My Author Interview with Lynn Morgan Rosser
Captivated and spell-bound throughout Lynn Morgan Rosser’s New Beyond, Volume 1, I had to take the time to interview the author when I finished the book. From wizards to sorceresses, witches to princesses, forests to outer space, Rosser weaves a rich tapestry of tales. I could quickly adopt her characters as friends and am eagerly awaiting Volume 2 so that I can continue the friendship.
So, without further ado, introducing Lynn Morgan Rosser. Welcome to my site, Lynn!
Thank you so much, Heather! You have such a lovely author website — I signed up for your newsletter. You’ve put so much thought and care into all of it, and it’s inspiring.
Thank you, Lynn. I’m glad I could inspire!
You know, as I was reading your author bio on Amazon, I noticed that we have a lot in common—writing being the obvious connection. However, music has also been an integral part of my life since infancy. Music was always around me, and I’ve been singing and humming since the age of two.
Well first off, thank you, Heather, for inviting me to do this interview and for your lovely review! I’m very honored that you’ve included me.
Like you, music has always been a part of my life. I found I had a talent for singing at a young age, and voice lessons as a teen became a BA degree in music, with an emphasis on voice. I was classically trained, but also did multiple styles from Opera and Art Song to Broadway, torch songs and popular music, etc. I enjoyed working with all of it. I taught voice for over twenty years as a private teacher and vocal coach conducting workshops, etc.
I’m currently offering virtual voice lessons via Skype or FaceTime. My husband and I both toured with an international chorus to Russia, Moldova, and Ukraine in the early ’90s, and I also toured with them in the US to several cities. Years later, I had the opportunity to become a choir director myself for a local community, which I ended up doing for a long time.
I also enjoy the rhythm, pacing, and dramatic arc of poetry and storytelling—bound to the musical part of my soul. My approach to writing reflects that music aspect of me.
I can relate to that! And your story-weaving is not only magical but lyrical. I always tell people that music is a language. And, just like language, we use it in distinct ways to communicate with each other.
I loved the book trailer:
Did you put this together yourself?
Well, thank you, and yes, I did. I’m of the philosophy that if you want to do something badly enough, you can make at least some form of it happen. I sang the vocals, incidentally, on the opening to the video—to add atmosphere—that was fun.
I suspected that was you singing! It was lovely.
Speaking of beauty, the Forever Tree that links all of the realms in your book is a beautiful image for me. By linking the worlds, you create a synergy of energy, time, and space that encourages the reader to reflect on the bigger picture regarding our conscious choices here and now in our reality. The ripple effect of our actions can have far-reaching consequences, whether we ever see those consequences in our lifetime or not. I viewed the use of an element of nature, a tree, as the connection point as poignantly symbolic of the environmental crisis that humans are now scrambling to understand and mitigate.
Do you remember how the Forever Tree entered into the creative process for you when writing New Beyond, Volume 1? And does it have any symbolic meaning to you, personally?
As a natural symbol, a tree is a powerful thing. Trees are the breath of life, in a very literal sense. You have a beautiful connection to the environment, Heather. I’ve learned that about you while reading your eco-fiction book, Koraalen. So, I can see how that aspect of the Forever Tree resonated with you. The tree is a symbol that reflects a connection to all living things, our spirituality, and our deep rootedness in the Earth, our journey from life to death. The Tree of Life, and the Forever Tree, which borrows a bit of its symbology, connects deeply to All Things. At least it does for me.
As an example, as Marvel fans will know, in Norse Mythology, the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, connects the nine realms of gods, Earth, and the underworld. The ‘axis mundi’ is another name for the World Tree, which means the trunk of the world tree is the axis around which the Earth spins. Interestingly, the magnetic field of Earth is a torus-shape.
When drawn out and cut in half, a torus looks very much like the famous pictures of the Tree of Life—its branches meeting their mirror in the roots below. The trunk is in the midst of the two circles created on either side. If we think three-dimensionally, the Tree of Life becomes a torus. Anyway, I like connections like that. I tend to be a “macro to micro” thinker (or micro-macro) in that I enjoy finding big picture patterns, and then drilling down to the details. Sometimes the details can lead to creating the big picture pattern – it goes both ways.
