Book Savvy Spotlight on Steve Morris
Enjoy the interview.
Q1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your book 'Jumble Tales'?
I'm a travelling teacher of students who are too ill to get to school. I also teach science and maths in schools and am also an examiner. I love my job and am currently enjoying life in my new rural home near the England/Wales border.
Jumble Tales" is a collection of fatalistic, random chance-based tales and builds on my first short story collection "In All Probability", this collection is smoother, more mature, and better rehearsed. The aim is to step over established boundary lines of science, fiction and of plausibility. With a little romance and sport tossed into the spinning drum for spice.
My characters are not brave knights but more often anti-heroes, shy emotional people, those with insecurities and difficulties often battling their hardest to stay in this crazy world that we have created. Sometimes they evoke sympathy and sometimes they get their just desserts!
Q2. Why have you written short stories and not a novel?
My personal view is that short stories suit the ever diminishing attention span of our high speed, "instant gratification" society, and they take less time to write. The thinking behind both "Probability" and "Jumble Tales" was to produce stand-alone entertainment that can be enjoyed whenever we get the odd five or ten minutes. The stories can be read in any order and you don't have to worry about remembering character names if you lose it under the settee for a week.
Q3. You have had loads of excellent reviews for your books "In All Probability" and "Jumble Tales"- however one review suggested that you have an "often disturbing imagination" how do you feel about this comment?
I was so pleased with the way the press reviews went for "In All Probability".
The "disturbing" comment is completely fair and I can see that a few isolated scenes might be described as disturbing. I plead guilty!
Q4. How do you get the inspiration for your stories, is it all imagined or do you get some inspiration from real life experiences?
"Bizarre. I just don't know where you get these ideas from..." someone I know said to me in 2009.
Neither do I! I've got a whole bank of story ideas; some concocted in my teenage years and all waiting impatiently to see the light of day.
Q5. What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?
Being new to this, I hadn't got a clue. I asked advice and learned as I went along. Some of the stories had previously appeared in magazines. Some press let me down and some were brilliant. My stroke of luck was that a few magazine editors genuinely enjoyed it and gave me advice and encouragement in their interviews/reviews.
The cover helped the book a lot. A few people have written directly to me to say how much they like it.
Q6. If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you've used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
Q7. Do you have a blog and how often do you update it?
Yes. This is the modern way of doing things.
I have a Facebook page which I am updating whenever I get any news about "Jumble Tales".http://www.Facebook.com/SteveMorrisstories
I also have a dedicated web site:http://www.s-morris.co.uk/
Q8. Do you recommend authors getting publicists to help them promote their books? Do you have one?
Well, due to current work commitments, I am currently speaking to publicists especially with a view to the next book. I've heard very mixed reviews of publicists. My view is that the only difference between the old high street names and the fresh emerging talent is just a little sprinkle from Lady Luck, but no matter how good the book, it won't sell if nobody knows about it, so well targeted publicity can help. I admire the energy and legwork of some writers. Forward planning before the book comes out is also essential.
Q9. Do you have any thoughts on the effect of e-publishing on traditional books?
Yes. I spend far too much time in front of screens as it is. Books are tactile, comforting and valuable. I also love to spend time browsing through book shops. What will happen to them? A rare endangered species, an independent bookstore owner recently told me that they can no longer sell sets of reference books or encyclopaedias, because readers simply page-up information online. I can see his point but books are more than just words. I like the warmth of sets of information to hand on my shelves.
How often do you look at the cover of an e-book?
Give me an 18th Century hand stitched half calf leather bound volume with gilt tooling and pure white pages any day.
Q10. Any comments on your publishing experience?
In 2008, I was taken on by a literary agent. They were young, realistic and with modern ideas. While circulating my stories around the established but diminishing list of traditional "houses" and waiting the obligatory eon for formulaic editors to smoke their way through it, they showed me a paperback book written by another one of their former clients, who'd had a book published with Pneuma Springs Publishing (PSP). The agent thought that the book's presentation was better than some "big names". I bought another PSP title and the agent sent my manuscript to PSP. And I've never had to open nicotine reeking envelopes since.
Find out more about Published books: 'In all Probability' and 'Jumble Tales'.