By Liz Blood
Liz chatted with Felix Morgan about her stories, parasocialism, lycanthropy, and texts from last night.
LB: What themes do you gravitate towards writing about?
FM: I gravitate towards stories that are relational. I'm fascinated by how people communicate in different interpersonal situations. I think I'm trying to find the part that feels true in a story, the core interaction and emotions. When that part is right, feels right, then it doesn't matter if the details are "true" or "realistic" or "in this dimension" or whatever. Then I can play with everything as long as that part feels right. Really, I like to take normal problems and push them to ridiculous levels or supernatural levels. It’s like hyperbole, but with magic.
LB: What is it about hyperbole that’s interesting?
FM: By pushing something to its extreme, you can understand more about its nuanced form. So, a one-night stand with someone literally ripping your heart out of your chest is an interesting way to talk about something that might actually happen.
LB: How does that connect to Hawt Topic [a story within Felix’s chapbook]?
FM: I worked at Hot Topic when I was a teenager and a mannequin did fall on me. But the story is about literal objectification and our strange relationship to consumerism and the idealization of people or things. Or things that are shaped like people.
LB: Tell me a little about your background in writing. How did you come to writing?
FM: I studied literature and writing as an undergraduate before pursuing advanced degrees in education and psychology. I've learned from books on writing, and classes and workshops on writing. But mostly I've learned from reading everything and writing. Writing a lot. Really, this is hard for me to answer. I’ve been reading and then trying to write my whole life. As a kid, I’d read a book and then write a generic rip-off immediately after I’d finished. I wrote some great Babysitter Club and Boxcar Children books. Also, Calvin and Hobbes. And then I got into RL Stine and strange young adult thrillers. After that, there was no in-between stuff for young adult readers, so I got right into Stephen King and Michael Crichton.
LB: How old were you when you started reading Stephen King?
LB: Yikes! I still can’t finish The Stand because it scares me too much.
FM: Yeah, it scares me now that I think about it. But, authors I really like tend to be more fantasy writers, like Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman. I love the Sandman Comics and Ocean at the End of Lane.
LB: What about human romantic (or unromantic) relationships is it that you like writing about? Tell me about your interest in monsters or the monstrous.
FM: I love monster stories and always have. I love analyzing current culture through the fears we express in horror stories and movies. And in our culture, everyone is trying to figure out the merging of technology and relationships. There's a lot to explore. There’s a lot to wonder at or be scared of. I work as an online dating consultant, helping people write profiles and messages, so I have no shortage of funny and fascinating stories to draw on. The online name I like to use is Felix the Chat. I worked for an online dating company, now I do it as consulting on the side. I’m also in a doctoral program and study people’s relationships to fictional characters. It’s called parasocialism. I think it really applies to writing the messages online. It’s like profiling; there are types of messages that always get answered.
LB: What feeds your writing—as in, books, other reading, crappy TV, visual art, etc?
FM: Authors Neil Gaiman, Pat Rothfuss, and Susanna Clarke continually inspire me. I'm a sucker for musicals, superhero stories, and any sort of training montage. I find a lot of ideas in visual art. Like the rest of the world, I'm currently obsessed with Jessica Jones and Hamilton.
LB: I love the way you describe your children—as warrior-princess-ninja-superheroes. Are they an inspiration to you?
FM: My daughters are amazing mini-people. They inspire me both by the way they move through the world and tell stories about it and in the sense that seeing them look for inspiring stories reminds me of the need for strong, weird, unusual, badass, and smart heroines. The stories we tell are important.
They’re always telling weird stories about the world—pretending, like kids do. Swimming in the pool and pretending “my dad is a dolphin and mom is a tiger.” They do interesting things all the time. Because I write such adult fiction, they’re not a direct influence, but they make me aware that the stories around us are really important. Every time one of them is given a princess dress costume, I go out and buy an astronaut costume. So, I’m always trying to write about something I think is valuable to think about. I try to not just write sensationalist stuff.
LB: How did you decide what to put in your chapbook?
FM: It's pretty straightforward: it's my most recent work. This combination of comedy / monsters / love stories are delighting me right now. I've been writing a comedic feminist werewolf romance novel called Sexually Transmitted Lycanthropy. for the last year so these stories have been, I think, extensions of what I've been exploring with that larger project. In the post Twilight/Tinderpocaplyse world, I like playing with the idea of the monsters we love.
LB: What is lycanthropy?
LB: Oh, right.
FM: It’s the fancy long word for being a werewolf.
LB: Do you have a favorite monster type?
FM: I like werewolves. I was really into zombies for a while. I don’t know; I like the odd ones. And I like it when people make new ones. Like Babadook. And It Follows. Slenderman is also really interesting to me.
LB: What are you thinking when you sit down to write?
FM: I usually have a goal, a story goal. I'm trying to finish an important scene or simply pump out words. I'm a pretty organized writer. I have a schedule and an outline and an agenda. But that gives me a place to start and then explore all the strange right turns or surprising characters that emerge as I go. I write every morning. For a while I was broadcasting writing on Twitch. I like being transparent about process. I don’t think anyone cared, but I like the idea of it. That people could hop on chat and give feedback or ask questions. Now, I usually go to a coffee shop with no WiFi and no distraction and write for an hour to an hour and a half. I try to hit a thousand words every day. I often do not. I also occasionally wake up in the middle of the night and text myself things. Sometimes I accidentally text other people these things.
LB: Have you ever appeared on “Texts from Last Night?”
FM: I should check on that.
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