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Business & Real Estate

Local author rolls into new market niche

Los Altos resident John Morgan has put his talents to many uses in a communications career that began in World War II. He's well into a new chapter in his writing career creating murder mysteries for Books in Motion, a publisher of audio books aimed at truck drivers and libraries.

A Yale graduate with a degree in English, he wrote the morning news line for his Army unit in Europe during World War II.

Following the war, he joined the employee communication section of Cleveland-based White Motor Corp. Then he spent 15 years on the editorial staff of Steel magazine (now Industry Week), rising to managing editor. Next came 18 years in employee communication with General Electric and Rockwell International.

After experiencing his third "retirement" as a result of corporate reorganization, Morgan opened Advocacy Communications, an employee communications consultancy. And he wrote books.

"I've always wanted to write," he said, seated in his Parc Regent home next to a bookshelf filled with his published works.

Morgan's work includes eight business volumes, a home-study text on communications issued by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers and two biographies of Robert Fulton and Noah Webster, plus "The Wolf Strikes," a murder mystery, and "You Can't Manage Alone," a religious volume.

His 15th book, "Getting a Job After 50," grew out his early retirement experiences. Morgan fictionalized the book under the title "Death Begins at 50." He began marketing that book when he heard about Spokane-based Books in Motion from some other authors, he said.

Books in Motion's audio books are written to last eight hours, the average time of a truck driver's shift. A driver rents a book on tape at one stop on an interstate and turns it in at the end of the run at another stop, Morgan said.

His second title for Books in Motion is "Die to Live." The tale of black marketing in organ transplants was inspired by two daughters of friends who needed kidney transplants. Morgan was living in Pittsburgh, a major organ transplant center, at the time and interviewed several transplant physicians and patients in producing the book.

"I get ideas from newspapers, from things happening around me and experiences I've had," he said.

Morgan puts in five hours a day every day he's in town doing writing and research. Mystery writing "involves a considerable amount of research," he said. "People let you know if you make a mistake."

"Deadly Trust," Morgan's third Books in Motion work, due out in March, is drawn from his recent move to Los Altos. He has started work on a fourth book, dealing with what happens to survivors of a murder. The book will also be set in Los Altos, although Morgan uses a different city name.

"I write all the time," Morgan said. "I'd be lost without writing."

He also sharpens his skills with the mystery readers group that meets the first Wednesday of every month at 10:15 a.m. at the Los Altos Public Library.

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