Name Chris Morgan
Where are you from
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I have a novel, The Ash Heap of History, being released by Tirgearr on May 24.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
In college, I majored in film, which involved both creative writing (scripts, etc.) and critical writing, both of which I do to this day.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess when I started making real money from writing. Not good money, mind you. I do not wear a top hat and monocle when I amble through the city.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was living in Los Angeles, working on the fringes of the TV writing business. You know, writing TV scripts, getting good feedback, but not getting anywhere. I had an idea for a story that I felt worked best as a book, and so I decided to give it a try.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write comedy, and my work is very pop culture influenced. I grew up an avid watcher of TV and movies, and my love of pop culture makes its way into everything I do. I’m also a fan of turning phrases and eclectic word choice. I like to be able to look at a sentence and say, “That’s a funny collection of words to be used in this fashion.”
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It comes from a Ronald Reagan speech, albeit one that took place after the events of the novel. The phrase “the ash heap of history” refers to things left behind by the inevitable passage of time. Reagan dances around the periphery of the book, so I thought it was a fitting choice. Plus, it’s a cool phrase.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nope! It’s just a bunch of stuff that happens that hopefully is funny and interesting.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
None of it is based on my own life, or the life of anybody I know. It’s about a private investigator in 1980s Los Angeles, after all. However, I made sure the pop culture references in the book were specific and realistic. If I mention an episode of TV, that episode actually aired on that day in that year.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
If I’m being honest, I’m much more influenced by TV and film. The writers I consider role models are TV writers. John Swartzwelder, George Meyer, Conan O’Brien, et al. In terms of influencing this specific book, though, Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice definitely has its fingerprints on The Ash Heap of History.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author is a non-fiction author largely, and that’s Chuck Klosterman. He’s an interesting writer, because half of what he writes is genius, and half of it is ridiculous. That being said, he has a lot of engaging thoughts on pop culture, and he things about subjects like Saved by the Bell deeply, which is something I admire. He’s also got a real way with words. Klosterman is one of those writers that, if I read their work for an extended chunk of time, my internal monologue starts to mirror their writing style.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I don’t really have an answer here.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Well, it’s how I make my money, so yes. Now, I don’t do it from fiction. I write a lot of online pieces about pop culture. I’d love to start making a living writing novels or what have you, but that’s a plan for another day.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It probably sounds arrogant, but not really. I mean, not in a grand sense. I am sure there are small things. Sentences I’d want to reword and what have you. It’s not perfect, but in an overarching sense I’m quite pleased with the book.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t know if there is any specific point I can highlight. Ever since I was 18 I’ve wanted to be a writer. That’s when I started writing scripts and stuff, and decided I wanted to try and be a TV writer. The Simpsons probably played a big role in that. I loved The Simpsons, and I still do, and I started to gain affinity for that show’s writers thanks to audio commentaries on their DVDs. It put the idea of writing in my mind. Plus, I have something of a knack for it.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here are a couple gimmicky TV scripts I wrote:
And here’s a non-fiction book I wrote about the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000:
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes you have a great turn of phrase or a chunk of text in your head, and then the time comes to put those thoughts to paper (or computer screen) and they don’t come out right. Then you have to try and pick it apart to make it resemble your original intent.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The good folks over at Tirgearr handled that.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The book is told in the first person by the protagonist, and you have to be sure to keep the story in their voice, and to avoid omnipotence and to stay consistent with the character. You also have to be able to keep the story going in spite of the fact you have to be in the protagonists head the whole time.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Related to the previous question, how to write a first-person novel. I had never done it before. I had never written a novel this long. I wrote one novel previously, just to do it, and I threw it up on Amazon without trying to get it traditionally published. It’s pretty good, but this was definitely a step up, and the novel I am currently writing, I imagine, will be better than The Ash Heap of History.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
If The Ash Heap of History was made into a movie I’d like to see Kate McKinnon as Blondie. Or maybe Anna Faris. She played a stoner in a movie called Smiley Face, and she was quite good in that film. It’s a worthwhile movie overall. I’d recommend that one.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Be prepared for rejection. I spent years in LA trying to get into TV writing, and I was largely a failure. Even in the realm of book writing, and in the realm of writing about stuff online, I get plenty of rejection and hear a ton of nos. However, and this is especially true when it comes to writing a book, the worst case scenario is that you put it out yourself. You wrote a book, which is a tremendous accomplishment, and if you put it out people will be able to read it and see your work. That has value to it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy it. I hope it’s funny. I hope the mystery elements work. I hope you love ’80s pop culture, because then you will almost assuredly like this book.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I remember in first grade, when we began assigned reading, I was given some book about an orchestra. It proved to be too easy to me so they gave me a book about a dog. I didn’t know the word “through” on sight, so they declared it success. Eventually, I was reading The Borrowers books before the year was out.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The Simpsons is the best thing humanity has ever done. Here’s something that made me laugh uncontrollably recently. I was watching the old game show Sale of the Century. They unveiled the prize, and it was a painting of a woman eating strawberries, and the model on the show was also eating strawberries to mimic the painting. It was so profoundly weird and wonderful and I just couldn’t stop laughing. If this is the kind of thing that sounds funny to you, please buy The Ash Heap of History. You’ll probably like it.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
John Swartzwelder, the legendary Simpsons writer. He’s a genius, but he also has a reputation for being an eccentric, semi-reclusive weirdo. Although, he’s also a chain smoker, so maybe meeting him wouldn’t be so great. In that case, Simpsons writer George Meyer. Or any of the iconic panelists from the ’70s version of Match Game.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I know this is just an opportunity to come up with something pithy or clever or profound or emotional, but I am not going to have a headstone, because cemeteries are largely a waste of space, and I don’t think bodies should be buried in that fashion. It’s one thing to bury a body for it to decompose quickly, but I personally want to be cremated, and then have my ashes thrown in a volcano. I’m not going to waste a centimeter of space in death.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Mostly, I watch TV and movies, which is probably obvious by now. I love playing trivia. I go to a Simpsons bar trivia thing every month. I’ve auditions for Jeopardy twice, but haven’t gotten on the show yet (I’d also love to be on the current iteration of Match Game).
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Five best shows of all time: The Simpsons, Futurama, Mythbusters, Arrested Development, Mystery Science Theater 3000
Five best movies of all time: Repo Man, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Big Lebowski, Goodfellas, Real Genius
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I do not have a favorite color. I’m not sure I have a favorite food, although I enjoy pad Thai and spanakopita. My favorite band is Pavement. I listen to a ton of female-fronted indie rock bands of modern vintage. Diet Cig, Frank Cosmos, et al.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Honestly, I literally don’t know if there is anything else I could have done. Maybe something in TV, like a game show researcher. Maybe I could have worked in a record store back in the day.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Twitter is the best place to find me: https://twitter.com/ChrisXMorgan
Amazon Authors page: