Interview with Ann Morven

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I browse online, searching for favourite genres or authors. Sometimes a new name appeals because of a striking cover or a good blurb, and then I'll take a look at a sample. Sampling is a must for me nowadays. Too often, and even with a print copy in a bookshop, I have rushed to purchase and been disappointed. Once I find an author I like I'll look at everything they have written.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I used to make up stories for my son, inventing as I went along while monitoring his expression for the effect. From age 2 to age 8 he was my inspiration (and unsuspecting tutor) in the art of creating fiction. Most of all, it was a most satisfying exercise for a new mum. Later I wrote down a few of these tales and later still had a go at writing a mystery for adults. It was a short story, and I sold it for a couple of quid to Central Press, a London agency that supplied features for newspapers. Its title: "The Man Beyond Suspicion". I have always enjoyed reading whodunits, so I suppose it was natural to begin writing them. I also love country music, which is why my female sleuth follows that vocation. Her very first case was bought by the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (The Clue of the Willy-Willy, set in outback Australia. This same story has been republished as Blood On The Wind). Since then, Sheil B. Wright has visited other lands to sing, solve murders and irritate various police investigators throughout the world.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember Myths And Legends, author unrecalled, a gift from Grandmother. It was beautifully illustrated and comprised the Greek and Norse tales, creating a lifelong interest. I think I was five. My Dad read it to me, as he did Grimm's Fairy Tales. My first full length adult book, read by myself unaided, was a whodunit, title and author unrecalled. I was eight and found it in the ship's library on a long cruise. The plot involved a passenger liner, which explains my interest. The killer was the investigating detective!! This compelling read might explain my love of whodunits. It was followed on the same voyage by Tarzan Of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
How do you approach cover design?
Not being an artist, I browse online for Oldmaster paintings that might fit my story. These, or details taken from them, are incorporated into a 5x8 cover using Microsoft Publisher.Of course, I have to check before using anything that it is free of copyright. Sometimes I use a photograph I have taken myself. For instance, the old and mossy gravestones on the cover of The Killing of Hamlet are in an ancient church cemetery at the village of Cromarty, Scotland. Murder Piping Hot blends my own Macleod tartans with my photo of sacred Aboriginal rock art.
How important is an opening hook?
I believe the very first sentence of a book must grip the reader, even if it is just the rhythm of an author's narrative style. This is what I always look at myself when sampling a book. Naturally, I try to make my own openings appeal in this way. .
What do you read for pleasure?
Murder fiction, courtroom drama, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and gentle feel-good humour. Romance rarely appeals to me, although a well written love story can hold me captive.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My laptop computer. But frankly I prefer a traditional printed paperback.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Hard to say, but my guess is press releases to the world's newspapers and requesting a mention in the newsletters of special interest groups.
Describe your desk
Cluttered. One of Professor Parkinson's laws is that when an office becomes tidy it ceases to be creative. And that's my excuse.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Travelling to many lands with my parents. My father was a soldier and, in peacetime, Married Families were posted around the globe. This has certainly influenced my stories, as has my lifelong career as a journalist working in different countries. It is the reason my bumbling female sleuth, Sheil B. Wright, upsets the police in a variety of nations. I used to raise similar ire from corrupt politicians!
What's the story behind your latest book?
The ongoing Shakespeare Debate. Was he Marlowe, Oxford, Bacon etc? In The Killing of Hamlet, my whodunit linking Shakespeare to modern murders, I give my own suggestion and reckon it is every bit as plausible as the theories put forward by learned academics.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The knowledge that I am in total control of my work.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The advent of Smashwords was a godsend providing a distribution resource previously unheard of.
What are you working on next?
Top secret, but it is a multi-murder whodunit in an exotic setting. Bumbling sleuth Sheil B. Wright will face a death sentence!
Who are your favorite authors?
At the moment, Caroline Graham, Michael Connelly, Alexander McCall Smith, Dennis Lehane. Sadly missed is George Macdonald Fraser and his Flashman comedies.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The thought of a brisk walk conversing with the birds in a clean dawn air.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, gardening, walking, spoiling my three grandchildren.
What's the hardest part of writing a story?
Getting the plot right, so that it fits the natural inclination of the characters without seeming to be contrived. Often after completion I discover a "fatal flaw" which needs lots of hard thought to amend. Being immersed in my story makes it easy to gloss over inconsistencies, so I put the work aside fora few weeks after completion, then read again as a stranger. Then a painful rewrite. Then, joy! I love it.
Do you write from start to finish in sequence, or do individual scenes separately?
From start to finish is usual in a short story, with minor revisions later. My novels demand lots of revision after my first draft has set a basic structure. Rewriting sections is a pleasure, the first draft hard work..
Do you get fan mail?
