Interview from the Void: Chris Morris by Donny Swords

It is my honor to introduce Christopher Crosby Morris.  His passion to connect with life, and its people, and to be an honest, true voice that shines out is an extremely valuable blessing.  I have had the opportunity to interview Janet Morris his extraordinarily talented wife already.  I knew Chris’ responses would be very informative.  I had no idea how insightful of an interview I was in for.  I am humbled.  Chris Morris possesses fiber, that something which took years of practice, and years of pushing beyond mastery to possess.  His writing- no matter the medium, whether you prefer audiobooks, music, or written prose challenges and moves the mind into directions not often pursued, but well worth the journey.  I have been listening to Chris narration of the Sacred Band available on audio lately, and as a singer who has studied formerly under one of the greatest voice instructors of all time I have to say that I would not be able to deliver so much substance, such enriching quality in my deliveries, even using my characters. In short, Chris Morris is astounding.  Keep reading to begin finding out why.

Hello, thank you for agreeing to the interview.  Would you tell us a little about yourself?
A must have! Click Here.My pleasure. My consuming passion is voice in all its aspects, but especially as it manifests in storytelling, both in prose and verse, literature and song. Metaphorically voice represents many things, even the sum of a life. Voice is a double-edged sword we learn to wield to our benefit or detriment. Most recently I’ve assumed the task of narrating our prose catalog and am thrilling to offer publicly what has heretofore been a private but seminal feature of our writing process.
 
You write as a team with your wife Janet Morris.  When did you first become drawn to writing, was it before or after you met her?
Before. Since childhood I’ve enjoyed arranging words to varied effect. In my youth I became a marvelous liar, more because of my fascination with discerning and fabricating what people wanted to hear than from mischievous or malicious intent. When Janet and I met our first collaborations were songs, many of which I still perform today — they are that good. She wrote stories from a very early age. A lasting part of our attraction was and is a shared desire to precisely express what life is showing us, and that means capturing those observations in story form. The difference — or complementarity — between us is that she is expansionist in her portrayals and I am reductionist.
 
You are a musician, when did you start playing?  What instruments do you play?
My older sister and brother proved miserable piano students, so our parents decided that Christopher could do without. Unbeknownst to me (and thankfully so), I was spared the disadvantage of entering musical life through the doorway of percussion. I’m a baritone and baritones seldom wow anyone vocally until the instrument develops, usually in one’s mid- to late twenties. Therefore my public school music teacher, Ms. Hutton, smiled commiseratingly and showed me to a seat with alto boys whose glee club lot was to huff and puff in support of the shrill girls reciting rote melodies. I loved it: anonymity and license to experiment with pitches against a preprogrammed backdrop of boys droning away predictably. In short, I sang, and still sing, first and foremost. And I utterly believe that all music in the human bandwidth derives from controlled breathing.
Guitar started for me at age eleven and is my most satisfying lifetime tool-oriented skill path, several times requiring me to experience the miracle of starting over in order to thoroughly master basic aspects. At this point I am pretty deeply into creating digital models of guitars impossible to achieve in strictly analog settings; I use custom built guitars with Graphtech’s Ghost hexaphonic sensors fed to Roland’s VG99 effects unit, then into a Yamaha board (with my vocal mic) and out in stereo to one of two twin Bose tower monitor systems (L1 and/or L1 Compact) so I am always in the same sound field as any listener. This all stems from wanting a bigger – not louder – guitar sound. I “build” a guitar for any song that needs something a little different and now have twenty or thirty pretty amazing guitars dial-able from one setup. Can’t wait for you to come check it out, and we be jammin’ man.
 
To me the guitar is a universe of possibilities, which is the same with writing.  Do you ever feel limited by people’s expectations of you and your crafts?
I could spend an hour on your first statement here, but will answer the question bit first. No, I no longer feel constrained due to others’ irrational calculations of what comprises art. I say ‘no longer’ because every creative must ascend from the pit of self-doubt into the light of self-knowledge and mastery through determined focus and practice. In his autobiography Miles Davis stated the gospel: “The most difficult thing a musician can do is sound like himself.” And, as you said in that first sentence, it’s “…the same with writing.”
 
