My Twenty Questions session this week is with Pamela Morris, whose most recent release No Rest for the Wicked came out last August. Morris has written six books (three paranormal fiction and three erotica romance) and you can learn more about them at her website pamelamorrisbooks.com.
Twenty Questions is where I talk to authors about their writing and other topics. If you are interested in participating in a session, you can get more details here.
So everyone say hello to Pamela and let's learn more about her work as an author.
1. How did you get interested in writing?
I have always been interested in writing. When I was nine I wrote and illustrated my first story called "Bill, The Worm Who Ran Away" quickly followed by "The Secret Well", my first mystery! I still have the originals filed away in my archives. In the 3rd grade I realized I may have a problem when our teacher gave us a three page weekend assignment involving our spelling words. Come Monday morning I have a very clear memory of carrying my story up to her desk and being terrified I'd done it wrong. As I handed it over to her I said, "I hope it's okay. I couldn't do three pages. It's ten. The characters just took over on me." The smile on her face was priceless as she said, "No, the minimum was three, this is wonderful."
2. What inspired you to write 'No Rest for the Wicked'?
A couple years ago a friend of mine was telling me a concept he had about writing a ghost story from the perspective of the ghosts. It never quite got off the ground for him and he put the whole idea aside. I've wanted to write a ghost story for a long time and when I switched from writing erotica to writing horror, I really wanted to include my friend's idea. I asked him if he minded if I gave it a shot and he was more than happy to let me run with it. Apparently, I did a bang up job with it, or so I'm told.
3. Tell me about the main character and what inspired you to create him.
There's really no singular main character, but Beau and Lucy have been around since 2006. They were the main characters in my erotica trilogy, so this is really a continuation and a final ending to their story. I didn't want it to be erotica and it's not, but there are more than a few racy scenes in the book because that's just the nature of those two characters. They have always had a love-hate relationship which fit perfectly into my idea for ghost story.
4. What other characters did you find enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?
Out of all the other characters, I enjoyed working with Eric the most because he changes the most throughout the course of the book. He starts out a total skeptic to anything and everything paranormal. By the end, he's done a complete 180, at least as far as ghosts are concerned. He's also a sexy biker guy loosely based on my husband so I'm kinda partial to him for that reason, too.
5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the novel?
The survival of love and hate in the afterlife as well as the power and great harm done because of secrets, lies, and manipulation.
6. What were some of the things you learned along the way as you wrote and edited the book?
I think maybe I came to realized on a deeper level how important honest communication is between people in a relationship. Beau's penchant for secrets and lies really messed up the relationship he had with his wife. When Eric starts walking down that same road, his marriage to Grace starts to suffer as well.
7. How would you compare this writing experience to the other books you have written?
It was a lot more free form than the murder-mysteries because I didn't have to keep track of the suspects, their secrets, or their alibis. We know right off the bat who did the killing and it seems obvious why it was done. It's not until we start learning more about the ghosts and their relationships when they were living people, that we realize we don't know nearly as much as we thought we did.
8. You’ve written both paranormal mysteries and romance. Anything you do differently in writing one genre versus the other?
Not really. I'm an organic writer for the most part. That means I don't outline. I know the beginning and I may have a vague notion of where I want the ending to be, but what happens in the middle is pretty much out of my hands. I let my characters lead me. I'm just there to write it all down. The big difference was with the murder-mysteries. Those were a challenge because I was forced to know so much more ahead of time than I normally do. As I mentioned, suspects, alibis, and secrets needed to be set very early on and remain consistent.
9. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?
In the perfect world I'd have a writer's cottage set in the backyard away from everyone. As I don't have that yet, I'll settle for a quiet morning with the whole house to myself and some Blues music playing softly in the background.
10. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful to help you with the writing process?
Just good old Microsoft Word! I do use the internet a lot for research purposes and Google Earth has been a godsend. My settings tend to take place in real places that I have fictionalized in one way or another. Being as 'No Rest For The Wicked' takes place near Winchester, Virginia, I looked around with Google Earth until I found a place that fit the image I had in my head of what it should look like, the lay of the land, the creek, and the proximity to other nearby towns. It helps me with consistency and to not get confused as to what was where.
11. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?
Having a website is pretty important. Through it I can direct people not just to the places my books can be bought, but to all my social media links like Facebook and Twitter. I've also invested in business cards and we'll be designing bookmarks at some point. I've been using Twitter a lot more lately and interacting with other authors.
