On Storytelling – Guest Post by Michael Morris

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Michael Morris | @MichaelMorrisBk

Michael Morris

When I visit book clubs or speak at book festivals, typically the first question is “did you always want to be a writer? ” In my heart of hearts, I want to say “yes ” and tell them how I wrote my first novel when I was ten years old and how my grandmother helped me make a cover for it out of construction paper. But the truth is that I did not come from a family of readers. I came from a family of storytellers and I’ve realized that the stories I heard from childhood have influenced my work.

Like most people, I had a teacher who inspired me to write. Her name was Linda Maultsby and she taught English my junior year of high school. (My second novel, Slow Way Home, is dedicated to her.) I was a C student at best and her encouragement was the first time I was told that I could do anything well related to school. I met with the guidance counselor and decided that I would major in public relations and hopefully land a job where I could parlay writing into a vocation. In my world, writers lived in Paris, New York or if they were from the south they were eccentric alcoholics who lived in run down mansions — they were not from a small paper mill town in Florida like the place where I grew up.

Discovering writers like Lee Smith and Pat Conroy changed all of that for me. After getting that Public Relations degree from Auburn University, I would drive around in my candy red Camaro listening to NPR and thinking that I was being sophisticated. One morning on the way to work, I heard a voice that I can only describe as honey dipped. It was Lee Smith reading about a weatherman in Memphis who had washed away his rural past and now that his mother was dying, he had to come to terms with it. I went out and bought that collection of short stories — Me and My Baby View The Eclipse — and now I’ve read everything she’s written. I love her and her work. In fact, you might say that I became a literary stalker. Yes, I went to every reading that Lee did and when I finally finished my first novel, A Place Called Wiregrass, I gathered up the courage to ask her to read it. She was kind enough to take a look at it and her words of encouragement became the endorsement that is on the cover of the novel.

Man in the Blue Moon is my fourth novel and I remain a devoted fan of writers like Lee Smith and Pat Conroy. And I still love to hear storytellers too. For me, it all began in my grandparents’ house, listening to those stories that are now woven into my novels.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). She is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and the forthcoming HINDENBURG (both published by Doubleday).


4 Responses to On Storytelling – Guest Post by Michael Morris

  1. Ariel November 7, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I have to admit that this post gave me a lump in my throat. It reminded me of the best teacher I ever had. Her name was Mrs. Wilson and she was my Creative Writing teacher in high school. Mrs. Wilson was the first person to tell me, not that I COULD be a writer but that I WAS a writer.

    The years I spent in her class were life-altering and apart from my mother (who read to me basically every day of my life–on into my teens years) she has more to do with the fact that I’m an author today than anyone else.

    Yay for teachers! Have any of you ever had a teacher that changed your life?

  2. Anita November 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I’d like to think that all families have sat around the porch or living room and shared stories like this, but I always think of it as a southern thing. My childhood was full of these events, my papa in his easy chair or rocker, telling us all kinds of tales from his boyhood or telling stories of our momma and her sisters and how on earth did these children become our parents?! I’ve seen my own parents carry on those story telling traditions now with my children, even my daddy, nearly 88 and with some dementia loves to share stories of his youth and I keep learning a thing or two myself.
    I had many teachers who touched my life, who fed my love of reading and writing. In HS it was Mr. Newton, who was our journalism teacher, he showed me I could write a straight news story or a more creative story depending on the needs of our student paper. He was one of those people who believed each of us had something to share in writing.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Kathy L. Patrick November 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I love everything that author, Michael Morris has written including this blog that could hollar, “DITTO”! Thanks for sharing our October Pulpwood Queen Book Club Selection author and book, MAN IN THE BLUE MOON! I’ll take a good storyteller anyday and Michael Morris is a master! Hope everybody who reads this comment knows that I gave it FIVE DIAMONDS IN THE PULPWOOD QUEEN TIARA!
    Truly, Tiara wearing and Book sharing,
    Kathy L. Patrick
    Founder of the largest “meeting and discussing” book club in the world, The Pulpwood Queens!


  1. Michael Morris: On Story-Telling (a guest post for She Reads) « Traveling With T - November 7, 2012

    […] Heart-warming and insightful guest post by Michael Morris- a story that is defintely worth reading. On Storytelling: A Guest Post by Michael Morris. […]

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