Keepers In Trust published today

My new novel Keepers In Trust is published today, 1st February 2017 by Exoddy Books.  It is available in printed and electronic formats.  For further information please see my web site:  Exoddy website  (opens in new window).

Keepers In Trust - cover

Keepers In Trust – cover

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Keepers In Trust – now available

My new novel, Keepers In Trust, is formally published tomorrow 1st February 2017.  The book is something of a departure from recent books I have written insofar as it is an imaginary tale set in ancient times along the lines of folk and faerie tales.  The problems it highlights are ageless and I decided that an ageless approach would benefit the story.

Keepers In Trust is a tale in the old tradition that tells a story that resonates today: of greed, of hunger, of war, of hope and love.

… dreams and nightmares are found of the same dust; an idyll becomes an avalanche; the stream becomes a flood; the lovers fall to war.’

When grief and suffering are inflicted on a struggling people by their arrogant leaders, ignorant and disdainful of the needs of those around them, it is no surprise that a small group of revolutionaries vow to bring down those in power.

Revolutions… tear apart society, families, individuals, lovers, colleagues, friends and leave only tears to soak into the blood-stained muddy ground.’

Bella returns to this land, where revolution and war are close at hand and finds an uneasy quiet. She is driven to help the innocent citizens caught up in the turmoil, and seeks to put right the wrongs with all her energy and belief, only to encounter the full horror of tragedy and disaster…

The men do not so often come here; I think they just wander off into the woods and find a place to lie down and die. Sometimes we find a body. They have no dignity left, you see. They can’t bear to see the little ones. It breaks their hearts. The women… the women have no hearts left to break.’

Despite all the troubles that make up this adventurous tale, the story is ultimately uplifting and positive in its view of humanity.

Stephen Morley

 

Keepers In Trust

An uplifting and wonderful new story to be published

on 1st February 2017…

Keepers In Trust – by Stephen Morley

“…none of us owns anything on this earth – we are all just keepers in trust of all we survey.”

Keepers In Trust is a faerie tale in the old tradition that tells a tale that resonates today: of greed, of hunger, of war, of hope and love.

… dreams and nightmares are found of the same dust; an idyll becomes an avalanche; the stream becomes a flood; the lovers fall to war.’

When grief and suffering are inflicted on a struggling people by their arrogant leaders, ignorant and disdainful of the needs of those around them, it is no surprise that a small group of revolutionaries vow to bring down those in power.

Bella returns to this land, where revolution and war are close at hand. She is driven to help the innocent citizens caught up in the turmoil, and seeks to put right the wrongs with all her energy and belief, only to encounter the full horror of tragedy and disaster…

The men do not so often come here; I think they just wander off into the woods and find a place to lie down and die. Sometimes we find a body. They have no dignity left, you see. They can’t bear to see the little ones. It breaks their hearts. The women… the women have no hearts left to break.’

Keepers In Trust - cover

Keepers In Trust – cover

http://www.exoddy.co.uk/

Pre-orders for Keepers In Trust ebook editions can be taken at Amazon and Smashwords (links below open in new tabs).

Link to Amazon UK 

Link to Smashwords

The printed edition of Keepers In Trust can be purchased from the CreateSpace store at the link below (link opens in new tab).

Link to CreateSpace store

An interview…

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What are you working on next?

I am spending time working on getting my new book Cliffington to market as a printed book alongside the ebook. Once I have completed that, I will be starting on my next project, which is likely to be a recording project.

 

Who are your favorite authors?

I have always enjoyed ‘traditional’ authors – Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, the Bronte sisters; but I also like more modern and perhaps more challenging authors such as Doris

sisters; but I also like more modern and perhaps more challenging authors such as Doris Lessing, Thomas Mann, even Philip Pullman. I greatly enjoy poetry and wish that it was more widely appreciated.  There are so many fine poets from across the centuries, from Benn Gunn to Sylvia Plath, from Edward Thomas to Marianne Moore.

 

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

I hate wasting time. I cannot imagine sleeping late! I always have so many projects on the go that it is hard to find time to keep up.  I love to be busy and I often go to sleep thinking about the current work, whether a plot for a story, music, or revisiting my ideas file.  I guess I want to create something that will, if not change the world, certainly help to reflect on the way we live and add something unique and positive to people’s lives.

