Crime, horror and science fiction writer John Moralee discusses his work and talks me through the importance of his readers.
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.
My writing style developed as a result of studying what I liked reading and figuring out what worked for me. My favourite authors were always the most readable authors – the ones who didn’t show off their literary skills with convoluted sentences, thesaurus-busting words and obscure references to other literary works.
When I’m reading for pleasure, I like exciting storytelling. If a reader can’t follow a story without stopping to thumb through a dictionary, I think the writer should have done a rewrite, making everything clearer. That doesn’t mean I don’t like complex sentences and evocative metaphors, but they have to be carefully done.
It’s my job as a writer to make my writing fun to read, so I ruthlessly “murder my darlings” during editing.
Readability is my number one priority – always.
What drew you towards crime fiction, mystery and science fiction writing?
Growing up, I visited my local library at least once a week, taking out the maximum six books each time. The children’s section had loads of Agatha Christie books and Doctor Who ones, which is probably why I like crime as well as science fiction, horror and other genres.
How did you get into writing professionally?
Writing was the safest option for me and everyone else. I’m terribly dangerous if I try to do practical things. Somehow, I break anything I touch. Maybe I should have become a demolition expert.
Please tell me about your books. What do you believe draws readers to them?
I’ve written four novels and roughly two hundred short stories. My début crime novel was Acting Dead, a mystery set in Rhode Island about a famous actor investigating the disappearance of an old friend. I loved writing that book, but it took years to finish. The research and rewriting was mentally exhausting.
I find it much easier to complete shorter stories, like the ones collected in Edge of Crime, which includes several stories first published in Crimewave and other British magazines. My other short story collections are The Bone Yard and Other Stories (horror), Bloodways (more horror), Blue Ice (more crime), The Tomorrow Tower (science fiction) and The Good Soldier (general fiction) – all available on Amazon.
Most recently, I’ve had some science-fiction stories published in the Visions series of SF anthologies by Lillicat Publishers and ATZ’s horror collection Tricks, Treats and Zombies.
My other novels are Journal of the Living (a zombie apocalypse thriller), The House on Willow Lane (dark fantasy), and The Legend of King Arthur (comic fantasy.)
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
I’d choose Iain M. Banks. His novels were beautifully written. He wrote superb literary/mainstream fiction and science fiction. His Culture books were a revelation, because they were not set in a grim future dystopian society. They had optimism and hope. I liked the way he was successful at writing under two separate genres, using the “M” in his name to mark the difference. The Wasp Factory is one of my favourite books for the incredible denouement. His early death was a huge shock.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
On May 28th I have a story called Imhotep’s Dog published in an anthology of steampunk stories called Clockwork Cairo. The other writers include Gail Carriger, Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. There are twenty stories by steampunk authors in the book, published by Two Penny Books. I’m really looking forward to that.
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?
Yes – too many. I have a massive collection of books that I haven’t got around to reading yet – hundreds and hundreds of books stored in boxes because I don’t have the shelf space – so I really should read those books first. Unfortunately, I can’t resist buying more books by my favourite crime writers, like Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver and Jo Nesbo. They are so prolific that I’m never going to catch up!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes – thanks for interviewing me!
Thanks to John for answering my questions, it’s been fascinating. You can find out more about John and his work HERE.