Gwynn Morgan, lifelong Arizona resident, finds endless inspiration in the natural beauty, ethnic diversity, colorful history and marvelous variety of the American southwest. She brings a strong flavor of this exciting region into every one of her novels which she calls “romantic adventures.” On the drawing board at present are some historical tales set in the environs of Tombstone, Fort Huachuca and Bisbee as well as more Arizona-set contemporary stories. “So many ideas, so little time,” she frequently laments.
Bitten hard and early by the writing bug, she wrote her first verse at age eight and soon afterwards began to try her hand at fiction. Serious pursuit of a writing career was put on hold while she went to college, found employment with the U.S. Government, married and raised a family. Finally after ending a twenty-five year civil service career, she found her niche in writing romance—but romance with unique Arizona Ambience.
Gwynn now lives in a rural area of Cochise County, Arizona’s southeastern corner, an area rich in history and natural wonders. She shares her rustic little home with two canine companions, Belle and Rico, for whom she serves as chauffeur and household staff. Although she has been an active and volunteering member of a number of writing-focused organizations including Romance Writers and America and several of its chapters, she has now drawn away from most of her volunteer efforts. This was necessary to allow her concentrate on writing and rebuilding her life following the sudden death of her partner and husband of thirty two years late in 2003. A former police officer in several Arizona locations, he was the co-author of this book. She plans to complete some other joint efforts they had worked on together as well as to continue with her own projects.
In between hours at the keyboard, she enjoys a wide range of creative and outdoor activities such as reading, Celtic/ethnic music, rock-hounding and lapidary, astronomy, nature photography, sewing and crafts, hiking, back-road driving in her fiery red Mazda pickup, the Red Hot Mama, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Gwynn presently has nine novels available from three different small press publishers (see book list and links pages). She loves to write about cops and cowboys in settings that feature the marvelous diversity of the southwest.
Contact Gwynn by email at Gwynn@gwynnmorgan.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also write to her at PO Box 6046, Huachuca City, AZ 85616.
Q: Tell us a little about your life outside of writing.
A: I’m a self-styled “Renaissance woman” and have so many interests and avocations it is hard to keep up with them all! Astronomy to zoology, more or less, with a lot of stops along the way. I’m retired now and have a little more time than I did as a working wife and mother to pursue some of these things, but I still know life will be too short. I’m a ‘rock hound’, a photographer, a brown-thumbed gardener, an avid reader, a bird watcher, a star-gazer, and definitely an outdoor person. But I also love to read, listen to folk/ethnic, new age and other kinds of music, do arts and crafts, sew and make jewelry. When I can, I get out and explore back roads in the southwest for inspiration and hunt with my camera. I also target shoot and hike.
Q: What made you start writing and when did you start?
A: I started writing at a very early age, verses when I was eight and fiction efforts within a few years. Since my father was a writer, I grew up thinking it was a perfectly normal and ordinary thing to do. As soon as I could spell a few words, write all the letters and imagine things, I was writing. It was one of the major things I wanted to do with my life and I feel very fortunate to have been able to realize my dream of being published.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: Early in life I was influenced by a number of writers whose work I really enjoyed. I knew Nancy Drew books had multiple authors but they hooked me before I was ten. Then I went on to Zane Gray, Ernest Haycox, and Max Brand, and from there into historical fiction. I loved Edna Ferber, Anya Seton, Thomas Costain and Frank Yerby to name just a few. I moved into fantasy and science fiction as an adult and became a fan of several ladies writing in this genre: Ann McCaffery, Marion Zimmer Bradley, C. J. Cherryh and Andre Norton in particular. Last, I found romance and developed a whole new list of favorites there. Lindsey McKenna, Eileen Wilks, Sue Ellen Welfonder, Elizabeth Sinclair and a few others have become automatic buys for me. Then I got into e-books and wow, a whole new world opened up! So now a number of my fellow small press authors get the bulk of my reading time. I enjoy the freedom and variety that can be found here, mixing of genres and must admit to loving the ‘instant gratification’ of ordering a book and having it on my screen within a few minutes, whatever whim urges me at the time. It’s better than living next door to a great big bookstore!
Q: What type of books do you write? Is there a reason you write (for instance) historical romance rather than science fiction?
A: I’m a very eclectic reader and this makes me a rather eclectic writer. Everything I write has a love story woven through it, so I guess this makes me a romance writer but I have written contemporary, historical, science-fiction/fantasy, ‘westerns’, and police procedural books–all combined with romance. Not that I am published in all these areas yet, but it is not impossible. Exotic settings, high adventure, ethnic diversity and a bit of the paranormal—one or more of these will be found in every book I write. I think most of us read genre fiction to escape, so reading about the folks next door who live just like we do isn’t going to do it for most of us!
Q: Tell us about the first time you got the call or the email from a publisher wanting to publish one of your books.
