Today it’s the turn of author Alison Morton to give us a glimpse into her life as a writer. Alison writes the most amazing fiction – her Roma Nova series of novels which combine alternative history, political thriller and romance is just brilliant. Her latest book is Nexus and you can read more about it and how to get a copy at the end of this post. So, over to Alison.
Alison Morton’s Writing Life in a Day
The dream version
I spring out of bed at 6 a.m., go for a two-kilometre run, return for healthy breakfast of muesli and fruit, no caffeine. Shower, then ten minutes of calming yoga. Dress in relaxing linen separates and drift to my desk ready to start creating at 8 a.m.
The Muse visits and I type out a thousand perfect words before lunch which is a low calorie cheese and salad bowl with a healthy glass of carrot juice. I relax for twenty minutes on the terrace breathing in the fresh country air and gathering my thoughts for the next scene of my wonderful book. Two agents email me, fighting to offer me a five book deal and 100,000€ advance. I decide to leave it a week before I reply.
I return to my immaculately tidy desk and spend an hour reading a research book uninterrupted except by the blackbird chirruping outside my window. After another perfect two thousand words, I stop at 7pm and drink a modest glass of wine in the evening warmth. I go to bed at 10 pm for an uninterrupted night of deep sleep, content that the Muse will visit me again with the plot for the next book.
The real version
Wake up. 6:30 am. Damn, I forgot to finish that guest post for today. So many notes I don’t know where to start. What will they expect? Will it be enough? Must water geraniums before it gets too hot. Gods, my back aches. Tea. Lean over and click the kettle on. Determine to read another half-hour’s worth of ‘duty book’ I said I would review. Maybe it’s me, but I just can’t get into it. Despite the beautiful writing, I have no sympathy for any of the characters – self-indulgent flaneurs, stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs. Pity – there’s a good story in there if it could be dug out of the dark pit it’s buried in.
Reach over and check social media on my iPhone. 100% more interesting. Oh, look a lovely RT from A Famous Person, lots of Likes for a photo of my garden. Spend half an hour interacting on Facebook re books, literary fiction, herbs, history, cats and weather, but see only three books sold overnight on Amazon. 😱
Tea drunk, I head for the shower. Scales or not? Damn. Despite two hours sweating in the garden yesterday, still the wrong side of the ‘You are fat’ figure according to all the health websites. Pull stomach in. No breakfast for me.
Coffee, downstairs to office. Pitiless ‘To do’ list – write own blog, finish guest posts, pitch others, order vitamins, send in tax return, phone doctor re back, check overnight misdemeanours on Facebook groups I admin, read emails, reply to Tweets, schedule a few more, read critique partner stuff, create new graphic to promote latest book, update website page about latest book, skim words of wisdom from other bloggers and so on.
Have mopped floor, emptied dishwasher, answered emails, written this blog post. Can I please have an hour to write my WIP now? Look at my desk strewn with papers – marketing plans, advert analyses, scribbled notes both illegible and unintelligible as I wrote them at 3 a.m. Look through email inbox before lunch. Where is all this spammy stuff coming from?
Lunch. We live in France. ‘Le déjeuner’ is sacrosanct, but only an hour at Château Morton.
Close all social media. Time to engage with the writing process. Ha! My first characters had been running around in my head for years so they were fully formed when I started to write the stories. Of course, I’ve been adding others over the years, so I must check how they’re interacting with the old stagers. Cue spreadsheet with ages and major events.
I have a vague outline of the plot; I know where it has to end, but the detail evolves as I tap on the keyboard. The characters’ quirks and interactions push the story along. Sometimes, they try to stage a coup and take over the show. Excuse me! Who is writing this book? After an hour of negotiation we agree on a compromise and I nudge them back into the story, promising death, agony or separation from their beloved if they don’t behave.
After an hour of this bickering, I go for a tea break and decide I’ll do something calming like marketing. I used to be hot at this stuff, but everything has changed as it does in the book world, so now we’re into Amazon ads, BookBub deals and most ghastly of all, Facebook ads. At 6pm, I give up and go for a large glass of wine and a small supper.
Watch the news at eight, something vaguely history related on BBC4 (via satellite) or an episode of Star Trek or equivalent. Fall into bed at 11pm, read. Lights out at midnight. Rinse and repeat.
Anne: Thank you to Alison for this fascinating insight into her writing life – both pretend and real 😊. You can read more about her and her latest book below.
From the Back cover of NEXUS
A favour for a friend or a bullet in the heart?
Aurelia Mitela is serving as Roma Nova’s ambassador in London. But a spate of high-level killings wrenches her away from helping a friend search for his missing son into leading a pan-European investigation. Badly beaten in Rome as a warning, she is devastated when the killers kidnap her companion, Miklós, and send an ultimatum: Back off or he’ll die.
But Aurelia is a Roma Novan and they never give up…
Set in the mid 1970s between AURELIA and INSURRECTIO in the Aurelia Mitela Roma Nova adventures.
NEXUS buying links
Alison Morton writes the award-winning Roma Nova series featuring modern Praetorian heroines – “intelligent adventure thrillers with heart.” She puts this down to her deep love of Roman history, six years’ military service, a masters’ in history and an over-vivid imagination. She blogs, reads, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband.
All six full-length Roma Nova novels have been awarded the BRAG Medallion. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. SUCCESSIO was selected as an Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller. Novellas CARINA and NEXUS and a collection of short stories – ROMA NOVA EXTRA – complete the series so far.
Social media links:
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site: here
Facebook author page: here
Twitter: here @alison_morton
And you can investigate all of Alison’s books on her Amazon page here