Shane K Morton lives in Studio City, CA with his husband Jody and their fur baby Slayer. His first novel, The Trouble With Off-Campus Housing was published in 2016. His new novel Private Waterloos will be released on Amazon in March of 2017. When not writing, Shane can be found at a film festival or performing cabaret somewhere in a dark dive bar in LA.
Q and A with Shane Morton
Why did you want to be a writer?
I have always written. When I was a kid I emulated writers that I admired. When I was twelve years old, I wrote a fantastic yet horrible homage to the Shannara books by Terry Brooks. My passion for a long time was writing plays and musicals. In fact I wrote a musical that is in various stages of completion called Wirehanger, a moc-opera based on Mommie Dearest. I wrote lyrics for the film Cinderella Effect and had 2 plays produced , Darkstar and Sitcom all before I turned 30.
It wasn’t until I was challenged to write a novella for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) by my friend Abby that I rekindled my love for writing novels. That was 7 years ago. Now I can’t stop writing.
What writers or other artists inspire you?
That list is long. I will say that Marion Zimmer Bradley, J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King all had huge impacts on me throughout my formative years. Now I truly admire the work of David Levithan, Jeff Zentner, Rick Riordan and Jandy Nelson. They have been giving me life through their stories and brilliant characters.
I’ve always been inspired by music and film more than anything else though. I am a huge Hitchcock and Billy Wilder fan. I grew up watching classic films and I find myself drawn to those intimate filmmakers. But don’t get me wrong, I love a Spielberg film too! There is way too much music that inspires me to even begin listing it. I am a Broadway musical nut! But I also love Fleetwood Mac, Vampire Weekend, Ani Difranco, Jesse Ruben and Phish to name a few!
Top five favorite books?
This is like Sophie’s Choice!
1. The Mists Of Avalon
2. The Harry Potter Series (cop-out I know)
3. I’ll Give You The Sun
4. Two Boys Kissing
How did a guy from a small town in KY land in California?
I took the long way around. HA! I left KY and became a gypsy of the road. I was an actor and I performed in all 50 states by the time I was 30 years old. I did 6 national tours and tons of regional theatre. I was based out of NYC and moved to Philadelphia when I took a job in casting and I also directed and choreographed 12 national tours for the same company. I met my husband when we did Shakespeare’s R & J by Joe Colarco for Daylite Zone Theatre Company in Philly. He had always wanted to move to LA and I couldn’t find a reason not to, so I told him I would give it 1 year and if I didn’t like it, we would move back to NYC. I loved it here. I fell into Indie Film (I directed 3 films and produced 4) and started working with Dances With Films, an indie film festival now in its 20th year at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. I did a few plays here in LA and decided 1 day that I preferred to produce my own work. So I started doing cabaret in various venues and I perform about twice a year. It’s become something I do for my own creative baby I keep inside! I love it. And I still love LA after all these years. I mean the weather, come on…
What is your proudest achievement?
Marrying my husband in 2015 after 14 years together. He completes me in every way and is the perfect ying to my yang. It’s amazing how someone else can make you a better person and he does in every way. He also is a brilliant writer.
Who was your favorite teacher?
James I Schempp in college has always been a champion of mine, even when I didn’t deserve it. He cast me in every play I auditioned for in college and taught me to be a great actor. I can also say the same thing about my voice teacher Dr. Randall Black and my dance teacher Rosemary Casper Fletcher. They each taught me perseverance and championed my abilities. Without them I would have been adrift.
How did you realize that you had stories you wanted to tell?
An idea nags at me and always has. I have always found it hard to focus on 1 idea at a time, especially when I was younger. Now I have, for the most part, been able to silence the “other ideas” battling for space in my head and focus on what I need to. I keep a notebook to jot down whatever flutters through to use at a later time. I always have 2 or 3 projects going simultaneously though at varying stages of completion.
What is your favorite/inspirational writing environment?
My bedroom at night after my husband goes to bed is my favorite place to write. His breathing and my dog’s snores are inspirational.
What are the challenges (or obstacles) you have faced in your writing? How have you overcome them?
Time and editing are my largest obstacles. I work a full time job, have a busy life with the 1 I love and also help program a film festival, so time is at a premium for me. I try to write daily and I wish I could add another hour or two every day.
Same thing for editing. It’s hard to wait for someone to edit your book, design your cover and proof. I want instant gratification!
How do you find your ideas for what you want to write about?
My life. Things I have seen or heard. I am an avid people watcher and I am always interested in the motivations of others. I look at life through a glass darkly, and I always tend to see the seedy side of things. I imagine constantly the ‘what if’s’ of the things that I experience. I think that comes from being an actor.
But usually the main inspiration for my novels is some small event that happened in my life that I expand upon.
What excites you and scares you the most about writing?
Characters! I love well developed characters and I enjoy delving into them. Once again, I think this comes from being an actor. I write huge character sheets that probes into their backstories, ambitions, fears and desires. Sometimes I think I get caught up in the characters and have to remind myself that they are not me! HA! What scares me the most is letting go of my work. Is it ready? Eventually you have to let it go and say I am done. I can no longer rewrite. It is finished.
What is the most Southern thing about you? Does your heritage inspire your writing?
The most Southern thing about me is my love of fried things and biscuits. Homemade biscuits are the way to my heart! My father made the best biscuits in the history of making biscuits. He would cut each one open and smear it with butter and pour Karo syrup over them. It’s the best breakfast ever but not the healthiest! I also love milk gravy over biscuits too!
Yes my heritage inspires me. I grew up in a very small town where church was the most important thing. I was gay and extremely liberal and did not fit in very well. I find the dichotomy of religion and the way people live their lives fascinating, especially in small town America. The judgements of these people opened my eyes to a lot of hypocrisy within every aspect of life that I experienced there. At the same time, I found the idyllic and peaceful existence that you have in a small town charming and delightful. This balance of love and hate influences me in my writing a lot.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Bad movies! Grease 2, Mommie Dearest, Trog and Sister Act 2 are a few of my favorites. And do not even get me started on the train wreck that is the imperfectly perfect Showgirls!
How important are matching socks?
Are we going to a nice restaurant? HA! My socks match, but they are usually bright and fun!