Interview with Karl J. Morgan

What's the story behind your latest book?
My next book is the fifth in the Dave Brewster Series of Sci-fi novels. It will be entitled The Accord. For those who read Tears of Gallia, The Accord is a known enemy of the Free Society. A human civilization that colonized the Magellanic Clouds has lived in fear forever. Their race (Nan) was demeaned and demonized by the Society of Humanity (The Hive). By fleeing to the Clouds, they hoped to avoid their former masters. While the rest of humanity never did come looking for them, they could not overcome their terror of being overtaken by the Society again.

In order to kept that from happening, they devised a new means of defense. Some of their own people would have their brains removed and placed inside orbiting robots that would guard the frontier. Over time, those human-robot cyborgs grew in power and forgot their human roots. Eventually, they began to view their relatives on the surface as a simple source of protein. The cyborgs (some as large as planets) are running out of food and metal in the Clouds and have set their sites on our galaxy for their new home. Dave Brewster and his friends must find a way to stop them, even though their power far exceeds anything we have.

My context in The Accord is pulled right from the news of the day. Governments become more massive and trample on the rights of the people they have sworn to protect. No one's privacy is protected and the general populace is more like a series of numbers than real individuals with hopes and aspirations for their lives. The thirst for power is insatiable. Thankfully, The Accord is fiction, and no one wants to round us up like cattle for the slaughter, but it does make for a great story. The Accord should be out in early 2014, and I hope you will check it out.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wrote the draft of my first book (Remembrances) almost 30 years ago, back in the day when you'd send your manuscript to publishers and sit back and wait for the rejection letters. At the time, I was working full-time, and when no one seemed interested, I put the manuscript away and forgot about it.

When I got laid off a while back, I had lunch with an old friend who is also a reverend and author. She reminded me about Remembrances and asked me to send it to a friend of hers who is also a indie publisher. I ended up rewriting most of the book, but they were able to help me get it published. Since then, the job market for older men has not improved, and so I've been writing full time. Thankfully, I have a gift of gab and love to tell stories. Now, seven books later, I can't imagine doing anything else, although a steady paycheck would be nice.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I am a stream of conscious writer, which means I just start typing and see where the story takes me. Sometimes I do get an idea for how a book might end, but most often, I look at my screen, reread the last chapter or so, and just start typing.

I love writing dialogue, with two people chatting or arguing about what has or is about to happen. The interplay between the individuals is a lot of fun. I also like putting my heroes in really terrible situations and seeing how they overcome adversity. To be frank, my books have happy endings and the good guys always win. But the strengthening of relationships in hard times and people fighting to win is something I relish to explore. When the battle is over and good has conquered evil again, I feel warm inside and maybe a little teary eyed.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are the greatest! I'm still a new writer and I don't have that many fans, but it is a wonderful feeling to know that someone out there thinks my stories are good. When someone writes a review and says they love stories like mine, it helps remind me why I'm doing this in the first place.

Obviously, I like good reviews better than bad ones, but if the reviewer is being honest, then I need to accept and be grateful they took the time to tell me what they didn't like. It's like when you're a small child and your parents tell you how smart and attractive you are. You are the perfect child. Then you go to school and learn to deal with reality.

I've always been a bit of an introvert, and having fans is a new experience for me. But I will continue to write my very best stories, because I don't want to let them down.
Who are your favorite authors?
Sci-fi is my favorite genre, and I grew up reading Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury among others.
I also crave books about cosmology and quantum mechanics. Brian Green, Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking are my favorites there. When I was younger, I read everything James Clavell wrote, starting with Shogun, which blew my mind. My all time favorite book is "Illusions" by Richard Bach, who probably inspires the spirituality hidden in my work. I am a political conservative, so I must mention Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee and my dog, Chachis. But I've never been the type to lie around in bed. Once my eyes open, my brain is going two hundred miles an hour. That first half hour of the day is when I get my best ideas on what to write that day. By two or so in the afternoon, all the writing ambition has ebbed and it's time to get away from the keyboard.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I belong to a few groups on Goodreads.com where they announce a new book to read each month. I will admit to surfing Amazon for giveaways as well. I have my favorite genres and try to stay in those categories, which are: sci-fi, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and political histories. Recently, I've read some incredible books written by soldiers returning from Iran and Afghanistan. I believe we owe it to these brave people to listen to their experience and honor them for it.
How do you approach cover design?
I have been very fortunate to find two excellent designers. After I've written the manuscript, I think about the various scenes in the book and pick the one I think best exemplifies the message of the book. For my sci-fi books, I love to invent new alien species and stick them on the cover. When the idea for an alien first pops into my head, I'm usually surprised that I thought of it. It is that sense of mystery and surprise that I want a prospective reader to sense when they look at the cover.

Then I'll write down a description of the cover and send it to my designer. I used to meet him in person, but he had to move out of town. He'll come up with a sketch and then we'll go back and forth until it looks best. Then he colorizes it and I'm done. His designs are amazing and I believe his talent is a great asset.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I love my iPad. It's from the first generation, but it still is a beautiful thing. I also have a paper-white Kindle (one of the first ones made), but it's a single use machine. Unfortunately, my eyes are not as young as they used to be, so my iPhone is out of the running. To be totally honest, I'm old enough to relish the feel of a physical book, but the world has changed and I'm learning to deal with it.
Describe your desk
No desk! I generally work on my laptop on a small table that works with my couch well. I used to work at a table, but my dogs got too stressed out (wanting more attention). The table has a small side stand where I can keep my coffee cup or can of Diet Coke, iPhone and house phone for those pesky telemarketers to call. My books come right off the top of my head, so I don't need other papers or things around me.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
That's a tough one. My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot. Before graduating college, I never lived anywhere for more than 4 years. I think that life style had a big impact on my writing. Besides being introverted and moving all the time, I had a difficult family life which all together made me internally focused. I lived inside my own brain and developed a very active imagination, which I hope shows in my books.
What are you working on next?
I think I'm going back to my roots with the story I'm writing now because my first book had strong spiritual overtones as well. It's tentatively called "The Two Doors" and is a parable of sorts. The story centers around a young man named Pete Smith who leaves his small hometown in Iowa to find his fortune in NYC. He is a recent college graduate who was unable to find work near home and knows the big city is where the money is.

While traveling into the city to look for a small room to rent, he is threatened by a man with a knife on the subway. That incident leads him to Gabriel Prospect, whose family business is one of the largest in the world. From that moment on, Pete is caught in the middle of the classic struggle between good and evil, and is drawn along through a series of increasingly sinister events. To make matters worse, Pete has been suffering from lucid nightmares that suddenly started coming true.

Being a stream of conscious writer, I'm not certain where the plot will take me next, but I think it's going to be a good tale.
Published 2013-11-08.
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