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Friday, December 31, 2010

Awesome Authors: J Lloyd Morgan

The New Year is about to dawn, and I wish all you happy readers out there an incredible new year!

If you're looking for a good book to snuggle up with at night, try "The Hidden Sun" by J Lloyd Morgan.  It will keep you on the edge of your seat.

He has one heck-of-a website with a cool book trailer that you can view at this link.: click here!

or right here:

He's our latest awesome author.

Read more about the man himself who is also an award-winning TV director!!
And if that weren't enough, he's also met the one and only Debbie Gibson!

Pretty impressive, huh?

Now get ready for your close-up, Mr. DeMille!

Welcome J Lloyd Morgan, author of the Hidden Sun.  Jason, can you tell us a little about your book?

It's a young adult novel set in medieval times, though the reason it is considered "young adult" is because there isn't any swearing or sex scenes--and only mild violence. I've found that adults have enjoyed the book as much, if not more, than teenagers. 

The basic premise is that a new leader is soon to be selected for the Kingdom of Bariwon. The heir to the throne, Princess Eliana, is forced to marry whoever wins a contest of sorts. However, she has fallen in love with her personal guardian, and wants to renounce her title to be with him. 

Malevolent Governor Abrecan is favored to win the contest, which would put his easily manipulated son, Daimh, on the throne. A plan is hatched so that Eliana can marry her true love, while at the same time becoming queen. The events that follow are full of twists, turns and interconnecting sub-plots that keep the reader engaged and wondering what will happen next. 
I understand The Hidden Sun is set in a medieval world, but you chose not to include typical fantasy tropes like magic.  Can you tell us why?

I get asked this often. The heart of the story is really about people, the choices they make, and the consequences of those actions. There are many moments in the book that have the reader asking themselves, "How are they going to get out of this mess?" 

Too often I've read books or seen movies where the hero "saves the day" by using some sort of magic power that neither they, nor the audience, knew they had. It feels like cheating to me. 

By removing magic, and basically all forms of technology, people are left to their own devices to resolve their issues. I believe the readers get more involved in the story because they are trying to figure out how the characters are going to resolve the challenges they face using the same abilities a normal person would have.

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

This may sound strange, but it was coming up with the title. I had a pretty good idea about the plot, characters and setting going in. In the end, I wanted a title that was unique, and relevant to the story. It's not until most people finish the book that they understand what the title means. 

What are some of your favorite responses you've gotten from readers?

I get a kick out of how many people really dislike the villain of the book. And what's not to dislike? People have mentioned how awful of a person he is.

I've also had many people get mad at me while reading the book, only to forgive me at the end. Why do they get mad? Because they get emotionally attached to the characters and when things go bad, they want someone to blame. 

However, the story does have a happy ending, so like I stated, all is forgiven at the conclusion. Lastly, the book is non-traditional in several ways. One reviewer said something along the lines of "J. Lloyd Morgan didn't re-write popular stories, he created his own."

Can you describe your writing process?

It all starts with a spark of an idea. From there, I'll imagine the setting and the characters with a basic plot outline. Then the real fun begins. 

As I'm writing, the characters take on a life of their own and lead me in directions I'm not always expecting. I've often finished a chapter with the thought, "Wow, that was interesting. I wonder what they will do next?" It may sound odd, but it's what works for me.

You're also an award-winning television director.  Can you tells us a little about your experience in TV?

An award winning TV director sounds impressive, eh? For full disclosure, they types of shows I directed were primarily live newscasts, interview shows and public events. I've lived all over the USA in that career. I ended up in the #1 market in the USA as Director / Operations Manager

I got to meet all sorts of interesting people from politicians to celebrates. When I lived in Connecticut, it was almost surreal that I had congressmen, mayors and the governors that knew and called me by my first name. I even directed a "town meeting" where then President Bush was the keynote speaker. 

Who were some of the people (celebrities and politicians) you got to meet while you were a director?

I got to meet all the major mayors and congressmen in Connecticut, including Joe Lieberman, Christopher Shays, Chris Dodd, Governor Jodi Rell. In addition, meeting Mayor Rudy Giuliani was pretty darn cool.

 As for celebrities, boy there was a ton. I think my favorite was Debbie Gibbson, simply because I had such a crush on her in High School.

[Editor's note: Mr. Morgan refused to divulge if he ever sang 'Electric Youth' in the mirror] 

Why do you think so many actors say they want to direct?

It's about control. As the director, you are in control, and ultimately responsible for what ends up on the screen. Often actors believe (some rightfully so) that they can do better than the directors they have worked with.

What do you like about directing?

For me, it was always about the rush and thrill of being a human multi-tasker in the face of an ever changing environment. It's extremely challenging, but when you pull it off, it is quite an amazing feeling.

How does your experience as a director affect your writing?

I believe it has given me greater insight into various types of people and their actions. I've drawn on this time and again as inspiration for my characters--which is why I believe that many people have told me my characters are very engaging. In addition, as a director, you need to have an incredible sense of timing. I believe that has helped me be successful in keeping the pacing of my books moving.

I love the trailer you've created for your book. View it here.

How did you come up with it and who are the people in the video?

I didn't have a budget, so I used my old beat up cam-corder and some desktop editing software to put together a "testimonial" video. The people in the video are my family and their friends. There is actually a lot of humor in The Hidden Sun, and I wanted to have people see that side of me. 

In addition, I got a kick out of twisting many popular quotes you read about books into silly examples. It was a lot of fun.  Oh! And here is an inside scoop never before revealed: The music at the beginning and end are original compositions by me--OK, granted it is me playing like three notes on a music keyboard, but still . . .

On a personal note, I notice you're the only male in your family, which consists of a beautiful wife and four lovely daughters.  What's it like being the only guy in the house?

Honestly, I love it. My wife and daughters are the best. I'm actually very spoiled in that regard. I get asked time and again, "Are you going to keep trying until you get a boy?" I respond, "We tried 4 times, and we got all girls. After that, I waved the white flag."

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I'm an avid reader--it helps me develop my talent and voice as a writer. I'm a big Atlanta Braves baseball fan, which is about all the sports my wife can handle. I'm active in my church and volunteer time to help others. I also enjoy progressive rock. 

In addition, I'm a fan of a musician named Chris De Burgh. On one of his recent albums is a song called "The Mirror of the Soul." A dream of mine would be to write a full novel based on the song. It's amazing. 

Have you or your family made any New Years resolutions?

On the writing front, my goal is to get the sequel to The Hidden Sun released. It is much more of an adventure novel and I'm very excited about it. I learned a ton from writing my first book, and I believe it has helped make the second one that much better. In addition, I've started on the third book and plan on having the first draft done by year end.

What does 2011 hold for J Lloyd Morgan?

Hopefully more people discovering and enjoying The Hidden Sun. As for anything else, I always try to live today just a bit better than I did yesterday. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Yes!  Thank you so much for allowing me to answer these questions. It's been fun. As I noted before, I'm an avid reader. I finished an excellent book not long ago called Who's at the door?  (Maybe you've heard of it) I'd highly recommend it!

[Editor's note:Talk about good taste!] 

Best of luck to Mr. Morgan and his family for 2011! 

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. I love that book trailer. I hope you get your Hidden Sun sequel out there. That would be awesome!