Monday, July 25, 2016

Top 7 Questions I Get Asked by School Kids by, Christopher D. Morgan

 Top 7 Questions I Get Asked by School Kids by, Christopher D. Morgan

Not long after I published my first novel, I started visiting schools and talking to students about being an author, my book and the writing process. It’s a great way not only to build an audience but also to help inspire the next generation of talented writers. Each presentation involves at least one questions & answers session. Here are some of the more persistent questions I get asked and how I respond.

1. Who is your favourite author?
I tend to find answers that will resonate with the audience. There are some particular authors in the world of non-fiction that I like, for example, but it wouldn’t necessarily make for a great discussion with kids of the age I typically present to. My go-to answer in this instance is JK Rowling. I cite her not necessarily for the quality of her writing, which I make no judgments about either way. I explain that it’s more because of how instrumental she was in encouraging a whole new generations of youngsters to pick up a book and read. Of course, I absolutely loved the Harry Potter books also, so that’s another really good reason to go with JK.

2. Where do you get your ideas from?
This is perhaps the most frequent question I get but, as I explain, it’s also the hardest one to answer. The reason for this is that I can’t actually pinpoint exactly where my inspiration comes from. The best I can give is that it comes from thin air. I do explain that there are aspects of my life that have influenced or otherwise have made their way into my writing. For example, I have a Brother that’s somewhat sarcastic and belligerent. One of the characters in the Portallas series is also somewhat sarcastic and belligerent. Coincidence?

3. What do you like most about writing?
This question comes in various other forms also, like ‘Do you enjoy writing?’ I do like writing and I tell the students this. However, I’m also honest with them and explain that there are times that I find it hard or frustrating. If I’m stuck on a scene or chapter or don’t know where to go from here, I tell them that it can sometimes take a while to overcome that form of writer’s block.

4. Where do you get your animal names from?
The really great thing about Forestium: The Mirror Never Lies and other books to come in the Portallas series is that they are rich in flora and fauna. Weird and wonderful creatures abound throughout the novels. To get the kids active and involved with the presentation, I play a game where I invite a number of volunteers up to the front to hold up large printed cards with the animal illustrations. I then have a number of cards with the animal names on them and they have to guess which animal name goes with which animal. It’s a lot of fun and often one of the highlights of the presentation. I talk to the students a little about where the names come from and also how they evolved. For example, the Raetheon, which is a majestic white bird, started off life as a Flap. I explain that birds flap their wings and so I just went with the word Flap. Similarly, the Razorfin, a fast-swimming but very dangerous fish with a jaw full of sharp teeth, actually began life as a Snap – because it snapped its jaws closed to bite you. I look for names that are somehow associated either with what the animal looks like or how it behaves or I just give it a name that somehow ties in to the theme of the novel. Forestium is a heavily forested environment – hence we have Wood-boar, Wood-wine, Liquorice moss, Twiggling broth and various other ‘wood-like’ names that can be found throughout.

5. How many books are you going to write?
I love this question. It’s one of those markers that indicate that I have their interest. Although everything is always subject to change, I generally say that I’m expecting there to be either six or seven books in this particular series. I’ll typically then give a bit of a teaser about what the next book might be about. Each book in the Portallas series sees the same main characters embark upon a new adventure or challenge. However, the series is slightly different in that each book represents a new world and is set in a totally different environment. Forestium is set in a heavily forested environment – hence the word Forestium – but the next book is called Archipelago. I always leave this explanation with the cliff-hanging question ‘What sort of environment do you think that book is set in?’

6. Is writing hard?
Sometimes, when this question is asked, I can almost taste the frustration in their voice, as they recall their own frustrations with writing. I remember back to when I was that age. For me, writing was indeed hard and something I didn’t particularly enjoy. It didn’t help that I had terrible handwriting and there were no keyboards for us in those days. This is where one of my inspirational tangents comes in (I have several in my back pocket that I whip out at opportune moments). I’m honest with the kids. I tell them that writing can indeed sometimes be hard. However, it can also be immensely rewarding and worth pursuing. There’s another interesting parallel that I draw at this point. I’ll talk about my relationship with my editor. He’ll take something I wrote and return it to me with lots of red pen all over it. I try to explain that this isn’t the editor telling me I’ve done something wrong – rather he’s drawing attention to where I can make improvements. I tell the kids that if their teachers give them an assignment back to them, and it has been marked with lots read pen, not to get discouraged. This isn’t the teacher telling them they have done something bad – just their way of pointing out where improvements can be made. In other words, it’s showing that the teacher actually cares. Once you get over the hurdle of being hurt by constructive criticism, there’s a world of benefits awaiting for you.

7. What did you think when you saw your book published?
My presentations tend to be high energy and I can very often let a lot of emotion come through. This can be quite intoxicating for the audience and they can feel like they are on the ride with me. I love getting questions like this one, as it means I can simply draw on my own personal experiences and those are the easiest questions to answer – I just have to be honest and say what I feel. I can readily recall exactly how I felt when I held my published book in my hands for the first time. There’s really nothing quite like it and I do my best to convey that to the kids.

Christopher Morgan is an author, blogger, IT Manager, graphics artist, businessman, volunteer and family man living in Melbourne, Australia. Much of his time is spent volunteering for his local community. He creates visual learning resources for primary school children, which are marketed through his company Bounce Learning Kids. He is also involved in local civics and sits on various community & council committees.

Christopher was born in the UK and grew up in England’s South East. At age 20, he moved to The Netherlands, where he married Sandy, his wife of 28 years. Christopher quickly learned Dutch and the couple spent 8 years living in the far South of that country before they moved to Florida in 1996. After spending 7 years in Florida, Christopher and Sandy sold their home and spent the next 2 years backpacking around the world. Christopher has visited around 40 countries to date.

Whilst circumnavigating the globe, Christopher wrote extensively, churning out travel journals. He and Sandy settled back in the UK at the end of their world tour, where their two children were both born. In 2009, the family moved to Melbourne, Australia, where they now live.

FORESTIUM is Christopher’s debut novel and is the first in the PORTALLAS series.

A magical world.
Joshua—a young woodsman—finds that his life is on the line, as he attempts to navigate through the magical world to find the truth about his father. He and his companions will need to use all their cunning to stay alive and avoid the dark forces of the Goat.
A mysterious truth.
Despite the tales of his father having died in a skirmish with another tribe, Joshua's dreams are telling him otherwise. The young man yearns for the truth and decides to enlist the help of his village elder to guide him. Armed with little more than the cryptic musing from the ailing elder, Joshua sets off to find the Oracle with his best friend and an imp, who is travelling the land to find others of his kind. It isn't long before they stumble into a beautiful and ingenious young woman who is herself on a journey of discovery.
Dark forces.
On the way to the Oracle, Joshua comes by some curious magical artefacts. An evil and malevolent creature of the underworld known only as the Goat learns that Joshua has possession of some of the magical orbs needed to open the Portallas, a permanent gateway that links worlds together.

Travelling through fantastic landscapes, the four travelling companions meet strange people and creatures alike, and must use all their cunning and ingenuity to find the remaining magical orbs. Will Joshua find all the magical artefacts needed to open the Portallas and free his father?

This Young Adult Fantasy Adventure is the first in the series filled with adventure and a coming of age story that will resonate with fans of epic quests and magic.