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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Meet B.A.Morton, Yeovil prize winner, a British crime and romance writer

Big thanks to B.A.Morton for taking the time to appear as a guest on my Blog to tell us about her prize-winning novel 'Mrs Jones' and about her writing in general.

A new writer with no literary training or background, just a passion for reading and scribbling, B.A. can't ride a bike or drive a car, and computers are a mystery to her, but she can tell a story. She says 'Imagination is a marvellous thing ... sharing it with others is even better'.

'Mrs Jones' by B.A.Morton (Night Publishing) available

A British girl with a secret. A New York cop with a past. And a mob that wants revenge In the slickest, sneakiest twistiest-turniest hard-boiled crime noir novel to come out in a long time, ruggedly pragmatic but honest cop Detective Tommy Connell picks up an English girl, Mrs Jones, who claims to be the witness to a murder, and promptly falls in love with her. Well, Mrs Jones, whoever she is, must be very attractive because an awful lot of people seem to want to get their hands on her if they can prise her from Connell's determined grasp, including some prominent representatives of organised crime and the Feds. Detective Connell definitely has his work cut out here if he wants to end up with the body of Mrs Jones, dead or alive, that's for sure. All-in-all it's probably safe to say he hasn't a clue what is going on. It is probably equally safe to guess that Mrs Jones does. Not that 'safe' is quite the right word to use here or, there again, maybe it is. 

amazon uk

Interview with B.A.Morton

 Good morning, B.A.
In French, B.A. is what we call a German Shepherd dog, a Berger Allemand, so the name suits a crime writer. Why did you decide on the gender-neutral author's name?
 Initially I felt it would avoid any gender stereotyping…women can’t write crime can they? I quickly realized that there is no protecting your real identity, if you’re to successfully promote your work.

You're described as a 'crime and romance' writer. Tell us about the romance.
Romance is part of life, in varying degrees. Sometimes it will take centre stage, most often it  simmers quietly. I find it difficult to create a character without showing how they might respond to a variety of challenges, love being just one of them. I like the “will they won’t they” scenario as a side dish rather than the main course.

There's a lot of talk about 'genre writing'. What does this mean to you? Do you think you've found your genres?
I’m not convinced that you can write in one genre only. Life encompasses many things. Most writing reflects this. I write what I like to read, which is primarily character-driven crime thrillers and historical fiction/fantasy with a dash of romance and humour thrown in for good measure. I think genre labeling is useful for marketing and helpful for readers to find what they enjoy amidst an overwhelming mass of available books.

So now we know you're a woman, what other secrets are you willing to share about your life?
 I’m a Geordie girl. In my time I’ve been a civil servant, nursery nurse and even did a stint at a greyhound track. I like creative hobbies, the outdoors and medieval history. I can be bribed with chocolate J 4yrs ago my hubby and I sold up and escaped the rat race to live in the beautiful Northumberland National Park. Our home, which is built on the foundations of a medieval chapel, features in my historical fantasy book 'Wildewood'. I’ve been a scribbler most of my life, but only began writing seriously after our move to the country.

'Mrs Jones' was published on Createspace and Kindle at the same time by your publisher, Night. How has this worked for you? What if anything will you do differently with your next book?
'Mrs Jones' is published through Tim Roux at Night Publishing, an Indie Publishing Company which produce e-books, and use Createspace and more recently Lightening Source for paperback production. This has worked well for me as a new author. Night provides a strong support group via fellow Night authors along with promotion and advice. Night edit, publish and provide e-book promotion. The only downside so far, is the delay in getting paperbacks onto Amazon UK. Independent publishers don't have the overheads of larger publishers so they are definitely more willing to take a risk on writing that's not genre-specific. Night now has almost 120 books to its name, but is still a small press compared with the big publishers.

Is 'Mrs Jones' part of Kindle's exclusive publishing? What are your views on KDP?
Yes Mrs Jones is currently enrolled in KDP. The book achieved 15,000 downloads during the five day free promotion and went on to reach number 87 in the paid kindle chart. KDP provides the boost to take your book where it will be seen. The higher the rank achieved, the more chance of browser sales. 'Mrs Jones' will also receive payment from Amazon for any loans made to their premium customers during the promotional period. There is of course a 90 day tie-in which prevents the book from being loaded onto other e-book sites. I would say my experience to date of KDP has been a positive one.

