Pet Spotlight: R.N. Morris

Molly on my back.

Writing can be a lonely business. It’s just you and the blank screen. I was lucky though because I had Molly to keep me company. I’m not sure whether Molly saw herself as my muse or my writing partner. Being a cat, she probably had an agenda of her own.

Whenever I sat down to write, it wasn’t long before I would become aware of Molly’s purring presence. She would jump up and ‘helpfully’ position herself between me and the computer screen. Or she would walk over the keyboard, inserting random letters into the novel I was writing. I always secretly hoped that she would write the book for me. But unfortunately her contributions never amounted to very much.

Sometimes I think she sensed that the writing wasn’t going very well, so to encourage me to stop she would lie across my wrists as I typed, somehow managing to fall asleep. It’s hard to type with a sleeping cat on your arms. One day, when I swapped my computer for an old fashioned pen and notebook, she climbed on my shoulders and perched there for an hour or so as I tried to get on with my writing. She’d never done it before, even though we’d had her for years. I was even able to get up and position the camera to film it, without dislodging her from her perch.
On the days when Molly didn’t show up, I always missed her and somehow I couldn’t relax and get on with my writing until I had had a visit from her. So, yes, she did become my muse, and although she made writing harder than it needed to be, it was impossible to imagine writing without her there to help.

Already an old cat when I made the video, Molly is now no longer with us. She took herself off for one last adventure in the sun, shortly before we were due to move house a couple of years ago. It was as if she knew what was afoot and had other plans.

R.N. Morris.

R.N. Morris was born in Manchester, England, in 1960 and now lives in North London with his wife and two children. He sold his first short story to a teenage girls’ magazine while still a student at Cambridge University, where he read classics. Making his living as a freelance copywriter, he has continued to write – and occasionally publish – fiction, including Taking Comfort, written as Roger Morris, in 2006.

One of his stories, THE DEVIL’S DRUM, was turned into a one-act opera, which was performed at the Purcell Room in London’s South Bank. Another, REVENANTS, was published as a comic book.

A GENTLE AXE, the first novel written as R. N. Morris, is the first in a trilogy featuring Porfiry Petrovich from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. A VENGEFUL LONGING, the second novel in the series, was shortlisted for the 2008 CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best crime novel, runner-up in New York Magazine’s Culture Awards for 2008 in the best thriller category, and Highly Commended for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Novel Award 2008. It was also picked out by Crime Squad as one of the top ten crime books of 2008.

THE CLEANSING FLAMES was shortlisted for the 2011 CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.

SUMMON UP THE BLOOD, the first in a brand-new historical mystery series featuring decidedly unconventional turn of the century sleuth, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn, was published by Severn House in April 2012 and received starred reviews. The subsequent books in the Silas Quinn series, THE MANNEQUIN HOUSE and THE DARK PALACE, are also published by Severn House.

Besides writing novels, Roger has also collaborated with the composer Ed Hughes on an opera.