Writer Of The Week: Jackie Morrison

Our Writer Of The Week is Jackie Morrison, whose story, “The Secret Ingredient”, is in Special 258, on sale this week.

Was it important to highlight the importance of love and family in your story?

Yes. This particular story highlights the changing dynamics of family and how emotionally charged that can be. All my stories centre around love and friendship and quite often around a moment of change. This one was the first I submitted to the “Friend”. When it was accepted, I did a little dance around the room – much to the amusement of our cocker spaniel, Monty.

Your characters always feel real – is this an easy process for you to write?

I’m delighted you find my characters feel real. I have no lack of ideas or plots, but it is characters that make the story real to me. I often “rest” a story if the character doesn’t chime true. Once I nail the character, I find the story starts to flow and that’s pure joy.

The story often needs a certain something from the character to drive it forward; I guess that’s where some of the individuality comes in. I always try to write stories with very differing characters.

What was the last book you read and the next book you plan on reading?

I love all kinds of women’s romantic fiction by authors like Milly Johnson and Jenny Colgan. Recently, I’ve read across different genres and love the characterisation within them. I just finished “Daisy Darker” by Alice Feeney, a family tale set in Cornwall, which veers into scary! One of the main characters is a children’s author and a gran.

I do enjoy books where the characters are not always in the first flush of youth. My next read is Doug Johnstone’s “The Collapsing Wave” as I loved its predecessor “The Space Between Us”. Not my usual reading genre, but I enjoyed being surprised and I think this helps my writing, too.

Soup features in your story – is lentil your favourite?

Of course it is! Though I can’t reveal all of the secret ingredients.

Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?

My computer desk has a view over trees to the sea and that’s where I work on my novel. For shorter work, editing and developing ideas, I use a laptop, phone or notebook. I often send myself emails so I won’t forget an idea. The first pieces I ever wrote were produced many years ago on an old Imperial typewriter.

I learned to touch-type at school and own several typewriters that are older than me. One of them appears in a story set in a vintage typewriter shop that I wrote for the “PF” Annual.

​What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?

It’s really hard to come up with one tip, so I’ll try to add something that doesn’t repeat what may have already been said. If you aspire to be a published author, consider entering competitions that give feedback or prizes. When I was chosen as a finalist in Pitch Perfect at Bloody Scotland (Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival) in Stirling, it gave me confidence that my writing was on the right track.

I’ve never won an award for my writing, but I have won “things”. For example, a Kindle; VIP tickets to the opening of the Kelpies; a free critique; agent 1:1s and books. All of those little wins helped me know I was getting something right.

“The People’s Friend” ran a fabulous competition recently and I look forward to reading all those winning entries.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.