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A conversation With Michelle Morgan author of Marilyn's Addresses and Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed and The Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/6518/1/A-conversation-With-Michelle-Morgan-author-of-Marilyns-Addresses-and-Marilyn-Monroe-Private-and-Undisclosed-and-The-Mammoth-Book-of-Hollywood-Scandals/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on November 3, 2013
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Michelle Morgan author of Marilyn's Addresses and Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed as well as her most recent tome, The Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals. She is also the co-producer of the upcoming documentary Gable: The Ties that Bind with Prospect House Entertainment.




                                                                                                               


Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Michelle Morgan author of Marilyn's Addresses and Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed as well as her most recent tome, The Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals. She is also the co-producer of the upcoming documentary Gable: The Ties that Bind with Prospect House Entertainment.

Norm:

Good day Michelle and thanks for participating in our interview.

You are very welcome!

Norm:

Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.

Michelle:

I am a full-time author, living and working in the United Kingdom. I am the author of several books, including Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed and the revised paperback edition, which in the USA is entitled Marilyn Monroe: Private and Confidential. The revised edition hit the bestseller lists last year and continues to sell well, which I’m absolutely thrilled about. I am also the author of The Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals, which is published in the UK by Robinson and the USA by Running Press.

I worked for a long time in an office, where I dreamed my days away, thinking about the time when I would be a successful author and take part in interviews such as this one. I faced a barrage of negativity from many of the people I worked with; some telling me I would never leave as I was ‘part of the furniture’ and others laughing in my face when I mentioned my writing career. I hated it at the time, but I’m glad that I was faced with such negativity now, as it made me extremely determined to succeed and now I take absolutely nothing in my career for granted, as it took me such a long time to get to this point. I am grateful to the detractors, because they made me want to prove them wrong.

Personally, I am happily married; have an almost ten year old daughter who is the biggest blessing in my life, and am an avid fan of old Hollywood; life in the 1920s to the 1950s, and all things vintage. I ran the UK’s Marilyn Monroe fan club from 1991 to 2007, and have a huge passion for books. If you ever need to find me urgently, just head to the nearest book shop – I am bound to be hiding in there somewhere!

Norm:

How and why did you become interested in writing about Hollywood celebrities?

Michelle:

Well my ‘Scandals’ book is dedicated to my grandparents, because they instilled this huge passion for the ‘olden days’ in me when I was a child. I loved nothing more than hearing about their childhoods and this really started my obsession with the past. As for the celebrity aspect of it, that started when I became a fan of Marilyn Monroe in 1985. I was fifteen years old and read one book about her whilst on holiday, which lead to me reading everything I could get my hands on, about this wonderful actress. Of course being a Marilyn fan leads to many other stars too, particularly her co-stars such as Clark Gable, and also her idols like Jean Harlow. I began to like all of these stars after being introduced to them through my love of Marilyn, and over the years I have read much material about them all. My favourites are Bette Davis (I was born on her birthday), Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, Thelma Todd and Carole Lombard. Thelma and Carole I only discovered later in my life, but they have become firm favourites over the years.

My obsession with old-time Hollywood celebrities, lead to me wanting to write about them. I was desperate to write a biography about Marilyn because I felt that many of the biographies did not do her justice. The rest really grew from there. I have many ideas for celebrities I want to write about in the future, so I definitely won’t be stopping any time soon.

Norm:

Your most recent book, The Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals consists of sixty-one chapters spread over five hundred and nine pages. How did you decide you were ready to write the book?

Michelle:

Well my publisher really decided I was ready for it. I put forward the idea that I would like to write a book about the old Hollywood scandals such as Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and the death of Thelma Todd, and they said they would get back to me. They did, some months later, with the idea that I should expand it to cover ninety years of Hollywood. I said yes and prayed that I was up to the challenge. Thankfully I think I was!

Norm:

As a follow up, where did you get your information or ideas for the book and what was the time-line between the time you decided to write your book and publication?

