Author Q & A

Why Live in China?

At the age of 48, I had lost everything, so started out on a new life.

I came to China on University Placement. When that finished, I had months left on my visa. I  had moved to Foshan, and loved the people, so open and friendly, and it was so cheap to live.

I had made good friends, but also loved the excitement of discovering somewhere new, and alien.

I applied for a new visa, and they gave me one, so I decided to stay a while. For the first time in many years, I was happy and contented. I once more had quality of life.

Now, twelve years in, I think of my home town as being Foshan City. We have since moved farther south, to my wife's home town, Tai Shan City, and been here for the last five years.

Your favourite book?

The Gap Series by Stephen Donaldson. Warning, content not for everybody's taste, but the questions asked are exemplary.

Otherwise, I can name one million. James Clavell's Shogun is of personal interest, because the main character lived and adapted to life in Japan. I have done similar in China.

Favourite Poem?

'Enough' by Patrick Stiles.

I like a lot of AA Milne, 'The Dormouse and the Doctor', in particular.

In literature, The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe.

Favourite Quote?

'If you smile at me, you know I will understand, 'cos that is something everybody, everywhere, does in the same language."

Jefferson Airplane, Wooden Ships.

Do you write, to make money?

No. Currently I'm thousands of Dollars out of pocket, and doubt I have the marketing and promotional skills to cover my costs.

I write because my stories, my characters, have a life of their own, that needs to be told.

I also believe I have something to say, and the medium allows me to comment upon contemporary society, through my characters.

Like many great writers, I will probably become rich and famous, after I die.

Have you started work on the second trilogy?

Yes and No. The full plot is in my head, and the action switches to science fiction. It begins with the arrival of Ancestor Poh on Gaia, and intra galactic wars headed our way.

The plot of SG4 is set. Some scenes are written, like the death of Jien Noi; which is most touching.

The question of Jack and Kay's relationship is also settled, but in an unexpected way.

About John Morris

Feature: The Author


Go to Publisher: Charlotte Greene 


About the Author


Author Q & A

Tell us a little about your childhood.
I grew up on a farm, learned to drive a tractor at age eight, and reverse a long, four-wheel, articulated trailer, one year later.

Summer holidays were taken in an Irish fishing village, this being my mother's home town. They were devout Christians, relatives living in both North and Southern Ireland.

My father was a Staffordian, the County Town being a Norman stronghold, and sporting the remains of a Norman Castle. In an area of many dialects, Staffordians were noted as having no accent.

I became handy with my hands, as there were always odd-jobs to do, and things that needed fixing or improving.

Despite being clever, I hated school


John Morris - Crossroads

Image: Jonno in Foshan - Click to enlarge

virtually the all of it. Bear in mind this was the late and, "swinging 60's;" a new era was dawning. our adolescent generation were highly influenced by the times, and we were often found in debate, or asking, you guessed it, the question "Why".

What made you become a writer?
I used to write to friends telling them of my life. Several asked for longer stories, and rather than repeat to each one, I decided to start the Letters From China section. I developed a casual, humorous style, and gained a fan base of several thousand followers.

My wife, Siu Ying  and I went on a Chinese package tour of Thailand, and it was full of crazy situations. Returning, I wrote it all down, and found I had written a short story. That gave me the confidence to write my first book, and Star Gazer was created.

It took me five years to learn to write properly; thank you Susan, my content editor.

What do you see as your strong points?
Ah! Getting inside my characters heads, and relating their thoughts and emotions to the reader. The way my characters grow, and interact with one another. They show a full range of human emotions. I also add subtle humour.

I have also developed the ability to hide clues in plainly written text. Conspiracy Theory is notable for this. I often write the clue in a low profile incident, and follow with something of high impact. The reader is drawn to the apparently more significant action, passing over the clue.

I also learned to edit myself, and have become my own worst critic. Susan pushes me hard, and lets me get away with nothing. At first, my glorious pages resembled a battlefield, but I learned over time, stopped making errors, and thought about what the reader would make of my work.

The Star Gazer trilogy was almost complete, when I discovered what Stephen King meant. His editing tip was, "Every word has to have a place, and is deleted if not, even if it is the greatest line I have ever written, it has to be deleted." So instead of publishing for Christmas 2015, I began editing the trilogy severely. It was well worth the effort.

How did you meet your wife?
I had one particular friend, a draughtsman for housing projects named Eason. He was many years younger than I, but we became the best of friends; spending most evenings together. He spoke reasonable English, and taught me the same in local language. He had studied in Hong Kong, and was one of the few to know life outside of Mainland China. He taught me to be a Yue, or Cantonese 'boy'.

We ate and drank most nights, late into the night, and frequented the local streetbars, full of local people, not the reserve of most foreigners. One night we dined in Ho Shum Lao restaurant, a favourite haunt, and on the way out, there was a table full of 'girls'. Eason knew one of them well, 'Ah Tien', and we all got chatting. Space was made, and I sat opposite a really cute girl with a great smile, her name was Siu Ying. Weeks passed, and the four of us (named) often went out as 'a group of friends'.

