Interview with Boyd Morrison
Boyd Morrison is the best-selling author of The Noah’s Ark Quest, The Roswell Conspiracy and The Loch Ness Legacy. He is also a scientist who has worked with NASA. Here he talks to Chris High about his latest Thriller, The Catalyst.
How difficult was it for you to maintain such a high velocity pace throughout The Catalyst?
Keeping a fast pace in the story is something I work hard on. I try to follow Elmore Leonard’s advice: “Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.” Whenever I find myself getting bored with a scene that I’m writing, I know it’s time to cut it or streamline it. I also attempt to make every chapter end with some kind of cliff-hanger so the reader always feels reluctant to put the book down.
Kevin Hamilton faces the usual problems for students across the globe ... until he receives the email from Michael Ward. Was this, for you, being a former Phd student, a case of saying “What if?” and how long did it take for you to see that your original concept had the legs to become a full-length novel?
That’s exactly right. I wrote this when I was a graduate student myself, and I wondered what kind of invention would get me into trouble. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I would go on to earn fourteen patents myself; none of them led me on the kind of adventure Kevin goes on. Once I came up with the central idea for the invention in the story, I realized it would be so valuable that someone might be willing to kill for it, and the novel took off.
Erica is cool, calm and collected under pressure, partly because of her position as a doctor. How much input did your wife have into developing her as a character?
Erica has many of the same qualities as my wife, so it was easy to write her character even though my wife was still two years from beginning med school at the time. Randi has a huge input on all of my novels, as she is always my first reader. She’s the perfect combination of cheerleader and truthteller.
Lobec is the polar opposite of Hamilton. Did you find it difficult to balance the two personas?
Writing baddies might be more fun than writing the heroes. The important part is to make the bad guy imposing enough so that the reader is genuinely unsure if or how the hero can defeat him. Then if and when the hero is ultimately victorious and the villain gets his comeuppance, it feels well-earned.
What got you into writing and why the Thriller genre?
I’ve always loved reading, but I never considered writing until I took a science fiction writing course. I wrote a wretched short story for the class, but it made me think novels might be more my speed, and that’s when I got the idea for The Catalyst. Thrillers have been my favourites from a young age, when I was introduced to them by Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic.
Do you know your characters before you start committing them to paper OR do you develop a bond with them as the story evolves?
I have them sketched out briefly before I start a story, but I don’t really get to know them until I write them. Characters are defined by their words and deeds. As I’m progressing through the story and figure out how the characters would respond to their dire situations, that’s when they become fleshed out for me.
How much does your science background – particularly your work with / for NASA – assist your writing?
I include a lot of scientific concepts in my stories, so my education and work experiences figure strongly in their creation. Not only do they provide me with a basis for explaining the science and technology I feature, but the scientific method itself taught me to structure a story logically and think through the potential outcomes that my characters face. I also flew on the Vomit Comet –the airplane used to train astronauts for zero gravity during my time at NASA – and that experience directly spawned a key plot point in The Roswell Conspiracy.
Do you have any writing superstitions, a set writing routine and what is the best writing advice you have been given?
Mary Heaton Vorse said that “The art of writing is applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” That’s about as simple and true as it gets. I don’t have any superstitions, but I do like to write to music, primarily dramatic movie soundtracks that put me in the mood to create tense and thrilling scenes.
If you had to choose three novels from sinking ship, what would they be and why?
The Stand by Stephen King, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, and The Martian by Andy Weir, because they’re all about surviving disastrous situations and I suppose I’d need all the advice I could get if I’ve just abandoned a sinking ship.
I’ve recently had the privilege of co-writing with Clive Cussler, and our first collaboration in the Oregon Files series, PIRANHA, comes out this spring.
|If you would like to comment on this interview with Boyd Morrison in 2015, please feel free to contact me - GUESTBOOK|
Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit. - Chris High 2003.
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