Friday, February 27, 2009

Crime Squad's top ten books for 2008

I'm in it, just - at number 10!

Here's the full list:

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
Quercus £7.99

2. Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith
Pocket Books £7.99

3. Blood From Stone - Frances Fyfield
Sphere £12.99

4. A Simple Act of Violence - R.J.Ellory
Orion £9.99

5. Swan Peak - James Lee Burke
Orion £14.99

6. Therapy - Sebastian Fitzek
Pan Macmillan £6.99

7. Revelation - C.J.Sansom
Macmillan £12.99

8. The Perk - Mark Gimenez
Sphere £6.99

9. Echoes from the Dead - Johan Theorin
Doubleday £10.99

10. A Vengeful Longing - R.N.Morris
Faber and Faber £12.99

And here's what they said about mine:

"Our review said; "A Vengeful Longing is in essence a novel about power, suffering, bitterness and the lengths that people will go for revenge. There is a darkness about A Vengeful Longing that leaves the reader repulsed yet fascinated." Strong and stirring."

I'm thrilled to be included in their list.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I think about when I'm swimming

I spent most of the last year and a bit writing a novel. To stop myself contracting that well-known condition 'writer's arse', I made myself go swimming twice a week, a quick(ish) twenty lengths at Wednesday lunchtime, and thirty lengths (going up to forty lengths more recently) on Saturday morning. That's not a lot of exercise, I know, but more than I have done for a long time. And I am not a strong swimmer, nor a technically proficient one. My breaststroke is ragged and my front crawl raggeder.

I admit that I didn't always manage both of my twice-weekly swims. The mid-week lunchtime session was the one in most danger of being dropped, especially as I approached the end of the novel, and the deadline. Sometimes, I just couldn't allow myself the time away from my desk.

As I swam I often thought about the book I was working on. Not in any useful way. I did not attempt to resolve any tricky plot issues, or sketch scenes in my head. No point really, as I wouldn't have been able to jot down any good ideas that came to me. It's hard to swim with a notebook in one hand.

No, I would just think about the process of writing, and I would carry with me a sense of where I was in the writing of the book, and somehow I would relate that to the act of swimming. So that it almost felt like I was swimming my book.

I would always compare where I was in the writing, how far I was from the end, to where I was in the day's swim, and how far I was from my target number of lengths. When I was more or less halfway in the book, I would get a special sense of harmony with myself when I hit the mid-point of my swim.

My ability to finish the lengths I set myself encouraged me to believe that I would be able to finish the novel.

Now I'm working on the edits of my novel, and there isn't really any analogous phase in a swimming session; except perhaps if I swam an extra length or two after I'd reached the day's target.

I confess I nearly didn't make it to the pool today. My desire to just get the edits done nearly won out. The fact is, I don't really enjoy swimming. It's the same kind of drudgery as writing a novel.

What I enjoy more than swimming is having swum. In the same way, I suppose, I find having written far more satisfying than writing.

And yet I am determined to persevere in both.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Only three steps away from Rigor Mortis

It has been pointed out to me, in a rather cheeky thread on the writers' site WriteWords, that my name is very similar to the phrase Rigor Mortis. It's like one of those word puzzles: How do you get from Roger Morris to Rigor Mortis in three steps?

The solution is:


I couldn't help thinking that Rigor Mortis would be quite a nifty nome de plume for a crime writer, though maybe it's a bit too extreme. Maybe Grigor Mortis would be better. More subtle, I think.

Hmmmm, that gives me an idea.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'll get me coat...

I've just realised I'm being linked to from the Faber and Faber website. It's wonderful of them to do but... it has suddenly made me feel very self-conscious. Looking at the other blogs on the faber blog roll only brings home how much cleverer and more knowledgeable than me other faber authors are.

They write erudite and brilliant articles about the state of the novel, literary criticism, President Sarkozy... meanwhile I bumble on about wooden cooking utensils and make videos about my cat.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ed's blog and a trailer for the opera

Composer Ed Hughes has started a blog. It's here. He's created a rather nifty trailer for the opera, Cocteau in the Underworld, which you can view there.

Oh, I wrote the words.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Roof Whirl Away by Tom Saunders

I don't often write reviews. But I was so impressed by Tom Saunders' new collection of short stories, Roof Whirl Away, that I managed to put a few thoughts together. You'll find them here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Porf-hairy Petrov-itch

The beardy photo of me I posted a few days ago prompted my old friend Nick Primmer (website under construction - oh yeah, we've heard that before) to pen the following, in which he speculates, with uncanny accuracy, about my next novel:


The latest in Morris’s Porfhairy Petrovitch series of crime novels opens with the detective bearded in his den, and scratching his head and facial hair over a mystery of a different type from the usual.

Why will his trusty cut-throat razor not remove his morning growth with its usual alacrity? He had no problems with A Gentle Axe, which although a little tricky to get the hang of did at least remove most of his beard, and indeed a good portion of his body above his neckline too. Similarly, A Vengeful Shaving did the trick, leaving him smooth-cheeked with only the occasional gobbet of bloodied cotton wool to mark the progress of his Gillette across his features. But now, now his latest cut-throat device failed to make any impression on the impressive beard which was already reaching down below his fobwatch chain, after only three days of unrestrained growth.

Petrovitch hefted the aforesaid instrument from the desk in front of him. The edge seemed singularly soft and dull – a telling metaphor for his own detecting powers which he tried his best to ignore. Once more he applied it to his jawline, but as before it slipped across his face without effect. He felt sure the mysterious note left on his desk from R. N. Morris was a clue: “A razor wrapped in silk.” What could it mean? If only it was a mere 75 years later when packaged goods had been invented, he could have worked it out, and would have known to remove the silk before shaving. But no, those days lay far ahead. Confused, clueless, Petrovitch stood and made his way to the kettle whistling on the hob, being careful to avoid tripping over his beard which was now floor length. Why on earth would anyone package goods for sale, thought Petrovich, carefully opening a tea bag and emptying the leaves into his teapot. It was certainly a mystery.

I'm sorry to disappoint Nick, a man so heavily bearded he looks like a Russian monk, but my own facial fuzz received a severe pruning yesterday.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Raskolnikov twitters!

This has made my day! Well, not quite. It was a good day anyhow. But it is very funny. Genius even.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I'm all a-twitter

Well, if it's good enough for Stephen Fry, it's good enough for me.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

So the beard...

... looks like this:

My target length is this:

Or even this:

Bookgasm reviews A Vengeful Longing

My google blog alert showed up a new review of A Vengeful Longing on the Bookgasm website.

I'm extremely pleased with it, especially this bit:

This is period fiction of the best kind: accurate in its details; staying within its appropriate time; even managing to teach us a bit about the society’s norms. And on top of that, you get a rousing good mystery that keeps you thinking until the end. More, please, from Mr. Morris. —Mark Rose

Okay, Mark, I'm working on it! On which note, back to the edit.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Two things

Thing one

Last week I was interviewed by the literary website Authorscoop. They asked for a photo to go with the interview. I thought it was time for a new one, especially as I now have a beard. You can read the interview, and see the beardy photo, here. Thanks to Jamie Mason of Authorscoop for interviewing me.

Thing two.

Jamie is someone I have 'met' through the internet. We actually came into contact through a website called AbsoluteWrite, and linked up on myspace. In the same way, I've virtually met a lot of wonderful writer friends through the American Zoetrope website, set up by Francis For Coppola. Marko Fongo is one of those, and he has very kindly written a wonderful, and very perceptive, review of A Vengeful Longing for his blog ChanceLucky. Thank you, Marko.

More on the beard later.