I’ve always loved the universality of the Tree of Life. You can find the World Tree symbol in philosophy and religions from around the world. It is part of what Jung would call, in my opinion, the Collective Unconscious. I began to notice that most of my stories for the New Beyond, Volume 1 anthology had some sort of tree in them. That brought the image of the Tree of Life to mind with a kind of strange clarity, which can happen to writers. It’s when our innermost selves work right alongside our conscious plotting, weaving personal and universal symbology throughout, like hidden threads in a tapestry. So, having seen my subconscious use of the symbol, I then began to develop it consciously and named it the Forever Tree. The Forever Tree binds all the worlds of my stories into one. It bears the fruit of the same tree from the same mind.
So, it was a very natural process of discovery. I find that to be one of the most exciting moments in writing. It’s a process—the recognition of personal symbol and pattern weaving their way throughout the story, sending messages back to me and to the reader. (At least, I hope so!).
Our readers sure are getting their money’s worth out of this interview, Lynn! I love it! The entire concept of the Tree of Life has always been a deep-rooted spiritual theme for me.
As for your anthology, the idea of linking several short stories into one book as a connected whole was brilliant, and you pulled it off so eloquently. Is there a theme or message that you hope the book espouses?
Overall, I’m hoping that themes of justice and the use of power (both positive and negative) come through, especially female power. I also want to show how our uniqueness makes us just what the universe needs.
As far as environmental issues, let’s take Heddikiah’s Mistake, for example. Here I addressed what one island kingdom was experiencing due to rising tides. As habitable space decreased, this created a community of refugees, flooding and disease spread, food resources diminished, etc.
It’s also a “quest” story, as the king’s daughter attempts to rescue her people. She steals away on a dangerous journey to seek out the most powerful person she knew, the Sorceress Heddikiah. So, this story deals not only with contemporary issues around climate change but also with the use and misuse of power and coming into one’s destiny.
In an upcoming New Beyond, Volume 2 story (the original version first appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress VX), Oaths deals with leadership and social justice. It is about how a fortune-teller guides a man seeking to take the throne by any means possible.
The Favor of the Goddess (MZB Sword & Sorceress XXI), from New Beyond, Volume 1, is also a take on a similar theme of how developing empathy and compassion is essential to being able to lead/rule justly.
Yes, those themes do shine through, Lynn—masterfully.
With all of the thought and dedication you put into your stories, I’m sure that finding time can be difficult. Like many of us in the writing community, writing is not a full-time occupation. Can you tell us a little bit about your day-to-day life and what it holds for you in terms of responsibilities that can interfere with writing time?
I have a lot of things in the air to juggle that make it a challenge to find writing time but also contribute to making me a more well-rounded, and I hope, a better human.
I home-school my youngest son, who’s just turned15. He has a major congenital heart defect, called “HLHS” or “hypoplastic left heart syndrome.”
He had to have three open-heart surgeries as an infant/toddler to restructure his heart and his blood flow. We tried putting him in public school, but having him so exposed to germs was not ideal. Besides that, other children bullied him. So I decided we would do things differently.
A couple of years ago, he had a significant heart event that put him on the transplant list, but he’s ‘the come-back kid,’ and while he’s still on the list, he is currently “inactive.” When this heart event happened, I finally quit my part-time job as a community choral director, which I’d held for 17 years. Now, I am currently teaching virtual voice lessons during COVID-19, and it is a lot of fun! I still have a couple of openings if anyone is interested.
I’m also involved with my eldest son, who has severe autism. He lives in a group-home-type setting now, but we are very much in his life. My husband and I are his Guardians, as he just turned 18 this year. I have a lot of meetings and paperwork on his behalf, still. He’s an amazing guy. He does require 24/7/365 caregiving, though so, between that, my other son’s illness and schooling, and my part-time choir gig, I could only manage to write in the cracks of the day, or when I had a lot of help.
Now that he has transitioned to living outside our home, that has eased up. We are still there for him and see him regularly, but he’s happy being where he is now, and if he ever needed us to, we would take care of him. Sadly, however, with the current COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders, we are not allowed to visit him, and we are missing him terribly.
