YA contemporary

An Interview with James Morris

I’m delighted to welcome Mr. James Morris to my blog today! 🙂 Mr. Morris’ latest book, Melophobia– a science fiction Dystopian novel about the government’s hatred or fear of music, is receiving great reviews! I recently read and reviewed his book, expressed my thoughts about it. I totally loved Melophobia. I immediately requested him for an interview (indirectly) and he gladly said yes! I’m really grateful for that. Thank you so much, Mr. Morris. 


IMO: Hello Mr. Morris, welcome to Amidst the Pages! Thank you so much

for deciding to participate in this interview. Would you like to start by

telling us something about you? 

MR. MORRIS: Sure! And thanks for interviewing me – happy to share! I grew up in a small

town outside of Chicago, Illinois. At the time it was mainly cornfields, but

it’s since been developed. I now live in Los Angeles. I’m married to my wife

of over 10 years, and we have a cattle-dog mix named Archer. In my free

time, I like to swim and paddleboard near the marina.

IMO: Was writing something you always wanted to do, or did you have

other aspirations? 

MR. MORRIS: I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but the idea of actually being a writer

seemed a million miles away from my reality. I’d scan the books in

bookstores and think: who are these people? I can’t be one of those people!

And yet, I also loved movies. The pull of writing finally got me to move to

Los Angeles (after I’d graduated from college) to give writing a go. After a

time, I was lucky enough to break into the TV industry, where I worked as a

writer on a few TV shows. I then later segued into writing novels! They are

both very hard and competitive industries, but I’m happy that I followed my


IMO: Which do you prefer most, reading or writing?

MR. MORRIS: I think writers need to do both. Writers are generally writers because they

grew up reading, and that love has always stayed with me. I’ve usually got 2

or 3 books I’m in the middle of.

IMO: How did you come up with the idea of Melophobia?

MR. MORRIS: A friend of mine was talking a few years ago about the 1960’s in America, a

very turbulent time – assassinations, the Vietnam War, Nixon, the counter-

culture, and my friend theorized that the United States was on the brink of a

2 nd Revolution. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but I started thinking: what if

the United States did undergo a revolution in the ‘60s that led to a ban on

music, which many people thought helped inspire the counter-culture? I

didn’t want to set the story in the past, as it would seem too much like

historical fiction, so I set it present day with a character (Merrin) who has

grown up in the world, simply accepting things as they’ve always been.

IMO: How do you develop your plots and characters?

MR. MORRIS: I spend a lot of time on the actual idea. There is nothing worse than working

on a project for a long time and coming to realize that the idea itself is a bad

one, for whatever reason. I think many stories are made or broken based on

the initial idea – is it something that is unique? Will it capture a reader’s

attention? Then I work on the plot/story, pulling it like taffy to make sure

I’m telling the story as best I can. And of course, no story is good without

characters that you care about!

IMO: What was the hardest part of writing Melophobia?

MR. MORRIS: Two things: first, it’s the marathon of writing, no matter the project. Can I

sustain the interest to keep going back to the page, day after day? Will the

project still “call to me” or will I get bored of it? Can I find something new

in writing, or am I repeating myself from earlier projects? Those are

concerns with any project, but specifically to Melophobia, the hardest part

was actually worrying whether the premise was too outlandish: would

readers accept a world in which music was illegal? It’s one of those things

where if you hear the logline of a movie, and it sounds stupid but then turns

out to be cool? For example, if someone said, “You gotta see this movie

about this shark that terrorizes a beach town,” you might think that was the

dumbest idea you ever heard unless you realized it was “Jaws.”

IMO: Of all the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?

MR. MORRIS: I try to love them all; if I find I have a favorite, then it probably means I’m

not giving my other characters the attention they deserve. It’s a warning sign

for me to make sure all the characters feel real and have their own distinct

points of view. Even the villains believe they are always right, at least in

their minds!

IMO: Is there a particular message in your novel that you hope readers will


MR. MORRIS: My priority in writing is always entertainment first. If a reader isn’t

entertained, then they won’t keep reading. And I always have something in

the story that I’m exploring that goes deeper than the plot – that’s the thing

that keeps me coming back to the page. And while I may lay ideas within the

story, themes and such, I leave them up to the reader to discover and debate

on their own. I think it was John Greene who said something like “the book

belongs to the reader.” And I find that’s true. It doesn’t belong to me

anymore. The reader brings their own unique experience to the book, and

finds through the lens of their life, what’s important in it or not.

IMO: Are you working on a project? If yes, tell us something about what

you’re currently writing. 

MR. MORRIS: I am actually in between projects right now, and am mulling over which one

to begin. Like I said about plots and characters, I like to make sure that any

idea I choose to work on can hold my interest over the long term, and those

are sometimes hard to find!

IMO: What do you enjoy most about connecting with readers?

MR. MORRIS: As a writer, you spend a lot of time just working on an idea, never knowing

if it’ll be read, or if anyone will ever like it. It’s really an exercise in faith.

You write hoping it’ll find an audience, but you also write because you love

it. So anytime a reader leaves a review, or shares it on social, it makes my

heart go pitter-patter- pit.

IMO: Do you have a favorite song? If yes, tell us something about it.

MR. MORRIS: You know, I have too many favorite songs, and they sometimes change. But

that’s the beauty of music. Sometimes I’ll hear a song and it’ll transport me

back 10 years to some memory or another. I love the power of songs, which

is why I felt Melophobia could be a powerful story.

IMO: You are a great writer, one who have a creative professional with

over 10 years of experience. Could you give aspiring writers an advice,

or tips on how to become a better writer?

MR. MORRIS: Thanks for the compliment. I keep trying to get better myself! Here’s a few

tips that have helped me over the years: a) write because you love it, and for

no other reason; there are too many disappointments ahead, so make sure

you love the act of writing, and not the expectations after you’ve written; b)

keep writing, that’s how you get better – the act of writing. You can only

read so many books, or take so many classes to learn how to write. It’s one

of those things you have to do in order to get better; c) if someone can talk

you out of writing, then maybe writing wasn’t your passion after all; d) read

a ton, and start paying more attention to why something worked on the page,

and even more importantly, why something didn’t work on the page; e) get

feedback from trusted readers. There’s this myth that writers write alone,

and the work is perfect. That’s simply not true. Good writers get feedback at

every stage – from the initial idea, to the outline, to the final manuscript. A

few trusted readers are worth their weight in gold when it comes to

constructive feedback! f) Finally, have fun!

IMO: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to interview you, Mr.

Morris. It’s a pleasure. 

Thank you so much!




14005518James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.




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