Morton Morelli .
I live in the English countryside in the United Kingdom with my family.
I have self-published my first novel at the age of 53, Sardine Packing and it is available now on Amazon in paperback or on Kindle. I also have my own website and I also have the book available here in hardback. www.mortonmorelli.com
I do have a separate source of income and I have to do anything and everything to do with getting my book out there, as and when I can. But my desire is to move to publishing full time from January 2018.
Like most writers, I have to write all of the time and right now I find myself penning short stories while I am working on my second novel, the sequel to Sardine Packing. So basically I am currently immersed in my two lives. The working title of my new book is “The Gathering”, I haven’t decided to definitely use it yet as it is the title of a film from 2013, but it wasn’t that well known so I may go with it.
Over the last three years I have gathered a good team around me, to publish my first novel, they include hardback printing, web design and even animation advertisements and I am making all of these services available from my website.
I have had a life in business and I am drawing on that experience when putting together my author services. I concluded that the space between a decent draft of a novel to the final publishing is where companies make money. When you break down the individual services they are far cheaper than the support packages out there. So I have all of the services to be purchased individually but without any share of royalties.
My business experience indirectly includes publishing. I was a 50% shareholder and the Managing Director of a finance company. As an exercise in self-promotion we supplied copy to newspapers and magazines on finance and eventually we supplied over 100 different UK publications at the peak.
My ability to write, at that point was limited, but I was always an ideas man and my business partner took up the slack from a technical perspective. But this is 20 years ago and I feel my skill is now far sharper than it was when we started out. Practice makes perfect, so the saying goes and I am practicing quite a lot these days.
Off the back of the newspaper & magazine success, we produced a book on finance and again I was the ideas man. I went out and raised money through advertising and made it a reality. My business partner took most of the writing duty, not that I didn’t contribute, at the time he was just the stronger choice, but I was busy on the reality of selling the finished product.
So we produced a book and self-published. We had a print run of 15,000 and sold the majority, but it again was a side issue rather than the main event. As it promoted my main business, so it didn’t matter if I gave some away. The book was revised after about 2 years and we printed another batch, around 5000 or so. Again they all went. So I have that in my background, so I have to see that as the start of my dabbling in writing and publishing.
But when I look back over my life to think about the question, “when did I first start to write”, I go back to aged 17. I am a musician and I have written several songs over the years and I recall one that I recorded when I was around the age of about 17. So I have put pen to paper many times in my life outside of business, but never with a focus on selling the content that I have created. But creativity is in the basic makeup of my character.
“Do I consider myself a writer”, this is a good question, especially as it follows my answer to the last question and you know some of my writing background. But the straightforward answer is ‘now’. I feel like a writer now, because I have written a novel and I see that as a substantial task. So, thanks to my 90,000 word novel, “Sardine Packing”, I feel now that I can call myself as a writer.
When it comes to the desire to write, I believe it comes from the love of reading and I have always been very aware that someone took their time to write a story that I was enjoying and I always thought that I should throw my hat in the ring. Not in a competitive sense, just that I should put an effort into the creation, to balance my always taking from the pot.
Inspiration for the content of “Sardine Packing”, came to me in two sections and both were when I was walking the dogs. My novel starts in World War 2, don’t let that put you off reading it, we are only there at the start, it moves to today and those two sections came separately. I genuinely feel that there is an endless amount of creative that exists outside of our physical self’s and once plugged in, it is hard to stop it flowing through you. Don’t ask me to explain this as I couldn’t.
Looking at my personal writing style it would ultimately have to be someone else’s assessment, but I take my lead from simple page turners by the likes of John Grisham. Light, easy to read and potentially and hopefully commercial. As a reader it is usually the top 10 that I will buy and read. I have also read the classics, but I have no desire to attempt write highbrow material. But I can capture the answer simply by saying, it must be a good story.
The title of my book is “Sardine Packing” and this is the deplorable term the Nazis gave to shooting Jews and letting them fall like Sardines in a can. Not only is the very principal abhorrent, the term adds to the lack of any compassion to those poor people. I saw it in a documentary on World War 2 and I had to use it as my title. I believe I have a commercial issue, as the title is not attractive in isolation, it only works when people know what it means, but as a title on the shelf, it doesn’t have great appeal, but it nevertheless will remain the title.
So you ask, “Is there a message in my book”, and I have to say yes, we must never turn away and let this happen again. It is the reason the title has to stay, it needs to be known and it must not leave our collective consciousness, we must do our best for this to never happen again.
But of course the world in certain countries is at war today, with the Middle East being particularly volatile and there are 1000s of innocent people dying. I have a simple idea to set up a web site calledwww.givepeaceachance.com and see if we can create a world community of ordinary families to say we do not want to fight. It is politicians that go to war, but they send us and I would like to stand up against that. Like a single focus Facebook. I will almost certainly do this, but I can’t right now, but it is right on my horizon.