12. Which books by Stephen King, Tanith Lee and Anne Rice would you consider your favorites or those that inspired you the most?
Stephen King's "Pet Sematary' was pretty awesome and remains a favorite as well as 'Interview With The Vampire' by Anne Rice, but I think Tanith Lee inspired me as a writer more than the other two. She's very different and often hard (read confusing) to read, but it was her book 'Red As Blood' that inspired several of my short stories. It was through that book that I discovered twisted fairy tales. They're challenging, but working on them really aided my imagination and helped me to get a little bit better at short stories.
13. Any aspiring or independent authors whose books you’ve read that you liked and want to mention to others to check out?
I haven't read a lot of indie authors, to be honest with you, mainly because so many are only available in eBooks and I don't do eBooks. I don't find it relaxing or enjoyable at all. Give me a good old paperback! Right now I'm reading 'Maledicus' by Charles F. French which isn't too bad. I've also been reading a lot of Hunter Shea's work the past year. I'm not sure if he qualifies as an indie or aspiring author anymore though. I'm hoping to get my hands on some of Thomas Gunther's short stories soon.
14. What advice would you give to those who want to write a novel before they actually get started?
That's a tough one. It really has to come from the heart. It has to be a passion, not just something you think you want to do. Read! Read! And then, read some more. I think a lot of new writers I've encountered over the past five to ten years need to work on the "Show, Don't Tell" rule. Learn to use all five senses. Someone long ago suggested to me that a good way to do that is to imagine your character lacks one of the senses. If a person is blind, you can't say 'He saw". You have to convey where they are with things like smell, taste, and sound instead. Lastly, don't just develop a thick skin, build a suit of armor. The rejections and snarky criticisms are going to come in fast and furious. None of us are immune. Learn how to use it constructively to improve your craft and pay close attention to anything you hear from more than one source.
15. Tell me about what you love about historical research and genealogy.
I'm a research junkie in general. I love to learn about what and who came before me. So much of it remains a mystery and when I'm digging into something, it's like a big puzzle that needs to be unraveled. I once had dreams of being an archaeologist or anthropologist for that reason. My grandmother was really into our family's genealogy and I inherited her book on the subject. Looking through it really gave me a greater sense of identity.
16. I see you are a fan of The Twilight Zone. Are there particular episodes that rank among your favorites?
"All The Time In The World" was a great episode, but my favorite, the one that always makes me snicker a little bit is "Mirror Image". Rod Serling was a local around here and is buried less than an hour from where I live. He often used the names of nearby cities in his stories. "Mirror Image" is full of references to places I am very, very familiar with like Binghamton and Cortland.
17. Tell me more about the historic articles you’ve written and the topics you’ve explored.
The first was a three-part series on my family and their role in settling this area. We've been in these parts since the early 1700s. The second was a biography on the man that my elementary school was named after. I had always wondered who he was so started digging and decided it would make a great article for the paper. I've long been interested in cemeteries and love to wander through them taking pictures. I started noticing certain headstone carvings that were similar from one cemetery to the next. The research I did about those became an article on cemetery iconography called "Their Stories Carved In Stone".
18. What was it like to be a Civil War reenactor and what did you learn from it?
I enjoyed doing living history a great deal. My partner at the time portrayed a field surgeon and undertaker, so I learned more about Victorian medical practices than I ever really wanted to know! LOL. Portraying a woman who traveled along with the army, I really came to appreciate all my modern cooking conveniences. Working and cooking over an open fire in a long dress with long sleeves in the middle of August was a lesson and challenge in and of itself. For fun I did some research on what kinds of snacks we could have out and was surprised that jelly beans were one of them! I learned a lot of little things like that in our efforts to present an authentic tableau to the visitors.
19. Tell me more about The Good Men Project and what it’s all about.
The Good Men Project is an online magazine that focuses on all aspects of being a man in today's society. What issues does he face in the work environment? What are some of his relationship, health, or social concerns? How can he become a better man all around and also some fun things dealing with fashion trends and personal grooming. You name it, if it's a 'man thing' they cover it. I wrote about five articles for them, but nothing lately. I've just been too crazy busy with the novels and self-promoting to have had the time or energy to devote to getting back with them as much as I'd hoped to.
20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?
I'm going to have to go with Superman. Batman doesn't even have super powers. He's all about the gadgets. Wonder Woman confuses me. Is she an Amazonian princess or is she part Greek God? I really don't know and don't understand her backstory well.