Interview with Alison Morton

Alison Morton Cover
Author Talk: Richard Lowe Interviews Alison Morton

Ever wondered what might have been if a small part of the Roman Empire still existed in the 21st century? Well, Alison Morton has explored this in acclaimed Roma Nova thriller series featuring modern Praetorian heroines. She blends her deep love of history with six years’ military service in a special communications regiment and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction.

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A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison says she has misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe and admits to an obsession with gazing at Roman concrete. On a more serious note, she holds a masters’ in history and blogs about Romans, alternate history, writing and publishing.

When not writing, she speaks at conferences in the UK, France, Ireland and the US, runs workshops on writing and publishing and contributes a monthly column to her local English language magazine.

But mostly she continues to write thrillers with tough heroines, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband.

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Interview Transcript Alison Morton

Richard Lowe  00:00

So this is author talk with Richard Lowe. Today I’m welcoming Alison Morton. She’s a well let me just read her introduction. And you’ll understand. Have you ever wondered what it might be like if a small part of the Roman Empire still existed in the 21st century? Well, Alison Morton has explored this and claimed Nova Roma Nova series featuring modern praetorian heroines. She blends her deep love of history with six years of military service and a special communications regiment and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction, a Roman night since age 11. Alison says she has misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe and admits to an obsession with gazing at Roman concrete. On a more serious note, she holds a Master’s in history and blogs about Romans alternate history writing and publishing. When not writing she speaks at conferences in the UK, France, Ireland in the US, runs workshops on writing and publishing and contributes a monthly column to her local language. Mag is English language magazine. But mostly she continues to write thrillers with tough heroines cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband. So let me welcome Alison Morton, to our show. Good morning, Alison. How are you today?

Alison Morton  01:24

Good morning are very well today. Thank you. We’ve had a terrible heatwave recently. And it’s actually now gone into a lot cooler. So we’re all feeling a bit. So ready to be creative again.

Richard Lowe  01:37

Well, great. Great. So you’re a Roman nut. Tell me about that.

Alison Morton  01:41

Oh, this goes back. I was 11. And we are on holiday in North eat, though. Yes, northeast Spain. On the coast. Now my father was a numismatist. And historian, apart from anything else, he also had ran a small business with antiquities. And we’ve gone to what was then called Ampullary. Us, which was called in Paris, in Greek times. And I had never seen such extensive Roman mosaics. I mean, they were beautiful. They were overwhelming. And there was rooms and rooms and rooms of these things. And I don’t know, in England, whenever you went on holiday, when you first thing you your assignment, when you got back was to write up what I did on holiday. So I’m doing drawings of all these patterns. And they’re incredibly complex. And my files that are take a couple of photos fine. So I said, Well, who are these people? Yeah, who used to live here. And he did started telling me about senators and sailors and traders and slaves and military and Rome and the conquest of the noble world. So I said to him, yeah, but what did the mummies and children do? Well, they stayed at home, and that mommies ran the house and the children were good. And I said, really? And I sort of thought about this and did some more drawings. Now I said to him, What do you think it would have been like if the women had been in charge if the mommies had ran everything? Would it have been different? And very wise, man, you didn’t fall into that one. He said, Well, what do you think it would have been like? Now that went on and on and on in my head for decades, and I did my own military service. I ran a small business, I got married, had family did all the stuff everybody does. And then one day, we went to really bad film. The photography was great. There was Ewan McGregor in which is something ladies or perhaps appreciate more. And Tom Hanks, so you’re guessing which sort of area we’re in. And the dialogue was absolutely terrible. The plot didn’t follow. It was dreadful, really. And I turned to my husband and said, Do you know I could do better than that? And he said, Well, why don’t you? And I went home in 90 days, I’ve got 90,000 words on on my computer, which is insane. And I haven’t got a clue what to do with it. But so Rome came back x decades later, from that little 11 year old in the hot sun. publish that book. Yes, that was if I’m allowed. Number one insect. Yeah. That’s the whole series off. I just sort of couldn’t stop. I wrote that book. And then I thought, Oh, I must find out what’s happened to our heroine so many years later, and then I dipped into her life. I thought there’s a lot of unresolved stuff here. We’ve got to do it. So I then wrote a third book and that became a trilogy. I written life trilogy, got the Romans out of my system. When I was writing number three, I So this secondary character, a grandmother of the heroine, she’s really, really interesting. Now what secrets has she got hidden in her past? I’ve got to find out her story. So of course, I thought, right, I might a fourth book

Richard Lowe  05:16

all up a little bit higher.