I want to talk about my husband, Chris Rosser, for a moment. He’s another creative part of my life. He’s a musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. He performs solo and with his trio, Free Planet Radio, and runs a recording studio. I sing back-ups on some projects, still, and you can hear me on his solo albums. His websites have a lot of music people can stream for free, videos, etc.
I’m also currently putting together a new business venture, Morrigan Book Design, which I hope will be useful to the writing community. I do pre-designed and custom graphic art for book covers using stock images. I do my own covers, too. I’ve done CD covers for my husband and others as well. I just launched and am having a Grand Opening Sale, so if anyone out there needs a book cover, I hope you’ll drop by!
Whew! Dang. It sounds like a lot when I put it all out there. The past 18 years have been a bit of a blur, I must say.
Yes, it does, and I think most of us can relate! How do you carve out time to write?
I sort of juggle between things as best I can. I poured myself back into writing as a mental escape from stress—a form of creative therapy— and chipped away at poem after poem, story after story, chapter after chapter. I now have a small collection of published work and a large body of writing projects waiting to be finished. I have the firm goal of getting it all done. New Beyond, Volume 2 is nearing completion, and I will be putting it up on KDP, hopefully, in the next few weeks as well.
Occasionally I will have days where I can mostly focus on writing, and I generally make quick progress. I just have to be okay with other things slipping out of my grasp when I focus on a project and knowing which ones can be left to hit the ground and which ones are 100% un-droppable. I can get hyper-focused to the detriment of other things if I’m not careful. (My house isn’t always as clean as I’d like—ahem.) But then I will need to switch gears and put effort into something else for a bit, and my writing time gets eaten up. Honestly, it can feel slow.
For example, I have a five-book series that I’ve plotted out—the first two books mostly drafted, but that needed to rest for a while. I also have a new novel that is complete in its first draft, plus I’ve done a chunk of editing on it. Both are contemporary fantasy, but the five-book series is more youth-oriented, while the novel is adult. I’m debating whether I should self-publish or try and go the traditional route with these two projects.
The main thing for me is to set goals. I always want to finish something. So I keep working towards that, knowing that needing to pause from writing isn’t the same as giving up.
Your personal life is precious and full, with many responsibilities, much like mine. Do your experiences influence your writing in any way—topics, themes, messages, characters?
There isn’t one “main theme” that I can pinpoint, myself. (Maybe someone else would see it whereas I’m too close to the work to know?) I have stories that are about healing, and stories about what I’d like to happen in the world in terms of leadership and justice. Other stories focus on courage, the environment, compassion, stories about women and power, sacrifice—there are many broad themes. Pieces of my experiences are woven throughout each tale. Stories and poems are how I process the world, how I heal my wounds and find courage. Through stories, I share my underlying beliefs and philosophy and my desire for a better world.
A new story (in New Beyond, Volume 2) is one that comes from deep within my experience. Eyes of the Goddess is set in the same world as Favor of the Goddess. Ilsabet (Murderess of Crows, featured in New Beyond, Volume 1) has been enlisted as a spy for the Empress Jessiopia. She and the Empress (Favor of the Goddess), are joined by two new characters, Dahalia and her brother, Thorn. Thorn is a non-verbal, differently-abled and artistically-gifted teen and Dahalia is his sister. They are the children of the favored concubine of the foreign God King, a long-time adversary to the Empress. The teens must flee their home country to the land of the Goddess to escape terrible fates at the hand of their Father’s adviser.
I wanted a story in which someone like my son was the hero—where his uniqueness, strength, and courageous heart were exactly what was needed at a crucial moment. (I don’t intend for it to depict anyone in particular, however.) Dahalia, a caring and loyal sister, is also a very strong character, managing their escape and keeping them safe, navigating a strange land as refugees. She adds her unique heroism to the story. I hope people will see the deep love and sensitivity I have for these characters, this recurring world, and the sources and experience from which I draw them.
Another new story from New Beyond, Volume 2 is brand new territory for me. I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan, and so I’ve done a story titled The Bards of Doom as a tribute (albeit, a poor one in comparison, no doubt). It isn’t fan-fiction, but rather an effort at a similar style. Discworld made me laugh through some dark times, and always managed to strike some sort of uplifting and tender note that fed the soul. If nothing else, it was fun to write!