Are you worried about other booksellers not stocking amazon titles?
To be honest, bookshops in general are wary of POD and anything that's not backed by a big publisher. Amazon is the biggest market place so I'm not worried at the moment. Ask me again in six months when my paperbacks have had a chance to sell...or not. In the first two days of the promo, 'Mrs Jones' was borrowed 70 times. I won't know until the end of the 90 days what the total
amount of borrowing was or indeed how much that is worth in real terms. Looking at the numbers that have taken up the KDP offer, I suspect the $500,000 cake has been reduced to mere crumbs. 

The value of KDP as I see it, is getting your book high enough in the ranking, even if for a matter of days, to publicise and promote it. The more folk who download, whether for free or paid, the more folk are introduced to my writing. Which is particularly useful with the next book being mentioned in the back:) 'Mrs Jones' will be withdrawn at the end of the 90 day period to allow it to be sold through all the other outlets via smashwords.

You mix British and American characters and cultures in 'Mrs Jones'. How did you manage to find the voices for people from such different backgrounds? Were there any difficulties?
Good question. It has proved extremely difficult, not only with Brit/American language, but remember…I’m a Geordie…I don’t even speak EnglishJ It has been an education, which I may master, then again I may die trying, but I’ll certainly give it my best shot. To be honest the hardest part is culling the Geordie-isms which come so naturally, they remain unseen to me. A good reason for that extra pair of eyes.

At one time 'Mrs Jones' was posted on Harper Collins authonomy site. What were your experiences with authonomy? Would you recommend other authors to use the authonomy site?
Authonomy introduced me to the world of writing. Prior to me joining, no one had read my work. 'Mrs Jones' benefited immensely from constructive critique and I made some good friends. But as a means to publication by Harper Collins, it remains a pipe dream and in my opinion a waste of valuable time which could be better spent writing and honing the craft. It can be harsh, but the real world is harsher, so in that respect it is a good place to learn and develop resilience.

What are your writing habits?
I work part-time so I tend to write in the evening, often into the early hours. I don’t write a set amount, I write when the muse takes me and stop when I run out of steam. I have at least four manuscripts on the go at any one time. When I reach an impasse with one I’ll refresh myself with another. I enjoy research and gather extensive details and chronologies to ensure any facts used are accurate.

What are your top tips for other writers?
 Don’t try to write what you think publishers want. By the time you’ve finished it, publishers will be on to the next best selling craze. Write about things you know, or would enjoy reading about. Get it down in whatever garbled state it comes out of your head, warts and all. It’s your story, your voice. Then go through it so many times, that you know each line, each expression, every mood or preference of your characters. You’ll get to the point where you change things because you know in your heart that your character wouldn’t do or say that. I’ve changed whole plot lines to accommodate a developing character. When you think it’s complete let someone else read it. They will undoubtedly see things you’ve missed.

What have been your best moments as a writer? Why do you do it?
Having success in the 2011 Yeovil Literary Prize was a huge confidence boost. For the first time my work had been judged by professionals in the industry, who'd read 15,000 words of the novel to which they awarded 2nd prize. Being published, of course, was a wonderful moment. But possibly the best moment of all, was holding a copy of 'Mrs Jones', my first book, in my hands…wow! I write because I have stories leeching out of my pores. I like to share them and hope others might enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

You've promised a sequel to 'Mrs Jones'. Can you give us a hint of what will be in 'Molly Brown'.
'Molly Brown' takes the characters from 'Mrs Jones' forward by about 18 months. Connell’s on the trail of crooked cops and a serial killer. A vulnerable child with an obsession for the Wizard of Oz throws in a curve ball and Connell risks his life and his relationship with Lizzie as he seeks to save the child and the day. There are delicate plot threads which link this to the first story, and indeed to the third book, but all can be read as stand-alones.

What’s next?
I’ve already begun the third Connell book and 'Wildewood', which is due to be published this year, is the first of a trilogy, so, plenty to keep me busy. In addition I have two darker crime thrillers which I’m currently working on. One of which is set in the north-east of England, my own stomping ground.

Congratulations again on the Yeovil Prize - a really great achievement. The judges' comments can be read  here

I believe people can meet you in the flesh at the Yeovil Festival?
Yes, I’ll be at the Yeovil book festival in Brympton, on 20th April 2012, reading from my books and chatting about the highs and lows of the new author.

Thanks, B.A.! Hope you get plenty of readers coming to meet you at Yeovil.

My review of 'Mrs Jones' will be on the blog shortly.


  1. Fascinating interview, Jean – interested to see that your favourite types of books are so similar to my own favourites, Babs.

  2. Nice to meet you B.A. Morton 'in the flesh' so to speak. I loved the interview Babs and will blog it for you. Tee