NIK MORTON is prolific. Probably an understatement given the volume of writing he has produced, which includes over a dozen novels in a variety of genre–horror, crime, thriller, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and westerns. And under several pseudonyms.
He has also written 120 short stories, as well as hundreds of articles.
If this activity isn’t enough, Nik also serves as editor in chief of Solstice Publishing, a US publisher.
Nik recently completed a paperback, “Write a Western in 30 Days: With Plenty of Bullet-Points!” which is slated for release in a couple of months.
Nik and his wife, Jennifer, live in Spain, with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandson nearby.
1. You’ve written six westerns, several thrillers, more than a hundred short stories—all under three different pen names. It seems you have produced all this body of work in a relatively short timeframe—most of it since 2007. What’s your secret for being so productive?
NM: I sold my first short story in 1971, so I’ve been writing for over 40 years. True, though, I became more productive once I ‘retired’ from UK to Spain in 2003; my first novel being accepted in 2007.
I’ve got a lot of stories/novels planned, so there is no shortage of ideas – that, I think, is usually the problem with some writers – getting an idea that will go the distance, whether for a short story or a novel.
I learned to touch-type in the Navy, which helps. Reminds me of Isaac Asimov when asked what would he do if he only had six months to live – ‘type faster,’ he replied.
2. In a sentence, or two, describe your latest novel and what inspired it.
NM: The working title of my latest western is The Magnificent Mendozas. It was inspired by the Magnificent Seven. I don’t want to say more about it yet – it’s half completed.
3. What goes into the planning of your novels? Do you develop extensive outlines, or do you prefer the discovery approach?
NM: I opt for the planning approach. It doesn’t suit all authors. But if you’re going to be prolific, knowing where you’re going helps get those words down.
A plan doesn’t need to be slavishly followed; it’s a roadmap, but there can always be slight deviations onto side-roads, so long as you focus on the destination.
This is what I advocate in my book Write a Western in 30 Days (due out 16 June, US; 28 June UK/Europe).
4. You also draw cartoons and illustrate comics, stories, and magazine covers. How active are you in illustrating, and how do you find the time for illustrating and writing? How do the two mesh?
NM: I’m not as active as I used to be. When I published the science fiction/horror/fantasy magazine Auguries, I did many of the interior illustrations and the odd cover. I’ve done some covers for Solstice, with the aid of Dreamstime. Now, I tend to draw superheroes for my grandson Darius to colour in. Though it’s possible some of my illustrations may end up in my recent sale, Wings of the Overlord (a fantasy quest novel jointly written with Gordon Faulkner).
5. You also serve as Editor in Chief of Solstice Publishing. What does Solstice publish? And, when you review manuscripts for publication, what’s on your mental checklist? Style? Story? Plot?
NM: Solstice publishes westerns, science fiction, horror, paranormal, erotica, romance, mainstream. Currently we’re only looking for books up to 39,000 words but that’s going to move to the norm soon; I’d advise anyone interested to check the website’s submissions pages.
Recently, we’ve published some excellent and even unusual westerns, Song of the Jayhawk, Hustle Henry and the Cue-ball Kid and From the Ashes. There’s The Cauldron, about the beginning of the Civil War from the perspective of a young man, the comic supernatural The Training Bra, the third book in a trilogy, and the second book in a series about a slob of a detective in Charleston, Smoke and Mirrors.
Due out any day is The Satanic Gospel, a mystery in sixteenth century Spain, and a 1930s gung-ho adventure The Elephants of Shanghai by actor Stephen Jared. So it’s a pretty eclectic mix.
First, I look for a story that’s going to suck me in. I want believable characters, people I’ll care about. Writing style is important and those books mentioned vary in that respect. Plot drives the story, so if it’s plot-less, simply meandering, it’s going to be tough to accept – unless the characters say otherwise, of course.
6. You’re in a small café, huddling with three of your favorite writers (living or dead). One specializes in Westerns; another in Thrillers; the third in Short Stories. Who would they be, and what one – and different – question would you ask each of them?
NM: Only three favourite authors? Blimey, that’s tough; I have over 4,000 books, and a couple hundred of those are horror/science fiction/fantasy, which you haven’t mentioned!
I’ll opt for Chuck Tyrell for westerns, mainly because I know the guy via the internet and we’ve co-edited a book – A Fistful of Legends. I’d ask Chuck: when are you going to write that Japanese western novel?
Thrillers, I thought of (John) Le Carré, but his books probably don’t fall into that category now, so I’ll go for Adam Hall (Elleston Trevor) – his Quiller books are still some of my favourites. I’d ask him where his 9 pennames came from. His widow’s 2012 book Bury Him Among Kings makes interesting reading, offering insights into this prolific writer.
For short stories – again, spoilt for choice: I first thought of Hemingway, who hones his words to the point where there never seem to be any superfluous, but I’ll settle for (Somerset) Maugham, whose output and variety and observation of the human condition repays re-reading. I’d ask Maugham about the three rules of writing.
7. How would you finish this statement: “I bet my readers didn’t know (this about me) . . .”
NM: ” . . . that I was adopted.” (They might if they read my dedication in The $300 Man…)
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