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
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
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!
James 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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