Sometimes, and it's pleasing to hear of the enjoyment a book brings to its reader. I also send fanmail when the author's email address is known, just to say thanks for a good read.
Do you write on a PC, laptop or by hand?
On my laptop. Some passages, the more tricky ones, I write longhand into my notebook and then transcribe, editing as I go.
Is researching a book difficult?
It's mostly a pleasure, entailing library visits and lots of reading. Also internet browsing. The internet is a boon to authors for fast checking facts or discovering vital information of all kinds.
Published 2014-03-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Crime Please!
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 33,050. Language: English. Published: May 30, 2012 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
CHILLS AND CHUCKLES . . . This selection of mystery tales by Ann Morven, diva of the whodunit, varies from the macabre to the magical, yet always a gripping read. Whether it is widowed Marjorie cultivating weeds, Luckless Liz trying to strike it rich or balladeer Sheil B. Wright bumbling along a murder trail, readers are assured of sizzling entertainment.
The Right Royal Bastard
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,640. Language: English. Published: May 8, 2011 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
Alleged true heir to the British throne, a Black Australian singer is murdered on the eve of inheriting a fortune. To unmask the killer, bumbling amateur sleuth Sheil B. Wright opposes a police Anglophile and a sinister toff from Buckingham Palace.
The Seventh Petal
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 46,510. Language: English. Published: January 4, 2011 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
A creepy castle, hidden treasure, and the murders keep coming. Bumbling balladeer Sheil B. Wright finds a corpse and intrudes on an isolated weekend group in the Scottish Highlands. While a dunce at deduction, she’s well versed in human frailty and traumas of the heart. But can she catch a serial killer?
The Killing of Hamlet
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 42,360. Language: English. Published: December 8, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Visiting folksinger Sheil B. Wright, hired to sing old ballads, witnesses a real murder on stage during the premiere of a newly discovered Shakespeare play. The English village audience, however, see Sheil as the killer. To clear her name she must challenge hi-tech forensics. After a second murder, Sheil finds a 400-year-old clue, and this makes her the killer's next target.
The Widow's Golden Weeds
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,000. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Everybody praised Marjorie’s gourmet wonder, yet her closest neighbour was determined to destroy it. Not just a short story, Ann Morven's delightful narrative includes the bonus of some delicious dandelion recipes.
Look In The Well
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,250. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
A young couple with children buy a house at suspiciously low price. The ghostly urgings that follow could not be denied. An old well can hold all manner of things. In this creepy yarn, the suspense is well written, the denouement amusing, and the final twist a chilling horror. Ann Morven knows how to grip from her very first sentence.
Birthday Snakes
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,940. Language: English. Published: May 19, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Hired to sing for a sultan, professional entertainer and amateur sleuth Sheil B. Wright is accused of stealing his priceless birthday jewels. To clear her name she must find the real thief, but an angry cobra has its own deadly agenda.
Luckless Liz And The Lotto Dream
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,640. Language: English. Published: May 16, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Most people agree that superstitions are silly, yet those same people think twice about flouting them! In this light-hearted family tale, author Ann Morven captures the instincts and frustrations that motivate all mums, and there’s an end twist that inspires. This tale is short and sweet, yet could well charm your own vital goodluck.
That Lovely Feeling
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,240. Language: English. Published: May 15, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Love and murder, both passionate pursuits, share a jungle retreat for millionaires. In this tangled habitat of lust and fear, cash-strapped Sheil (make ’em laugh) is hired to sing. She hunts for clues and herself falls prey. Whodunit diva Ann Morven's tease is more risqué than her usual. It is a scary tingle of delight, featuring her popular heavyweight chump of crime fiction.
Murder Piping Hot
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 46,100. Language: English. Published: May 14, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Mad bomber at large, bumbling amateur in pursuit! Folksinger Sheil B. Wright is sole survivor when a Scottish ritual is fatally disrupted in Australia's green Southwest. Sheil challenges pedantic police inspector Sheryl Holmes, descendant of the great Sherlock, finding clues in a lovesong and smutty verse by Robert Burns. Passions are unleashed. The killer decides Sheil must die.
Blood On The Wind
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,300. Language: English. Published: January 19, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
You never know where murder will strike. This brilliant short whodunit first appeared 1993 in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
Swamp Magic
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,080. Language: English. Published: January 19, 2009 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Romance » General
Young woman trapped in a magic spell? It happens all the time in fairy tales; now, in this short story, author Ann Morven weaves her particular fancy around a global modern problem, the extinction of rare species. In this light-hearted romp, magic twists unpredictable spells, yet isn’t love itself the greatest magic?
Kill Him Sweetly
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,950. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2008 by Darling Newspaper Press. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Christmas ain't happy when you're next target of an unknown killer. This award winning short-story of 3240 words is by the whodunit diva Ann Morven.