10 Questions with Morgan Crooks
Morgan Crooks grew up in a hamlet in Upstate New York and now teaches ancient history in Massachusetts. He lives with his wife, Lauren, near Boston with a professional cat and an amateur dog.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve always been writing. I’ve always been sharing stories. I guess I started getting ‘serious’ about writing four or five years ago, in the sense that was when I got it into my head it would be fun to try to get my work published.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Keep trying. Keep writing. Never give up.
Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
I read Ursula Le Guin’s “Steering the Craft” recently and thought it had some very useful advice in terms of putting down prose that people will actually want to read. I also think Stephen King’s “Danse Macabre” is a classic in terms of laying out what goes into making a horror story actually perform its job – namely scaring readers. Other than that, I would suggest the single best guide is reading other people’s work and being reflective about what makes you like one story and not another.
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
My favorite type of story is the kind, regardless of genre, that offers up something old and familiar and makes it weird again. Peter Straub does that, as does Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling, and Rudy Rucker. Laird Barron and John Langan are two other writers I’ve got an enormous amount of respect for, how they’re able to add something new to the dusty and cranky world of horror fiction.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
I think there are a lot of good ways of doing this but personally I find establishing and maintaining a routine is enormously helpful. Whether I write in the morning or in the evening, I always write at a specific time. I remember reading somewhere that you should never have a “zero” day, meaning that if a goal is truly important to you, never let a day go by where you don’t do SOMETHING to advance it.
Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I outline. Mostly I I try to get a sense of the characters and background of a story before I write, what sort of situation I’m about to wander into. I also like to be able to summarize an idea into a handy bumper-sticker style concept. If I can’t do that, I take that to mean I haven’t really grasped the essential point of the story.
How do you deal with rejections?
Poorly. However, once it’s happened enough you start to develop an armor. Even so, there’s always that one market, that one call-for-submission, that you really thought you had a chance for that shuts you down. It’s hard not to take those personally. I know some writers who make a point of always sending a story back out within 24 hours of a rejection, just to keep the rhythm going. Personally it depends on the story. For the most part, as long I still feel like the story is worth sharing I’ll keep dusting it off and sending it into battle. I have had other stories that I’ve taken a long look at and decided to retire from active service so to speak or radically revise. I think within reason that’s a good idea, to revisit stories. But I also don’t think, personally, that it’s a good idea to revise every story each time someone didn’t like it.
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I’m working towards enough published work to put together a short story collection. I’ve got a few projects to finish before that happens but that’s the immediate goal.
For the next five years?
I’d like to see one of my novels published.
Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I’ve got a few stories out now, so I’d just say go to my blog (ancientlogic.blogspot.com) to get the links to them if you’d like to see what else I’ve written.