Brian K. Morris
Brian K. Morris is a freelance writer, independent publisher of novels and comic books, vlogger, occasional actor, and former mortician’s assistant. A professional writer for over 20 years and full-time since 2012, Brian specializes in genre-blending fiction, mixing contemporary fantasy, pulp action/adventure, horror, and humor.
Brian currently lives in Central Indiana with his long-suffering wife, Cookie, no children, no pets, and too many comic books.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
Just try and stop me.
My latest book, The Haunting Scripts of Bachelors Grove began as a short book tied to a Kickstarter campaign. This was to be a thank-you gift for one of the pledge levels for a comic book I helped write and edit. Well, there's no project I can't complicate so what was going to be a small book with four of my comic scripts and a new horror prose story turned into a memoir about my time writing for small press comics as well as three new horror novellas. I doubt I'll ever learn.
My newest publication is an all-ages comic book, The Ghostly Tales of Spencer Spook # 1. My good friend Ron Frantz bought the '40s comic book IP from its owner and entrusted me to do the comic. My artistic partner, Eric S. Hawkins did a great job on the comic and we have some great variant covers by Eric, Scoot McMahon, Ken Wheaton, and Ty Templeton, all four of whom have professional comics credits that we all could merely aspire to.
And currently, I'm writing a sequel to my 2015 book featuring my fantasy heroine, Vulcana, entitled The Prometheus Frame-Up.
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
Time management, mostly. Aside from that pesky "balance of life" various HR departments talk about, I not only have to create new product for my own imprint, Rising Tide Publications, but I also write for other publishers too such as Silver Phoenix Entertainment, ProSe Press, TwoMorrows Publishing, GCD Publishing, Lion's Head Press, and others.
In addition, since I'm as small as small publishers can get, I handle the business side of Rising Tide with my wife's help. But I come up with most of the promotional plans, supervise the editing process, book personal appearances, and handle the 1,001 things that all business people must during the course of their 16-hour business day.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
This won't sound like I'm a suffering artist, but I actually enjoy the process of crafting a story, regardless of the medium -- novels, novellas, short stories, comic books, audio plays, stage plays, etc. -- from start to finish. Yeah, I even enjoy the editing process. There's something very wrong with me.
In fact, the challenges of each format add to the enjoyment of storytelling for me. Can I give the editor what they want to publish and what my audience wants to read? Also, can I do it within the framework of the format and editorial edicts? Most of what I do is because I want to challenge myself creatively. Again, something is wrong with me.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Well, I already gave up a full-time nine-to-five and also the time vampire I call Television to do this. I also gave up people who didn't believe in me and who try to kill anyone's dream of being published.
5. How did publishing your first novel change your process of writing?
My first book was for the late Amazon project, Kindle Worlds. My first book, Bloodshot: The Coldest Warrior, was based on a popular comic book, of which I happened to be a fan. To do that book, I stopped writing fiction by the seat of my pants and actually worked out the story from an elevator pitch, to ensure I had a decent concept, to a full outline with all main plots and subplots. I can't imagine reverting to my pantser ways ever again. I doubt my nerves could handle the strain.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
I have enough unfinished works to choke a good-sized landfill. I'm not totally joking as that's where most of those manuscripts wound up. In fact, my first novel that I wrote between my freshman and sophomore year in college was so gawdawful that when I moved to Indiana, I made certain the manuscript was destroyed. My reputation, such as it is, couldn't handle a catastrophe of that magnitude.
No surprise, I can't give you an accurate count. But I figure if I never revived those concepts, either I got the story out of my system or they weren't tales worth telling to begin with.
Of course, this doesn't count the recently-written stories that are winding through the piplelines of other publishers. I figure I did my share of the work so I won't rush them with theirs ... well, not much, I hope.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I honestly wish I had more reviews! Most writers of my acquaintance tell me that they also get a lot of compliments, but a frighteningly small percentage of those turn into Amazon or Goodreads reviews. I don't think a lot of our loyal readers realize how helpful even a two-line review can be to us. Even two and three stars are useful, believe it or not.
But don't write in text speak. "U suk B" helps no one.
I love seeing good reviews because my sometimes-bloated ego will accept nothing less than total adulation most days. Please add that I'm grinning when I say that. Seriously, when any review goes into why they did or didn't enjoy my work, that's quite useful. I can take that criticism, positive or negative, and if it improves my work, I can endure the soul-crushing pain of rejection. I'm smiling again, by the way.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Heh, very rarely. My Art Director, Trevor Erick Hawkins, keeps on me to plant some Easter Eggs. He knows I use multiple inspirations for my stories and he would totally fanboy if I gave in to his urges. I mean every novel, every TV show, every bar of music I've ever crammed into my skull winds up in my work somehow. I'm striving, however, to not let all my influences show, at least not blatantly. It annoys Trevor, but I sleep better at night.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Wow! We could be here all day answering this one. I have a number of great friends who are writers and I apologize in advance if I've omitted anyone, which I have. Now pardon me while I flex my name-dropping muscles.
I travel around, and network with, a number of writers -- mostly from the Midwest -- such as Amy Hale, Cathy Jackson, Kenny Sills, Monica O'Leary, Jeffrey Allen Davis, Sam Phillips, Molly Daniels, Ron Frantz, Jason Nugent, to list but a mere few. We trade tips on possible good places to hold signings, push each other to try new things in terms of our writing and our marketing, and generally make each other laugh when we need it most. The best part is we pull each other up when the inevitable depression and negativity grind us down.
Of course, I'm enjoying interacting with my new Iowa friends, now online but as close as my heart. You all rock!
I'm also acquainted with some considerably larger name writing talent, but I'm not sure MY dropping their names will fill them with pride. However, I hope to BECOME the name that people drop.
10. If you could tell your younger self about writing, what would it be?
Be glad you didn't take that job as chauffeur for that Mafia Don, Brian. They shoot the driver first, you know.
Seriously, I'd tell me to work harder, to focus more, don't let the everyday world grind you down, and the harder you work, the better it gets. Oh, and the technology will catch up to what you want to do. But forget about the flying cars and the warp drive washing machines.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Hope you brought a lunch. This could take a while too.
Too many writers have no business plan or even a design for it. I think you need one to assess your strengths and liabilities as an entrepreneur, which you are. Too many writers have no idea what they're going to write, when they'll write it, how they'll edit or market their work, or even if they're going to self-publish or seek a publisher. A business plan keeps your business focused.
Also, too many writers think they can write a book, no second drafts, they instantly sell the film rights and retire. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I can remember reading short fiction by Stephen King in these sleazy men's magazines of the early Seventies, not long before he became THE Stephen King. Too many writers don't want to think about the time and sheer WORK this business takes, work that doesn't end when you finish the first draft.
But what I believe a lot of writers don't understand is they'd get more writing done if they stopped watching television or playing video games every night. I never got my time playing Halo to put money in my pocket so I stopped doing it. Instead, I turned games and DVDs into a reward for getting stuff done.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
Relentlessly and frequently. When you type "THE END," you've accomplished something that a lot of humans never even start. BE PROUD OF THAT!
Social media has become a very inefficient way to promote, but it's still the best way, especially if you have a finite budget. Study Guerrilla Marketing and get creative in your approach to getting the word out about your work.
Network, do a lot of personal appearances, and always have faith in your product.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
Okay, here's a terrifying glimpse into my psyche. My favorite book from my misspent youth is Frankenstein by Marry Shelley. It spoke, and still speaks, to being different, to be alone in a world full of people. Plus, from it's inspiration, one can find new stories, both poignant and humorous.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/briankmorris1956 (personal)