All January we will be speaking with the authors of one book: Five Poisoned Apples: A Collection of Snow White Stories. I love fairy-tails and this collection of Snow White stories is wonderful.
Maddie Morrow is one of the authors in this new collection. Thanks for joining us Maddie. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.
I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. My dad grew crops and raised cattle, so we were always doing something. Stories were a huge part of my life, even then. I have two younger sisters, and we would create characters with my dad and act them out while we were out in the pasture fixing fence, or whatever the job might be. We were cowboys, indians, outlaws. My dad tells great stories so whenever we would have a long trip to take (usually to go check cows) we would beg him to tell us a story. Our favorites were always about cowboys hunting Big Foot in the mountains.
Mom got in on the fun too. When I was little, she always read to us and would bring books on car trips and we would all take turns reading until our voices wore out.
My mom stayed at home and home schooled all three of us, which was great. I loved that and the flexibility it gave me to explore all the crazy topics I was interested in. I did all kinds of stuff. Tumbling, ice skating lessons, music composition class, guitar lessons, 4-H horse shows. We lived in a very small town, so it was always exciting to find those things nearby.
My family and I are all Christians, so growing up my parents tried to keep a supply of good books around that still catered to our tastes and interests. We found out pretty quick that it is hard to find clean fantasy books (at the time. It’s getting better now). That’s one of the reasons I started writing. I took the advice to “Write the book you want to read” pretty literally.
After graduating high school I went to a two year college, then got a job at an eye doctor as a certified para optometric, which is the person who helps people pick out their glasses, takes measurements, does repairs etc.
In 2016 I married my high school crush. He works on his family’s farm/ranch, and we live 15 minutes away from where I grew up. A year later we welcomed our son to the family, I quit my job, and we’ve been trying to figure out this parenting thing ever since.
What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?
This is so hard to narrow down. I think I would have to say my favorite genre to read and write is probably speculative fiction, that way I can keep fantasy, dystopia, and all those other weird and fun stories. But historical comes in a close second for reading, and I’m frequently tempted to write contemporary. My favorite author is Louis L’amour. I read tons of other authors and love them dearly, but I grew up with his westerns, and there are very few that I don’t completely adore.
What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?
Judging by the condition my old baby books are in, I’d say I realized I loved books very early. I was always reading something. Writing wasn’t far behind. I remember taping paper into cardboard squares to make my own books, and I wrote sequels to a lot of my favorite kid books. I started thinking I wanted to be a writer when I was probably 12, and actually started learning about how to write and started looking into the business side of it more in depth when I got into high school.
Tell us about this book.
My contribution to the Five Poisoned Apples collection is called Red as Blood. It’s a Snow White retelling, and follows my character, Zaig, as he is hired to assassinate the princess and then starts wrestling with guilt from his past. He decides to take matters into his own hands to save the princess and things start going horribly wrong. He has to hurry and figure out what is happening before everyone he cares about ends up dead.
What did you learn about yourself through writing it?
I actually learned the most through the editing process, I think. This was my first real attempt at writing since before I got married and there was a huge amount of fear that my writing wasn’t any good, and that I’d still be in the same place I was as a teenager, making mistakes and not knowing how to fix them. When Red a Blood was a winner I was so shocked and excited that people liked it. Working with the team of editors at Rooglewood Press has been great. I’ve loved being able to figure out what my weaknesses are (conveying character emotion) and then actually being able to move forward and overcome those problems. I feel much more confident now with my other projects that I will be able to keep going and do the necessary work of fixing up my messy first drafts.
Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?
I do outline, but it is very sparse. I’m definitely a hybrid plotter/pantser. I don’t start any outline work on a story until I’ve worked out several solid ideas in my mind. Then I just jot down a list of things I know need to happen and go from there.
Is there a special place you like to write?
Anywhere I can. I do a lot of writing at my kitchen table, or else on my phone while I’m playing with my little boy.
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?
There was nothing that surprised me initially when I wrote it, but I was very surprised in how the editors perceived a few things. They were so in love with a romance thread they had picked up on, that I never intended to be a romance. So that was fun to explore. And the setting came as a surprise to me. The story I submitted took place in a bland, typical fantasy world. When the publisher suggested implementing a more Victorian gas lamp type setting I loved the idea.
What advice would you give a new author?
Know your work isn’t perfect. Some of the edits and revisions were grueling and heart wrenching, and if I had insisted that the story was fine the way it was, I would have missed out on so many awesome developments that happened. You don’t have to compromise the heart of your story, but always be flexible and honestly look at every suggestion.
What project are you working on now?
I have a YA western dystopia I’m querying at the moment, so while I’m waiting to hear back on that I’ve been writing a story under the working title of Bad Boy. It is a non-magical fantasy involving a criminal who is insulted by the king’s royal advisor, so kidnaps the man’s daughter as payback. I finished the first draft early December so my next step will be to start editing and revisions.
Where can we find your books?
Five Poisoned Apples is available on Amazon.
And you can check out my blog maddie-morrow.blogspot.com to stay up to date on what is happening with my writing. You’ll find a newsletter signup there that will earn you a free Steampunk Beauty and the Beast novella.