lennox morrison
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The fantastic author of Re-Inventing Tara talks about balancing novel-writing with her career in journalism.

What inspires you to write?
Ever since I was a little girl in my attic bedroom, listening to Mum reading about Narnia, I’ve been readily spellbound by a good story. At nine years old I launched a magazine called Family Fun which ran to several dozen editions and always included at least one serial. As a journalist I never tired of hearing people confide about their lives. Now, in my novels, I love presenting the emotional insights I’ve gained through fictional characters rather than through real people who might be hurt by my observations.

How long does it take you to write a novel?
My first novel, Re-inventing Tara, was written at weekends and holidays from my full time job interviewing celebrities for the broadsheet newspaper Scotland on Sunday. It took me about nineteen months.
With my next novel, Second Chance Tuesday, I’ve had the luxury of working on it full time. I spent about two months doing research and then began writing…I thought I’d be finished very quickly but got caught up in doing publicity for the first book…then I got invited to speak at the Edinburgh International Books Festival on How to Re-invent Yourself as a Best selling Novelist … and was also asked to write a couple of short stories. By the time I hand over the second manuscript I reckon it will have taken me about 12 months.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
I like to start writing first thing in the morning when my dreams are fresh. As soon as I wake I put on my lilac dressing gown, make a cafetiere of coffee and sit down at my lap top. I work by the south facing bay window in my living room so if there’s any sunshine it can illuminate my ideas. I don’t get dressed and showered until it’s time to buy a lunchtime sandwich and have a wander in the fresh air. In the afternoon I drink more coffee and write for as long as I can before going to the gym to leap about and get my circulation going again. I tell myself I’ll work in the evenings but this rarely happens. I do, however, keep a notebook by my bed and last thing at night I pull the telephone connection from the wall so I won’t be disturbed when I start writing again in the morning…

Is it harder to start or finish a novel?
Deciding when to let go of a story and send it out into the world is almost as hard as embarking on it in the first place.

How did you go about finding an agent and do you think it's necessary to have an agent?
Although I’ve heard of authors who’ve successfully approached publishers themselves, you’re far more likely to have your work accepted and to get a fair deal for it if you go through an agent. I was very lucky. When I’d written the first six chapters of Re-inventing Tara I showed them to Giles Gordon of Curtis Brown who took me out for lunch, encouraged me to finish the manuscript, and then introduced me to his colleague Ali Gunn who said that reading my book was as enjoyable as ‘eating a box of chocolates’ and immediately signed me up.

How do you cure writer's block?
Having worked for years as a journalist I see writing as a craft and am rather sceptical about writer’s block. If writing leads to a dead end then maybe it’s because the story isn’t strong enough or the characters aren’t sufficiently vivid? Or it could be you’re using writing to exorcise personal demons and are unable to continue because the process becomes too upsetting.

What is your all-time desert island book?
A blank notebook so I can keep writing stories…and the book I was reading before the ship
sank…I’ve just embarked on Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White and would try to balance it on my head as I swam ashore…

What's the biggest myth about being a writer?
When you’re a journalist people accuse you of making things up. When you’re a novelist they accuse you of writing directly from real life.

What advice would you give budding authors?
Don’t talk your book, write it.

What can readers expect from Lennox Morrison in the future?
My next novel, Second Chance Tuesday, is being published in early 2,004 by Time Warner Paperbacks. The heroine is newly divorced and ready to start her life afresh but first she’s got to confront sibling rivalry and come to terms with a family secret she could never have guessed… In the meantime I’ve contributed a bitter-sweet short story about friendship, Happy Hour, to the collection Scottish Girls About Town, published in April 2003 from Sim
on & Schuster. For further updates, take a look at www.lennoxmorrison.com