Ruth Morgan discusses writing the stories that allow her no peace and how to qualify trusted readers.
Why did you start writing?
I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I think my first story was written in primary school. I see the world in terms of stories. I’ve always been fascinated by the reasons humans do the things they do. Where the habits, beliefs, and motivations come from. Writing allows me the opportunity to explore in depth.
What kept you going?
A certain degree of sheer bloody-minded determination. Firstly, to tell the stories that would allow me no peace. And perhaps, initially to some extent to prove to the naysayers that not only could I get short stories published, but win a publishing contract and have a novel published.
What does your writing practice look like when you are working on a book?
I discovered writing a collection of short stories that I work very well swapping between projects. And do. I’ve currently got two novels on the go, with ideas for others. Also working on a number of short stories. When I get stuck, or the ideas decrease, I move onto the next project and allow my subconscious time to figure out what comes next.
The beginning of a book
When did you know you had a first draft?
I know I have a first draft when I can follow the threads that run through a novel. When the ending answers the questions posed in the first chapter. There is nothing quite like typing ‘The End’ even if you know it’s just the beginning.
Developing the work
How do you take on other people’s points of view?
I have a trusted network of readers, and fellow writers. I ‘test’ people out to see if we can work together usually by giving them a short story to read and judging how well the feedback resonates with what I already know doesn’t work and I’m more than happy to have things pointed out that are new. Some feedback isn’t – someone who says that they don’t get the story but offers no suggestions, or who says it’s wonderful – neither are helpful. It’s a fine line giving good feedback. Regardless of what is received, I always have a rule of letting it sit for at least 48 hours before rereading.
Agents and publishers
Any advice on rejection?
It’s part of the whole thing. Unavoidable. We all cope with ‘rejection’ differently. There are nuances in rejection letters too and you learn to read between the lines. Sometimes what you’ve submitted just isn’t for the publication or publisher. Take on board advice, get feedback, polish, polish and polish. Eventually the pain of rejection eases. Celebrate the wins, the positive outcomes, and accept that everything we write isn’t for everyone.
What was the hardest thing about writing and bringing this book into the world?
Trying to change one particular story to make it fit in with what I thought ought to happen, not what the characters and the story wanted to happen. I did everything possible to change the outcome and the story, the writing and the writer suffered. When I acknowledged that the ending was how the ending had to be the whole thing emerged complete, layered and strong.
What has been the most joyful part of the process?
Being surprised. I love it when characters take over and do their own thing and sit there laughing at me wondering why I didn’t get it, or see it earlier. When they develop ideas of their own, and take the whole thing in an unexpected and often rather wonderful direction. I guess, when they come to life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruth Morgan, Author
Ruth Morgan spent the first six years of her life on Wilkurra Station, near Pooncarie in outback NSW. An only child, with animals and adults for company, she quickly developed a rich and varied inner world populated with imaginary friends who went on exciting adventures.
Based in Northern New South Wales, Ruth Morgan loves telling stories of the characters and outback country she knows and loves. Her preference is crime fiction with a twist, her stories set in rural and regional Australia. The harsh landscape with its vast open spaces, floods, trees and isolation are essential elements in her stories, influencing how the tale unfolds, and how individuals react.
Writing since childhood, Ruth was the 2020 winner of the Great Clarendon House Writing Challenge and has stories published on a variety of sites.
The Whitworth Mysteries, Ruth Morgan
Crime Fiction. Clarendon House Publications, 2021
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A collection of short stories set around the fictional town of Whitworth, the Murray River and Hay Plains. The stories are a mixture of crime fiction, police procedurals, mysteries, romance, and speculative fiction. They tell tales of redemption, love, greed, grief, and revenge.Book blurb