Alison Morton  05:19

All right. All right, yeah. That’s her name. I thought, Okay, we’ll do her story, that’d be great. It’d be an addition to the trilogy. And then I got 280 6000 words, and found that I hadn’t even got a third of the story out. So we had to be another trilogy. So we ended up with two more books. So it’s very unusual when I’ve written two trilogies within a series, if you like, which is quite peculiar. And because last year, it was challenging to do a novella. So I thought, I can’t write anything that short. And I challenged myself and I took a heroine when she was quite a year off to Canada, well, Quebec, Canada, and the eastern United States, as it’s called in the world of Roman over and came up with this little novella, which I did put into print after a while. So and now I’m writing a series of short stories on various Roman Oda things tying up other ends introducing solutions to some things. I don’t think I can leave this Roman thing alone. I’m trying to

Richard Lowe  06:33

I know the feeling Rome is one of my favorite interests in studying it for years. So we have a similar interest there.

Alison Morton  06:40

Yeah. Well, it goes on Rome, if you like Rome, in quotes, went on for 12 129 years, in its various forms, sort of tribal village, through to, you know, kneeling in the sand before a barbarian king at the West. And then of course, on into Constantinople later. So there’s an awful lot there for any civilization to watch is its growth and its development, its golden age, and then when it all starts sort of going downhill. And it’s an interesting cycle that I think most empires go through Rome, there was nothing like Rome, until Rome and nothing. There was not the level of prosperity and wealth again until the Victorian age. So I think it really captures our imagination from so many different ways.

Richard Lowe  07:32

Also, it’s fairly well recorded. So there’s a lot of screenplays, that screenplays, but you know what it means?

Alison Morton  07:38

apps here and there, which are very irritating. And the recording is done only by if you like, the literate, elite class. So you sort of have to think a little bit about what’s behind these people making these comments. But you’ll get somebody like Pliny who is fabulous, I’ll gossip, who goes into all these little tiny, weeny details, and he’s absolutely marvelous. But yeah, at least we have recordings. Yeah,

Richard Lowe  08:07

I’m the only person I know who’s watched I Claudius, in fact, have lasted three times in the New World. And I know it’s historically inaccurate, and the Romans have British accents and stuff, but it’s still fun. All right. So you’ve you talked about your start of your journey to be a writer. It’s probably not real to most of our audience that you actually wrote a 90,000 word book in 90 days. How did you do that?

Alison Morton  08:35

I think it was something that had been suppressed, if you like, for a long time. I’ve always had an imagination. One of my school reports said, If Alison could concentrate more, she would achieve more. She has an overactive imagination. Of course, for a writer, we want an overactive imagination. I try trained in languages in French and German, I could speak some Italian and Spanish. So that was going to be my area. So I was doing words from a very quite a young age. I sort of learned French on holidays, as a child and south of France. So words were my thing, if you like. So that’s sort of floating around in the background. And I’d written government papers military reports, done enormous amount of translation because I worked as a translator and have my own business as such. I’ve edited a magazine so I’ve been wording all my life if you like. But the creative side the burst. I don’t know quite how that came out. I was just selling my business before we came move to France. And in a way I’ve been running this business for 15 years. And when you’re selling it, you keep it going you keep it in tip top condition. But you’re not going out getting new client A load of new clients are not plotting and planning for the next year, five years. And I have this time. So I could devote the whole of the day to it. And often the whole of evening. It was complete rabbit when it wasn’t wrapped complete rubbish. But the fact first book is always a bit of a practice book, when it took me three years to get it into publishable state, and I learned my trade of being a novel writer. I think a lot of people think, Oh, you just type it all out. And there it is. But then you have to learn a little bit about structure and the theory and devices and characterization, you have to learn craft techniques. And I, I went to conferences and classes and I got a mentor. I joined groups, I went to events, I learned about the publishing industry, as well as doing all those craft things as well. And I think time spent doing that is one thing I would recommend to anybody. Go to some classes, learn your craft your trade. And although I’ve been wordy all my life, and and you have to string sentences together and reasonable sort of bits. I didn’t know how to write novels. So that’s a huge recommendation from me, if you like,

