Sunday, September 2, 2012

10 Questions: Morgan Nyberg

Morgan Nyberg, author


Morgan Nyberg was born in Port Arthur, Ontario and grew up in farming country in southern British Columbia. After graduating from the University of British Columbia he worked as a laborer for a decade before finally settling into teaching. For most of the last 30 years he has lived abroad, teaching English as a Foreign Language in Ecuador, Portugal and the Sultanate of Oman. His first book, The Crazy Horse Suite, a verse play, was performed on the stage in New York and was broadcast on CBC Radio. His memoir, Mark, won the CBC Literary Competition. His first venture into book-length fiction, a children's novel, Galahad Schwartz and the Cockroach Army, won Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award for Literature. Since then he has added a further children's novel, Bad Day in Gladland, and three novels for adults, El Dorado Shuffle, Mr. Millennium, and Since Tomorrow. He currently lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Contact Morgan:

Amazon book page:  Morgan Nyberg Author Page
Twitter:  @morgannyberg

#1:  How many novels have you published?

Two novels for younger readers: Galahad Schwartz and the Cockroach Army and Bad Day in Gladland. Three novels for adults: El Dorado Shuffle, Mr. Millennium and Since Tomorrow. Also: a book of poetry in the form of a play for 4 voices, The Crazy Horse Suite.

#2:  Sales aside, do you have a favorite among the novels you've published?

El Dorado Shuffle was my first adults’ novel, set in the Andes Mountains, where I spent a couple of years in the 1980s. It is very different from my most popular book, Since Tomorrow. The story is narrated in the first person by its emotionally complex protagonist, Mac McKnight, who is fueled, in the words of the Amazon description, by “…guilt, anger, reckless courage, love, alcohol.” (There is more about Mac on my blog at http://goo.gl/33LI5 ) The tone of El Dorado Shuffle is ironic, the humour dark. Somehow I managed to create a wild and poetic story that blends sadness and humour.

#3:   Since Tomorrow is among my list of all-time favorite books, and I've read a lot of books. How long did it take you to write it, and how different was the final draft from the first? 

Since Tomorrow took 2 to 3  years to write, which is fast for me. Of course I had a job and family responsibilities as well, so the amount of time devoted to writing the book doesn’t mean much in itself. I made a detailed outline and kept the chapters short. I also avoided all exposition and commentary as to the characters’ states of mind. This is rare in fiction, in fact almost nonexistent. The focus on the physical was a good fit for me and helped to speed up the writing process. Because I had structured the outline so carefully there was very little rewriting.

#4:   Since Tomorrow is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Do you think that type of global collapse is in our future?

There are 2 causes of global collapse in the story: a pandemic and the cumulative effect of  current economic practices. These are exacerbated by a local disaster in the form of an earthquake. Of these causes the only one that at the moment seems inevitable is the economic one. The logic is brutally simple: 1. There will be 9 billion people in the world by 2050; 2. Resources are finite and are disappearing at a terrifying rate; 3. Every government in the world is committed to a policy of infinite economic growth, which of course means infinitely increasing consumption of these same finite and dwindling resources. It doesn’t take a genius to predict the result. Yet, have you ever heard a politician call for zero growth? Have you ever heard the notion of a steady-state economy even discussed on the news? We are in a perilous state of ignorance, for which the commercial media are largely responsible. Since Tomorrow is in no way didactic. It is simply literary entertainment for discerning readers. Nevertheless, one of the reasons I wrote it was to contribute to an awareness of what awaits us if we continue down the present road. So I suppose I haven’t given up hope entirely.

#5:  You teased us on Twitter a while back that we may see a sequel to Since Tomorrow. Can you share any details with us?

Since Tomorrow ends with an uplifting scene, the re-creation, after 40 years, of electric light. The sequel leaps ahead a further 20 years, in the manner of a post-apocalyptic family saga. Sadly, things have not gone well. The social and technological progress that was anticipated in Since Tomorrow has turned out to be merely a dream. There is a new pandemic. Fraser, the great-grandson of Frost, who was the protagonist of Since Tomorrow, must travel through the coastal mountains of British Columbia to search for a safer site for the residents of Frost’s farm. There will be overwhelming natural dangers. There will be gross selfishness, gross deceit. Murder. Cannibalism. Human sacrifice. But there will also be humour, more than in Since Tomorrow, which was fairly bleak in tone . And of course there will be love. Abundantly.

#6:  Your books are currently available only as e-books. Do you have any plans for printed versions, and if not, why?

Because the forests of the world are in critical condition I wanted to stay away from paper. But the simple fact is that most book buyers do not yet own e-readers. I want to make my work available to everyone, so I have made an uncomfortable compromise and am in the process of publishing all my books as paperbacks, including new editions of the 2 early trad-pub books, Galahad Schwartz and the Cockroach Army and El Dorado Shuffle, which are out of print.

#7:  Tell us something about Morgan Nyberg, the man, we won't find in your author profile.

I like to cook. I like to garden. I like jazz, especially from the Bluenote period, the early 50s to early 60s. I watch mixed martial arts as often as possible.

#8:  You also write children's novels. Which is harder, and why?

Writing children’s novels is harder, not because the writing is harder but because the demand for mediocrity is even more pronounced among the publishers of children’s books than it is among the publishers of adults’ books. Hopefully, by avoiding the bean counters and gatekeepers of traditional publishing, independent authors will at last be able to offer the freshness and originality that children crave and deserve.

#9:  Writing is a time-consuming habit. What did you set aside, though temporarily, to answer these questions?

My daily quota of afternoon gardening. I want to start a new bed in the back yard, which is shady. Hostas, I think. Maybe heather. Bleeding hearts. I’ll have to add a lot of compost because the soil is pure gravel.

#10:  Let's do something different. There has to be a question you were hoping I would or wouldn't ask. Ask yourself that question (please let us see the question), then answer it.

I was hoping you would not ask the following: “You’ve been writing for a long time. Why is your published output so small?”

I’m a slow writer. I’m extremely hard to please. I write what I would love to read, not what publishers might imagine their readers would like to read. But I’m persistent as hell. My Twitter bio line is Bloody but unbowed.

Thank You, Morgan, for answering my questions. You are, by the way, the first to answer #10 with a question you hoped I would NOT ask.

Feel free to leave Morgan a question or comment below, or contact him directly using the contact links above.

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