Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Ten Questions - Julie Morrigan

After a short break, Ten Questions returns with North East Brit Gritter, Julie Morrigan. Echo and the Bunnymen were wrong about a few things in their time, and 'Spare us the cutter' was way off the mark when the cutter in question is Julie's Cutter Trilogy. So bring on the dancing horses, sail the seven seas, and see what makes Julie click.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just published Cutter’sFall – the final novella in my north-east gangster trilogy – as well as the combined Cutter Trilogy. The ebooks are selling really well at the moment, and I’m currently pulling together a paperback edition which will be out soon.

Next up should be a brutal serial-killer thriller novel – provisionally called The Last Weekend – that lies somewhere between Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and a slasher horror flick. It’s been a work in progress for quite some time now, but the latest draft should be off to my editor very soon.

Why did you start writing?

It’s something I’ve always done since I was little – I started writing my first novel when I was around seven. I remember feeling a sense of surprise when I discovered there were people who didn’t write – for me it’s as natural as breathing. I suppose it’s about looking at the world from different viewpoints and trying to make sense of things. That and trying to provoke a reaction, to make the reader feel something as a result of reading a story, whether that means they love or hate a particular character. That emotional connection is vital.

Where do you write?

I don’t really have a special writing space; I probably write most often on my laptop just sitting on the settee in the front room. I’m lucky in that I live on the coast and have a great view from that seat – even though at the moment the sea and the sky are a uniform grey and it’s raining, I can still see the lighthouse, and the waves crashing over the pier. When it’s dark, I get to see the lights on the boats sailing into the harbour and on good days, when the view is mostly blue and white, the yacht club often comes out to play.

Is your writing inspired by real events?

Yes, sometimes. On occasion the real world can be so much more fucked up than anything the most twisted crime writer can dream up. For example, one story I wrote was inspired by a supposedly true anecdote I was told about someone being strangled with barbed wire. Gordon Cutter – the vicious crime boss in my novella series – was at least partly influenced by real-life counterparts who should probably remain nameless. Like most writers, I think, I’ll read or hear something in the news, and then the ‘what if?’ factor creeps in and kicks off the imagination.

Do you have enough time to write?

It never seems like it. It’s at least partly because in my ‘everyday’ profession I’m a ghostwriter, editor and proofreader; so having spent the day working on other people’s words it’s sometimes an effort to make progress on my own! But it’s worth the effort, whether that’s adding a thousand words to a work in progress, or just scribbling down a perfect five-word character description that’s just popped into your head.

Have you got a favourite author/genre?

For leisure and pleasure I tend to read crime, sci-fi/fantasy and horror. Favourite writers include Philip K Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Roger Zelazny, Ian Rankin and Stephen King.

Physical book or e-book?

Either – it’s the story that matters, not the format. Ebooks arguably allow more flexibility in book length, which can be positive for both writers and readers. A traditional publisher of physical books wouldn’t generally touch a short novella, for example, but some of my most successful ebooks have been shorter than novel length.

Who should we look out for?

If you enjoy police procedurals, I can recommend Chris Simms’ DI John Spicer series. They’re meticulously researched, very well plotted, and Spicer is a great character. I was late to the party with these, but that meant there were a bunch of books to go at once I’d found them. I’m currently reading Sleeping Dogs, which is the seventh in the series.

What question would you ask yourself?

What were you thinking?

Where can we find you?

Monday, 23 May 2016

Greenhouse mkII

Just like a Ford Cortina, sometimes mk II surpasses the original. Not true of all sequels of course, Jaws, Star Wars etc, nowhere near the original.

Last year, I polythened the old greenhouse thing on the allotment and it survived the summer but not the winter.

Early this year, work began on rebuilding. Firstly I gave it a coat of bargain shop wood preserve then fixed the door and one front side panel.

Then, someone kindly gave me a load of polycarbonate sheets.  I was originally going to use thicker plastic sheet, but the polycarbonate panels are much stronger and easier to fit.

 A few weeks later and a bit of bracing and it's getting there.

Finally, about ten days ago, the job was finished. It maybe needs a bit more bracing and sealing, but it's workable for the summer.

From the other side. Note the glass has somehow stayed intact for over five years. The end panels were all I had to replace on this side.

Finally, four days after fixing it, I fell over a gate while chasing the dog after she escaped, and I broke my big toe.

A week after doggate, I'm still not able to walk unsupported and so far have been nowhere near the allotment. Part of the bone that's fractured (turn away if you're queasy) has rotated 90 degrees so the Doc said it will be at least six to eight weeks before it's healed, maybe longer if it doesn't set right. I'm hoping in a few weeks I'll be able to go up the allotment and do light duties. Until then, the new greenhouse remains empty.