Richard Lowe  11:24

Well, I actually have a course set of courses called fiction masterclass, that’s where this video appears. And one of the things I stress and you just reinforced, is, if you’re going to be an author, you have to jump in and do it professionally and be a real author just like you would any other career. You can’t do it as a hobby. I mean, you can but you’re not going to be you’re not going to make it and it’s work. It requires effort and focus. Yes, you just reinforced that once you describe a little bit more about how you that journey?

Alison Morton  11:57

Well, I think it’s one where you have to be a little bit humble about it. However, good or prominent or high status, your previous job has been or your current job is just still working, you have to sort of recognize that you’re not quite back at the beginning, but you’re almost going back to being an apprentice. So I think that’s, that’s something you have to learn that you don’t know at all, however good you were at doing whatever. Now as an ex translator, I am very picky about getting the right word. Because that’s all that’s one of the biggest things accuracy. But also as a translator, the, the most important thing is getting the message across. So I tend to write I visualize a scene and then I describe it, I see these people in my head and what they’re doing. And then you can follow their actions. Sometimes getting somebody across a room is can be quite hard. When you’re choreographing fights, My poor husband, I had to sort of, I put my arm around his neck and pull it. I said that’s the noise I want to research into things like that is extremely important. Never think you can gloss over it. Because you can’t. Even when I I write alternative history, which is you take a point in history and the timeline divides. And your timeline you’ve invented goes off on its own way. You’ve got to make it logic go in a logical progression, you can’t just suddenly have cats in masks from outer space, you know, you can’t do silly things. So that’s your going back again, to the humble side, you’ve got to think Well, I think I know when that happened. Or I think I know how a Glock loads or I think I know what Roman religion would be and how it would look like in the 21st century. No, you don’t you’ve forgotten because you need to go back to your source books. I I’m sure that if anybody looked at my search history on Google, they see Glocks bullpup rifles, how to make a bomb all this stuff. I mean, terrible. But if you get that wrong, people who enjoy reading adventure stories will moan. Rightly so. It’s been very thorough as well with all that if you want readers, you’re asking me just to part with money with you already earned and taxed. So if you don’t give them the credible and professional product, why should why should they give you their money?

Richard Lowe  14:47

Yeah, one of the jobs of a writer is to allow your reader to suspend their their disbelief, plausible reality and when you break that you lose your reader

Alison Morton  14:59

time clay, and you can do it in one word. Just in one word, you can do it as a naturalistic expression. Or I had when I was writing really, I had to remember, they did not have the technology of today, but they did have seems like fax machines. Then I had to think, when did they go over from thermal paper to plain paper fax, now, I’m writing a different timeline. So I’ve got a bit of wriggle room, I can make it, I can make them more progressive, less progressive, but I quite like to keep it around a similar ish, technological state. Roman omens are very clever. They’re like their ancestors. They’re very technologically advanced, very advanced on the engineering side. So they’re always a little bit ahead of the game. But I had to go back and research and I thought, oh, yeah, that’ll be the 90s. You know, no problem. Late 90s, no, 1983 first pet plain paper fax, and you think you remember it and you don’t. So I would say, read around your subject, your area, your time with your writing, history, sci fi, even contemporary, because you can’t know everything about the world. And that’s, again, back to the humble attitude of realizing you may not know everything.

Richard Lowe  16:24

Yes, research is a big part of writing, even when you’re writing science fiction, which is more or Eileen, you have to research everything, or at least research your own world, which is interesting.