 

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I write music and songs, lots of them. So I spend a great deal of time playing my guitars, working out material for the next recording – there always is a next recording!  Music is a great foil to writing books – it is concise, colourful and active.  Anyone who has read one of my books will know how much I love music – I try to put it in there.

 

How do you discover the ebooks you read?

They say books are sold by their covers, but I like to delve a little deeper and I often try a few paragraphs to see what it’s like. I think it is good to have a broad approach and not just stick to what is comfortable, so I will happily read work by complete unknowns.  There is a lot of good work out there.  I find it is best not to get bogged down by genre, so I will try and browse by other means – the number of words, for example.  Having said which there is a lot of really good poetry out in ebook land.

 

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

The first story I wrote (other than school essays) was about a place – it had no actual humans in it at all – the character was the place itself – an old sand pit in Suffolk. The plot was a little thin as not a lot went on, but it did try and show how this manmade place had become a wild and wonderful environment after the men had left.

 

What is your writing process?

I do like to have the basic idea of plot first. I have recently been writing very long books and they need a degree of structure to succeed.  I usually have a very clear view of the ending before I start – it helps to have a target and then everything I write is heading towards that point.  The characters are sometimes very complete before they start to speak but sometimes I find their voice develops as I write down their words. I can always visualise the characters who inhabit the book.  They have to have a purpose and never exist for their own sake.  I do write from start to finish progressing a few thousand words at a time – whatever I can write in one session.  Then each successive day I review and rewrite the previous piece before adding a new section to review the next day.  I usually write something every day to maintain momentum.  Once I have a first draft, I read it through, editing as I go.  I might do that many times and the end book can read quite differently to the first draft.  For example, with Cliffington, I went through the manuscript editing it cover to cover at least twelve times.  I always get someone else to read it fairly early on and then again later – it is invaluable to have an external validator.  The last two books, Moses Trod and Cliffington both took around two years to write.

 

How do you approach cover design?

I design my own covers. I do like a traditional approach, insofar as I do not like to follow the fashion but try to create something that will hopefully stand the test of time and appear less dated as a result.  I spent many years associated with the printing industry, so have the advantage of understanding page layout and design.  Although you should never judge a book by its cover, to state the old cliché, most people do.  I aim to try and show that the words inside have some serious intent.  I am quite pleased with the cover for Cliffington, it is simple and hopefully draws the eye. 

 

Describe your desk

My desk is a traditional, old wooden desk I bought secondhand many years ago. It faces a wall, so there is no distraction to the work in hand – I cannot stare out of the window daydreaming!  I am not sure the desk matters too much, but the writing environment does and my golden rule is to make sure there are no words other than mine in my head at the time – so I write without distraction.  Usually, I do listen to music as I write – obviously it has to be instrumental.  I am sure it does influence what I write, but then I choose it with care.  During the writing of Cliffington I often listened to Northumbrian pipe music, because it plays an important background role in the story – and I like it!

 

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I have spent my life living in the south of England. Many people no doubt think of it as a densely populated place, but actually, it has a huge amount of accessible and very beautiful countryside.  I started walking out alone in the countryside from about the age of eight or nine, and this above all other things has influenced the scenery in my novels.  There are few better places to spend a day than traversing the North or South Downs and I spent many days in my youth and early working years doing just that.  It is not just about the places you see but also gives the rhythm to life and provides opportunities for thinking through ideas and plots or characters.  I have always carried a notebook wherever I walk so I can jot down any new idea.  Often these ideas have ended up in songs or writing projects, even after gaps of many years.

 

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I have always been a self-sufficient person and I had a huge amount of material available. I had never attempted to get anything published – I had a full time job that took all my time, so writing was always a spare time activity.  It was not until my son left home and I found I had more time on hand that I set about putting my writing in order.  Having completed my novel Moses Trod, I concluded it would not be a very attractive proposition for a traditional publisher, due to its length (around 580 pages), but I quickly realised this was no problem to indie publishing and ebooks.  I looked into the market and set about creating an ebook. It took a little while to get it right, but it was easier than I expected and I was able to get my book out into the public space with little cost and very quickly.  It was good timing as the ebook and indie publishing industry was just taking off.  It encouraged me to carry on and I now have three books, Moses Trod, Cliffington and The Follower all available in ebook formats.

