Morgan Gallagher is visiting us today, all the way from the UK. Morgan and I have an unexpected and odd connection in that I used to work for the husband of the daughter of the now-deceased TV host of the old British show Mastermind, a gentleman that Morgan knew some years back. If that connection wasn’t complicated enough, let me know and I’ll complicate it even further by adding in Iceland, the Vikings, and news anchors. Anyway, without further ado, here’s Morgan Gallagher.
Hi, Morgan! Welcome to the site, and thank for stopping by. Before we get into writing and all that, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I had a very uneven childhood. On one hand, I was loved greatly, and had a lot of stuff – private schooling, toys, books, a pony. On the other hand, I was the family’s deep dark secret, and I was actually being raised by my grandparents, and my sister was my mother. And on top of that, I’d been legally adopted by her brother at one point. In the space of the first two years of my life, I’d gone from a biological mother who didn’t touch me at all, for the first couple of days, then held me and handed me over to an adoptive mother who already had two older kids (and hence an older brother and sister) and back to the bio-mother, but with a grandmother doing most of the daily care. Bio-mother promptly moved out when I was seven, but failed to mention she had given birth to me for another few years. It got messy. Still is.
I firmly believe my passion for seeing Mums and Babies stay safe, and in each other’s arms, comes from this terrible set of circumstances. It’s not a pain that ever fades, even when you have no idea what the pain was caused by, so I fight like a lioness for every cub out there needing help, although that didn’t truly emerge until I became a mother myself. Discovering my well-honed fiction writing skills were invaluable in the ‘new’ world of motherhood and babies and human rights was quite a discovery!
I’m glad that you’ve been able to make diamonds from coal. The world certainly can be a dark place, but I suppose light has the capability of shining much more brightly in those spots. That’s evident in how you write, even in these few paragraphs. Why did you start writing in the first place?
How lonely I was as a child, and my desperate need to be in Star Trek, actually live on board the Enterprise, I mean, not act in it. I spent a lot of time on my own, in an empty house, and I used to act out all my favourite television programmes. I’d put myself, thinly disguised, into new plots. From that, I started writing actual stories – not the ‘me’ stories, actual other ones, all made up from scratch. I remember sitting down to write my first novel when I was about 12. It was a spy novel, and I started with a posh pen, and a very large pad of paper (which was odd, as I’d had a typewriter since I was 5 years old). But then, I couldn’t take that to school, and I did take the large pad of paper, and tell people I was writing a book. For about a day, anyhow, until the sneering started. Goodness knows what happened to it, I didn’t write very much. Didn’t know that much about spies! And then, of course, there was the epic teenage years of melancholic poetry. These days I’d be a gothic teenage blogger.
I had a year or two of teenage melancholic poetry. Perhaps it’s a necessary rite of passage? Star Trek to spy stories to poetry. In terms of your writing, where have you landed? Can you tell us about your newest book?
Horror with a twist of feminism. It’s a psychological horror, about being kidnapped by a vampire, and what that would really mean. It shows the vampire’s need to break down and control his victim, and then the stark choices she has to make in order to survive. Finally, she has to face becoming a vampire herself, or not, and it’s about how she copes with that. It’s aimed at 25+ females and also has an appeal for 35+ males who read horror/science fiction/fantasy. It’s an intelligent book and it requires a lot from the reader. I’ve been immersed in fandom since I was 18, and it’s written for fellow fans – people who take books seriously, and who require rather more than mainstream publishing often lets through. Like most writers, I’ve written a book I’d love to read, so it’s dark and involved. And painful.
Are you working on a follow-up?
Changeling is book one in a trilogy. The second book, Lucifer’s Stepdaugher, is a riot, compared to the first. Lots more fun (and pain, and terror, obviously) and an entire new world of characters. And a vampire pairing that thrills me to my fan girl bones. There, no one’s read that before! A male vampire partnership that will have all my other fan girls, swooning. Before the screaming starts, clearly.
Pain and terror…I might as well start screaming now. I’m afraid pretty much the most horror I can handle is sitting in the chair at the dentist office. Hmm. Dentists. Vampires. There might be a psychological connection. Shudder. Let’s change the subject before my brain goes down that path any further. Are there any books that a great deal of influence on you?
This is an impossible question, just like asking me what my favourite films are, I’d not be able to choose less than a top 20, and the order would change daily. I think I can probably narrow it down to types of books and writers. Harlan Ellison, as a writer, is an incredibly important influence on me. His writing is superb, and the darkness in the human soul he displays, so finely identified and expressed. I’d give a limb to write as well as he does. Anne McCaffrey, for both her fantasy and romantic fiction. Anne writes great epic stories of dragons and battle for survival, with a human touch and strong female characters. I devoured everything she wrote, for many, many years. Stephen King’s influence is strong: the horror is in the knowable detail of people’s lives. Then we’re at the other end of the spectrum, and are looking at authors such as LM Montgomery, Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott, who wrote so revealingly of young girl’s hearts and minds being trapped by corsets and good manners and the notion that women couldn’t write. Their influence is just as strong.
I grew up on Anne McCaffrey. I used to think, well, perhaps I still do, that there’d be nothing better in the world than soaring through the sky on a dragon. She certainly was writing outside of the typical fantasy molds when she created Pern. Speaking of writing, do you have any advice you’d like to share for other writers?
Write write write. Edit edit edit. Write write write. And then do some writing. Eventually, you’ll get better at it.
You’re sounding very much like my piano teacher from long ago. I’m afraid I didn’t listen to him as much as I should have. His advice, like yours, applies equally to any form of art. Persistence. Why do persist with your own art? What keeps you going?
Writing makes me happy. When times are really tough, I keep going as I have no choice but to get the stories out as the characters keep haunting me. And they can be quite vicious, my characters, in their quest for getting their story up and out. In terms of feeling flat and defeated and deflated, and coping with the Hour of the Wolf… well, I know a lot of people in much worse straits than me, who cope and carry on. So I can too.
Now that your first book is out and you’re looking at several more, what do you hope to achieve with your writing?
A gazillion pounds would be nice. I’m content to let people into the window on the world I have. And share my experience of that world, with them, in such a way that they can speak back if what I speak of, rings true with them. Women are strong, and bad things happen to them a lot. We need more honesty about that, and I hope I speak honestly. I speak of the dark things that women endure. The writing is the achievement.
You’re right. The writing is the achievement. That can be too easily forgotten in the pursuit of money or validation or whatever other reasons people jam into the artistic process. Creating is an amazing achievement. The fact that you can create something lasting from a handful of thoughts and experiences and twenty-six letters is astounding. Anyway, before we draw things to a close here, is there anything you’d like to be known for after you depart for the Great Unknown (and, no, I’m not really referring to Britain, even though the sport of cricket is quite unknown and unknowable here in the States)?
Don’t care. Don’t care if no one has ever heard of me. As long as my son goes on to know he was deeply loved, and that love is carried on to his children, and onwards, I don’t give a damn if anyone knows, or remembers, me. It’d be nice, but it’s not required.
Morgan, it’s been a pleasure having you over. Best of luck to you with Changeling, as well as all your other future writing. Before you go, is there a last thought you’d like to leave with us?
That telling a good story is so important! People forget this, and get caught up on so many other things. All serves the narrative. People turn pages as they want to know what happens next. Sure, it’s great if the writing is brilliant too, but the story comes first. Tell a great story, and the reader will follow.
Morgan Gallagher’s debut vampire novel, Changeling, has just been released this month. It can be purchased at Amazon, AmazonUK, and Smashwords. The paperback edition will release later this year. You can visit her online at her book site called The Dreyfuss Trilogy.