Alison Morton  16:36

Yes, yes. And I think you need to take the reader with you. I mean, I was banging on about plausibility, and credibility, you can do anything, as long as you can anchor it back to what the reader may have seen or experienced. And we’ve all seen Star Trek, in its various forms, and they have their communicators. And we went, wow, wouldn’t that be fantastic to have that in my hand, I could talk to somebody and see stuff and write stuff. Well, here’s the smartphone. So when they when Gene Roddenberry wrote that he had that in his imagination, that that could happen. And it was perfectly plausible that people in outer space would have that. So we’re capable of putting the enterprise up, which actually really wouldn’t fly. But nevermind, if you’re capable of putting that up. They would have had handheld communicators, I have to take my Romans and put them in a modern age. So I have to think how would they get the Roman mindset? And what would they be doing? They’re more robust than perhaps the average western country. They just get in there and do it. That’s the Roman way you threaten us, we’ll come sought you out. They’re not they are join us. But they won’t damage their own interests. So they maintain this attitude. Well, what I have done, though, we are in this is where the slightly science fictiony part of alternate history comes in, is, I have women running the show. And that makes it quite interesting. But men are not disadvantaged. So this is a little bit of a, you know, in science fiction you can get, you can come up with an idealistic world according to how you like it. But you must make it plausible and credible.

Richard Lowe  18:30

So tell me a little bit about how you balance showing and telling. I’ve got a product on that. Of course. I’m just curious about how you do that. Yeah.

Alison Morton  18:39

Okay, so the general thing, or is that you must show and not tell? That’s the general fashion at the moment, yet we read books full of telling, we love Jane Austen, which is full of telling, but she’s very, very good at showing. And showing is more fun because it means you can write dialogue. You know, in, in science fiction world, the now look, Bob, this super duper laser gun is the one in which we will burn all the aliens. Whereas if you say, duck, Bob, here’s the alien look, we don’t you don’t get burned by that duck. There’s another one. And if you write an action scene or a dialogue scene, you’re showing the reader and the reader isn’t stupid. The reader will get it and the reader will catch the excitement. Sometimes though, if you’ve got to get over a bit of a time, or some of these a lot, or continuously, just a couple of sentences of telling can get you through that without going through every painful detail. But I I would suggest making it 10% Right and 90% showing and 10% telling. I don’t condemn any particular method. The message is appropriate to the situation the books in?

Richard Lowe  20:02

Of course, of course now, you’ve been writing for a long time, what’s your favorite memory about writing?

Alison Morton  20:11

Oh, I think when I first unpacked the first box of books, that was absolutely wonderful. I used a publishing services company because I wanted an absolute top, I mean, top quality product that nobody could tell the difference between mainstream and independent publishing, because I always published independently. And I knew that although I had a lot of computer skills, and I had already done one book myself through on KDP little history book. Now, I’ve got to do this. And I saw when I saw the cover, they sent through the PDF proof of the cover. I was absolutely mind blown. So that was that was I thought that was the most exciting thing today. I was speechless. My husband said, What’s the matter? Is it awful? No, no, no, no, it’s wonderful. And then, then you get this physical product in your hands, and you can feel it. And you open it. And look at that. There. It is a real book that really gets you in the heart. And I think that is the most exciting thing. Because you’ve done all the work. It’s been edited and proofed, and it’s a beautiful design. And yes. Now the ebooks great because a lot more people can access an ebook easily. But get box of books. That is the most exciting thing. I think.

Richard Lowe  21:39

For me, it was getting people to come up and when they want my book signed, that was the first Oh, yes. I’m sure you’ve had those experiences.

