Monday 25 April 2011

Julie Morrigan interview: Gone Bad

Gone Bad by Julie Morrigan

Gone Bad has the distinctive flavour of north east England and gathers together 18 titles, mixing ‘flash fiction’ pieces with longer reads. Within the pages you can meet a murderous little boy, a psychotic Scouse backing singer, and a wannabe crime fiction writer with a penchant for hands-on research. Add to that a dishonest lottery winner, predatory girlfriend, long-suffering private detective and would-be rapist and you’re starting to get the lie of the land.

Gone Bad is this prize-winning UK writer’s first collection of short stories. For more information visit Julie at her
Gone Bad blog.

Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words?

Short fiction with a noir edge, gritty, sweary, northern and nasty, featuring flawed, foul-mouthed, misguided characters. Some people say it’s funny. But they’re sick.

What crime book are you most looking forward to reading?

Ian Ayris’s debut novel ‘Abide With Me’ is due out later this year from Caffeine Nights Publishing. Ian’s a terrific writer with a very distinctive voice. I’ve read a bunch of his short stories and also some excerpts from the forthcoming book that have been posted on his blog (The Voices in my Head, if anyone is looking for it) and I reckon it’s going to be an absolute cracker.

What are you reading now?

I have too many things on the go at the moment and not enough time for reading. I love short stories and there are a few collections I’m currently dipping into as and when: Nigel Bird’s ‘Dirty Old Town’, Iain Rowan’s ‘Nowhere To Go’, and Emma Newman’s ‘From Dark Places’; all of which are hugely enjoyable. I also like to keep up with ezines such as the rather wonderful ‘Thrillers, Killers and Chillers’, which has such a great mix of stories.

Full length reads currently include ‘Mindjacker’ by Sean Patrick Reardon, ‘Broken Dreams’ by Nick Quantrill, and ‘The Vampire Lestat’ by Anne Rice. (I’ve been reading that last one for months. I’m not finding it to be the easiest of reads, but I’m determined to finish.)

If you had to re-read a crime novel right now, what would you choose?

That’s a tough question - I’ve read so many good ones and yet barely scratched the surface of what’s available. I think I’d go for Jim Thompson’s ‘The Grifters’, a gripping tale of loneliness, dysfunction and betrayal. I love his writing, it’s spare and relentless, hypnotic and intense. Jim Thompson looked into the dark heart of society and shared what he saw with brutal honesty. He didn’t flinch, but readers might.

What makes you keep reading a book?

I think in general it’s a mix of things: voice, plot, characters, action, they all coalesce to make a satisfying read. Mind you, I can forgive just about anything if I care about the characters. Similarly, if I couldn’t give a damn whether they live or die, then the rest of it counts for nothing, no matter how well something is constructed and written. Characters give a story heart, they bring it to life, even if they themselves are heartless and destined to die. They can also ruin a story - I recently gave up on a much-praised book only a short way in because I thought the characters were foul. The premise was that one of a group of friends had been murdered some years earlier - that was as far as I got - I thought murdering only one of them was a wasted opportunity. I’d have happily bludgeoned every one of the smug, over-privileged aresholes to death with whatever came readily to hand.

What are the biggest problems facing writers these days?

Same as always, I think: how to reach readers. There is so much material available for people to read and so many things vying for their attention and their free time that having your stories stand out from the crowd and not only be noticed, but be chosen, is a real challenge.

What are the greatest opportunities facing writers these days?

Publishing is changing. Traditional publishers no longer have a stranglehold over what people get to read: we can put our own books out. That presents writers with massive opportunities and some people will do very well out of it, Amanda Hocking being the obvious example. It also presents new challenges - not all writers are great at formatting and cover design, for example, and then there’s the whole issue of promotion and marketing. I reckon things will shake down and people and businesses will find new roles and new ways of working together. But the old model is irrevocably changed, and I welcome that. Doors are opening and a lot of writers are taking their first steps into a new world full of enormous potential.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

Having just woken up to the opportunities provided by e-books, I have plans to make a number of both fiction and non-fiction books available in that format over the coming months. Next out looks like being last year’s NaNoWriMo project, which has the working title ‘Lost Children’. Missing kids, self-destructive parents, lies, hypocrisy, revenge and religion all come together to hopefully amuse and entertain.

Gone Bad by Julie Morrigan


  1. Nice one! Gone Bad is a beaut of a collection.

  2. Good interview with a fantastic writer.
    "I’d have happily bludgeoned every one of the smug, over-privileged aresholes to death with whatever came readily to hand." Nicely said. If you haven't read Gone Bad, Do.

    -Josh Stallings

  3. Thanks, Paul and Josh - too kind!

  4. Firstly thanks.
    I'm rigtht with you on Ian's Abide With Me. It's one of the books I'm really looking forward to this year - his short pieces are amazing. The mixture of work of Gone Bad looks right up my street, so I'm going over again. Criminal-E is fast becoming my point of call for recommendations - if only I could read as quicky as I can press the one-click button.

  5. Yep, it's a bugger that on-click button! Looking forward to reading this one!

  6. Abide With Me is going to be epic. I loved Dirty Old Town, too - good stuff!

    And yes, that click on button is a bugger. I now have, alongside Mount TBR, Mount e-TBR. Still, as problems go, it's not the worst of them!

    And if you pick up GB, thanks, and I hope you enjoy it.

  7. As always Julie, a nice piece. Ian's novel sounds great and thanks for the mention of my novel. As you know everybit helps. Can't wait to read some new stories by you.

    If you have not read "Gone Bad", it is excellent and get yourself a copy

  8. Cheers, Sean, you're a pal! Looking forward to more stuff from you, too. :)