Morton S Gray popped by to have a chat with us about writing romantic suspense.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
I have always written. I can remember the delight of learning to read and write words at infant school and I’ve enjoyed both processes ever since. My first novel closely resembled the Errol Flynn swashbuckling films I used to watch with my nan on Sunday afternoons. I gave this first novel to a school friend to read when I was fourteen. I still have the original typewriter written pages.
As with many writers, life then got in the way! I didn’t really write seriously again until 2008 when the need to tell my stories began to build. Of course, you could argue that by then I’d experienced enough of life to have something to actually write about.
I went with a friend to weekly sessions run by author Sue Johnson in Pershore and again discovered the delights of putting down words to tell stories and form poems. Sue mentioned the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer’s Scheme (NWS) and I applied and got a place in 2012. The NWS is invaluable as it gives a critique of a full-length novel for each year you are a member. I had fun and experimented with different sorts of novel – contemporary, historical and timeslip.
I began to enter competitions for first chapters of novels and began to get shortlisted, notably for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance in 2013 with the first chapter of what became my second published novel The Truth Lies Buried.
Eventually, I won a competition in 2016 – The Choc Lit Search for a Star competition for the publication of my debut novel, The Girl on the Beach. I will be forever grateful to Choc Lit for taking a chance on me.
I’ve now had three novels published – The Girl on the Beach, The Truth Lies Buried and Christmas at Borteen Bay – all set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen. My publisher is currently having a look at my fourth manuscript, working title Mandy’s Story.
What do you enjoy about writing romantic suspense? Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?
When I start writing a novel, I only have a vague idea, which might be a place, a person or a scenario. I don’t plan, as for me the beauty of writing a novel is to solve the mystery in my book as I go along. I think if I knew what was going to happen, I would get bored and stop writing.
I love the idea of the mystery and the romance unfolding in my notebook and the story often takes unexpected turns to keep me on my toes and test my inventiveness.
Are you planning on spring-cleaning your bottom drawer, or is spring for you about new beginnings and a new project?
I am currently undergoing a decluttering of the whole house. I’m finding this quite painful and difficult, besides time consuming! I’ve never considered myself a hoarder, but at least the charity shops are benefitting from this experience.
I’ve also made a list of manuscripts that I have in progress. Now I just need to get on and write, edit and submit.
Can you tell us – or hint at – what you’re working on at the moment?
I have literally just finished another novel set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen and featuring Mandy, a character who has appeared in all three of my published novels to date. Next up, is a Christmas novella about the Borteen solicitor.
Do you have writing habits or do you write when the mood takes you?
I always used to be pretty organised, achieving a set word count each day, but for the last eighteen months I’ve been suffering with persistent migraines and strange allergies, which have made writing anything at all quite difficult. Readers probably wonder where I have gone – or at least I hope they do. At the moment, I’m grateful for anything I write at all.
Where do you write? Have you got a little nook at home, or do you write wherever you happen to be?
I’m lucky to have my own study. The only downside is that it is right by the front door and everyone dumps things in there. My favourite place to write, however, is with a notebook and pen in a cosy café with a nice coffee in front of me.
Tell us about your three published novels.
They are all romantic suspense novels, or romance with a mystery to solve as I prefer to say, all set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen.
My debut novel The Girl on the Beach follows the story of Ellie Golden, a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s new headteacher, Harry Dixon. She is convinced that she has known the man before but with a different name. The book is available as a paperback and e-book.
My second book for Choc Lit The Truth Lies Buried is another romantic suspense novel. This one tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past surrounding the disappearance of their fathers around the same time when they were young. This book is available as an e-book, paperback, audio download and audiobook.
Christmas at Borteen Bay is my first Christmas novella. It follows the story of Pippa Freeman, who runs the Rose Court Guesthouse in Borteen alongside her mother, and local policeman Ethan Gibson, as they unravel a family secret as Christmas approaches. The book starts when a body is found on Borteen beach. This one is available as an e-book and audio download.
About Morton S. Gray
Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors. Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina acupressure massage and energy field therapy. She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.