Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Interview with Morgen Bailey!

At last - the shoe is on the other foot. Morgen Bailey, doyenne of online interviews, has accepted my invitation. This interviewer par excellence has allowed me into her virtual 'office' and has answered my specially-tailored questions. This is a rare event, so do take your time. Make a cup of tea, because it's long, and very enjoyable.

Morgen Bailey
Hiya Morgen, and welcome! You are known as the intrepid interviewer who gets hold of some interesting writers and grills one every so often… very often! How does it feel right now to be on the other side of the microphone?

“Intrepid interviewer” really? Wow. :) I’m very lucky actually because the interviewees tend to come to me rather than the other way round and yes, I’ve had some authors whose books I already happen to have, or see out and about after they’ve approached me which has been thrilling, and humbling, in both cases.

I won’t waffle on (because I know I’m good at it) but it all started because I was asked a couple of times (WhoHub and Teresa Morrow) to complete a questionnaire and really enjoyed it (so I guess that answers the last bit of your question) and my blog was a couple of months old (I started it at the end of March 2011 because I’d heard it a good thing to do) so I thought I could do this myself and the rest, as they say, is histoire. Well, they’d say that in France.

Now that I have interviewed so many authors (over 100 to-date) I’m getting a bit braver with asking other authors. Some ‘household’ names have said “yes” but they’re very busy so inside I’m jumping up and down but am realistic enough to know that it may either be a while or may not happen but I’m really enjoying it although it’s hard work (I post an interview each morning then an author spotlight or guest blog in the evenings) but I’ve never been shy of that, which is just as well isn’t it because I want to be a writer full-time.

I’ve just secured Katie Fforde (who I knew was a friend of one of my writing friends Sue Moorcroft) as the competition judge for the 2011 H.E. Bates Short Story Competition ( which is run by one of the writing groups I’m involved in (would it be too shameless to mention them? I’ll risk it so maybe I’m braver than I thought but I’ve not worked up to asking her to take part in my blog… yet. :)

Your name is easy to spell for me, since it means ‘tomorrow’ or ‘morning’ in Flemish, so I think it’s very pretty. I also have a name that is easily misspelled. It has to do with being an unusual person – how have you dealt with being singular and noticeable in your life?

Ah thank you. That’s very sweet of you to say but I’ve actually cheated as (for anyone who read my interview no.100) it’s a pseudonym. My real name’s very ordinary (Alison) and I love being someone else, although at times I do feel a bit of a fraud, not sure why really.

My dog (whose picture is splattered around the internet almost as often as mine) is Bailey and my previous dog was Morgen. I have German connections going back many (over 30) years so that’s why I went with the unusual spelling. Sometimes I wonder whether it was the right thing to do (as it’s so often spelled the normal way; Morgan) but I think once it sticks, Morgen is more memorable and I like it being a bit different. Besides, the domains for Morgan Bailey were already taken (I actually checked after I’d set up my website) by a coffee company, construction company and porn star – that makes for an interesting conversation!

You prefer to have your avatar precede you wherever you go – who made the portrait, and how much like it are you really? I’m talking about personality rather than looks – what do you think it says about you?
I’ve just changed my Twitter picture to the photo that inspired the caricature because author Marika Cobbold (who I met when I was volunteering at Chorleywood Lit Fest November 2010 – she’s great!) was having trouble changing her picture so I changed mine and relayed the steps and when she saw the new one she said she loved and that I should keep so I have.

The other one I use is of Bailey but not so often or he’d get too bigheaded… he ‘uses’ his big brown eyes enough as it is. :)
A local cartoonist called Adrian Teal (he’s easily Googleable) drew it (I love it but I know my mum’s not keen – sorry Adrian – but it’s a caricature, they’re supposed to be exaggerated). I walk past his studio on the way to / from work three times a week and I love cartoons so one day I emailed him and arranged to take some photos in. He does a lot of work for Private Eye and the likes so said it would be a while but took less than a month so I was pleased (and was £70 which I think was great value). I have the original 10”x8” picture which he scanned and emailed to me.

I know you said not looks but I’d say it’s pretty close; I have a Roman nose (not sure why as it’s not inherited from my parents… although after hitting the bottom of a swimming pool diving off a 5m board – we’re a sporty family – my mum’s nose has never quite been the same) and do catch the sun although the first version Adrian emailed me was even redder and I don’t drink that much so I asked him to tone it down a bit. Oh and he’s given me blue eyes which I’ve always wanted (mine are grey / green)… and a thinner waist – they were worth the £70! As for personality, I guess it makes me look approachable (I like to think I am) and happy (which I try to be) with sparkly eyes which I think is my passion.

After having interviewed so many different authors, what have you learned about writers in general?

How many of us there are. That sounds a bit daft but since I’ve been involved with these blog interviews I’ve been paying (even) more attention to books for sale in the charity shop (Red Cross) I volunteer at (I’m their ‘book lady’) and car boot sales etc and there are so many names in amongst the ‘household’ ones, which is great because it means that people are not just sticking with the top x%. When I see them I buy books of people I’ve encountered (so to speak) and started a bookcase of them but that’s now spilled into the box room as I’ve met a few at events (yes, in the flesh!)… chatting with Mark Billingham and Michael Robotham in the ‘green room’ at Oundle Lit Fest (my second volunteering experience) in March 2011 has got to be a highlight. Mark was on Radio Litopia ( recently – that was fun.