“Is my tale realistic”, yes it is. The World War 2 section is 14,000 words and the present day is 76,000 and both sections can be related to real events; albeit it is not related to any particular person. The way the past and present is connected is not something that could be claimed as factual, that would be debatable, but you need to read to find out what I am referring to as I can’t give that away.
My story is not related to me or any people I know. What does happen in my writing, some things that people say, during my day to day life, filter through. A Chinese restaurateur saying to us once, “It is the best wine you can get”, sticks in the mind and could easily be said by a character in a story, but there would be no other link to the person or situation.
The single most influential book for me is Stephen King’s book “On writing”, a memoir of the craft. He ultimately gave me permission to write in a natural free style and to go where the story takes you really worked for me. The alternative instruction manuals I have read on the craft, were actually quite off putting. Everyone should read Stephen King’s book no matter how good or popular they are. I also turned to it for editing advice and it contains all that you need. I remain in his debt.
At the point I gave this interview I am reading John Grisham Theodore Boone. I love Grisham, he has a great style, straight into the story very quickly. They read so easily and I like to just relax while I am reading so this is the sort of book I would seek. As I said above, a good story is all that I am looking for.
Since making contact with hundreds of authors on Facebook, I now realize that I am guilty of not reading anything by new authors and I have started to address that. The trouble is, I read on average a book a week and the most popular authors keep me in new stuff to read. So I am guilty of not really being aware until now, that there are lot’s of people out there looking for a reader.
Currently I am writing the sequel to my first novel. Up pop short stories in-between, as I alluded to above, once I am open to receive, more comes in that just the principal work, so yesterday for example I wrote a very short story, about 1000 words about an author who writes horror and it had sent him mad. Probably something to do with the work load I currently have influencing me.
The act of writing is absolutely a solo activity and I find that people wonder why I am doing it, especially family, but no one stood in my way; I know it is not quite the same. But I am forever in debt to Kristina Walters, not literally as I have paid for her services. I approached Kristina in 2012 , she is a wonderful English Tutor and I simply chose her from a Google search as she was closest to my home. So some fate was at play there as she was perfect.
I met her and said that I have a story and it is complete in my mind, but I don’t have the English technical ability to put it on paper. What we agreed to do, I would write and then she would teach me what I was doing wrong. I got better and better during the process and she has become the external editor. Stephen King said, you already know enough words and he was right, I never once went searching for any word, they were known to me. But Kristina made sure the grammar was right. She was also brave enough to cross some of my work out and literally say “that is rubbish, go away and do it again”. Although that only happened at the start and I soon improved my 1stdraft of each chapter.
I really do want writing to be a career; my ambition has never had a ceiling. What I think I am, is realistic and I see lots of people out there writing and so it must be fairly difficult to stand out and make enough money to make life comfortable. But I have business in my blood and my whole adult life has ultimately been around sales, so I feel I have the ability to take it and run with it.
But there is an element of luck in any walk of life, so lets’ see how far I go. I would like to make a living and it won’t be through lack of trying if I don’t. But the motivation is to keep writing because I found a place that I love, it was a surprise that I love writing so much, I am a very outgoing social person who likes talking and I wouldn’t have guessed that siting by myself bringing a story to life would be such a pleasure.
I am a happy person so I wouldn’t change anything in my life. I want to write full time as stated above and I am doing what I need to do to move my life in that direction. Part of me would love to have found the desire to write novels sooner, but I don’t live in regret, it is not my style, I am always looking forward with a clear vision of where I intend to go. Luck and or fate will play its part.
My current project, Sardine Packing 2, working title, “The Gathering”, brings many of my characters from book 1 back. I have 50% of the story in my mind and I need a little more of the plot to appear. I tend to do what I call “passive thinking”, I relax, say in a sauna, and let it come to me rather than over think it.
I don’t find the actual writing challenging, but being able to set sufficient time aside to actually do it, because of my day job. This is why I would rather have writing as a career to give me more time to write. For me personally, editing was no fun. The writing poured out at speed and was great fun, both doing and seeing what you had created and where you characters ended up. But taking these jigsaw pieces and piecing them together, or even having to craft the missing pieces to allow the puzzle to be completed, I found was hard work, but obviously essential. This was the hardest part of writing, but I have no doubt that it will get easier
On the question, who is my favourite author, I am torn between John Grisham and Stephen King. I am not into horror, but Stephen King is far broader than that and his ability to tell a tale is phenomenal. Grisham gets straight to the point like no one else. So quickly are you beyond trying to work out who everyone is and into the tale itself. So I will have to name them both for slightly different reasons.
What I discovered during the writing process is not only that I want to write, but I feel that I need to. I am drawn to write something all of the time. Facebook allows me to do very small pieces of writing and that is almost like it is keeping the hunger at bay. But short stories are like a decent starter and keep me satiated, while I wait to sit for my main meal, book 2. It needs to be soon as it is calling me and it needs to be done.
