Interview with Diane Morrison

When did you first start writing?
Well, I remember telling my great uncle a story about the sun and the moon using orange Melmac coasters to illustrate at about four! But in all seriousness, I knew I wanted to write from the age of ten. I knew it was what I was born to do.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Okanagan Valley in the BC Interior. It's about five hours from Vancouver and it has a history of cattle ranching and cavalry forts. I think you can certainly see elements of those settings in my writing! I also experienced a lot of bullying growing up. I was the nerdy smart kid who was socially awkward and not at all good at sports. So I think I have a natural sympathy for underdogs.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
You know, I actually do! There was this read-along book about a pink sea monster dragon named Serendipity. When I think about it, it probably had amazing impact. The reason I learned to read it was because Mommy didn't want to read it to me again. Thus I knew what words like "Serendipity" meant. And I wanted to be in a world with pink dragons. Who can't love pink dragons? So I guess it taught me to love reading, love fantasy, and love vocabulary. Kind of "serendipitous" that I have ended up becoming a fantasy/sci-fi writer, wouldn't you say? ;)
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Aside from the one about the sun and the moon? Or the stuff I wrote in kindergarten? Okay, the first "serious" stuff I wrote when I was ten, and I don't remember which of the two was first. I was probably writing them both at the same time because I do that. One was a tale of a demigoddess that might have been a good predecessor to Percy Jackson. The other was basically a retelling of Escape to Witch Mountain blended with Firestarter. Powerful kid psychics had to flee to a place they'd only heard rumours about, where other psychics of equal power had their own community apart, and government people who viewed them as a threat and wanted to experiment on them were pursuing them. I think they were both terrible! But my classmates loved them! I remember one peer (her name was Michelle) told me that she thought that I was really going to be a writer someday. Guess she was right!
Describe your desk
My kitchen table, more often than not. Though I do have a study set aside to work in, I rarely do. More often than not, I'm sitting at the kitchen table or stretched out on the couch with the laptop earning its name.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Wyrd West Chronicles are inspired in part by Weird West stories and in part by a personal roleplaying game where we were trying to do something really different. I describe it as "Tolkien-meets-Tombstone," set in a post-apocalyptic cattlepunk setting. Gunslingers are holy knights with guns in a world that includes everything from steam-built constructs, to mutant monsters, to faeries and elves and other creatures of myth, to unholy knights with guns. And yet, they're legitimately Westerns as well. It's an epic genre mashup! I think that no matter what you may have read that's similar, what I'm doing isn't quite that. But I think (I hope!) I am successfully honouring all of its disparate roots.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Honestly, it was trying to find a home for the Wyrd West Chronicles. My first story, Showdown, is an awkward length; a novelette, about 8000 words. You can't find placement in magazines or publish with novel publishers at that length, and the places where it might fit that I submitted it to refused it on the grounds that "it feels like part of a larger work." I realized that they were right, and I realized that there was a whole world of short fiction out there in ebook publishing. I decided my best format would be an ebook serial. And thus, here we are.

I have published traditionally under "Sable Aradia" with a non-fiction book on Wicca called "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power," so I've seen a little bit of both sides of the coin.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I enjoy getting into the heads and hearts of my characters, putting them in extraordinary situations, and seeing how they deal with those situations. Exploring possibilities through the eyes of other people is a good way, I think, to explore how we might deal with the adversities in our own lives. Or perhaps, to escape them for a while, and that's just as good.
What do your fans mean to you?
I am often afraid of disappointing my fans. I want to give people something to believe in, and I often fear that when I fall short (which I inevitably will, being human) that I will take something away from them by doing so. I want to empower and inspire. So it's important to me, if I have done that for someone, to know that I have. Having that kind of relationship with fans inspires me! When people ask me questions about characters they liked, for example, I may choose to write more about that character than I intended to, because it matters to me that people want to know. Or when I am feeling discouraged, which I often am being as I am subject to depression, it just might be the balm that keeps me going.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ah! Long list! Okay, in no particular order: Stephen King, Lois McMaster Bujold, Margaret Atwood, James Tiptree Jr., Alfred Bester, Robert Heinlein, David Weber, C.J. Cherryh, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Madeline L'Engle, Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Tanith Lee, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Virginia Woolf, and J.R.R. Tolkien. And since Western fans are going to ask, I have read a lot of Louis L'Amour, but I have recently discovered a liking for the quick, plain prose of William Johnstone.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Sheer stubborn? Okay, again in all seriousness, I was extremely depressed and suicidal as a teenager and young woman. So this is not a flippant sort of question. There are days, even now, when getting out of bed is a lot of work and it seems hardly worth the effort. But I had an epiphany in my youth that while all pain stops if you take yourself out of the equation, so does all hope. What keeps me going is the possibility that tomorrow will be better than today, and the prospect of finding joy in whatever the day might bring.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I try to have experiences! I am in a polyfidelitous relationship so my partners require (and deserve) a good deal of my time. I have a dog and a cat and Blue (my dog) gets me out of the house. I play music and dabble in it semi-professionally. I have a part time job at a bookstore to pay my bills until I've sold the movie rights. ;) I play a lot of tabletop roleplaying games! When I can, I travel. And I read. A lot.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Sony Reader. It's kind of archaic too. But it works!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually by a friend's recommendation. I won't lie; I still prefer a good paper book! But ebooks have the benefit of being flexible and portable, and that's always nice. I often read books I would otherwise be missing in a series this way, and I will download technical books that are expensive in print form. I might try a book in e-format as well and buy it later in print.
What is your writing process?
Okay, without an essay -- an idea comes to me. It might be a snippet I heard on the news, or read in a book, or picked up from a conversation. Could be anything. I turn it around in my brain mostly through daydreaming for a while. Then if it's going somewhere, scenes come to me in dribs and drabs. If they stick with me long enough, I come up with a plotline that strings those scenes together. Then I figure out what the story is that I'm trying to tell as a result of all this. Then I write it. Usually cobbled together in bits and pieces when I get the time on my laptop and cell phone. Except for when I'm researching, which I usually do as I go.
What are you working on next?
I have a lot of projects on my plate right now! First of all, the next story in the Wyrd West Chronicles, "Vice & Virtue," is scheduled for release in a couple of months. I have just finished a spinoff from my fan-fiction series the Toy Soldier Saga for a romance anthology called "Chasing Fireflies," to be released July 1, so I'm editing that at the moment. I'm writing flavour text for a Grit & Vigor RPG sourcebook called "Tales of the Stellar Deep" which is Raygun Gothic meets the Cthulu Mythos. I am writing a story about the apocalypse in the days of the Napoleonic Wars, which I intend to submit to a SNAFU anthology from Cohesion Press. And I'm editing a story that I intend to submit to a Tesseracts anthology (a significant publication in Canadian science fiction). And there are two ongoing novels; one of which is LGBTQ high fantasy, the other of which is hard science fiction. And the fan-fiction project, to complete the Toy Soldier Saga, continues of course.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Nice try, Smashwords! I actually don't know yet if it will! But I like that Smashwords publishes to a variety of platforms that otherwise are difficult to publish to and that they're all in one place.
Published 2017-04-06.
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