A: My writing career took off with a whimper, really. I got the email in mid January 2001. I howled, yelled, squealed and danced as one must, told my friends etc. and then got hit alongside the head with disaster! I’d made my first sale to Dreams Unlimited, a small press/e-publisher, but within a few short weeks, they vanished off the radar screen! It happened almost before I could really get excited about my upcoming book, due out that summer. At the time, Kathryn Struck was considering a couple of other works of mine so I withdrew the manuscript from Dreams and sent it to her. Amazingly, she pulled out all the stops and that book was my first, issued in August of 2001 in electronic formats: Powerful Medicine. It will always be special to me since it was first and for other reasons as well. Because of this experience, I could not comfortably limit myself to one publisher. I currently have books with five different small press firms! However, Awe-Struck is and always will be very special to me as publisher of my first book and for the ‘family’ atmosphere they maintain with their staff and writers.
Q: Out of all the characters you've created, which is your favorite, and why?
A: When I am writing a book, the characters in it are my favorites, at least at that time. In retrospect though, some stand out more than others. Ben and Fran in Powerful Medicine are very special to me; I really feel as if they are personal friends. Although they are not patterned after specific individuals, they are composites of Native Americans I have known. My most favored hero would probably be Lawton Kane in The Man in Black. I have a weakness for tortured heroes and he’s definitely one, a man outwardly hard and cold but inwardly very caring and gentle. And for a favorite heroine, probably Andy in Andy vs. the Colonel. She held me at arm’s length for awhile but finally let me into her head and heart and I really came to admire her!
Q: Do you write related books, such as series that revisit characters and/or settings you've written about in previous books? As a reader, do you read other authors' series?
A: My next book, Penny’s Luck, coming out in June 2004, will be the first of a series. This is the first time I have tried this approach, but I think it will work well. I became very involved with these people and a couple of characters in book one almost demanded their own stories. One advantage to doing a series is you already have the setting and atmosphere down pat after the first one so you do not have to reinvent anything there. For lazy writers like me, that can be a plus. I enjoy reading the series of other writers, especially if I get attached to some of the characters since that way you can go back and revisit them as you continue through the books. I like for each book to be a stand-alone story. Although I do read some of the category continuities, if you happen to miss one or get into it in the middle, this dampens the enjoyment. For that reason, I don’t think I’d want to try that method.
Q: How much of your own life and experiences do you put into your books?
A: In subtle ways, I suppose there is more of ‘me’ in my books than I realize when I am writing. I live in and love the southwest and most of my contemporary books are set here. I can portray the setting in a very sensory way since I know the sights, sounds, scents and feel of this region. Also, I had a rather troubled relationship with my own father for many years and find this happening with a lot of my heroines. Frequently, the situation ends happily with some kind of reunion, as in both Powerful Medicine and Andy vs. the Colonel. One story, Healing Hearts, grew directly out of my experience of breaking my leg while hiking which occurred in April 1999.
Q: What comes first—the plot, the characters, or the setting?
A: Most of my books have evolved from one character and a scene in which I visualize that person. I then try to imagine the perfect foil for him or her, the adventures that will especially challenge both of them, and finally a setting that will enhance the overall effect. Plot is where I have the biggest problem. It’s not hard to come up with things that will happen but making them all flow in a good story arc and hang together in a believable way before they come to a climax and a happy ending is a challenge! I am not big on outlines and this is sometimes my downfall. I have a mental roadmap of where I want the story to go, but those critters can have a will of their own at times and it’s a real chore to tame them! An outline can be the ‘pen’ you keep the wild creature in while you get it used to working with you—but that tends to kill my enthusiasm and take the spark out of my work.
Q: Do you ever suffer from writer's block? Have you found any effective ways for dealing with it?
A: In the past, this had not been too difficult because I always had several projects going at any one time. If the flow stopped on one, I just moved to another and went as far with it as I could and then on to the next. People have asked me if I got confused or had trouble keeping track but this never seemed to be an issue for me. Maybe I am a little bit schizophrenic! However, some personal and family matters have cut my creativity down to a trickle in the recent past. The culmination was when I lost my husband who was also my first critiquer, sounding board, brain-storming partner and a writer himself in November 2003. Learning to write in a semi-vacuum has been a challenge but I’m easing back into it and I think now I can do it again. For a while I was not sure. I will miss his technical advice on law enforcement and military matters, but somehow I will muddle through! I do have a son who is a former Marine and currently a sergeant in the county jail, and he will answer questions if I catch him right!
I hope to complete a couple of projects of which he was the principal author and I the editor etc. in the next year or so. I am not sure if I can do this but I want to try; they were good stories that deserve to be read. They are both police-procedural/romances, and as a former cop, he brought to them a vital realism that made them very vivid and engrossing. All I can say is ‘stay tuned’ and see what happens!
Q: Do you have any closing thoughts?
A: I am sure I would write, even if I knew not one soul would ever read a word of it. But to share my stories and to hear back from a reader now and then who enjoyed or was touched by one of them is truly the cherry on the sundae! I am most humbly grateful to Kathryn and Dick for giving me the first chance to do this with Powerful Medicine. When it was well-received, I was encouraged to try some more tales. I now have a total of seven books out with different publishers and more in the queue for the future, to say nothing of the file cabinet full of notes, ideas, partials, and such, all clamoring to see the light of day. God willing, I will write until my dying day and produce a number of additional books along the way! I could not be happier doing anything else.