Creating Cliffington… a new novel

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Creating Cliffington…

‘There’s a moment on the turn of the tide when the world stands still, when we hold our breath waiting to see which way the water will flow, as though that might change our lives…’

Cliffington, on the remote North Sea coast, looks like a rural idyll but is not immune to the events of the world. Distant wars bring distress and destruction. A story of trial and obsession, of love and hope, Cliffington reveals the strength and frailties of the people and tests their community to the edge of failure. While always, close at hand, the sea rolls on relentless.

Author, Stephen Morley had this to say about writing his latest book.

The idea for Cliffington started years ago on a holiday I spent in Northumberland.  I was struck by the remoteness and rugged beauty of the place.  Despite that remoteness, the land was full of life and industry with farming and forestry inland, but it was the coast that caught my imagination.  I walked many miles across the hills and along the cliffs, where I recorded the raucous sound of gannets and gulls.  The air was full of birds while the grey sea rolled and pounded along the cliffs and beaches.  There was a long history evident in the many ancient buildings and castles, old walls and ancient ways across the landscape.  The whole atmosphere was emotive and powerful.  I thought it would make a good setting for a story.  Cliffington is not based on any one place but is an amalgam of many places.  The moors are more Yorkshire than Northumberland, but fitted in with the bleak but bountiful terrain.  The idea for the quicksands in the bay came from another part of the east coast while the castles are intentionally fictional.

Music plays an important part in the story.  I first heard the Northumbrian smallpipes some years back.  Kathyryn Tickell is perhaps the most famous exponent of this unique instrument and it was listening to her work that led me to include the sound of the smallpipes as a backdrop to the novel.  Indeed, I usually have instrumental music playing when I write and I often had Kathyrn Tickell playing while writing Cliffington.  Her music was definitely part of the inspiration.

War crept into the story and became a significant part of the book.  I wanted to show a complete contrast to the world I had created in Cliffington.  The various wars and the desert became a way to illuminate the virtues and failings of our society.  We take so much for granted and rarely realise how fortunate we are to live in a land of peace and plenty.  Even the extreme poor of England are rich compared to millions of our fellows in the lands where we make war.  It seemed an instructive comparison.

People have often asked me who I base characters upon.  The truth is they are never based on anyone I know.  Each character serves a purpose, so they start with an idea, often very simple: hero, villain, etc.  From that, they progress in order to create the action in the story, because it is the characters’ actions and words that make the book.  I find that after a while, the fiction simply takes over, characters evolve on the page, sometimes though necessity; a physical or emotional characteristic is needed to make a scene work or as I visualise and live the part they play in my mind they just start to behave and speak of their own volition.  Some characters start very flat, they have a purpose but little form, and they attain their real personality over time.  Others seem to leap out and just be themselves from the outset.  In Cliffington, Cassandra, was always herself from the moment I thought of her whereas Louis evolved into a much more complex and difficult person.

Cliffington was always going to be a big book.  In fact, it has something over 400,000 words – a bit shorter than ‘Gone with the Wind’, but not much – Cliffington runs to something around 800 pages as a printed book.  I admit to liking long books, I always have, so I decided to try my hand.  My previous book, Moses Trod, was a little over half the length of Cliffington and was still a long book, so Cliffington is a very long book.  It is a risk from a traditional publishing point of view, as long books obviously cost more to produce, but in electronic publishing, it is not significant.  I was bemused that during the two and a bit years it took to write Cliffington, long books suddenly came back into favour in the market, it was not an intentional coincidence.  I like a broad canvas, but I also like detail.  I have written a deal of poetry over the years and I love the brevity and immediacy of that art form.  All the time I was writing Cliffington, I kept poetry in mind.  Within the story there is a reference to the economy of poetry and I have endeavoured to stick to my resolve of making every word count, the same as I do when I write poetry.  Cliffington is a long book but it has a lot to say.