Blog tour: The Museum Makers

Welcome to the blog tour for The Museum Makers by Rachel Morris!

Synopsis: The Museum Makers is a captivating memoir about how Rachel, a professional museum maker, turns her skills back to unravel the dark secrets of her own family’s past. Part detective story, part hymn to the strange, addictive magic of museums, it is about time and memory and museums, but also about families and the secrets they carry and the stories they tell.

How did this book end up in my hands? I was asked to join the blog tour for this new book and I happily accepted a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Was it a page-turner? At just over 200 pages, this is a book that can be read rather quickly. Rushing through it, however, would spoil the experience. I loved delving into the history of the Morris family, bit by bit, one discovery at a time.

Did the book meet my expectations? I thought I would enjoy it – being a museum lover and all – and I did enjoy it. What I didn’t expect, however, was for the book to act as some sort of (very much needed) self-help manual. My parents’ house is big and full of furniture, trinkets and who knows what else, spanning several generations. As a minimalist, I have always found the idea that one day I will have to sort through all this stuff daunting. Better still, terrifying. This book helped me shift my perspective and regard all the stuff as stories rather than a burden.

Three words to describe it. Magical. Interesting. Inspiring.

Do I like the cover? Yes, I don’t know how to best describe it so I will make up a word and say it feels very museum-y.

Have I read any other books by the same author? No, but I have become addicted to www.momarcopolo.com, her online magazine and imaginary museum.

** Surprise! My blog tour post doesn't end here! Keep reading to find a Q&A with the author! **

Hi Rachel! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Museum Makers! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: I had a childhood full of secrets and mysteries, some of which I have only recently resolved. I was a very baffled child. So the book is partly a memoir of a bohemian childhood and a quest to find my vanished father, but it’s also the story of museums and about my day job as a museum-maker.

What inspired you to write this book?

A: One day I was sorting out boxes of old family stuff from under the bed – nothing valuable, just old shoes and handbags, that kind of thing – and I realised that what I do in my day job as a museum-maker, which is to  lay out objects and tell their stories, is exactly what we all do when we try to make sense of our pasts. Museums are about making meaningful patterns out of the chaos of the world, and really that’s all that I was doing when I tried to make sense of my childhood.

Was The Museum Makers your working title? Either way, how did you choose it?

A: I wanted something very direct that summed up the two sides of the book, the personal story and the museum story.

Have you always been passionate about museums?

A: I always loved museums even when I was little. For me they are places where you can daydream and tell yourself stories about the people behind the artefacts. I love the feeling of time travel, of imagining myself somewhere else in time. I think of museums as boxes of things, but also boxes of stories.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about something in the book that you loved writing or something that was particularly difficult to write?

A: I found it quite difficult to write some of the personal stuff, such as people dying, but when it comes to writing the Story is in charge. The Story tells you how much to put in in order that the book works and so that’s what you have to do. But I also wanted to keep the viewpoint of the small child and so there were other things I didn’t put in. 

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: So many, many stories about museums, about the people who made them, loved them, fought for them, died for them, destroyed them.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I am at that stage when my head is full of vaguely formed ideas and I am waking early in the morning to think about them. There are a few ideas in there that are very persistent. I think to myself, oh I will drop that idea, it’s not going anywhere but then it comes back again. I am also wondering whether I can write something that is part fiction, part non-fiction, and how that might work.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: ‘Rowing to Eden,’ a collection of Amy Bloom’s short stories. They are wonderful. I have just read one, called ‘Silver Water’ that is still haunting me a week later.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: Well, they are certainly time-consuming and I wouldn’t mind another 6 hours in the day to cope with them. But what I do love about Twitter, which is the social media I do, is that you can form very direct relationships with readers, which I like very much, and also that Book Twitter is full of great book talk and book recommendations. So on balance I think of social media as positive, not negative.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Write from the heart, not what you think publishers are looking for. Be as truthful as possible. Tell stories that really matter to you. Never worry about what other people might think.

Thank you for your time!

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