Nicola Morgan is an award-winning author, mainly for teenagers. After graduating in Classics and Philosophy from Cambridge, she became an English teacher and dyslexia/literacy specialist, and created The Child Literacy Centre, which she still runs. She now divides her time between writing (novels and non-fiction) and speaking in schools and at conferences/festivals about all aspects of teenagers, their books and their brains, as well as speaking to adults about how to get published. She is Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland and is based in Edinburgh. Nicola blogs at Help, I Need A Publisher.
Why do you blog? > I blog for unpublished authors because so many of them deserve to be published and so many don't - I want to help them decide which they are.
What has been your best blogging experience? > When a friend put a stat counter on my blog - it's endlessly fascinating.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > My blog is very young and I have so far escaped any bad experiences.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Define (to yourself) right from the start why you are doing this. Do you want it to be widely-read or is it just for you? Either is fine, but each requires a different focus.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > David Hume and Copernicus (though I'd be terrified of meeting either of them).
What are you reading at the moment? > Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News? She's the only author I know who can combine humour with real darkness and keep the pace going so that my flighty attention is utterly grabbed.
Who are your cultural heroes? > All authors who have continued to write despite enormous personal danger. In countries like mine (Britain), we take free speech for granted, and we shouldn't.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein - it's teenage literary fiction at its best: clever, piercing, very, very unusual.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I used to think there must be a god.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Benevolent Reciprocity combined with Utilitarianism.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That there can be rights without responsibilities.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > David Hume's work, particularly An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. I was drawn by his logical approach to religion at a time when that was a relatively lonely and very dangerous voice. That there are some things appropriate for reason and others that aren't is a very important starting-point for philosophers.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I'd abolish the jury system.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Religion.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Although we are in a trough now, I like to think we can haul ourselves out of it to a better place. We have to.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Just say yes.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Deserved self-respect.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Arrogance.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > In all circumstances where there is a utilitarian benefit.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > All people who deliberately drop litter are necessarily vile and should be punished unpleasantly.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Travelling (though the destinations are fine).
What, if anything, do you worry about? > A lot! Especially what people think of me and how I will get everything done that I want to do.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > No, because then I might not have ended up at this point but a different point, and I am very happy with where I am. In theory, I'd like to have been less self-conscious and over-sensitive - in practice, I'd have been exactly the same.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Ten days in any warm, friendly and beautiful place, with only my family or friends in sight or sound, with books, wine and fresh food (which I'd be happy to cook myself), and the ability to be transported there instantly, without the need for airport, train, road or boat.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Cooking, walking, shopping, entertaining, reading, talking, dreaming.
What is your most treasured possession? > My internet connection.
What talent would you most like to have? > Singing or piano-playing.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'm very shallow: I'd travel 1st class, buy lots of gorgeous shoes, and buy a luxury flat in London. And, of course, be incredibly generous to anyone I thought deserved it.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > No famous people - they'd only joust for position and not be as interesting as I'd like them to be. I'd just have three nice friends with no chips on their shoulders or axes to grind, and we'd eat gorgeously, drink reasonably, and talk for hours into the night.
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