Phoebe Morgan is an author and editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside.
She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits crime and women’s fiction for a publishing house during the day and writes her own books in the evenings.
Phoebe's books have been translated into nine languages including French, Italian, Polish and Croatian. Her new thriller The Wild Girls is published on 15th April and is also available to borrow through Suffolk Libraries.
- Who were your literary heroes as you were growing up and when did you first realise that you wanted to write?
I always loved writing and when I was a child I used to write stories in notebooks all the time. We didn’t have a TV so I spent a lot of time reading, and I loved getting new books out of the local libraries (Eye and Debenham, to be precise!). I read all the classic children’s fiction such as Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, and my English lessons were always the highlight of my day. So I suppose I always wanted to write but I didn’t realise it could be a career until I was much older.
- When it comes to writing do you prefer to plot every twist and turn or do you go with where the story takes you?
I tend to go where the story takes me! I wish I could be a better planner and have it all plotted out before I start, but sadly that method just doesn’t seem to work for me, it feels a bit stifling and too much like homework! So I usually begin with a setting and characters, and a ‘hook’ – and then follow the twists and turns that my characters take for themselves…
- You grew up in Suffolk. What are your memories of that time?
I did! I lived in Occold, then Debenham, and now Pixey Green (near Stradbroke). We spent a lot of time visiting the coast, as well, walking in Walberswick and Southwold; it was an incredibly beautiful area to grow up in and I think I probably took it for granted at the time. I remember a lot of time spent outside, walking to and from school when we were little, making dens in the ditches, playing in the cornfields, quite idyllic really!
- What was your journey to publication like for your debut The Doll House? How did it feel when you could pick up a copy for the first time?
It was quite a long one, I signed with my agent in 2015 I think and we worked on the book together for about 6 months before she sent it out. It didn’t sell the first time around, but when we finally did get the deal it felt amazing – like I had been waiting for it for a long time. Holding a finished copy was very exciting, I don’t think that feeling ever really goes away. I felt very lucky and I loved being able to give it to my family.
- Your new book The Wild Girls is published on 15 April. Can you give us a flavour of that?
The Wild Girls is set in Botswana in a luxury Safari lodge. It’s about four friends who haven’t seen each other for two years, and are then reunited when they’re invited to a birthday party in Southern Africa. It’s about friendships, betrayal, the complexity of growing apart – and I really enjoyed writing it. I wrote most of it in Lockdown 1 in 2020, so escaping to Botswana was a real privilege when we were all stuck inside our homes.
- Is there anything you can share with us about your latest project?
It’s currently called The Trip and it will be published in Spring 2022. It’s about a man, Ben, whose fiancée goes missing just as they’re about to embark on a round the world trip. I’m still working on it at the moment, but I think the end is in sight and I can’t wait to share it with readers when the time comes.
- What was your best book read/best music/best TV of 2020?
I loved Finders Keepers by Sabine Durrant, a psychological thriller with some brilliant characterisation, and I also really enjoyed Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, one of my all-time favourite writers.
In terms of music, it’s got to be Taylor Swift’s two new albums! They were a real boost during lockdown. For TV, I’ve watched a lot this year (like everyone!) – and I recently discovered This Is Us, which I absolutely love. I usually watch a lot of crime dramas so it was refreshing to watch something a bit different, and the structure of that show is amazing, so clever, definitely worth looking at if you’re a writer.
- What are you looking forward to doing most when we finally emerge from this lockdown period?
Getting back to the office! I have really missed working in an office this year and I struggle with working at home, so that for me will be something to look forward to. I miss the separation between work and home a lot.
- Can you tell us one thing about yourself that your readers may not know?
You may not know that I also work as an editorial director at HarperCollins, editing other people’s books. I’m always on the look out for new stories and new voices, so if that’s you, get in touch!