Posts Tagged ‘LJ Morris’

I am so excited to share a guest post today that was written by L J Morris, the author behind Desperate Grounds, an action packed thriller published by Bloodhound Books as part of the pre publication blog tour.


Description:Desperate Ground_Design_01.jpg

When the secrecy of a nuclear weapon agreement is thrown into doubt, a disgraced intelligence operative is recruited to find out if the deal is still safe…

Ali Sinclair, wrongly convicted and on the run from a Mexican prison, is enlisted to infiltrate her old friend’s inner circle and find the evidence.

The only people on her side are an ex-Cold War spook and the former Royal Marine that was sent to find her. Together they discover that the stakes are much higher than anyone knew, and the fate of the world is at risk…

But when you live in the shadows who can you trust?


You can buy a copy of Desperate Grounds via Amazon UK


Guest Post:

Character Building

Whenever I start to write a new story, I usually have an idea of who the main character will be and how the scene that will introduce them plays out. That scene can change dramatically, as it did for Desperate Ground, but it gives me a starting point.

When I sat down to finally begin writing Desperate Ground I already had two of the main characters in my head, Ali Sinclair and Frank McGill.

I’d created Frank McGill for two short pieces that I’d written a couple of years earlier. He had an existing back story and had developed over the course of the stories. I felt like I knew him, and he would be perfect for my novel. Originally, McGill was the main character in Desperate Ground, but I soon realised that that had to change.

McGill is an ex Royal Marine, fiercely loyal and used to taking orders but, now he is a civilian, he can pick and choose who he takes orders from. With that in mind, what would his motivation be? He has no love for the authorities so why would he work for them? That’s when I realised he couldn’t be the lead protagonist. With his recent past and death of his wife and unborn child, he was more likely to tip over the edge and become one of the bad guys. I needed him to have a reason to get involved and risk everything. I needed him to have a cause he was willing to die for. As McGill has no family or friends, I had to create another person that he cares about. That’s where Ali Sinclair came in. McGill’s motivation would be to help her. She would be the main protagonist and McGill would be her backup, her bodyguard.

Ali Sinclair is loosely based on someone I know. A young woman who served on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan. She later became a private military contractor before moving into civilian security and close protection. Those experiences on their own would make the basis of a good character but there was more.

The real woman I based Sinclair on is as hard as nails when it’s needed but, as anyone who knows her will tell you, she also has a heart of gold. People who meet her today would only see the loving mother and care worker she became when she left the security business. She spends her time helping others, but underneath that is the tough military veteran who shouldn’t be messed with. That contradiction in her personality intrigued me and the character of Ali Sinclair was born.

Sinclair is angry at her treatment after being abandoned by those that she expected to help her. She too has no family and sees McGill as an older brother, the only person she can rely on. She is the dominant personality in the relationship and keeps McGill in line. She makes the tough decisions and prevents McGill from giving in to some of his darker aspects.

When I created the rest of the team, I wanted characters that I could grow and reuse in further stories. Not just the two other members of the main team, Simeon Carter and Danny Kinsella, but also some of the secondary characters. I’ve always enjoyed series which use recurring characters. I think it gives the reader a feeling of familiarity. The world in the books seems more real as characters you’ve already met reappear at different times and in different plots.

Simeon Carter, the old Cold War spook, and Danny Kinsella, the younger tech savvy computer expert, are a combination of characters in books I’ve read, film or TV series I’ve seen or people I’ve met. All the years I spent reading any genre I could get my hands on have now paid off. I have a built-in library of different traits and flaws from various influences that I can combine to form new characters. There are definitely some similarities between Simeon Carter and characters in the classic Cold War novels of Len Deighton and John le Carre, but also characters in TV programmes I grew up with. This also holds true for the villains I create. Although they are less likely to be based on people I know.

The other major ingredient in any story I write is the location. I was once told to think of location as another character and treat it the same. So, I tend to base locations on real places I have visited, although sometimes I combine actual places with made up ones.

A large part of Dangerous Ground takes place in Texas, a part of the world I lived in for a while. Many of the scenes are from memories I have but some of the locations are a combination of different places. For instance, the Houston motel that appears in one of the chapters is a description of a real place I stayed, whereas the ranch is based on different buildings including the secure apartment complex I lived in.

Occasionally, I need a specific location that I have no experience of at all. That’s where research takes over. Google maps is fantastic to get an idea of what an area looks like but, to get an idea of the feeling of a place, various travel guides and travelogues are my favourite place to look. Once I can picture the place in my mind, I describe it as if I was telling someone about a recent holiday trip.

To sum it up, I will use any influence I can to create a character, which is why I’ve warned all my friends that parts of a character’s personality might seem a little familiar.

I’m sure you will agree that’s a fascinating piece, I always love knowing where authors get their ideas for characters from.  I really like the idea that there are similarities between the characters in this and in some of my favourite novels from the masters such as le Carre and Deighton, cannot wait to read this one!


About the Author:Profile 1_LJM

L J Morris is an author with a love of books and storytelling that he developed as a child.

After a career in the Royal Navy, which spanned most of the 80s and 90s, he settled back in Cumbria and soon realised that an unsuccessful attempt to write a serial killer novel at the age of 12 hadn’t blunted his ambitions.

He started to write again and has enjoyed success with his short stories appearing in several anthologies. Although he still enjoys writing short stories, his passion has always been for thriller novels and he has spent the last few years following his dream of being a published novelist.

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