James Morgan-Jones was born and brought up on the Essex/London borders. His mother was Welsh and his father from the East End. He trained as a professional actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and worked for several years in the theatre. After a serious accident he retrained as a feline behaviourist and now lives in West Wales.
He began writing seriously in 2008 after gaining an MA with Distinction from Trinity Saint David University in Carmarthen.
In January 2016 he published his first collection of short stories, Lantern Light, writing as A J Morgan. He then embarked on The Glasswater Quintet, a series of supernatural mystery novels, linked by character and place but set in different decades, from the 1940s onwards. The first book in the series, On the Edge of Wild Water, was published in November 2016. The second in the quintet, The Glass Citadel, is due for publication in late 2017.
In his own words...
I grew up in a ruined environment. This was on the south-western margins of Essex, adjoining East London. It was an area which had been built up very rapidly after the Second World War, with thought only to rehouse working families wishing to start a new and better life away from the war-ravaged east of London, but with no regard to preserving it as a long-term, nurturing environment for people to live in. It was ugly, plain and soulless. Scraps of what had once been remained; pieces of semi-marshland, an abandoned Georgian farmhouse, a derelict WW2 aerodrome.
As a small child, opposite our house stood some old cottages in a meadow with a brook running through; but this was soon razed, along with its two soaring elm trees, and built over with an estate of box-like bungalows. I can honestly say that a sense of this ruination, along with an awareness that the very soul and identity of the place had been banished, has stayed with me ever since. There was, however, also a feeling that this could never be true destruction; by which I mean that there is a sense of something having been smothered and stifled but still essentially present, waiting to be heard and perhaps to return when its times comes, even if it were to take millennia.
I suppose that the supernatural thread in much of my work could be seen as a metaphor for this very particular kind of haunting. Different versions of my home background appear in various guises in both my short stories and novels. It might be true that you can’t go home again, but it never (at least in my case) seems to leave the dreamscape of imagination.
In moving to Wales I have found a spiritual home. My mother was Welsh, and going further back in my father’s line (he was from the East End), there was undoubtedly a Welsh connection, so it was in many ways a coming home; more than that, the rural location in which I live, and especially the very unusual setting of my house (a healing place, as my very down-to-earth aunt once said), have allowed my imagination and creative energies to flourish.
I trained professionally as an actor in London, and worked as an actor, and I am increasingly aware that this too plays a vital part in my writing. Many people have been kind enough to comment on the quality of the dialogue in my work, and it is certainly true that dialogue makes up a substantial part of most of my fiction. My writing is also frequently dramatic and intense in nature and again, from feedback I have received, these seem to be elements which very much engage readers, drawing them into the particular world of the narrative. Acting too, at its best, requires an intuitive emotional connection; I hope that this also feeds into my narrative worlds and the characters that people them.