique way. Soundtrack – Stereophonics, Graffiti on a train, the whole album is Bedlam to a tee.

NM - How long have you been writing? 

B - Probably since childhood in some shape or form, but seriously since 2010.

NM - What influenced you to start?

B - When we ‘escaped to the country’ I had more time. The family bought me a laptop and that was it. I posted some work on the Harper Collins site Authonomy and was introduced to some fellow writers who have become very good friends. Through them, I was persuaded to enter Mrs Jones in the Yeovil Literary Prize, and was flabbergasted to come second in the novel category. That led to publication.

NM - How do your family/friends feel about your writing?
B - They’re very supportive. Friends in the village particularly like the Wildewood series. Some of them maybe wonder where all the dark stuff, like Bedlam comes from, but they’re very polite and don’t cross the street when they see me coming.

NM - What are you working on now?

B - Currently I’m having fun with some Wildewood novellas. They’re prequels to the main series and detail the hero Miles’ adventures in The Holy Land, prior to returning to Northumberland. I then have the second book in the main series to finish. Once that’s done I’ll be donning my psychological crime hat for a while.

NM - What is your biggest distraction when it comes to writing?

B - Thinking about the plot rather than just getting it written.
NM - A tall order, I know, but what is your favourite book? And why?

B - I have so many books that I love, but if I had to pick one I guess it would be Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I told you I’m a medieval history nerd and that is such a wonderful story. By contrast my favourite writer is crime writer John Connolly, I love his Charlie Parker character and the subtle blend of supernatural in his psychological crime series.

NM - I’d agree with you regarding Follett’s work; his follow-up World Without End is superb too; in fact there’s a life-sized statue of him in Vittoria, Spain, outside the cathedral that inspired the latter book. Yes, when it first came out, I was hooked on Connolly’s first book, Every Dead Thing. Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

B - I find I’m a critical reader and also an impatient reader. Time is very important to me, so I tend to make up my mind about a book within the first few pages. It’s hard to switch off that little editing light in my head and put away my virtual red pen. But when I pick up something truly wonderful it doesn’t matter whether I’m a writer or simply a reader, I recognise it immediately.

NM - That goes for me too, Babs. If I’ve sucked into the writer’s invented world, then the occasional glitch is barely noticed. How much research goes into each book?

B - It depends on the book. I spend a tremendous amount of time researching my historical series and ultimately might only use a notion here and there to add authenticity. I do get carried away, because it’s interesting, and I have to remember why I’m there, digging about in medieval weaponry or thirteenth century curse words. With the crime fiction, I research technical details, i.e. scene of crime information, weapons and procedures, but I don’t get bogged down in it.

NM - If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

B - Where I am now. My little cottage in Northumberland is just perfect for me.

NM - How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

B - It connects me to the wider world, fellow writers and readers. This is particularly important as I live in a rural location. It’s good to network, to share experience and work. I wouldn’t say I was particularly adept at it though. Technology is not one of my strengths.

NM - Congratulations on getting a contract with the publisher Caffeine Nights, who will be releasing Twisted. Can you tell us more about that book?

B - Thanks. I’m really pleased to be working with Caffeine. They’re also re-releasing Bedlam in 2015, which I’m excited about. You probably guessed by now - I have a soft spot for Bedlam. Twisted is a dark and tangled crime thriller set in Newcastle. We have a dangerous, escaped bank robber, a kooky hostage who turns out to be a bit of a psycho, good cops, bad cops, gangsters, a one eyed dog, and a good measure of black humour thrown in. It was fun to set some scenes in and around my old stomping ground of Jesmond Dene and Paddy Freemans.

NM - Fascinating mix, Babs, and I’m familiar with Jesmond Dene. I used to work in Newcastle, in the 1960s! Okay, where do you hope to be in 5 years?

B - I would love to be writing full time. I currently work part time in the village GP surgery. I do love my job, but I’d rather be writing.

NM - Now please tell us about one of your books.

B - I’d like to tell you a little about my new series of novellas that introduce the story of Miles of Wildewood prior to his return to Northumberland. Tasters for the main Wildewood Chronicles series, they begin in The Holy Land in 1272 A.D. and follow Miles and his cohorts through various adventures. There are four planned. Bad Blood and Assassin’s Curse are available now, I’m currently working on A Fallen Man and Winter’s Child will follow shortly.

Bad Blood – Blurb
Miles of Wildewood discovers the boy Edmund at the mercy of his sworn enemy, Guy de Marchant. The feud between the two men has dark roots in an incident shrouded in secrecy and protected by a Templar oath. The boy’s plight provides the catalyst for an escalation of hostilities. As a trial by combat is hastily arranged to settle the dispute, Miles’ benefactor Hugh de Reynard seeks a favour from the future king and the Templars prepare for the inevitable backlash.

Miles must save the boy, but at what cost?

Assassin’s Curse – Blurb
Royal birthday celebrations fill Acre’s crowded streets. The enchanter Maleficius and his bizarre cavalcade distract those sworn to protect the prince and the rivalry between Templar and Hospitaller knights reaches boiling point. Amidst the jesters, jugglers and fantastical beasts a lone assassin threatens the heir to the throne. It falls to Miles of Wildewood and Jesmina, the sultry daughter of Saladin the snake trader, to save the day and the life of the future king. But can Jesmina be trusted?

Thank you, Babs. I certainly like those covers for Bad Blood and Assassin’s Curse. Here's hoping they pull in more fans!

B.A. Morton - Bio
Born in the North East of England, B.A. Morton writes across a number of genres including crime, romance, horror and historical fiction. After a twenty year civil service career, she and her family escaped the rat race and relocated to the remote beauty of the Northumberland National Park. She now lives in a cottage built on the remains of a medieval chapel.

A member of the Crime Writer’s Association, she is a self confessed crime fiction addict. In 2011, her debut novel Mrs Jones a crime thriller set in New York, took second place in the international literary competition, The Yeovil Prize, and launched her writing career.

Nik, thank you so much for inviting me along to talk about my favourite subject...books! Best wishes and good luck in all you do. Babs x


John Holt said...

Babs is a great friend and great support. She is also a terrific author who can certainly spin a yarn. A great interview, thank you both. Babs, as always, I wish you every success - just don't forget me when you are rich and famous :)

Nik said...

John Holt wrote: Babs is a great friend and great support. She is also a terrific author who can certainly spin a yarn. A great interview, thank you both. Babs, as always, I wish you every success - just don't forget me when you are rich and famous :)