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It’s not everyday that I get to interview an author that I publish from Paper Crane Books. And it’s definitely not every day that I end up being a tour stop for them, either. Be sure to stick around until the end to enter the blog tour giveaway for a chance to win some awesome swag and an e-copy of the book!
Interview with Morgan Straughan Comnick
Hi Morgan! And welcome!
Konnichiwa world! 🙂 My name is Morgan Straughan Comnick; teacher, writer, friend, wife, otaku, nerd…
Spirit Vision is your first novel. What made you decide, “I HAVE to write this!”?
Spirit Vision is my first full written work, yes, and it has been a delight to work on! I had a teacher declare he was going to write a book and a thought seeped into my brain, a question, pulsing into my blood that if he could write a book, what was stopping me from writing one? From that point on, I found inspiration everywhere and Spirit Vision was born. My fingers were twitching, my mind swimming with thought of only writing my thoughts down, to share with others. It is like breathing; you have to write. As we all know, we have to breathe, so I had to do what would keep me alive, right? 😉
What do you think is the biggest influence on you in regards to your writing?
I get inspired by the people in my life. There are so many good people to base characters on! I also have an imagination that never turns off, vivid and unique dreams, a love for history, which is an excellent muse, and just an observant nature that allows me to pull the beauty I see in life or the tragedy and make it into my own. A little bit of everything. Ironically, I come up with I would say 30% of my book ideas in the shower! O.o
You’ve mentioned before that most of the characters are based off actual people you know, except Umbra. Was there any sort of outside influence that helped create him?
Umbra and Maren were both created thanks to the strong relationship I watched in the story between Shadow and Maria in Sonic Adventure 2. Their bond was so pure that I wanted characters with such a difference that would give up so much for each other. A lot of their traits came over time; this was a huge factor in their birth.
How long have you been researching and studying the world of spirits and ghosts?
I really do not do formal research on spirits or ghosts. I have always enjoyed reading fictional accounts, especially ones where spirits connect with the living. They were alive once too and we get to their point someday, so why should there not be a connection? I have had a few spirit sightings and encounters in my life, which I gave to Stary in chapter six. My mother is a strong believer in spirits, ghosts, angels, and light beings all around us, so got some of it from her without me knowing it. I think we all have the skills to see spirits, but as we get older, we lose it and it is replaced with doubt or fear, but I believe I do not see them as much as I have when I was an innocent child, but sometimes, I know they are there, watching me.
Have you ever had any personal encounters/experiences with spirits and/or ghosts?
The three accounts I mention in chapter six are all based on my experiences from when I was in elementary school. I also saw an angel named Glenda starting when I was seven. She would come to me in the classroom with her white wings and just smile, filling my head with images of her family in Heaven. I have several drawings of them at home. Her birthday was May third and I wish her happy birthday every year although I have not heard or seen her since I was twelve. I also had a spirit of a girl who died in the apartment above my mom’s clothing store. She would toss the wigs everywhere. At first, it was discreet, like my mom or I would hang them on them on the hook securely and the second we left the room, you would hear it plop to the floor. Twice, I have seen the wigs tossed in the air with no one there. My mom caught this once too. Her favorite wig was the Natasha one from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. That is when we guessed her name and my aunt did the research of who she was. The day I first saw the wigs flying across the room, I was stunned admittedly, but I yelled her name loudly and she stopped, everything deadly silent. I picked up all the wigs about ten times that day, but I threw the Natasha wig on the ground and let her have it. Some days, I would ask how she was and she would move blouses hanging on the walls and such. She stayed for about four months until it stopped. Although I never saw or heard her, all three of us knew she was there. I hope she moved on; the building was knocked down.
What’s your favorite part of your story?
Wow! That is like asking a parent to choose between all their children! I do think I like the funny moments in my book because all of Stary’s friends are based on mine, so I imagine my friends and I having conversations go that way if we are in their situation and I start cracking up! It warms my heart too to think about. 🙂
You’ve mentioned that you want Spirit Vision to be a series. How many books do you think you’ll spend in that world? Do you know where the future will take Stary?
Oh, I have Stary’s whole adventure and life basically planned! Not sure if she likes that, but…HA! I plan on making Spirit Vision a five book series, one for each of her years in high school, except books four and five will be her senior year split into two books since I have some major events happening there. I also have a book or side book idea for her freshman year of college, another side story, a Chronicles of Shade book, a fan book outline, and a short story I want to do, exploring a new ‘role’ for Stary when she gets a little older. That is probably way more than you wanted to know, but that is how I sushi roll!
What’s your favorite part of the publication process? Your least favorite part?
I love all the feedback I get with publishing and how with each step, I am closer to having my dream come true of getting my work published. I think the hardest part is the “love it and kill it” task; it rips a piece of my soul painfully out each time I even consider it and I will fight it until the end; trust me! >.< Do you have a writing ritual? As in, is there something that you HAVE to do before you start writing to get the words on the page?
I write better with music, but I have no set process. Once I have the bulk of the story in my head, I write a few paragraphs of what I want to happen or quotes I have to use for each chapter and from there, I let the words flow out of me.