Michelle:

I didn’t have much time to write the book at all really. I was commissioned to write it in late March 2012 and my deadline was 1 February 2013. So I had just over ten months to research, write, read and polish my copy. As if that wasn’t hard enough, I also had 170,000 words to write, so it was the biggest challenge of my career at that point, and believe me there were times when I felt I’d hit the wall and just didn’t see how I could face another tragedy or courtroom drama! Luckily these moments ended quickly, and I was able to finish the first draft in December 2012, and that gave me just over a month to make sure it was good enough to send it to the publisher.

I started off by writing a huge list of scandalous events, tragedies and people that I could include in the book. Some of these were already in my brain, and others I found on the Internet and from friends and family. Then I took one scandal at a time and researched using archive materials such as vintage magazine and newspaper reports; videos; documentaries; coroner’s inquest records etc. etc.

Once the research for each story was done, I would start the writing, but of course I had to limit myself because I only had ten months, so in some instances (such as Roscoe Arbuckle) I could have written about him for months and months, but I had to reel myself in. I really had to give each story no longer than a week because there just wasn’t enough time to become too obsessed with the people I was writing about, though this was very hard on some occasions!

At the beginning I was worried I wouldn’t have enough scandals to write about, but I was very wrong. I had over a hundred on my list and approximately sixty made it into the book, so there were quite a few left over. The funny thing was, once I started researching one scandal, I would often find another mentioned in the newspapers that I was consulting. That’s how I came to write about Lottie Pickford because she was mentioned in an article about another actress and I thought she was worth looking into. She definitely was!

I started the book by writing about Lou-Tellegen and the last story I wrote was Sal Mineo. The book was then sorted into date order, so that in the published volume, the first story you find is Arbuckle, and the last is Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. It was quite an experience to sort everything out and pray that none would be eaten up by the computer, during the cut and paste process! Thankfully they all remained intact.

Norm:

What were the major events along the way? What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read your book?

Michelle:

The major events would be just the sheer amount of research that had to be done, in such a short period of time. I literally have five large box files filled with newspaper articles and other notes, and much more stored on my computer. It was quite an experience and the boxes are still piled on my study floor, waiting for a more permanent place to reside!

I would say the best reason to recommend someone to the book is the fact that it covers such a huge amount of scandals and tragedies from ninety years of Hollywood. Here you will find Clara Bow, Clark Gable, and Natalie Wood, alongside modern-day headliners such as Madonna, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. You will also read about famous scandals such as the death of Lana Turner’s boyfriend, and then forgotten scandals such as the acrobatic troupe who ended up having a deadly shoot-out backstage, while the audience waited in the theatre. You will also read about hugely famous people such as Marilyn Monroe, and then everyday people who were thrust into the Hollywood spotlight, such as Christine Collins, whose story was made famous in the wonderful Angelina Jolie film, ‘Changeling.’ There are also scandalous buildings too, such as ‘The Suicide Apartments’ and The Knickerbocker Hotel, so as you can see, the book is very diverse and has something for everyone.

Norm:

Will you share a little bit about The Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals with us and what purpose do you believe your book serves?

Michelle:

As I mentioned, the book covers many, many scandals from the 1920s to the present day, but it is so much more than scandals. There are tragedies too, such as early deaths, kidnappings, rapes etc. It serves to tell the stories of some remarkable people, some of which have been forgotten over the years. My book brings those people and their stories back into the frame, as well as presenting modern day scandals too. I believe that this is the only book written which covers so many scandals, in such depth and over such a huge time frame. It can be read from cover to cover or dipped in and out; and the reader is bound to find something new whichever way they decide to read it.

Norm:

What are the most surprising discoveries you learned in creating all of your books?