Alison Morton  21:50

Yeah, funnily enough, I, I forgotten it, because that insert year was the first one out in March 2013. So five years old. And you sort of get used to it after you’ve done a few talks and people come up, you know, What name shall I put in it and all the rest of it. And I forgotten the slight nervousness, the imposter syndrome feeling. The first time that happens, and that was at my launch. And Watson sold out. But Silverwood books who I thought did my books through said always take spare box. Very good, very good tip that. And I thought these were my friends, which they are at your first launch normally. And they went Oh, will you sign it for me, Allison, this is so exciting. And I was all disarray. And I got settled down. And I forgot what that was like, I think Oh, yeah. Now, I do it very calmly, all the rest of it. But when my husband was featured in a book, a collect an anthology called dole men of Great Britain, it was hilarious. And they will have boring copies. And we ordered a box of some random house. Yeah, Random House, it was done through and we ordered a box. I said, Look, when I go sell my books, why don’t you come with me and sell a few of those? Because we bought them at half price. This is what you can do in the mainstream, apparently. I said okay, now, they ask you to sign it. You see me do it. Open to the page and you signed best wishes don’t do anything else, just to Fred. Best wishes Steve Morton. Okay, right. Okay, that’s fine. I’m calm. Yeah, fine. He said, first person came out, Oh, would you sign it? He he was literally wordless. And I thought, and he said afterwards. It’s what is a really weird feeling. And I’d forgotten what it was like, That is a very overwhelming feeling you have sort of arrived. And it’s a it’s a validation in a way. And I think that’s a very precious thing. And I haven’t forgotten that now.

Richard Lowe  24:01

Yes, in fact, it’s probably wise for authors to set up book signings so that they can have that feeling of success.

Alison Morton  24:07

Oh, definitely. It doesn’t matter where it is, whether it’s a bookshop, or a church stall or a market or a library or anything. I vary and also it’s great talking to people. Yeah.

Richard Lowe  24:22

Now one thing that that’s interesting in this world today is Amazon book reviews you get sometimes you get glowing reviews. Sometimes you get it was fine. And I remember once I got a review that just slaughtered the book. And what do you do when you get those kinds of reviews?

Alison Morton  24:39

The first one I went and cried in the corner and of course, I thought how unfair how horrible I hate that person. When you’re a new author, it’s devastating. absolutely devastating. I won’t say on public video what I say now but you can imagine second world is off. Now because I No, with the benefit of ATR behind me, that’s on Amazon. UK, so 70 Odd on Amazon US, for incept do with a 4.6 or seven average, I now know, by sheer numbers that most people quite like the book. And now I can react. But if I get still, if I get a one star I do feel a little bit of. Okay, right? Well, it’s subjective. And I think that’s the thing. That’s the key. It’s a subjective opinion. It’s not the New York Times, or the Times Literary Supplement, or the Guardian book page, or Richard and Judy club or whatever. It’s one person who didn’t get your book. Yet, not everybody’s gonna get your book. I sometimes wonder why people post one and two stars? Would you go to all that bother unless you really, really hated it and felt deceived. We all say, just move on, get over it go on to the next one. That’s very easy to say. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to feel a little hurt. But the thing is to remember, it’s subjective, and it’s only one person.

Richard Lowe  26:21

Yes, it’s something important to keep in mind with all reviews. Is that even good ones is that it’s one person and you can’t let it get to your head either way.

Alison Morton  26:31

No, no, no, don’t get a swollen head. Otherwise, you’ll think you’re Master of the Universe, and you’re not?

Richard Lowe  26:38

Yes? Do you have any tips to help other writers?

Alison Morton  26:43

Well, when you when you’ve got your project and your idea and your characters, and you’ve had a really good think about all this, whether in your head, or you’ve made notes, or you’ve done short stories, or however you like it, or whether you’re just gonna go in, I strongly suggest you just bash your story out, get the story out, get the bones out, it won’t be good. Everybody knows the first draft is, let’s say rubbish. We all know that. Get it out. Because the most of the making of a book is at the editing stage, the self at first self editing stage. Because you’ve hopefully got all your plot points across, you’ve got your main turning points and your crises and your black moment and the climax. Starting with the inciting incident, you’ve got the structure, you’ve got the bones of it in. Once you’ve done that, then is the time to start the work on it. And really work on it carefully. And you might put a new chapter in or take some chapters out. That’s when the author starts working on their book.

Richard Lowe  27:51

Got it? What about promoting the book on that?