Jargeth, my sci-fi “amalgamated lab-born being” is, in a way, a representation of the part of me that has always felt like an outsider. I think of myself as orbiting the action from afar and staring into the Void to see what might pop out. He is another character that I created to express the point that no one is a “mistake.” A person’s uniqueness, however odd or different, might just be exactly what the universe wants and needs. I’m currently editing this last story and (of course) adding a bit to the ending.
I am not surprised that you enjoy Terry Pratchett’s work!
My next question regards the community work that you do. I saw this on your Amazon Author bio. You have put together a website to help parents of special needs children:
The Complete Caregiver is a project that speaks to my heart for many reasons. I have worked with several children on the Autism spectrum, including my son, who is now an adult.
How is your special needs community work going at this point, and is there anything that readers can do to help?
The Complete Caregiver is a long-time labor of love. We received our son Aram’s autism diagnosis. Then a month later, I had an ultrasound that revealed our unborn son’s heart defect. Both children had intense needs. Figuring out what to do, what services were available for autism and jumping through hoop after hoop to get him what he needed, learning how to manage a medically fragile child needing dangerous surgical interventions and consistent, intensive care afterwards, etc., was a massive, challenging task.
It was consciousness-raising, certainly, and I gained so much appreciation and compassion for all parents and kids in these circumstances. I am a wiser, better person for all of it. I remember how the process of finding services and caring for my kids felt, at first, like being in a dark labyrinth with only a small lamp to light the way. I was holding onto my babies and trying to find my way through, occasionally running into a wise person who would point us down the right path. I thought if I could be that “wise person” for anyone, if I could put up a few direction signs, and maybe make their journey a bit easier, well, that would be very meaningful for me, too.
TCC launched the month before the Great Recession downturn, however. So that put a wrench into some of my grand plans. I ended up curtailing some of my more ambitious ideas for TCC, due to it being a terrible time to start a business of any kind. Not being able to launch entirely was frustrating, but it just wasn’t meant to be, at the time.
Right now, I’m slowly reconfiguring the website and hoping to add a few things to it to make it easier to navigate. I’m working on including more and better downloadable worksheets and such, which seem to get the most’ hits’ on the site. I wrote The Complete Caregiver Journal Workbook, as something I wished had been handed to me in the hospital with my youngest son, especially. (It’s still available on Amazon.) I raised funds to purchase copies of the book to give to the local NICU. I hoped that, if nothing else, a new mom with a medically fragile infant would have a place to keep track of things, make notes, and wrap her head around the situation.
TCC also gave me a place to explore writing as therapy. I began writing poetry again, as it seemed the only medium to express something of the unimaginable circumstances of our family. I have another book with the same title (New Beyond) that is a poetry collection! I know that’s confusing, but it was the title poem, New Beyond, that helped me to see past 24/7/365 caregiving, back into writing and other aspects of life, and to find balance. I really tried to come up with a new name for the short story anthology series, but nothing felt right. So now, I have two forms of “New Beyond” in the world.
I think of TCC as being in a period of gestation again, and I’m not sure exactly what the next stages will be. Still, hopefully something beautiful and meaningful will emerge. Thank you so much for highlighting it.
Lynn, again, we have much in common, and I am so grateful to have met you. I know that you’re currently working on New Beyond, Volume 2. Do you see a publication date soon?
Yes. I’m looking at the end of this May to early June to have the book on KDP. Fingers crossed! I have some beta readers and final edits to do prior to publishing, so hopefully, I can get it all done in the next several weeks. I don’t want to overly pressure my readers, so it’s not a hard date. I deeply appreciate the sensitivity readers for Eyes of the Goddess, too, who’ve helped give me confidence and contributed to ensuring that I handled the portrayal of my characters well. Thank you!
I was delighted to be one of your sensitivity readers for Eyes of the Goddess, and thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Lynn. I think it benefits readers to have these more intimate glimpses into the lives of the authors who write the beautiful escapes from reality that we enjoy so much. I wish you much success in all of your endeavors, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Volume 2!
Thank you so much for having me, Heather.