Michelle:

In terms of the subject, the biggest discovery is just how human everyone really is. There is a tendency with celebrities to see them as some kind of other-worldly creatures; on a pedestal for all to admire, and at least ten feet tall. But the reality is that they are really like all of us; they just have a different job and more privileges, that’s all. They breathe, they sweat, they laugh and cry, and that is something I particularly wanted to get across while I was writing the Marilyn book. So many people think of her as an icon; a sex symbol; a legend, but she was a living human being with thoughts and feelings, and I really wanted to get that across in my biography of her. I included many stories where she was just being Norma Jeane, including helping a family member do DIY, helping a young artist take his rubbish to the trash bin, and running around on the beach, picking up stranded fish and throwing them back into the water. This was Marilyn in a very human way and that was the most important thing I wanted to get across in the book. Thankfully most people appreciate that I showed her in this way, and for that I’m very grateful.

In terms of myself, I’d say the most surprising discovery has been my ability to write to very tight deadlines. My first book, ‘Marilyn’s Addresses’ was commissioned in November 1994 and I had to have 35,000 words written by January 1995. That was quite a deadline, especially since I’d never written a book before, but I managed to do it and learned a lot from it. Since then I have learned much more from my writing, in terms of style, content and structure. I am discovering new things all the time and don’t expect to ever finish learning more and more about what I can do with words on the page.

Norm:

What helps you focus when you write and do you find it easy reading back your own work?

Michelle:

I find that I can focus very well when I’m writing. The biggest incentive is knowing that I only have a specific amount of time every day, when my daughter is at school. So that lack of time really spurs me on. When I was younger I could easily focus on my work with the television in the background or music playing, but I find that now I need complete silence if I’m going to really concentrate on what I’m doing. I can’t concentrate if there is noise going on all around me, so television and music is definitely just for relaxation these days.

I do actually find it very easy to read back my own work. I edit as I go, so I will write a chapter, then go over and do a little revision, then move onto the next. At the very end of the process I revise the entire book maybe twice before finally sending it to my publisher. It is extremely important for anyone who wants to be a writer, to understand that the job of an editor is not to rewrite your manuscript, so you can’t ever hand in a sloppy, unchecked copy. That makes me shudder to think about, and as I like to be in control, I always, always make sure that I have read back my work on numerous occasions before sending it off. Pressing that send button is not something I do easily, and I’ll probably revise this interview several times before sending it to you!

Norm:

What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?

Michelle:

The most difficult thing would probably be releasing my books into the world and hoping that people like them. But that would be the only thing I find difficult. Everything else about writing is just wonderful. Words flow through my veins and I could never, ever imagine not writing. It truly is the most wonderful job in the world and I am extremely honoured and lucky to be able to do it. I never, ever take it for granted that somebody wants to publish the things I have written, because I know that doesn’t happen for everyone. I am very grateful to be given the chance to share my work with readers around the world.

Norm:

What do you think of the new Internet market for writers?

Michelle:

I think the Internet is a great market for writers, because through social networking, websites, and blogs, you can get your work known to as many people as possible. Back in the ‘old days’ when my first book was published (‘Marilyn’s Addresses’, 1995) there was no such thing as the Internet, so I just had to rely on word of mouth and any mentions I could get in magazines or newspapers. Of course I would also have to write the letter, take it to the post office, buy a stamp and post it, then wait at least a week for them to get back to me! Now I can just send an email and be talking to prospective readers and reviewers within minutes. It really is a wonderful tool for both the research and marketing of books.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?

Michelle:

You can visit my BLOG, The Official Michelle Morgan Author Page. I am also on Twitter: @MMWriterGirl and I have an author page on Amazon too.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Michelle:

Hmmm…. That’s a good question! Well maybe you could have asked what my next project is going to be…. And the answer would be… I’m currently co-writing another Marilyn Monroe book, this time celebrating her life as a model, and then there is a book about Carole Lombard and a few other exciting but secret projects, which hopefully I will be able to share on my blog very soon.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Thanks to you too Norm! I’ve really enjoyed the interview.

Follow Here To Purchase The Mammoth Book of Hollywood Scandals (Mammoth Books)