Profile: Will Morton

All The King’s Men is being written by an incredibly talented and diverse team of writers from around the world. The stories in the anthology are informed by their unique perspective on the world, and their own fascinating experiences.

We here at anthology HQ want to celebrate these writers and their experiences. We not only want to support their other creative endeavours, but we also want to give you some insight into them as people and as creators, and to give you a chance to follow these great writers beyond this anthology.

Today’s featured writer is Will Morton, a writer based in the USA.


Please, tell us about yourself.

I was born in the US, in West Virginia. In 1983 I moved to Los Angeles, where I have lived ever since, working for 24 years as an electrical engineer in aerospace, including 16 years on the Space Shuttle program. I married my wife Yvonne, a Los Angeles native, in 1989.

In 2010 I took a forced retirement, and now teach electronics part-time at a community college, which gives me more time for my writing! In fact, I recently received Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future contest.

In addition to all this, I am active as a stand-up comedian in the Los Angeles area.

How long have you been writing?

I can remember at age 4 learning how to use our typewriter, and typing out stories about Tommy the Toucan – my version of a cartoon character. I would type a paragraph or two, then leave several lines blank in order to later draw pictures with a black pen which I then colored in with crayons!

I’ve dabbled with writing all my life, not really knowing what I was doing. It wasn’t until ten years ago that I decided to get serious and got involved in a writer’s group. Later, I participated in the James Gunn Writing Workshop. From there, my writing took off, and is more rewarding with every new story I write. I don’t ever want to stop — I’ve still got a lot of stories to write!

Who is your favourite writer, and why?

I read a lot, finishing more than 80 books a year, so it’s hard for me to pick out one author as my favorite. And I read a wide variety of books: non-fiction, literary work, all genres, poetry, you name it. However, to answer the question, I would say Robert Heinlein is my favorite scifi writer. I read “Podkayne of Mars” at a crucial time in my childhood and found it so compelling that I’ve wanted more ever since — not only more Heinlein, but more scifi in general I credit that book for making me the scifi reader and writer I am today. I love that “gee-whiz!” feeling I get!

What can you tell us about your writing process? Do you approach each project in the same way?

I start with an emotional reaction, and try to come up with a story which will elicit that feeling in the reader. My usual writing process is to outline everything thoroughly before I actually begin writing. I structure stories scene by scene, using techniques I learned in the Gunn Workshop. Then I spend many hours turning the story over in my mind, living through each scene from the various characters’ perspectives — a process I enjoy very much!

Your story in All The King’s Men is a short story entitled The Molly Armband, a piece about the reunion of an estranged father and son in the midst of a violent labour dispute. Can you tell us where this story came from, and what it means to you?

This story wasn’t meant to be reflective of my own relationship with my now-deceased father, but I suppose it is. My father was a conservative, hard-working lawyer, and the last thing I wanted was to go into law! Engineering, with all that “reasonable” math and science, was as far away as I could get, which was fine with me! (BTW my sister did, in fact, become a lawyer and worked with our father for many years before he died.)

For my story I chose mining because underground coal mining forms a large part of the economy of my home state, and my very first job (before I moved to California) was field support to coal mines (the company I worked for made mining equipment). As a result, I got to know quite a few miners and I have a great deal of respect for people doing this kind of work. Also, my home state suffered the worst bloodshed of the coal field wars when mine workers began unionizing.

One of the things that really stood out for me in The Molly Armband was the underlying message about the limited prospects of mature-aged workers forced into redundancy or retirement. Is this an issue that has touched you or someone you know personally? Where do you think workers’ rights are headed in the future?

Absolutely I’ve been touched by it! This story reflects my rage at being forced out of my job due of age! I lost my job along with everyone else in my department over the age of 50.

Ever since I entered the workforce, I’ve felt like I’m chasing an evaporating dream. During most of my adult life, the US economy has been on the verge of recession. And since the new millennium began, it’s difficult for my age group to remain employed — which I blame on our insane practice of sending American jobs out of the country, to the point here aren’t enough jobs to go around. Which meant, in 2010, there were many unemployed engineers in the Southern California area scrambling to find precious few jobs. Many others in my age group are facing homelessness, lack of sufficient medical care for declining health, etc. I’m very fortunate to have gotten on as a teacher, and to have no health issues.

Unless America stops outsourcing its jobs, I’m pessimistic about the future of workers’ rights. I know from personal experience how desperate an unemployed worker feels. If things continue the way they are now, I imagine we’ll be willing to forego environmental and safety regulations, overtime pay and paid vacations, child labor laws, even a decent living wage, all in the name of barely scraping by.

Of course, I intend to write about these issues a lot!

You recently received an Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest – congratulations! Can you tell us about the story that landed you this accolade?

Every so often I feel like writing something funny. (I do stand-up comedy, after all!) My story “PHO: Potentially Hazardous Object” was an attempt to emulate Connie Willis’ style of humor. Ms. Willis is an author whom I admire quite a lot.

You’ve had quite a number of stories published in anthologies. If you wanted a new fan to get a sense of the real Will Morton, where (aside from All The King’s Men) would you recommend they start?

More than anything I try to do something different every time I write a new story. Having said that, any or all of my stories reflect myself, at least the person I was at the time. I’m proud of each and every one of my stories that have been published, and hope to put many more before the public! Like I said above, I’ve still got a lot of stories to write!

Are you working on or planning anything else at the moment?

I am currently working on a scifi novel.

Where would you like to see yourself and your writing career in five or ten years’ time?

I want a lot of people to read my work! So for that reason, I’d like to get many more stories published, as well as my novel. A movie deal wouldn’t be bad either!

We here at ATKM HQ think Will is a writer worth following.

Check out his website for more information about Will and a full list of writing credits!