We often went clubbing, Eason getting us a free pass, as he had designed most of the places: he was VIP. One night, we were playing beer drinking games, and Siu Ying had to work very late. She arrived even later, looking really good, and I tried to chat, but she was upset. That's when I realised she fancied me, and that suited me just fine.

Time passed, we continued to hang out together, and then one night she came back with me, stayed the night, and never left. Perfect. I hope she never leaves.

You've lived in many places, which stands out the most?
Not many people can say they have lived for one year on a rural island, but I have. The island was in the West Pearl River, and measured four miles long, by one wide; the river was two-miles wide. There were about 800 people living on it; all were local Chinese, and none spoke English.

For most of the time, Siu Ying stayed with the baby at her mother's home; I was on my own. Having learned to be a celebrity, being outgoing, friendly, I was welcomed into the island community. I ate sik juk (rice porridge) with the locals, and was given my own place at one table. I became accepted, and made many friends.

My office on the first floor, overlooked a small balcony, that flowered with bougainvillea in summer. There was virtually no traffic, many trees, and the sound of birds. It was a great place to write.

Do you suffer from writer's block?
Never, I have the opposite problem, too much to write, and not enough time to do it in. The nearest I have come, is with my sixth book, Domicile, which turned out to be a mess. It was 180,000 pages, twice as long as needs be, and I had tried to cover far too much ground.

I now understand how to present the story succinctly, as a simple story about one unfortunate girl, Isabella. There will be one new character, who will appear occasionally, and voice in sentences, with interview dialogue, what I spent chapters on before. A lot of other related things will go, or be saved as backcopies for possible books in the series; which I currently have no plans for. I am looking forward to beginning, and Domicile should be published this yearAutumn 2016.

What about the future?
After my five published books are marketed, I have some work to do with my fiction Publisher Imprint Charlotte Greene. During this year, Boris and I will create the Star Gazer game. Ahead, the second Star Gazer trilogy, some work already done, and one or several of new concepts for novels I am occasionally thinking about. Also, people are demanding a third volume of Fractured; that appears to be expected, and thoughts of situation and plot are in review. I am also tempted to publish the short story that began it all for me, Six Days in Siam.

Otherwise, I need to write about my life, so that when Rhiannon grows up, she can truly know her father. Call it a memoir or autobiography, there is nothing in it to interest most people, except her; I think? I want to leave her with a physical copy of the book, warts and all, and hope to keep her safer than most young girls, by offering my analogies and insightful observations of modern life.

Like all young people, she will probably ignore me, before she understands. If I can pass on just one thing to her, that remains unanswered in full, the question, "Why".

Author Q & A

Why are you called "Jonno"

I was born John Charles Morris, and have also been known by many nicknames: 'Jonnie', J. C., 'Jay', but I've never used the name Charles, or derivatives.

My father always called me 'John-O', and this is now the name I always go by, except officially.

What's the most annoying thing about writing?

Damn The Orphans! No, not children. I refer to 'orphan control' as employed by most text editors. Turning orphan control off, results in greater problems later on.

The process groups chunks of text together, so the reader is not left with a few words on the following page. It also creates white spaces at the bottom of pages.

If your print book chapter ends with one line on the right-hand page, then you have to edit so that line disappears. Doing so saves printing two virtually blank pages.

Your ring is curious

The Claddagh is an interesting ring, of Roman times. It is suited to the Gaelic psyche, especially for younger people; and tells of the wearers true heart. 

Image: Claddagh ring - Click to enlarge

•  Right hand, point of the heart towards fingertips:
   •  Single and may be looking for love.
•  Right hand, point of the heart toward wrist:
   •  The wearer is in a relationship.
•  Left hand,point of the heart toward the fingertips:
   •  The wearer is engaged.
•  Left hand, point of the heart toward the wrist:
   •  The wearer is married.

The ring's symbolism represents love, loyalty, and friendship.

Perhaps because of my Irish heritage, my wedding band is a Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh).

"Masks of the Allegory" raises serious questions. Are you a Christian?

I don't know. I do not believe in an omnipotent being, or why such a thing would be interested in my small life.

But, I hold Christian values, and follow them in daily life. And more so than most whom profess to be followers of the faith.

Most religions appear to be an excuse to fight and kill one another, because they have a different view of this same God.

They attend church on Sunday, often as a public display of self-enhancement, then spend the rest of their time lying, stealing, and cheating.

Jethro Tull summed this up, "So I asked this God a question, and by way of firm reply, he said, 'I'm not the kind you have to wind-up on Sundays'."

Any Advice?

Something I learnt in Canton:

"Your smile is your biggest resource, use it generously."

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