When Morwenna Blackwood was six years old, she got told off for writing an endless story when she should have been listening to the teacher/eating her tea/colouring with her friends. The story was about a frog. It never did end, and Morwenna never looked back.
Born and raised in Devon, Morwenna suffered with severe OCD and depression, and spent her childhood and teens in libraries. She travelled about for a decade before returning to Devon. She now has an MA in Creative Writing, from the University of Exeter, and lives with her husband, son and three cats in a cottage Bilbo Baggins would be proud of.
Morwenna is the author of two bestselling standalone psychological thrillers, The (D)Evolution of Us, and Glasshouse, published by darkstroke. The third is on its way, and she is currently writing the fourth in The Glasshouse Series.
When she is not writing, Morwenna works for an animal rescue charity, or can be found down by the sea.
She often thinks about that frog.
Makarelle: You advertised your first book as an alternative to the usual Valentine’s Day reads. Where did the inspiration come from for the story?
Morwenna Blackwood: When I was sixteen and in a Communications Studies lecture at college, my tutor was explaining how everyone’s lives are “inextricably linked”. It was the first time I’d heard the phrase and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Then and there, I decided that when I wrote my books, I’d take a point in time and explore it through the eyes of as many people as possible, because what they perceive affects what they do, which in turn affects what others do. Years later, at a particularly turbulent point in my life, I fell in love. The relationship ended badly, and elements of this inspired the story of Cath and Adam. In the blurb for The (D)Evolution of Us, I’ve written that the novel questions where a story really begins – so it is with my answer to this question!
Makarelle: What is it about the darker side of love that fascinates you so much?
Morwenna Blackwood: So many things! Love is such a powerful force in our lives, and I like to write about the realities many of us have experienced but few – for whatever reason - discuss. I grew up feeling alienated by mainstream romantic fiction, by the lyrics in songs on the radio, by the films my friends were watching. I understand that many people love feel-good fiction, especially in times of crisis, but others find solace in the works of writers who address the darker side. I’m one of them! Also, I’m fascinated by psychology generally - what motivates people, what makes them cross a line, and what they do once that boundary has been breached.
Makarelle: The relationships in both The (D)Evolution of Us and Glasshouse are incredibly complex. How did you keep all the strands organised when you were writing them?
Morwenna Blackwood: Haha! In three ways: firstly, I know my characters very well; secondly, I have a lot of notebooks; thirdly, I edit many, many times! I think the fact that I write in the first person helps, too, because I’m in each character’s head as I’m telling the story.
Makarelle: The plots of both books cross over in small but significant ways. Did you have that in mind when you wrote the first – was the second always planned, or was it something that you decided to do after writing the first book?
Morwenna Blackwood: It was absolutely intentional- sorry, I accidentally answered this in your first question! The idea was always to write standalone novels because then it doesn’t matter what order you read them in, if indeed you read more than one. But those who do read the whole series will get the bigger picture. It’s stories within stories – it all comes back to people being inextricably linked.
Makarelle: Lots of people in the books are in ‘romantic’ relationships, even though the majority of them are not particularly likeable characters. Do you think any of them actually love the people they’re with? If not, why do they stay?
Morwenna Black: Ha! ‘Love’ is subjective, isn’t it? I think it’s for readers to make their own minds up. Cath believed she was in love with Adam, but to Kayleigh it often looked like Cath was obsessed with him, and to Adam, Cath’s love was frequently frightening. I think a lot of the time people find themselves in situations that they don’t know how to handle, and get into fight, flight or freeze mode. In Glasshouse, Erazmus and Julia hang onto their marriage because they keep remembering how much they once were in love, although they both question this. It’s hard to talk about the rest without giving the plots away, but I know that Will really loves Kayleigh even though – ironically – they’re never together!
Makarelle: What’s next? I know you’re working on the third Glasshouse novel, but what comes after that? Will there be more in the series or is there something completely new on the horizon?
Morwenna Blackwood: Actually, I recently submitted the third in the series, so I’m waiting to see what happens. I’m currently writing my fourth Glasshouse novel, which will be part of a spin-off series really because it’s set in the present day, and concerns Kayleigh’s son, Liam, who’s now twenty-three. At the end of December, one of my short stories was being published through darkstroke as part of a charity anthology called Dark Paris. I’m also in the process of writing a crime novel that’s set in the 1980s, and a children’s book that was inspired by something my little boy said to me a while ago, about a steam engine. In addition to all that, I keep filling up notebooks, so there’s no stopping me now!
Makarelle: Thank you very much for taking the time to be interviewed by Makarelle!
Morwenna Blackwood: Thanks for having me! Happy reading!
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