Alison Morton  27:57

Well, hasn’t the world changed? When I first did in sectio, and then it was followed by prefitted. TAs in October following because I had both written and edited. It was relatively easy. I mean, it’s not easy, but it was relatively easy. You walk to them, you went into the local bookshop, in my case Waterstones. Yet, when do you want your launch? Okay, this is how we do it. I said, I’ll bring the wine and some liberals. And you’d invite people email, and that’s fine. And they’d all buy your book. And that would be great. And the next one wasn’t so good. And the next lot the launch, I mean, then I thought right, I’ll have one in London. So had a little launch in London. That was good. And a famous TV personality came along interviewed me, which was rather nice. And there was a video of it. And I thought right, let’s put it out Facebook, my blog, Twitter, the whole banana. I got into the bookseller, which is the UK trade magazine. I mean, that was Editor’s Choice in there. That was great. And in their first indie review, and that was really nice. So I’m thinking yes, it’s okay. And I’m on other people’s guest bloggers or guest on their blogs and I wrote for writing magazine. So you make yourself known but Read More recently, it’s got a lot harder. You can try and get your book onto BookBub which is the gold standard for guest they have a massive mailing list I think it’s something like mad like 8 million people subscribe to all the different taking all the channels together. But the big houses have discovered BookBub and it’s very, very difficult but still keep going. Other social media we our own accounts your page if you run a little group for your readers I’m and that’s not always as successful as it was I’m being very bit down here, I think you need to try everything you can come up with. So do the basics of Facebook, the Twitter, your own blog, guest blogging, pitching articles to map to print magazines, let’s not forget print magazines, pitching articles, to blog magazines, trying everything because the further you can spread, the more people will hear about you. Now, sometimes the perceived wisdom is not too, too serious mark, cutting until you got two or three books. And I can see the complete rationale on that. Because you’ve got no history, you’ve got no solidity behind you. And I would say, do the basics before the first book, get your blood going, put your writing experience on, because then you’ve got a load of articles that you can use something like retweet Old Post, and they keep coming up. And then you add to that body of work. And I think that’s quite important. doing collaborative things with other authors. Having book sales together, doing summer reading all that. Marketing is a slog. There is no silver bullet, I tell people, it’s not very good news. I think you have to talk to people at events, you have to, for instance, we’re doing this talk together, you’re very kindly invited me this is part of marketing for me, because I’m telling you about my books and telling your audience about my books. If you have the time to do your own YouTube channel, that’s a good podcast. But there’s so much you can do. And you’re still writing your books, and perhaps you’re not you still got a day job or other responsibilities. Do what you’re comfortable with. Because if you’re not it will show you know, I think try and make a complete marketing. I think that’s the solution. But try and do some every day, even if it’s just a little post on your Facebook author page, or a few tweets or doing a little blog post for somebody else. You got to keep at it, I’m afraid.

Richard Lowe  32:27

And one of the things I caution the people in my courses is you’re not you don’t want to post things like buy my book, you want to post more like bits of your book, or the interviews or things where you’re talking about it, instead of buy it.

Alison Morton  32:41

I think when you’ve got a promotion running, you’re entitled to say, just for this week or until midnight block this book is at 99 cents or whatever. I think that’s permissible. But don’t overdo it. You should be able to write some little posts on your blog and other people’s blogs, you can then link back to that as sort of soft promo if you like, how I wrote about the end of the Roman Empire. Why is Karina only a novel or the world of Karina? Because we visited the US and Canada we took loads of pictures and I thought oh, I’ve got to set the first bit in Toronto around the Canada area. I must do that. So you can write and round the writing life. And I think that’s more acceptable. Yeah, the buy my book tweet during a promotion. Like, it’s not a big scene, but don’t overdo it.

Richard Lowe  33:40

Yeah, cuz people get inundated with advertising all the time. So you’re just you’re just gonna get lost in the in the mix there. But if you give something that’s informational, or entertaining, you’re gonna see it. It might stand out. And the idea is to get your mind when they’re in that bookstore on Amazon to get them in the top to get you in the top of their mind.

