Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with Author and Blog Fest Winner, Roh Morgon

Today my author spotlight is on, Roh Morgon, who was a co-winner of the blog fest competition celebrating the launch of Koicto. To win wrote a story with a Native American theme and post it on her blog.

Hi Roh!

First tell us a little about yourself and your current projects:

Like Kevin Lazarus - the other blogfest winner! -  I'm originally from southern California, though my stomping grounds were a somewhat wild (as in wilderness) canyon rather than the beach. I had a horse instead of a surfboard, and when I wasn't riding, I was deeply involved in a book. I did have a few crazy adventures as a young adult, which included hitchhiking halfway across the U.S. (warning – do not attempt this stupid stunt nowadays!)

I spent a few years in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado and a few more in the high plains of Wyoming, then eventually made my way to Central California. I currently live in the Sierra Nevada foothills with three mustang horses, two crazy herding dogs, and an extremely patient husband.

My favorite stories to read are fantasy, and have been since I read Lord of The Rings as a teenager. I love epic, historical, urban, and dark fantasies. Lately I've been into combinations of those, especially the blending of historical and dark fantasy.

In fact, a novella I've just finished writing is just that, and an excerpt from it is what I entered into Amy's Blogfest. The Last Trace is primarily set in 1842 Montana, and is the story of a half-Cree mountain man and his encounter with a blood-drinking demon. I've done quite a bit of research to be sure I've portrayed the historical aspects correctly, including having an expert on the era 'vet' it for me to ensure it hasn't strayed too far from reality. The Last Trace, which is part of The Chosen series, will be out as an ebook sometime in December.

My other projects include a YA novel series about shapeshifters, a novella for an upcoming anthology, and of course, the sequel to Watcher: Book I of The Chosen.

When did you start writing, and how long have you been writing?

Though I've done a little marketing and technical writing over the years, I didn't start writing fiction until January 2009. I work full-time, but in the intervening three years I've finished a novel (the aforementioned Watcher: Book I of The Chosen), written two novellas, seven short stories, and have two novels (in two separate series) that are 50-65% complete. My focus is fantasy and horror for middle-grade, young adult, and adult readers.

Could you tell us about the road to publication of your new novel, Watcher?

I wrote Watcher in five months, then spent the next year or so revising and editing. When I looked into submitting it to agents, I kept running into statements on their websites like "We love paranormal, but please, no more vampires." After receiving rejections from several agents, I decided to shelve it for awhile. I started work on a young adult shapeshifter novel that evolved from a short story, and was happily buried in that until February of this past year.

In February, I attended a large writers' conference that I had also attended in 2010. Self-publishing was a hot topic both years, but in 2010, the industry response toward it was pretty negative.

In 2011, the attitude had shifted 180 degrees, and now the same folks who'd been preaching against self-publishing were encouraging writers to check it out. I came home, and after much research, decided to publish Watcher myself.

My husband and I started a small publishing company, Dark Dreams Publishing, then attended a self-publishing workshop in Oregon conducted by Dean Wesley Smith. I hired two editors to go through Watcher, did a final edit myself, and dove into learning book design.

Six months after deciding to self-publish, we published Watcher: Book I of The Chosen, in both trade paperback and ebook formats.

Of course this is a good time to give us a blurb about your book and let us know where we can buy it:

I'm happy to! Here ya go…

Predator. Killer. Monster.

The words echo in Sunny Martin’s head each time she looks in the mirror. Since the night she was torn from her car and drained of her blood, Sunny’s fear of the hungry beast within her is rivaled only by the fear of exposure.

Her lonely struggle to survive on the edge of the human world leads Sunny to the mountain peaks of Colorado where she meets Nicolas, the 500-year-old leader of a hidden society.

Their passion, tainted by betrayal, violence, and murder, reveals a shocking truth behind Sunny's complex nature and drives her toward an agonizing Choice between her heart and the last remnant of her human soul.

~ ~ ~

Watcher: Book I of The Chosen is available in ebook and trade paperback editions from Dark Dreams Publishing. Autographed copies are available upon request.

How did you come up with the story for Watcher?

I woke up one morning in mid-December 2008 with a vision of this lonely vampire woman in my mind. I thought about her, wondering what her story was, and she started showing me. I wrote one page that captured the essence of who she was, then decided to wait until after the holidays to continue. In January 2009, I started writing, and her story unfolded, like watching a movie. She and, later on Nicolas, were relentless in wanting their story told, and so whenever I wasn't working, I wrote non-stop, including nights and weekends, until the first book was done.

What scene did you have the most fun with?

I can't say I had fun with any of the scenes, because I didn't really think about them. The events in the story just played like a movie in my head, and I almost couldn't type fast enough to capture everything. I do remember sitting back after significant scenes were written, completely blown away by what had happened in them.

There were several that really surprised me, though. One was a scene where Sunny discovers a new topiary statue in Nicolas's garden, and I remember feeling as shocked seeing it as she was. I looked up over my shoulder, asking 'where the heck did THAT come from?'

What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to go the self-pub route?

First of all, do your homework to be sure that route is the best for you. Small presses are a great alternative to self-pubbing and should be considered as part of your decision.

Then prepare yourself for a lot of work. You won't get much writing done while you're in the publishing phase.

Find beta readers who will give you honest feedback to fine-tune your story. Then when you think it's as good as you can make it, hire editors to go through it. There are many types: developmental/content editors, line editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. Some will advise you on the storyline and scenes, others will focus strictly on grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Research them carefully. You can check other writers' blogs for their recommendations – my proofreader was recommended on Joe Konrath's blog.

Once the story is ready, you need to decide if you will design the cover and interior yourself or hire those services. I'm not an artist, so had opted to hire a cover artist. But things fell through at the last minute and I chose to release Watcher with the Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) cover that I'd designed. I'm not that happy with it, and am still looking for a cover artist.

I designed the interior myself, which is much more work than it appears at first glance. There are many decisions involved, such as fonts, headers, chapter beginnings, spacing, etc – it can be a bit overwhelming. It took me six weeks to design Watcher using over a dozen traditionally-published trade paperbacks as my guide. I'm pleased with how it came out, and expect my next book will look even better.

Self-publishing requires paying attention to detail, both in the crafting of your story and in the presentation of it. The most important thing is to produce a book that is as professional as you can make it.

You recently went to World Fantasy Convention. What was that like and what did you enjoy the most about it?

World Fantasy Convention is a convention for writers, agents, publishers, and other professionals in the publishing industry. Since it's not a fan-driven convention, authors are more relaxed and much more accessible for a conversation. I enjoyed listening to well-known authors such as Neil Gaiman do readings and talk about their writing. Hanging out with other fantasy writers was my favorite part.

Would you be willing to name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you?

Hmm. Let me see. As much as I love animals and the outdoors, I also love machines. I've driven cars, motorcycles, jet skis, boats, and even a train (yeah, a real train). Haven't snowmobiled or flown a plane yet – those are next on my list.

Thanks for spending your time on my blog!  Best wishes for your continued success.  Where can readers find you on the Web?
Twitter: @rohmorgon
Facebook: Roh Morgon


  1. Thank you so much, Amy, for featuring me on your blog. Your questions were awesome and I enjoyed answering them.

    Now to get you onto MY blog...

  2. Roh, your journey of self publishing is inspiring. You make me want to go for it! Keep writing and I am looking forward to reading your novel.

  3. Great interview and it's nice to "see" you guys. Thanks for sharing your self-pubbing expereince, Roh. That's funny about the difference a year can make to the industry.