Hi! My name is Stephan Morse, I’m thirty-three, and have been writing poorly in a dimly lit corner off and on for a decade.
In the last few years, I decided to go public with my first major series, Continue Online – which is a near future science fiction piece with virtual reality games, artificial intelligence, and a lot of other tidbits (Also considered LitRPG). In addition, I write a series called Royal Scales which is an urban fantasy with my own unique twists on the standard werewolves, elves, vampires, and so on.
When and why did you start writing?
I’ve been writing a lot of ten-page stories that went nowhere since junior high. About six years ago a friend challenged me to try to co-write a series with him, which we did. I wanted to work on some of my own projects and that’s how Royal Scales started. A lot of it’s about reading so much in a genre that I want to do two things, one is to see something new to the genre, and two is giving something back to help entertain others.
What inspires your writing?
Reading other people’s works. Sleeping and having crazy dreams. All those shower thoughts that are still with me after I get done. There are a lot of little things which mostly amount from ‘living life’.
What has been your worst moment as a writer?
Editing. Everything about editing. Anytime there’s a correction I feel like I’ve failed somehow. This says nothing of the struggle to finish a book and bring the story to a conclusion. It also hurts to get feedback or low ratings. But at the same point – a lot of this is cancelled out through the simple act of having finished a work. So worst is hard to define because the emotions tied to each problem tend to roller-coaster.
Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood for writing?
I open the notepad or document and do my darndest to press buttons in an order which produces words. That is, I leap right in. This only works for ongoing projects that I haven’t stepped out of.
There are projects which I walk away from for months at a time – then need to get back into the right mindset for. This usually involves re-reading everything to date, checking my notes on any partial drafts, and sighing heavily at mistakes made in earlier works. I often read the material in a different voice or with an accent in my head to help get the right vibe.
If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?
Start writing sooner and work to finish a project. There was, and is, no greater mark of being an ‘author’ versus a ‘writer’ than finishing a work then processing publish. The rest (success, marketing, covers, etc.) is all another story entirely. But that feeling of finishing something instead of having it stall in infancy is huge. That’s when I felt like I could really do this. That was what I needed to keep going. Now that I’ve ‘climbed the hill once’ I know I can do it again.
What do you believe make for great writing?
For me, it’s emotional responses from the readers. Anything that evokes goosebumps, tears, rage (at the author or a character) – all those are in a sense great writing. Maybe not enjoyable, but great writing. It amazes me when a product made from 26 letters in the alphabet and various pieces of punctuation has an impact another human’s life. When that person sets the book down and their brain is still filled with the images created by mere words – that is worthy of praise.
How do you measure success as a writer?
A lot of people measure it by money. I measure it with each Email or note someone puts up saying they loved a piece of work. Those types of response are few and far between, but each one means a lot to me. That means I succeeded in – as I answered above – making a piece of great writing. Even if that’s subjective.
What’s your biggest fear as a writer?
That one day I’ll poor my heart into something then hear absolutely nothing back. Writing into the void is a common problem for serial writers. Writing into the void is a common issue for a lot of indie people. Their works may be online for months, years, or whatever and never get a single response or rating. That hurts, and the idea that one day this could happen to me – and never end – is worthy of fear.
Describe your latest book to our readers
My latest work in progress is a superhero fiction. The main character attracts super-powered problems (Such as fights, being kidnapped, etc.) and always survives. It’s very much a psychological piece with high action – where I get to explore the repercussions of being a undying red-shirt / kidnap victim #1 and without power to stop it from happening.
My next book release is Trials of the Chief, part of the urban fantasy series called Royal Scales. This one follows a wall of muscle who’s not quiet human – and explores the world as he tries to find his place in it. This means dealing with his weird powers, other races like wolves, elves, vampires, and uncover a conspiracy that he’s unknowingly part of.
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
This is a hard question. Everything I work on is designed to offer something new to the genre it’s in. Most of the time I aim to have very ‘real’ feeling characters, ones we can understand or emphasize with on some level. For Continue Online – the main character Grant is suffering from severe depression, but by the end of the series he finds a reason to stand up and become the hero. In most cases, it’s a journey about someone who is broken somehow by life and working to repair that or come to grips with the problem – and overcome it.
I always hope that people will relate a little, and maybe see that they’re not entirely alone in their own struggles (even if reality is far less fantastical).
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
If you want to be a writer, then write. That’s an overplayed, much-touted answer that feels easier to say than do. It’s still true. Write. Don’t quit. Don’t say ‘I’m not feeling it today’. Press the keyboard, put lead to paper, roll your face on the touchscreen – whatever it takes to get words out. The rest comes with practice – but if you don’t write, you’re not practising.
What’s next for you?
Everything. The list is long and my hopes high. I want to do superhero stuff. I want to revisit the virtual reality ‘LitRPG’ genre. I want to do a more eastern martial arts fiction series. There’s so many ideas and only so much time.
by Stephan Morse
Humanity hasn’t been alone for almost two thousand years. Elves, wolves, vampires, all joined together with mankind to eradicate the ‘darker’ races and maintained a tentative peace until modern times. Society adapted, everyone has rules that help keep the peace in this modern era. Yet, absolute genocide is impossible when talking about creatures beyond the pale. Some hid, some buried, others were re-purposed.
Some, like Jay Fields, pass for human with a little bit extra. His abilities didn’t belong to one of the major races, but any information was buried along with the long-dead boogie men. All Jay cared about was those closest to him and a job that let him hit people. He used to be a bouncer at a bar, a part-time enforcer for a loan shark, and even a fight club champion. That was four years ago before betrayal by someone close sent him packing.
Now he’s back and trying to recover a life he left behind. Questions of origin aren’t his only problems. His ex-girlfriend is a vampire. His part-time boss doesn’t think he’s up to snuff anymore. There’s a missing elf who might have some answers, and Jay’s best friend is caught up in something dangerous…