Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Author Spotlight - Sarah Morgan

Today the Minxes are super excited to welcome Mills & Boon Modern & Medical author Sarah Morgan into our author spotlight. Sarah's latest book, The Twelve Nights of Christmas, got a whopping 4.5 stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews!

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

I’d just given up my part time job and started writing full time, which was very exciting. I loved having the freedom to plan my own time (and not just because suddenly I could go and watch my kids play sport without having to ask permission from the boss….). Yes, it meant working all hours to keep up with a packed schedule because I was writing for two lines, Harlequin Presents and Medical, but I loved being the one in control.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

I love writing Christmas stories and I’ve done one, sometimes two, for medicals every year for the past seven years. Last Christmas I decided I wanted to use a festive theme in a Harlequin Presents. One of my favourite seasonal reads is A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. I’ve always enjoyed following Ebenezer Scrooge's progress from 'Bah! Humbug' to hope and love, so when I started writing a Christmas story for HP I knew wanted my hero to have a difficult past to overcome. I wanted him to be someone who, like Scrooge, doesn't enjoy Christmas; someone whose emotional journey is challenging. Instead of giving him a trio of ghosts to deal with, I gave him my heroine, Evie, a Christmas loving girl who forces him to face everything he finds difficult. I loved the idea of pairing a damaged hero who has no good feelings about Christmas with a heroine who adores everything about the festive season. The result was The Twelve Nights of Christmas.

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

I hope to be writing in my luxury beach house, with a palm tree shading my laptop and my toes curled into soft white sand as white frothy waves lap at the shore………

Fortunately I’m a great believer in having a backup plan, so if the whole beach house idea fails to materialize I hope I’ll still be writing stories about characters I love. Maybe I’ll have to imagine the exotic beach, but that’s part of the fun of being a writer. You can take yourself anywhere you like and still be back in time for the school run.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I bought it for my son and ended up reading it myself. It’s original, fresh, clever and completely engrossing. There is tension and conflict on every line and I couldn’t stop reading.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer from a very early age so I suppose I must have been influenced in some way, although I can’t pinpoint a particular book. I did read avidly as a child. I loved historical novels and read everything I could lay my hands on, particularly stories about the Tudors, Borgias and the Medicis (all gore, sex and drama).

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?

Neither. Love scenes are part of the developing relationship so they should feel like a natural progression in the story. The most important aspect of a love scene is to convey how the characters are feeling at that particular point. Like every other scene in the book, the love scene should move the story forward in some way – nothing should remain static. Every scene should either advance the plot or the conflict. It’s also important to remember to build the sexual tension so that when you reach the love scene it’s believable.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

It involves champagne and a great hotel in Paris. The rest is private 

Seriously, I’ve had lots of romantic moments, but I often find the small gestures as romantic as the big ones. Showing someone you love them is romantic.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

I wish I’d known how important it was to develop a website as early as possible. Once I was published I was so busy writing, working part time in a job and juggling a young family there just wasn’t time for ‘extras’ like thinking about the content of a website. No matter who does the design for you, it’s still a huge time demand on the author. And when I gave up my part time job and became an author full time the writing demands still took priority over a website. By the time I eventually developed one it was a very complex job to collate the number of books I’d written and work out the best way of showing them on the site in a way that it was easily navigable for readers.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Write every day and give yourself a minimum word count. Writing is a discipline. If you decide you’re only going to write when you’re in the mood then as soon as you hit a patch in the book that doesn’t flow well, you’ll walk away from the keyboard. It’s frighteningly easy to find excuses not to write (even cleaning the kitchen floor can become an excuse). I discovered early on that answers usually come to me while I’m working, even if it feels like a huge struggle. Yes, inspiration sometimes hits while I’m walking or lying in the bath, but more often than not I have the ‘lightbulb’ moment while I’m sitting at the computer working away. So now I write whether I feel like writing or not.

10. Tell us about your latest release

The Twelve Nights of Christmas is out now in Harlequin Presents Extra and it’s a feel-good, festive romance. My hero Rio has a very dark past and Christmas isn’t a good time for him. Evie loves Christmas, but this year she can’t get home to her grandfather because she’s working in one of London’s top hotels as a housekeeper. Rio is about to close the most important deal of his life but he needs to stay whiter than snow over the Christmas season. But then he finds Evie in his bedroom and his ruthlessly ordered life starts to fall apart………

The first chapter is up on my website and you can also find it at Amazon

I also have a Medical romance released this Christmas, Dr Zinetti’s Snowkissed Bride.