The best advice I can give to someone that wants to write, is just do it, as the sports brand says. You simply have to sit with a pen in hand, or mouse, personally I like to write longhand and do a mini edit when I type it out. But whatever way, you have to just get on with it. It is a selfish act and people around you will always try and find you something else that they feel is more important. If you are going to write a book, start now, no excuses. I am putting on writing seminars later this year and it is designed to get beginners started. Please see my website for details:www.mortonmorelli.com
To all of those people that choose to read my book, I would simply like to say please just enjoy it. It is a story at the end of the day and nothing more. Whatever message, or anything else that we may allude to in this interview, it comes down to this for me, I like stories and this is just that. Is it historically worthy, accurate or any other critical analysis of it, probably not, but don’t let that stop you actually just enjoying the story.
“Do I remember the first book I read?” no. I know that I read James Herbert as a 17 year old, so maybe one of his Rats series, but I don’t know with any accuracy. My family are not readers, other than newspapers, so it wasn’t something I was encouraged to do in my childhood, other than books from school. As I am the sort of person that always looks forward, I tend to drop my personal history as being less important to me, so I typically don’t retain facts like this.
I laugh all of the time and at anything funny. I tend to see funny in the ordinary every day experiences and I guess it is just my perspective. I see a lot of other writers often “like” my funny wordy comments, so I guess observation is normal for a writer. Things I laugh at would include Peter Kay, a UK comic, who is wonderful, it is basic humour, just like Laurel & Hardy. The funniest program ever for me is probably Fawlty Towers. Things that make me cry, I am old school and keep it all in, so it doesn’t happen anywhere near enough. But the film Sarah’s Key, a current film, will bring anyone who watches it to tears and I thoroughly recommend it.
“Who would I like to have lunch with?” After saying what I have said above, I would have to say Stephen King to say thank you for showing me the way. He has been famous for so long, he must be sick of people like me creeping up to him to him to wallow in his shadow, so not sure I would try to make it happen. I have had lunch with Prince Philip, the current UK Monarch. It was me and 30 other people at a private function at Windsor Castle and it was to do with the Princes Trust. I believe you can choose to meet almost anyone and you could make it happen, but I have no one on my wish list today. Not unless they can take my book forward.
“What would I like to see written on my headstone?” wow, what a question. I think I need to think about that so next time someone asks I have a good answer. It would not be one to please the masses, just one where my kids think that was a nice thing to say. I like Spike Milligan’s, an English comic, “I told you I was ill”. Evel Knievel has an uplifting message about you fail but you are not a failure if you don’t give up. But I will want to use the opportunity to tell my kids not to worry about me, as dying will be natural. Obviously I would rather be here for them than not and it is their sadness that I would like to alleviate with the right words. ‘Don’t be scared of dying’, might do it.
“What are my hobbies”, well they are actually many and varied. As I said above I am a musician, main instrument is the guitar to a good level. I love skiing and I also love anything to do with the sea, water skiing, etc. Reading is also important to me as I am sure most writers would feel the same. Reading is good practice for writing. I did a lot of car racing; mainly track days which reduce the risk somewhat. Compared to an average driver I am very fast, particularly in tight bends, as we drove Caterhams and Ferraris that were great in the bends.
“What do I watch on TV?” I really like some of the box sets, all the big ones that everyone likes such as 24. My all-time favourite box set is the Soprano’s, I am not into violence but they do it in a way that is essential to the plot. I think it is because each person that dishes out pain is also likely to be on the receiving end. It remains the one box set I can watch more than once. Films, I watch all top movies but wouldn’t be looking for horror particularly. A good story essentially and comedy is also a draw for me.
My taste in Food, I have got very good at cooking Indian curries and I am not bad a Chinese; so others tell me. I love cooking at home as we know what the quality of the original produce is. But while in Italy, or France I really love their food too.
The music I listened to when I was growing up was Genesis and other prog rock. But today, I love the Beatles more than ever, they were just so absolutely brilliant. Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, the Eagles, these were my favourites as a young man and I still like them all today. For all-time great voices I like: Elvis, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, among the best ever. So I have a very eclectic, with these kinds of peaks.
“What is my favourite color?” I have always answered that as Orange, I think because orange flavoured things appealed more than others. So I will stick with that for this interview, but it is not well thought through. Maybe I should give it more thought.
Looking back at something I should have done, I would like to have done anything that takes me to the sun. Maybe living on a beach owning a resort and seeing the guests happy a bit like Walt Disney did and what a great man he was.
My website is already available www.mortonmorelli.comI have my book available in hardback and there are the various author services available and I look forward to helping new authors out there. I am open and approachable and welcome contact from anyone that I can help or answer any questions about my book or writing generally. I hope you found this interview interesting, I have answered the questions posed honestly and I hope you will give my book a chance.
Until we meet again.