Nicola Morgan is very kindly publishing two of her out of print novels as a double ebook today, thus enabling me to put my famous profile questions in front of her. She’s a woman made to answer questions, you know. Here, to celebrate the publication of Sleepwalking and The Passionflower Massacre, I give you epublisher Nicola:
How many books did you write before the one that was your first published book?
Three and several halves. And an eighth.
Best place for inspiration?
Not at my desk. Either out for a walk on my own (but not in a scary place, otherwise I start worrying who might be following me with an axe, instead of whatever idea I need to be inspired by) or ironing, cooking or any kind of housework. In other words, things where my body is occupied and I can’t go on social media or check my emails. (Though, actually, I can and do check my emails in all sorts of places, including while walking or doing housework…)
Would you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Perhaps you already do?
I don’t think so. But if I had to, I would. And then I’d go to the launch party and tell everyone how absolutely amazing that “Petronella Dietrich” is.
What would you never write about?
Space. And anything else that a) bores me rigid and b) I don’t understand.
Through your writing: the most unexpected person you’ve met, or the most unexpected place you’ve ended up in?
I slept in the house where Alfred Noyes used to live, at the invitation of his daughter (because I was writing The Highwayman’s Footsteps.) I sat on my bed after dark, reading The Highwayman poem while listening to a cassette of Noyes reading it, and when I opened the curtains and looked out of the window, the moon was a ghostly galleon.
Which of your characters would you most like to be?
Matilda in The Passionflower Massacre. But only after the massacre and before the last chapter. And also probably a year after the book ends, because she’ll take at least that long to recover, though she will.
Do you think that having a film made of one of your books would be a good or a bad thing?
Definitely good. Even if they changed everything, as they can, it was and is still my book and they can’t change that. They just create something new out of it, which is good. And I get paid, which, frankly, is not to be sneezed at.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked at an event?
“What is your name?” and “How does someone as nice as you write such nasty books?”
Do you have any unexpected skills?
It depends what you expect! I’m damned good with an electric drill. Shelf, anyone?
The Famous Five or Narnia?
Narnia, as long as I can alter the personalities of all the children and ignore the religious references. And add in Timmy the dog.
Who is your most favourite Swede?
You mean apart from you?! Well, perhaps Greta Garbo, because I also often vant to be alone. But perhaps Astrid Lindgren. Now, I confess I didn’t know much about her other than that she was obviously a hugely successful children’s author, but I’ve just discovered that she once incurred a 102% tax rate, so I reckon she deserves a mention. And a rebate.
How do you arrange your books at home? In a Billy? By colour, or alphabetically?
Teenage and children’s books in my study (children’s books by age of child or size of book and by visual rules; teenage books alphabetically) and others wherever shelves can be found, never alphabetically but according to where Mr M and I agree they should go, adhering to unspoken rules and our own internal logic. A selection of interesting and light fiction and non-fiction in the spare room.
Which book would you put in the hands of an unwilling eight-year-old boy reader?
The Marvin Redpost books by Louis Sachar. And The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer. I know you asked for one book, but an unwilling reader needs lots of choice. Then he could read all the other Louis Sachar and Eoin Colfer books. When he got tired, because reading is tiring when you’re eight and unwilling, I’d read Clemency Pogue, Fairy Killer, by JT Petty, to him, followed by One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson. And that would be that.
If you have to choose between reading or writing, which would it be?
You mean forever? I’d never be able to do the other one? Meh. Reading. I’d have to be very arrogant to think my writing would keep me more inspired than all the other books there are to read. And I’m lazy and writing is hard.
Thank you! Very interesting questions.
Yes, they were, weren’t they? And finally an intelligent person who could detect my ulterior motive regarding the Swede question! Honestly, how hard can it be? (After today no one is allowed to pick me, however. Copycats.) And I’ll have a shelf or two, thank you, Petronella.