The bustle of a coffee shop, coupled with rain – either a sprinkle or a downpour, make for perfect writing weather in Morgan Frederick’s opinion. “Add coffee or hot tea, the sweeter the better, some music, and I’m golden,” she says, smiling. Morgan is often smiling, though that has less to do with her caffeine intake and more to do with the joy she takes in life. It’s easy to entertain her, partially due to her wild imagination. Rather than squash it when she was younger, her parents encouraged her flights of fancy. Her earliest memories of creating came when she was three or four, playing with Power Rangers, Polly Pockets, and Grand Champion horse figurines all at once. “I’d send them all on these fantastic, really epic adventures,” she says. “Some days, my Polly Pocket – her name was Holly – would be a cowgirl who had to rescue the Power Rangers from the Lincoln Log cabin they got trapped in by some evil. Other times, the Power Rangers would team up with my Pokémon and army men to save the faerie queen and her subjects.” With an imagination as vivid as hers, Morgan had no choice but to go into a creative field. “I tried, really tried, to fit into a mold and do the so-called practical thing, but I couldn’t. My heart wasn’t in it. My parents have been in managerial positions for twenty-odd years, but they enjoyed it. ‘If you’re gonna half-ass it, why bother’ was my dad’s favorite saying while I was growing up.”
WYVERN: You mention your family a lot when you talk. Who do you consider your mentors, or people who have inspired you?
MF: I have so many. My parents, my grandparents. My best friends: Kelli Williams, Jonathan Wine, and Sam Morales, all of whom have taught me so much and play different roles in my life. Every member on the Wyvern team. David & Carrie Urso, Amber Foltz, Jonny Novgrod, Chris Coutts, Doug Cumbia, Geovani Ayala. I owe each and every one of them more than I think words could ever express, and I can only try to be half of the inspiration to others that they were and are to me.
WYVERN: What are your biggest strengths?
MF: My empathy, knack for reading people, and my obsession with organization. Empathy and people-reading have been super helpful for writing, because I can then use what I glean from real life in my writing. It’s a lot of fun, I think, to really mix up my work – high or epic fantasy – with very realistic, very modern emotions like a struggle to fit in or trying to find your place in a world different from the one you remember as a child.
WYVERN: Are your writing experiences based on people you know, or events in your own life?
MF: Both, definitely! I’ve modeled several characters after friends and loved ones, and some of the events are similar too, just tweaked to suit my world. It’s a lot of fun to combine fantasy with very realistic, very modern emotions like a struggle to fit in or to find your place in a world different from the one you remember as a child. Even though the world is so different, I think one thing that seems to be true in most, if not all, novels is the concept of humanity or the human condition doesn’t change whether you’re on Earth, in the Shire, or halfway to an outer planet on a Firefly class ship.
WYVERN: How has your practice changed over time?
MF: Well, being in school has definitely made it harder to write. [laughs] I used to be able to devote days to writing, but now between classes and work, it’s hard. So, learning to write in smaller doses has definitely been a change I had to make. I also had to train myself to focus on writing rather than revising, because a lot of times I would get caught up in editing what I already have before writing more, and it took up so much time.
WYVERN: Did you learn anything from a recent project? What was it?
MF: Just because I don’t think I’m useful doesn’t mean I’m not. Understanding that each person on a team brings something new, something no one else can bring, to the table is something I never thought applied to me. I hold everyone else to a high standard, but I double my expectations for myself, and that’s silly. While being willing to learn is always a good trait, more often, just sticking to what you’re good at is more beneficial.
WYVERN: What kind of music do you listen to?
Right now I’m obsessed with Lindsey Stirling’s Shatter Me album and Scripted by Icon For Hire. I’ve also been listening to Blackmill Radio on Pandora a lot, but my music shifts with my mood. I can go from feeling Eminem and Jay-Z to Beethoven and Chopin in seconds. It’s like a light switch. It also depends on what I’m writing, because that helps me set the mood. If I’m trying to do really concentrated work, I like mellow, instrumental stuff, but I find ambient or electronica to be the easiest to work to regardless of what I’m doing. I love Pandora and Songza to just work to, but Spotify is great if I want a very specific mood or artist.
WYVERN: Do you drink coffee? Why, and how do you take it?
MF: Gosh, yes. [laughs] I live on coffee. Like music, coffee depends on my mood, since sometimes I’ll switch to tea or chai – but I always, ALWAYS, have to have my coffee sweet and super creamy. Coffee helps me write, I swear. I feel so official – like I’m adhering to an old writerly tradition.
WYVERN: Have you worked in collaboration with other creators? If yes, why? What did you learn?
MF: I have, and it’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy seeing how my ideas mesh, or don’t, with another writer/artist. I think it’s so cool when you and someone else are in the zone, being creative and really feeling what you’re doing and an idea is flowing like water. Sometimes when I’m working on a project, it can feel like slogging through knee-high mud, like you’re not getting anywhere, and having an additional mind to bounce ideas off of and tweak things with can be really beneficial to the creative process.
WYVERN: What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
MF: I got my start with writing when I was eleven, playing Dungeons and Dragons with my best friend and her family. I had always been really imaginative, and liked designing my own world. D&D helped give me a support system and other people to go on adventures with. I started reading fantasy and scribbling down notes about my D&D character, and I’ve been obsessed with world-building and character development ever since.
WYVERN: What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
MF: I want to skydive really, really badly. I’m so scared of heights, but I’m determined to do it at least once. And, of course, publish a novel or two. [laughs] That would be good.
WYVERN: What couldn’t you do without?
MF: My family. My family includes close friends and is huge, but I owe so much to the people who put up with me when I’m cranky, pick me up when I’m down, and support me unconditionally. I used to make cracks about living in a cardboard box while I waited for my writing career to take off, but I can’t do that anymore – I have too many people who wouldn’t let that happen and I owe them everything. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without their love, butt-kicking, and affection.