Who in your life supported you in your writing to give you the courage to pursue a writing career?
I am not sure anyone thought I would make a career out of this. I have wanted to be a teacher since when I was ten so everyone knew I would take that path. When I told my family I was writing a book, they would say, “Awww, that’s cute.” They told me they were surprised I finished it! My friends would ask my about it, but, again, to them, it was just a hobby. The drive in me was known to me alone, but that is okay. Even if everyone saw it as a fun thing for me to do, they were super supportive, asking me questions, looking over it, and when it did get published, becoming my biggest fans! 😀
And now, this is the part of the interview where I get all “Inside the Actors Studio” on you. What is your favorite word?
Depends. My favorite “When I’m upset, but I refuse to curse” phrase is “OH FUDGE NUGGETS!”
What is your least favorite word?
Any word that is meant to hurt another person, that that is its sole purpose. There is no sense in hating each other.
What turns you on?
Nerds! HA! ;D And a boy who is sweet, funny, and not scared to be who they are.
What turns you off?
Boys who are mean just to be mean, too full of themselves, and, I can handle this in a friend, but not a guy I am dating, a smoker or a heavy drinker. The smells sadly make me ill. Sorry!
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of a waterfall, the laughter of children, the voices of a choir working their hearts out, and any anime theme song.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Kit-Kats bars breaking apart! ARG! >.< What is your favorite curse word?
Didn’t I just explain that? FUDGE NUGGETS! ;D
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Well, at one time, I wanted to dig up dinosaur bones, but I hated heat so the dream of a five year old was crushed! I then wanted to design and make teddy bears, followed by an actress (although I still want to be a voice actress), and then I came to teacher and writer. If I was being serious as an adult, I would want to be a librarian. 🙂
What profession would you not like to do?
I am not strong or good with my hands, so anything like a construction worker I could not handle. I also get scared easily, so someone like a police officer is not up my alley, but I respect every single person who does a job; we all have skills who benefit society.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I suppose that I did not fail him even though we both know I am not perfect, that I achieved what I wanted to do: be good to others, inspire a few, be myself, give love, and show my faith. I hope he would lead me to my loved ones after that.
Excerpt from Chapter 10
Umbra ducked his head in the darkness, hiding his attractive face. His breath was heavy and staggered, like he was trying to hold back words. I wanted to go and embrace him like he did Maren that afternoon in my room, but I knew I could never compare to her. That, for some reason, bothered me. Nevertheless, my heart floated. I went to him. It was a force too brilliant and powerful for me to control. However, I knew it wasn’t coming from Umbra’s tricks or his mind…it came from inside me.
With my left hand still pressing the picture against my chest, I freed my right hand and very carefully, brushed his right cheek. Although I could only feel air, I made out the shape of it and the sensation, the pulse coming from it flew inside me and made my blood race like a dam had burst. It was painful, scary, and incredible all at the same time. The sound of water gushing out flooded my ears and against its current was the melody I grew familiar with, the one that seemed to be part of the me that was with Umbra, as if he had awakened something inside me, something that craved only him.
Umbra was shocked, his eyes twinkling as he allowed me to lift his head to gaze into my eyes. He looked surprised but accepting. His liquid chocolate gaze trapped me in a spell. I saw my image absorbed in his eyes. Was it possible he was under the same spell I was?
“Thank you…,” I whispered honestly as we looked at each other, both standing still. Umbra’s face grew redder, but relaxed, and was the gentlest I had ever seen it. Then, he lowered his gaze an inch to look at me more directly and he smiled the most gorgeous, no teeth showing smile I had ever seen on any guy. I was so lost in it and in his beauty that I was shocked to notice he was tracing his right hand over mine in a slow manner. Soon, but not soon enough, I felt his captivating fingers lace in between the gaps on my own hand, the one still on his cheek.
I inhaled, burning up from all the friction that was surging through my body. He started a pattern of backing off from touching me, but then tried to reach for me again, the seconds ticking away, killing me with yearning. He didn’t squeeze my hand, but I felt his grip, his pleasing grip tightening around my small and shaking fingers.
Next, startling me, he leaned into my hand. He closed his eyes, still smiling lovingly and he whispered, “I’m honestly not sure why it’s there…” His steamy breath hit my hand, making my insides melt. I forgot for a second he was a spirit; he felt so alive.
I was about to say, “I don’t care. I’m just glad I am,” when suddenly, he lowered his face so his nose was almost touching the palm of my hand. With his eyes closed and a smile still on his face, he inhaled my aroma. I thought I heard him purr as I watched his chest rise and fall, but I might have been dreaming that. I hope I was imagining that last part…I feared I was sweating!
He straightened, opened his eyes and started leaning closer and closer to my face until we were about two inches apart. By habit, I leaned back until I hit the stove, but then I gave in willingly. He looked playful and devious as a smirk curved on his lips, the sun shining on his bouncy, yet somewhat spiky, hair. I thought my body was going to die on me the way it was moving like an earthquake.
About the Author: Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.