Monday, May 28, 2007

Audiobook review.

Audiogeist has very kindly reviewed the audiobook of The Gentle Axe, read by Simon Vance and found it "a fabulously dark and descriptive story from the outset".

You can read it here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The New York Times weighs The Axe.

Thanks to everyone who has alerted me to this review in the New York Times. You may have to register to see it. It's free to do so.

Otherwise you can look at the same article that also ran in the International Herald Tribune.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Late to the tag party.

Absolutely ages ago I was tagged by Nik and Lucy.

Sorry it's taken me so long to get to it, guys, but here goes:

1. Do you outline?

2. Do you write straight through a book, or do you sometimes tackle the scenes out of order?
I write the ending first. Then write the rest of the book.

3. Do you prefer writing with a pen or using a computer?

Pen. Or quill.

4. Do you prefer writing in first person or third?

5. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, do you create a playlist, listen randomly, or pick a single song that fits the book?
No music.

6. How do you come up with the perfect names for your characters?
I steal them from Dostoevsky.

7. When you're writing, do you ever imagine your book as a television show or movie?
I’m describing a movie playing in my head.

8. Have you ever had a character insist on doing something you really didn't want him/her to do?
I just kill them off if they won’t behave.

9. Do you know how a book is going to end when you start it?

Yes. (See answer #2.)

10. Where do you write?
Mostly anywhere.

11. What do you do when you get writer's block?
Buy a new notebook and a new pen. The ones I’m using obviously aren’t working any more.

12. What size increments do you write in (either in terms of wordcount, or as a percentage of the book as a whole)?
It’s a variable, i, which can be expressed as follows i = wcI/dh. Where w=words, c=coffee, I= inspiration, d=distractions, h=hangover. In other words, about 0.2% a day, on average. Ish.

13. How many different drafts did you write for your last project?
One. Then the editor went at it.

14. Have you ever changed a character's name midway through a draft?
Unintentionally, yes.

15. Do you let anyone read your book while you're working on it, or do you wait until you've completed a draft before letting someone else see it?
No one reads it until it’s ready.

16. What do you do to celebrate when you finish a draft?
Open a bottle of wine.

17. One project at a time, or multiple projects at once?
One at a time, these days.

18. Do your books grow or shrink in revision?

19. Do you have any writing or critique partners?
No. Though I did swap manuscripts with Hannah Holborn for Taking Comfort.

20. Do you prefer drafting or revising?
I don’t know the answer to this. I revise as I go along.

I'm going to duck out of tagging anyone else, as I'm so late to this that I'm sure everybody else in the world has already been done!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Someone with an Axe to grind?

I've been accused of a shocking crime, compared to a Blairite government minister, described as a child of New Labour’s crass privatisation of everything. Thanks to me, apparently, Dostoevsky has been "privatised and sold off for the gain of others: a very neoconservative modus operandi".

The charges are made in a South African newspaper, the Mail and Guardian, where Darryl Accone asks:

"How many readers who have never heard of Dostoyevsky will work out, from the epigraph and “acknowledgement” [in A Gentle Axe], that the very fine Porfiry Petrovich and his search for psychological motives are really a protagonist and ideas that belong to someone other than RN Morris?"

I am even accused, slyly, of not knowing how to spell Dostoevsky's name. In fact, Mr Accone creates a spelling mistake ('Dostoesky') and inserts the term [sic], to imply that the mistake was mine. Mr Accone's preferred transliteration of the name is Dostoyevsky. I spell Dostoevsky without that 'y' in the middle, which is an acceptable transliteration widely used; I do not omit the 'v'.

Oh, and the decision to put the acknowledgement at the back was made by the publishers, not me. It is at the front in the American edition.

Leaving that petty and rather cheap trick aside, I am actually very flattered by Mr Accone's article. This quote was particularly gratifying:

"Morris has very imaginatively continued Petrovich’s career after the resolution of the Raskolnikov axe murders in Crime and Punishment. In stealing from the best, he has at least shown intimate knowledge of the original: “his” Petrovich is psychologically consistent with Dostoyevsky’s, and employs analogous methods of investigation and deduction."

Thank you, Mr Accone, that's actually the nicest thing anyone could have said.

You can make your own mind up by reading the whole article yourself.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Another one where that came from.

Just found out about another Taking Comfort review, this time on Don Capone's Hit List.

Remember Taking Comfort?

I know I've been concentrating on the Axe recently, but it's only just over a year ago that my other novel, Taking Comfort, was published in the UK by Macmillan New Writing. Taking Comfort came out in the States and Canada recently. Big territories. Easy for a little book to get lost. But I've been lucky to have a couple of very generous people take a chance on it and pass on their impressions. One of those is the writer Ben Dooley, a contributor to the literary website The Millions.

He says:

A novel about materialism may sound, at first, cliche, but it's carried off with a deft touch, the material presented in a way that is at once fresh and familiar. Morris plays a dangerous game with his narrative, constantly switching perspectives and focusing the action in each chapter on the relationship between a character and an object. The gambit pays off, as we're shown the inner life of a multitude of characters, both incidental and essential to the main action of the story, a tactic that allows Morris a hard-to-achieve combination of introspection and brisk pacing.

Read the whole thing here.

My thanks also to the writer Ania Vesenny who was kind enough to plug Taking Comfort in an interview on Kelly Spitzer's blog. The interview is really worth reading (aside from the mention of TC) because it's a great introduction to Ania. Apart from anything else, she lives in an extraordinary place called Baffin Island, which I would imagine has an interesting effect on her writing. And the novel she's working on sounds amazing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A sunny day.

Two new reviews today. One in The New York Sun, which finds the Axe "a smart, hypnotizing tale of crime and duplicity." Read the whole thing here.

The second in I Love a Mystery. This one concludes:
"I would hazard a guess that even the Russian literary master himself would find Morris' debut entertaining, or at least amusing. In fact, Dostoevsky might be inclined to give Morris a pat on the back for not only grasping the underlying personality traits of "his" detective but also giving Porfiry center stage in his own novel.

R.N. Morris is an exciting new talent with a very promising future. Regardless of whether or not you are familiar with Dostoevsky's work, it would be a crime not to read this highly entertaining novel."

The whole thing's here.

And it was a sunny day. I sat in Soho Square at lunchtime reading my current paperback, Kafka on The Shore by Murakami - which, I have to say, I am enjoying very much.