This month I’m interviewing B.W. Morris, a dystopian superhero author and comic-book geek. It was a pleasure to chat to B.W. about his books, writing process and what he’s planning to write next…
An easy one to start off with! Which part of the world do you hail from and have you always lived there?
I live in Kingman, Kansas, which is about 40 miles west of Wichita. I’ve lived here for four years. Before that, I spent a year in Duncan, Oklahoma, and 14 years in Raton, New Mexico. I was born in Texas but my family moved three months after I was born. So I grew up in Longmont, Colorado, and after graduating from college, I spent five years in Rocky Ford, Colorado. Yes, I’ve been around in my career.
What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
The last book I read was the second in the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, The Twisted Ones – I read The Silver Eyes (book one in the series) prior to that. Yes, I would recommend both books to people who enjoy thrillers,
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
As some might say, a bit of both. I’m more about plotting the major points that I want to address in my novels, but as the story unfolds, I may work in additional material.
Where do you write your books and what’s your choice of drink and music to keep you typing away?
I write in my living room, seated in front of the coffee table. Yeah, that’s an unusual setting, but when I watch TV, it’s mostly watching DVDs and Blu-Rays and studying how characters are developed and portrayed. So, in a way, it gives me a sense about how to write characters. Also, I find it offers a change from work, in which I’m often sitting at a desk in front of a computer, and writing there as well (as a small-town newspaper reporter, writing is part of my full-time career).
As for what I drink, I stick with water. No music, though – I’m too tempted to either sing along with the lyrics or tap my fingers or toes to the beat!
Aside from writing and reading, what do you love doing most?
I already mentioned DVDs and Blu-Rays – a lot of them are science fiction and some fantasy. This is what comes from being a comic book geek. Speaking of which, I buy a lot of graphic novels, too. I’m also a fan of the NFL, the Denver Broncos are my favorite team, and I collect football cards.
Which character in your books do you most relate to and why?
I would say I relate to Tyler Ward the most, because he’s intelligent and curious, though he’s apprehensive about taking charge of a situation. But I can relate to my other characters in different ways – I have the stubbornness of Jessica Harrison, the skepticism of Brad Lawson, yet despite it all, I try to keep a positive outlook like Stacy Sanders does.
As you can probably tell, my primary characters each have a little bit of me in them.
Why do you enjoy dystopian fiction?
I believe it allows one to explore what might happen if we aren’t careful with the way we develop a society or think what the quality of life is all about. You can lose a lot if you go too far with certain approaches. Also, I think a dystopian environment presents a unique challenge for characters – yes, they need to figure out if they want to change things and what’s the best way to do that, but if they aren’t careful, they might not change things for the better.
What three books have influenced your style of writing or the themes you write about the most and why?
The Hunger Games had the biggest influence on me. Suzanne Collins did a great job with world building and illustrating how the dystopian environment came to be, and why such an environment doesn’t present a good situation. Also, I love the way she builds tension – I’ve thought a lot about how to create page turners in my novels, thanks to Collins’ skill at creating tension. She also touches a lot upon class division, something I touched upon in my books.
1984 by George Orwell also influenced me – he illustrated what can happen if we allow the government to control the flow of information. That’s a theme I explore in The Six Pack Series.
I would say that Divergent by Veronica Roth had influence as well – she focuses some of her book on the idea of sorting people out into groups. It’s not quite class division, but I do have a society that sorts teenagers out as they get older.
Tell us about The Six Pack Series. Where did your initial idea come from and why did you choose to write this book?
The original inspiration for my books was the animated series Young Justice. That series focused on teenage superheroes and not only how they use their powers and abilities to solve problems, but the challenges they faced as teenagers to begin with. The show did a good job exploring their everyday lives – they would attend school, spend time with families, explore relationships – and I thought a book or books about a team of superheroes would be interesting.
What I lacked was a premise, until I read The Hunger Games, and then I posed the question, “What if teenage superheroes emerged in a dystopian environment and how would they bring change?” And with my original idea that these teenagers would gain powers through a drink, that led to the idea that the government used a drink to control the population through controlling their minds, So the drink the teens consumed would, in theory, expand their minds and make them more persuasive – only it worked out differently by enhancing their greatest ability.
From there, I pieced details together and came up with the framework for the first book. The rest of the books developed from there.
The Six Pack Series is now available on Amazon
Just weeks before Tyler Ward is to graduate from secondary school, he learns the truth about Novusordo and how a drink controls the population.
After sharing this information with his five friends, they visit a professor’s house, take another drink and gain strange powers. It leads to them learning more about how the government controls people and the discovery of a movement against the government.
Calling themselves the Six Pack, Tyler and his friends must learn how their powers can change society. But they first must learn to trust this movement… and even each other.
Months after the Six Pack has fled City 37N104W, Tyler Ward wonders how much longer the Underground Network can wait before making its next move against the Novusordo government.
His desire to take action is pushed after five more students disappear from Monroe Secondary School. And when he learns Professor Roger Woods is in trouble, Tyler is convinced the Six Pack must take matters into its own hands, even if it means defying the Network.
But actions have consequences, and those that Tyler and his friends take will impact everyone they encounter – including themselves.