|Signing together at said book signing.|
Jason (that's what all the cool people call him - Jason) recently undertook a project that I found quite fascinating and I was excited to help him out with it. Let us now launch into interview format and have a chat with J. Lloyd Morgan.
Question: Jason, you based your most recent book, The Mirror of the Soul, on the songs of Chris de Burgh. How did you come up with this idea?
Answer: I’ve been a fan of Chris de Burgh for years, since the first time I heard “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” on MTV in the early 80s. However, his song “The Lady in Red” is probably what he’s best known for. He continues to put out new albums. In 2006, his album The Storyman included the song “The Mirror of the Soul.” I was blown away by not only the story, but also of the song’s message. Since I’d already written my first novel, I thought, “Wow, the story of that song would make a great book.” But I also thought, “Hmmm. How do you fill out a full novel based on a single song?” So I got the idea to interweave other Chris de Burgh songs into the narrative.
Question: Did you find it easy or difficult to weave each of his songs into the story line?
Answer: It was hard figuring out which songs to include, but from there, it was fairly easy. Books tend to be a lot of little stories that combine into a greater overall story. While I invented most of what is in the book, the basic plot and some of the subplots were inspired by songs.
Question: One of Chris's songs, "Lady in Red," has a very contemporary feel while the others are more medieval in nature. Did that present a problem?
Answer: Yes and no. At its heart, “The Mirror of the Soul” is about the characters who happen to be in a medieval setting. The song “The Lady in Red” is really a love song that is fairly timeless. Granted, while I did a lot of research on the time and place of this book, I’m sure some historian will point out, “In 1453 they did not have the color red!” or some such nonsense.
Question:What was Chris's reaction when you contacted him about this project?
Answer: To even get the idea to Chris, I had to go through his management. They really liked the idea and asked for a full-blown outline for Chris to review. I was on pins and needles after I’d sent the outline. Chris said the outline was “very strong” and loved the idea of mixing in his other songs. He even gave a suggestion for one of the songs, which I included. (The song he suggested was “The Girl with April in her Eyes.”) In the end, he gave not only his permission, but also his encouragement.
Question:You are also the author of other books - The Hidden Sun, The Waxing Moon, and The Zealous Star. Can you tell us a bit about those?
Answer: The Hidden Sun was my first novel—it sort of defies a traditional genre. It’s not fantasy or historical fiction. It’s fiction that takes place in medieval times. I wanted to write a story where people are faced with problems that they couldn’t solve using magic or modern technology. While editing it, I got an idea for a book (The Waxing Moon) that’s not really a sequel as much as an additional story that takes place after the first book. The last book of the series, The Zealous Star, is pretty much another standalone book that also ties the whole series together. If all goes according to plan, it should be out in June of this year.
Question: What do you consider to be the most rewarding thing about being an author?
Answer: Tricky question and I’m going to give you a tricky answer. Personally, the best part of writing is when I get an idea that really works—and it almost always comes while I’m in the process of writing. That creative spark is an emotional high. It’s also nice when you hear either first or second hand that someone really enjoyed what you wrote. In a way, writing is a form of immortality. My books will, hopefully, be around quite a while after I’m gone.
Question: Do you have any writing rituals that make the process easier for you? I, for instance, write best when I have a glass of ice water and a tube of Chapstick nearby. Well, they aren't just nearby - I do use them. You know what I mean.
Answer: When writing for a certain genre, I tend to listen to music that reminds me of that genre. I wrote a couple of short stories for Michael Young’s Christmas anthologies, and listened to quite a bit of Christmas music beforehand. When writing The Mirror of the Soul, I listened to nothing but Chris de Burgh music for nearly three months. (And I loved every minute of it.) When I’m writing, I need it to be totally quiet. I lock myself away and come up for air now and again.
Click here to order The Mirror of the Soul, which is awesome, and click below to see the video of the song that inspired this whole idea!