Alison Morton  34:01

Hopefully, so yes, and I mean, connected without his branding. That is quite important. It depends. It depends what zone you’re writing in. But we all know when we see advertising on the television. Oh, yeah, that’s such a thing. That’s I don’t know think of a famous brand Coca Cola if you like you recognize it from the writing and the red or immediately goes into your Oh yeah, cut Oh, actually, I feel a bit thirsty. I think I’ll go and get a coat. So you’re suggesting so their brand is very, very famous. My brand is the eagle this and I have put this on every single book in a different color. Like that does also have a different color, but the same symbol now with a u. And also the other thing is the font keep the font the same. Keep saying Isn’t or if you have a little fame, if you’re doing crime in the country always have some dark woods on France, or similar type of building. And I mean, Debbie young writes cozy crime, and she’s always got these lovely pastel colors, and she’s got something quite vintagey, you’ll see, you’ll get a little fetch cottage and you know, you’re in Sophie’s World, if you like, the detectives world, and you know where you are. And you know that since it’d be a book, you see my rather fierce eagle with them modernistic design, you know, you’re in Rome and over. And I think that deciding on the image you’re going to project if you want it in, perhaps more normal terms is very, very important, I think.

Richard Lowe  35:48

Would you get writer’s block? And if so, what do you do about it?

Alison Morton  35:51

Yeah. You mentioned earlier writings a job if you get writer’s but I mean, it’s horrible. Sometimes, when I get it more with blog posts, I think know, what shall I write about? You just have got to put something down, tap on the keyboard or write on paper, even if it’s complete rubbish, and you’re going to delete the whole thing. Or you just can’t get stuck into this chapter. And you’ve got to get around this plot point. Sorry, you can’t go off and have a fit and go, the Muse is not with me, you can’t do that. You’ve got to sit down at the damn chair and type. And I that way you will write through it. That sounds cruel. But if you don’t put your 1000 words or 500 words a day out, you’re not treating it as a job. And I think writers, I think the best thing is it’s like falling off a bicycle. Don’t go for cry to mommy and never get on the bike again. You just get back on the bike.

Richard Lowe  36:55

Exactly. Because if you treat it as a profession, if it’s your job, your boss isn’t going to accept Oh, I have job lock. I’m not gonna go Yeah,

Alison Morton  37:03

I don’t feel like it. Oh, yeah. Coming to work.

Richard Lowe  37:09

The boss is gonna say I don’t feel like paying you. Yeah, exactly.

Alison Morton  37:12

You did. Here’s your cards, you know, goodbye.

Richard Lowe  37:17

Yeah, what I always do, and I make sure that I write 45 minutes and then take a break for 15. And I have a goal of doing 5000 words a day. Oh, wow. But I use dictation dictate in there. And then that’s published awards a day. But I’m a ghostwriter. So I have to, because I get paid for writing

Alison Morton  37:38

your job. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Bills. I do about I infer 1000 Because I do always have to spend quite a bit of time researching. So rather than that, I mean, the words I need to get the words out because the words have got to be there in the document. Before you can do anything with it. I do like I am a bit of a research nerd. So I won’t write something if I’m not sure. And I was having a long conversation with another Roman right. I don’t know if you know, Ruth Downey. I don’t. Russo medical series highly recommended. absolutely hilarious, a Roman Army medic. And she’s very, very knowledgeable. Her degree wasn’t history, but she boy, she knows everything. And I was saying if an officer has been reassigned, he’s on his way to his new posting from Britannia to Norik comm he’s got to go on this road. We got this. I’ve got the route sorted. Now it’s going to rain all the way through Britannia. It’s the winter and northern Gaul. How’s he going to stay dry and keep his stuff dry? Because there’s no oiled fabrics then that I know of? He’s got this thick cloud. This beer is Britannicus, which is really, really efficient. But does it really work? And how’s he going to keep his stuff on the pack meals dry. And he’s only got a leather satchel. That’s not enough to put just a few little bits in. And I know that pack animals have a wooden frame and sort of panniers or packs underneath. So we’ve had these long emails. I don’t know. Okay, right. I could do this. We’ve gone back. Do you know, that is two lines in the story. So I will spend time doing that quite a lot of the time because somebody will write in saying you’re wrong. If I’ve done the research, and I feel happy.

