Todays interview is with Todd Morr author of the dark fiction book If You’re Not One Percent, published by 280 steps, released this past May. His most recent novel in the horror sci-fi genre, Mr. Chips Must Die out this past September 16th. Todd is also the CEO of 10th Rule Books – “Pulp Fiction that leaves out the boring parts”. I really enjoyed our interview, Todd. Many thanks for being a guest of The Scary Reviews.
The Scary Reviews: For new readers, can you tell us a bit about yourself.
Todd Morr: I’m a married father of three living on California’s Central Coast. Before moving up here from Southern California I was teaching guitar for a living. Now I’m a house husband, stay at home dad, and a full time writer. I’ve also started 10th Rule Books, which like the rest, keeps me busy but does not make any money.
TSR: That is a lot to juggle and it sounds pretty fullfiling. Can you tell me when you first realized you wanted to be a writer, and when did you write that first story.
TM: I wanted to be a writer since I learned to read, but I wanted to do a whole bunch of different things too, so I took a long time getting to it, or at least having anything remotely like success. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was draw my own comics, so I guess one of those would be the first story. I decided I wanted to write a novel in my early twenties and I did, but no one would publish it, The first thing published was the novel Captain Cooker in 2012, by Snubnose Press.
TSR: I can relate, I took far too long doing what I always wanted to do for a living. At least your there now! What is your schedule like when you’re writing and how do you balance it with your non-writing time.
TM: I can make my own schedule for the most part. Before I did most of my writing at night, and I find even though I don’t have to like before I still get the most done between eight o’clock and midnight. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work, which is still writing, and something I still enjoy but not the same as doing my own thing. The trick is scheduling time so I can hit the freelance deadlines and still work on my own stuff.
TSR: What are the positives, for you, of working at 10th Rule Books, as a writer.
TM: I get to see the process a bit from the other side. It’s more or less a one man operation at this point so I get to do everything. In independent publishing everything seems to move slow, and now I’m the guy taking forever instead of the guy wondering why it is taking so long for my book to be released.
TSR: After your first book was published, what impact did it have on your writing process and style.
TM: First it helped my confidence a great deal and gave all the hours I put into writing some validation. Before getting published it was easy to start thinking I was less of a writer and more a crazy person typing nonsense deep into the night on his laptop. Knowing I wasn’t completely insane and thinking maybe I could actually write a little bit made me more productive. It was easier to sit down and start writing with the nagging feeling I wasting my time pushed farther back into my brain.
I think I found some sense of my own style too. I found something that worked and started to hone that style. Write or wrong I have a very solid idea of what I want to do as a writer now.
TSR: Again I can relate, it’s the same feeling I have when I someone say they like a review I’ve written. Who are some of the authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer.
TM: I have plenty of writing friends on the social media, and only a few in the physical world, though when I have met some of these guys and girls in real life we’ve got along. The cool thing about social media is you can get to know people you are fans of as well as learn about some cool stuff that may have gone under the radar. Greg Barth’s Selena series is one of my all time favorites and I read everything guys like Eric Beetner and Mike Monson put out there. I always liked Christopher Davis’ short fiction now I’m getting to put out some of longer stuff with 10th Rule Books, which is especially cool. Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford, who were nice enough to publish some of my Flash Fiction at the excellent Out of the Gutter online are also Facebook pals whose stuff I love to read.
I believe reading good stuff helps to write good stuff and these guys have all provided me some great reading.
TSR: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be.
TM: Keep writing, but recognize what you are doing could be total crap. The rewrite is where things really get done much of time and it took me a long time to figure that out.
TSR: What are common traps for aspiring writers.
TM: See above. It’s a weird thing writing. One has to have enough belief in themselves to think people would want to read the words they write, but be realistic enough about their abilities to look at what they do critically.
Rejection is part of the business, even being published once does not guarantee being published again (though it helps a lot). Instead of being mad at rejection notices go back and see what you could have done better. There will be something, at least there always is with me. Everything I have ever published with the exception of a few short stories has been rejected at least once. While the story is the more or less the same Mr. Chips Must Die changed radically from when I first submitted it to when it was finally published.
TSR: What books have you read that inspired your love for the genre you write within.
TM: For horror it is a whole slew of Stephen King novels which I read growing up, as well as a few by Dean Koonz. One of the first ‘real’ books I read was Carrie, which I had to sneak around to do since my parents probably thought I was too young (I don’t think I asked permission for fear they would say no).
I’m more of a crime writer. Mr. Chips Must Die is a horror-science fiction novel for sure, but style wise I still think it is closer to a crime novel. It is certainly more crime novel length. So just like with my other stuff there is some Richard Stark and Elmore Leonard in there too.
TSR: For us horror lovers I can’t imagine not reading a bunch of Stephen King novels. I know his books were what drew me to the genre. Lastly, can you tell me about your latest work in progress and what have coming in the future.
TM: I’m teaming up with Christopher Davis on a pair of crime novellas. ‘Double Tap’ will be coming out in December from 10th Rule Books. My half, will be a story taking place in the 80’s called Fiero which I’m slowly getting into shape.
You can find books by Todd Morr at the following links.