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How She Got There: Morgan Rhodes, Author of the ‘Falling Kingdoms’ Series

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Name: Morgan Rhodes
Job Title and Description: Author of the Falling Kingdoms series
College Name/Major: Humber College/Advertising & Graphic Design
Website: www.morganrhodes.net
Twitter Handle: @morganrhodesya

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Morgan Rhodes: My job as an author currently entails writing and revising two books a year for my publisher, Penguin Books. For me, there’s no such thing as a typical day. When I’m on deadline, I’m writing many hours a day. In between books and in my spare time, I post on social media outlets as well as plot the next book. My workday hours (I work at home, very connected to my email!) have been anywhere from two to 18 [hours], depending on what part of the process I’m at. Usually I work seven days a week. Some authors joke that being a published writer is like having homework for the rest of your life. I’m okay with that!

What is the best part of your job?

MR: The best part of being an author is being able to make things up out of my imagination and get paid for putting them down on paper! Also, the flexibility of being able to write whenever or wherever I want to, so long as I meet my deadlines, is wonderful. Additionally, getting to meet readers in person at signing events is an incredible experience.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

MR: I did a lot of research when it came to publishing, so I had a good idea what to expect. However, some things that are said about writing—such as, it’s incredibly hard to make a living at it!—are very true. However, with hard work, patience and a dash of luck, I have been self-employed as a writer for over five years now, so I’m very happy to be proof that it is possible to make a living from writing fiction.

As a New York Times best-selling author, can you talk more about your writing process? Do you have any tips for young women hoping to write their first book someday?

MR: My writing process has evolved over the years to one that works well for me. I am definitely an “outliner” and lately have gotten to the point where I outline each chapter. Things may change as I start writing, which helps to keep me on my toes, but having that “map” is essential to my process. I write first drafts pretty fast, usually in 4 to 6 weeks. Edits take much longer, layering in description and smoothing out plot points, but that fast first draft is essential for me so I can get the bones down.

My main tip for aspiring authors is to believe in yourself and get the book written from beginning to end. I know so many writers who doubt themselves and their works-in-progress so much that they never finish a project. They then move on to another. And another. But nothing ever gets done! So I suggest sticking with it, shoving aside the doubts and getting the work done because everybody has those doubts. It’s those who are able to push past them who are able to get to the next level.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

MR: Most definitely my agent, Jim McCarthy, whom I’ve been with for ten years. He took a chance on a slush pile query letter, read my manuscript and has been with me every step of the way since, cheering my successes, but also helping to motivate me when I’m down. Without him I have no idea where I’d be right now!

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

MR: Earlier in my career, I experienced greater doubt about my abilities as a writer and allowed myself to be led astray in an edit which, I feel in retrospect, stripped a lot of my “voice” from that book. Like many of the characters I write about, I rely on gut instinct to help lead my way in life. At the time, that doubt deafened me from my ability to listen to those instincts, so I simply went with the flow. I’ve since learned to trust my process more and pay attention to my insights when something feels off.

I do, however, think mistakes are incredibly important. Without them we don’t learn and grow. Every mistake I’ve ever made (that I’ve acknowledged, anyway!), has led me to greater personal insight, which has helped shape the author and the person I am today!

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

MR: There have been plenty of surreal moments! Probably the biggest one was learning that I had hit the New York Times list the third week after Falling Kingdom’s release. I was kind of like, “Wait…what?”
 
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

MR: Truly, my best advice would be to get a “day job” that you love, since writing is definitely not a career you can depend on to pay the bills. Write what you would love to read, but can’t find on the shelves. Educate yourself about the writing process and the publishing industry. And, most importantly, believe in yourself!

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