Richard Lowe  39:37

Yes. Have you ever tried audiobooks?

Alison Morton  39:40

Yeah, I actually did have an arrangement with the literary agency in London. And they sold my first four books as audio books to Audible in fact, and so the first four are available as audio books. I haven’t done a second two because I’m not with the agency anymore. And I’m thinking of getting the other two done. I know my voice isn’t right. My own voice. I was going to approach the lady that did book four, because that’s the second trilogy. And it would be nice to have her continue the narration as a really, I think I need to save a few pennies first.

Richard Lowe  40:22

Yes, well, you’re in England, in the United States, audible let you do their program where you can hire their producers for half and a half.

Alison Morton  40:32

Oh, yeah. Well, I’m in France, which is even worse. Okay. They don’t have it. I am sort of UK. Amazon and audible are my home ones, if you like. But yeah, that was I don’t think they do it at all in France. But yeah, it’s something it’s a project for the future. We shall see.

Richard Lowe  40:54

I’ve 26 books on audible, and I make a chunk of change from them. And it just comes in.

Alison Morton  40:59

Yeah, I had quite a quite a good deal when I signed up. So I’m probably still earning out. That was a mainstream deal. So I have a probably have to wait for a little while,

Richard Lowe  41:12

of course. So yeah, I’m coming to a close of the interview. Do you have any final closing remarks?

Alison Morton  41:20

Well, no, it when you asked me You said, Oh, yes, I’ll be talking about some things that perhaps I could mention to sort of newer writers. And I thought, yeah, I’ve been writing since the end of 2009. And I hadn’t really realized I’d be writing all that time. And I also realized was an enormous amount I learned all kinds of thing, writing and publishing. And I think you should always try and be in the frame of having an open mind. Always Learning. I went to a conference just webbing to three this year crime fest, Dublin Writers Conference in the romantic novelists sociation. And I was speaking at all of them. I’m now in the place where I speak at conferences, rather than just going along to receive the information. But I went to other sessions in all three, I’ve learned new things. And I thought I probably got to the stage where I knew most things. Never think that it. It’s a joyous ride because you keep learning new stuff. And I think that’s a huge privilege in a profession in a new profession. And I think that’s something we enjoy, we don’t get paid very much, so we have to have some kind of enjoyment.

Richard Lowe  42:42

That’s true. That’s true. Well, thank you for coming on the show. I’ve been with Alison Morton, and you’re on the author talk, Richard Lowe show. If you liked the show, be sure and subscribe. And you’ll receive notifications of new shows. We’re trying to do them twice a week with different authors. It’s kind of aggressive, but it’s so far it’s been working out. So thank you for appearing on the show. Appreciate it.

Alison Morton  43:07

Thank you very much for inviting me.

Richard Lowe  43:09

You’re very welcome. Thank you

Richard Lowe

5 thoughts on “Interview with Alison Morton

  1. Sheila LyonHall Reply

    Alison, thank you for sharing your “writer’s journey” with such authenticity and transparency. This interview is chock full of wisdom and a lovely dash of humor. I appreciate Richard introducing you to his audience.

    • Alison Morton Reply

      Thank you, Sheila. We know so much more now about writing, self-publishing, the need for research and editing; it’s a joy to share my experience in the hope it may help somebody else. My best tip? Persist and go on learning as well as writing.

  2. Alison Morton Reply

    A delight to talk to you, Richard. The hour flew by. If anything I said has helped anybody in any way, then I’m very happy. Good luck with the rest of this series!

    • Bonnie Dillabough Reply

      The interview was delightful, Alison. I haven’t looked into the alternate history novel genre and now I’m itching to read your books. Thank you for being so genuine.

      • Alison Morton Reply

        Thank you, Bonnie. I tend to ‘tell it as it is’! And, yes, alternate history is a fascinating area. I hadn’t even realised it had a name when I wrote the first book, INCEPTIO. Now I give talks about it.

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