Michelle Morgan is a well-established author, novelist, biographer, researcher and friend. I have been talking to Michelle since I emailed her in 2012 fan-girling over her biography Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. We began chatting on Facebook and the rest is history.
Since then she has created a library of other books on subjects that not only include Marilyn but also Madonna, Carol Lombard and Thelma Todd as well as novels including The Webs Weave. You can view her books and purchase them here.
Michelle is very sweet and agreed to answer a few questions for me!
Firstly, I want to say a big thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions! You are a pillar in the Marilyn community due to the wonderful work you have done with your Marilyn biographies, because of this
That’s such a lovely thing to say. Thank you! I’m thrilled to answer your questions and honoured to be asked.
Do you ever feel that there’s a certain amount of pressure riding on the books you put out? What happens if it later turns out some of the information you included to be is found to be incorrect for example?
No, I don’t feel any pressure to be honest, because if I allowed myself to feel that way, I’d just worry too much and never get anything done. I am really grateful to have such a lot of support in the Marilyn community, and my readers are always a huge source of strength to me. Of course, I will always have some detractors, but I can’t please everyone, so I just concentrate on my work, do my best and hope that when my books are out, my readers will enjoy them.
As for finding later that my information is incorrect, well that would only be corrected if there was a new edition. Of course, the older my books get, the more new information has been revealed from auctions etc., which sometimes alters certain events or timelines, but there’s nothing I can do about that when I’m writing. I wish I was psychic and could predict these things, but alas I’m not.
Have there been any topics you’ve thought “NOPE!” when writing about Marilyn?
There are certainly subjects that I don’t particularly enjoy writing or talking about. Marilyn’s death for instance, and the Kennedy rumours. I’ve turned down projects that only want to concentrate on that topic because I have no interest in that. I’d rather concentrate on Marilyn’s life and the wonderful things she achieved.
It’s not long until your new book When Marilyn Met The Queen (3rd March 2022) is released! I know this has been a HUGE project for you as it’s your specialist subject! How do you feel now it’s finally being released? Is it easier now you’ve got a few (quite a lot) of books under your belt?
It all seems like a dream, to be honest with you. I’ve wanted to write this book for thirty years, which is bonkers when you think about it! Back then, I couldn’t get a publisher or agent interested in it, because they thought it was a niche subject, and wouldn’t sell. I kept researching on and off for the next three decades – and used some of what I learned in ‘Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed’ – but I still really wanted to write a full book about the England trip. It is so strange to me that in 2020 when the world was going crazy, I was finally given the opportunity to write it, and now the rights have been sold to the States and Romania (so far), and my publisher is hoping for more. I couldn’t be happier!
I think that writing this book was definitely easier now that I’m an established author. I don’t even know how many book projects I’ve worked on, but it’s somewhere in the region of 25 I think. When I first wanted to write ‘When Marilyn met the Queen’ (or Marilyn in England as it was called then), I was a 21-year-old who had absolutely no writing experience whatsoever. None! There was also no Internet back then; the Olivier files were not deposited; there were no searchable newspaper archives that I could have easily gone to, so if the book had been commissioned, it would have been full of dry facts, probably written in a very stilted way.
My previous books have given me a great deal of experience in writing and researching, and I am so happy with the way this book has come out. I’ve written it in a very show-don’t-tell kind of way, and I think that has worked really well with the subject. While the book is obviously about Marilyn’s trip to the UK, there are also stories of how she influenced fans, the public, businesses and even MPs. The result is that ‘When Marilyn met the Queen’ is a book not only about Marilyn’s experience of Britain but Britain’s experience of Marilyn.
Do you feel like it is easier or harder to focus on one part of Marilyn’s life?
I certainly enjoy writing about particular parts of Marilyn’s life. I’ve written three books of that nature now – ‘Before Marilyn’, ‘The Girl’ and now ‘When Marilyn met the Queen’. It is great because I have so many words to play with, and can really get into the subject much better than I could be writing about Marilyn’s whole life. For instance, the hardback of ‘Private and Undisclosed’ was 80,000 words and went from birth to death. ‘When Marilyn met the Queen’ is more words than that, and primarily covers the second half of 1956.
A follower of mine asked whether you felt that all that has been said on Marilyn has now been done. Do you feel this is the case?
I think there is always more to find out about Marilyn. New information comes out all the time, so there are always opportunities to discover something new and unreported. At the moment I don’t have any Marilyn books on my schedule, but if something interesting came up, then of course I would want to write it.
Is there room for any more biographies or are we just going to see more and more fabricated stories come out because there’s nothing left to be said? Or do you think the truth and the real Marilyn will emerge with younger generations revisiting Marilyn and questioning what’s been said?
I think that if a new biography was based on recently discovered documents, letters, etc., then it would be wonderful. But I wouldn’t be in the least bit interested in something that was fabricated. We could certainly do without any of those in the future! As for the younger generations, I think that it would be terrific if they revisited Marilyn’s life and researched the truth. My daughter Daisy is a staunch supporter of Marilyn. If she ever sees anyone being disrespectful online, she goes straight in and puts them right. I’m proud to have raised a fan, who is only concerned with sharing the truth about Marilyn’s life. Long may that continue.
Thanks once again for your time, Michelle, I cannot wait to read your new book!
Thanks so much! It’s been fun!