Morgen, your work runs the danger of being eclipsed among all the online work you do that’s more about writers and their craft than about you and your fiction. Where do your motivations lie – and where do you fit in?

Good question. Although I’m loving every minute I am conscious that I’m not getting time for my own writing and my life is a constant battle against time but then so it is, I’d say, for the majority of writers, housewives, retired folk (my mum’s a keen gardener and that eats the hours) et al and I’m very lucky, I only work part-time but could so do with the extra 20.5 hours a week (plus travelling / getting ready time) for writing. I think if I didn’t work I’d have a better balance but bills have to be paid. It’s a goal, but as long as my editor, Rachel, has something of mine to work on I’m happy. She’s eaten and spat back out my 365-day writer’s workbook and currently has a short story collection / writing guide to work through so I’m concentrating on the covers etc. at the moment.

For me, at the moment, I partially selfishly see the blog as a marketing tool, for every new contact I make there’s someone new to mention my books to (when they’re ready – I’m hoping in the next few weeks) but not go mad. A round robin email per new book would be plenty. The fastest way to get de-followed on Twitter is to say “come buy my book” every other Tweet. I think a fair balance (which I think I saw on a LinkedIn thread a while back) is 90% useful info (and I have lots of that thanks to the handouts I do for my writing group, guest blogs etc) and 10% tout… or better still 99% / 1%. That’s easy to say as my books aren’t ready yet. I dare say once they are I’ll be wanting to shout it from the rooftops. :)

None of the writers you have worked with failed to notice your indefatigability. (It’s a real word – I’m sure you love it!) Where do you get the extra four hours to every day you seem to have more than everyone else?

By not sleeping them, in a word (well, four). Indefatigability – love it! I love making up words (it’s in our Terms & Conditions isn’t it?) although you’re right it is a proper word. I guess I hide behind aforementioned avatar but I put it down to passion. Having left school (coughs) years ago not knowing what I wanted to do (so ended up being a secretary which has been really useful for the old typing speed) I fell into writing by default working my way through the local university prospectus (I’d done the languages and computing courses) and joined crime writer Sally Spedding’s class (which I took over in 2008 when she moved to Wales) and have been hooked ever since.

Tell us a bit about your favourite novel, and where we can find it. Where can we find out more about you and your work? Where can we see covers for your books?

Kate Atkinson
As mine aren’t ready yet, I’ll mention my favourite authors; Kate Atkinson and Roald Dahl. I’m a BIG fan of short stories (and that’s what I write most of, although I’ve written four novels which will eventually become novellas – cutting out the waffle) and love dark tales. Kate’s aren’t dark but their quirky. I keep looking out for her appearances and missed out on her being near to my mum’s (where I used to live) by a couple of days which was really annoying. Still, Kate did bring out ‘Started Early, Took the Dog’ hardback on my birthday (19th August) last year which was very generous of her. :)  I recorded her ‘Case Histories’ TV series when it come out a few weeks ago but I’ve not watched it yet as short story author Helen M Hunt wants to see it again (who I only recently found out lives in the same town as me; we met and get on… well, like the proverbial burning house) so we are going to have a marathon veg out sometime soon.

Roald Dahl
As for Roald it’s too late but my dad met him (he was his local photographer) and took a video at Sophie’s birthday party – sadly I don’t think we kept a copy. My mum still lives near the museum and I’ve shamefully not gone yet, something to do in the winter I think.
My blog is and website but the latter is a shell really. They both have links to my Facebook and Twitter profile. My covers are somewhere between my brain and the Picasa software that one of my Monday night writers (hi Denny – she’s also my unpaid gardener – we swap skills) introduced me to recently… I like PhotoShop but this is so great (and free).

Let's tell everyone what you really do, shall we?

Morgen is foremost a writing-related blogger, but also hosts the weekly Bailey’s Writing Tips audio podcast, two in-person writing groups (based in Northampton, England), is the author of numerous short stories, four and a half novels (which she’s reworking for eBooks), articles (most recently for the NAWG Link magazine), has dabbled with poetry but admits that she doesn’t “get it”, and is a regular Radio Litopia contributor. She also belongs to two other local writing groups (one of which runs the annual HE Bates Short Story Competition) and when she’s not at her part-time day job, as a secretary, she writes, researches for her writing group, writes a bit more, is a British Red Cross volunteer and walks her dog (often while reading, writing or editing) and reads (though not as often as she’d like), oh and sometimes she writes.

Thank you for accepting to do this.

Delighted to Rosanne, thank you for asking. It was lovely to be on this side, and to have very different questions to mine!

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  1. Excellent! I enjoyed every minute of it. And I am thankful that both of you exist. (How's that for high praise...not wishing your absence) ;)

    In all sincerity, though, you're both aces in my book. (Bad pun REALLY not intended, but too tired to change it).

  2. I love this interview! Morgen has a great sense of humor. It's one of those that I get, even in writing. But one thing is for sure, she does work hard. Once in awhile, she should let Bailey take the treadmill while she catches some Z's.

  3. Yes, Dan - we understand what you mean! LOL. Michael, we could all do with less screen time - perhaps we should all get a canine typist.

  4. Great interview! I like the comment about how much book hype and how much useful info should a blog contain.

    I've heard "the rule of thirds": one third useful info, one third personal, one third hype. Has anyone else ever heard of this?

    Best to you all.