11. What’s next for you?

I’m in the middle of a new project for Harlequin Presents and after that I have an exciting idea that I’m keen to explore. Life gets a little crazy towards December and I’m typing and cooking turkey and wondering why I always do this to myself. I know other writers who give themselves the whole of December off, whereas the only thing I give myself is a nervous breakdown. Only kidding – I love everything about the festive season and writing is part of the routine for me. I’m never going to complain about spending my days living in a glittering jet set world alongside a sexy Presents hero.

Thanks to all the Minxes for having me here and a Happy Christmas to all!


Sally Clements said...

Hello Sarah, thanks so much for being here today! I devoured the 12 nights of christmas is one sitting, its a wonderful book and I couldn't put it down!

Sarah Morgan said...

Hi Sally, it's great to be here and I'm so pleased you enjoyed the book!

Romy Sommer said...

Thanks for visiting us here today Sarah. Forget about the exotic beach location, the idea of one day being able to see the kids play sport without having to get the boss' permission is all the motivation I need to keep writing.

I'm not usually a big fan of Christmas-themed books (though I love the season!) but the line about Rio needing to stay 'whiter than snow' definitely caught my attention. I want to know why. I guess I'll need to go out and get the book!

Claire Robyns said...

Hi Sarah, Scrooge is my routine Xmas film, watch it every year with the kids and, even though I know what's coming, always end up in a puddle of happy tears :) Sounds like Twelve Nights of Christmas is one for my Xmas stocking.

Also, it's always great (and inspiring) to hear when an author is able to follow her dream of writing full time. There's always so much caution bandied about when it comes to giving up the day job that it sometimes feels as if no one ever achieves that ultimate goal.

Maya Blake said...

It's always such a pleasure to welcome an author who's on my autobuy list and you're definitely one of those, Sarah :) Can't wait to read TTNOC! Please keep your wonderful books coming :)

Sarah Morgan said...

Hi Romy, yes it's great to have control over your time (although I was working at 2am this morning so there is a price to be paid!)

Claire, I do feel very lucky to be able to write full time although I hasten to add I didn't make the decision lightly - I don't want anyone throwing in the day job and blaming me :)

Sarah Morgan said...

Thanks for your lovely comment Maya x

Kat said...

Thanks so much for coming by today Sarah, it's a thrill to have you.
I have a romantic moment in a great paris hotel too - wonder if it's the same one?! (hotel, not moment. You know what I mean, lol!)

Writing is a discipline. Set a minimum word count. Simple and great advice Sarah, I'm going to stick it on a post it on the edge of my screen for those days when I get the urge to prevaricate.


Sarah Morgan said...

Hi Jo, sometimes when I'm just desperate to do anything but write, I set a timer/alarm and don't allow myself to move until time is up. But generally I'm just motivated by deadlines - I set shorter ones than my editor gives me to allow myself time to handle the boulders life throws

lynneconnolly said...

lovely interview, Sarah!

Sarah Morgan said...

Thanks for dropping by Lynne, great to see you here x

Wendy S Marcus said...

Hi Sarah!
I'm a new fan. I recently sold to Harlequin Medical Romance. Months ago, when my editor was trying to give me examples of books to read to get a better idea of what she was looking for she gave me some author titles and added, "Anything by Sarah Morgan." I just downloaded your most recent book to my Kindle but have not had time to read it. I'm struggling with your #8 and #9...having a website made and trying to develop discipline to get my next book in on time. Better get back to it!

Sarah Morgan said...

Congratulations on your sale Wendy! That's fantastic and it sounds as though you should be writing your own, not reading mine :) I still remember how exciting it feels to sell and I'm sure that incredible buzz will propel you through all those deadlines that now await you.
Good luck!

Joanne Coles said...

Hi Sarah, it's been great to have you chatting with the Minxes these last few days. My 'moment' was in a Scottish hotel--these hotels have a lot to answer for ;-)

Sarah Morgan said...

Hi Joanne, and thanks to the Minxes for having me! I don't think it matters where the moments happen - as long as they happen.....:)

Lacey Devlin said...

Great interview and great writing advice :)