When I played onstage I got instant feedback as to how I was doing.  I often find it difficult when I release a book and it gets less attention than I’d hoped.  Does your perception of what you feel will or won’t be received well change when you consider your fan base?
Buy Music
No, nor should it for you. This is a variant of the last question, but with a putative contrast between two, on the surface, apparently different art forms. Beneath the surface however they are so closely related as to be nearly identical: they are both listening sports, simultaneously involving the sources and receivers and overlapping the roles of each. Anything you can say of one has an obvious parallel in the other, the biggest difference being in rate of transmission.
One of the glories of human consciousness is that we can hear ourselves hearing ourselves. Shakespeare was the first to portray characters listening to their own inner voice, “the invention of the human” as Harold Bloom calls it. In both music and literature you are your own first audience and, if you like what you hear, by any and all means do not hesitate to proceed for want of external approbation. They are your audience, not your judges. Disregard this truth and that way lies madness.
 
Get your copy here Does a really good review feel as good as a standing ovation at a gig, or are they apples and oranges?
Glad you asked. Distrust both. If you pin your self-esteem to them and their approbation or lack thereof, you are lost. As Heraclitus said, “He who is praised to the skies lives a life of fantasy.”
 
You and your wife Janet are a team, how does that dynamic play out when you are developing a novel?  When it is underway?
Our novels develop from conversations reaching a point where further elucidation will best be accomplished by the exploration of personality(ies) in our case, fictional heroes — living their way through circumstances embodying the challenge under consideration. Our working definition of a hero is one who struggles in service to an ideal; if we run out of ideals we may write a different sort of book, but that protagonist would most likely be struggling to find out what happened to all the missing ideals … hmmm.
When the book is under way it’s buckle up time, the blessed state, because (and this is hard for many of our writer buddies to accept) we honestly don’t know everything that’s going to happen. The way to find out the details is to go where only the characters can take us. By that time we are way onboard and strapped in and boldly going we know not where, but headed for a climax we’ve seen but not yet lived. Fun or what? Is it real? For us and the characters, you bet. Does it have that precious quality of feeling true to life? Yup. That’s the reward of the collaborative arrangement; it imparts a binaural, binocular, bi-conscious view of uncertainty, which we and a host of readers find magnetic.
 
When you edit do you have a process?
When Janet began drafting (typing, mind you) High Couch of Silistra I would read her day’s output (and still do) aloud, because sound is primary to my apprehension, especially if analytics are involved. When I draft we do the same. Although it might seem laborious, this actually saves time and speeds up the rate at which we achieve publishable work. Linguistic anomalies can be heard by the ear and missed by the eye; our editing voice benefits from two sets of each. I’m frequently amazed at how much a slight alteration of pitch or emphasis can inform the net effect of syntax. If we have a passage that wants to be heard a certain way it’s incumbent on us to nail the punctuation so the experienced reader ‘hears’ it.
 
Since you began as a published author, how have things changed?
It might be easier to list what hasn’t changed, but for those tuning in late there’s: lots more slush being published and given away; increased ability of content providers to call the shots at every production level; no more meddling middle-folk; no more security of the reasonable advance for a multi-book deal; lots more transparency; even more slush being published and given away; piracy; more feedback from readers and trolls; general confusion as to what intellectual property is and how to preserve ownership of it; still more slush being published and given away; genre-fication whelping a litter of niche-of-a-niche-of-a-niche popularity contests; ability to purchase emblems of legitimacy bestowed for a price by formerly powerful arbiters of taste such as Kirkus; global reach to millions of readers; yet more slush being published and given away, or did I say that enough?
 
One of your recent projects was narrating the audio book “The Sacred Band”.  Could you tell us what it takes to accomplish such a feat?
Like anything worth doing, it takes tenacity and focus. Because it was a first-time project The Sacred Band audio book involved a learning curve which added time and cost. I’m a team player and narration has a solitary aspect to it; I’m getting accustomed to it, but I was grateful for the technical assistance of a good friend who babysat me as I got this first one recorded over a period of a little more than a year. If I narrated full time it might now take me only eight or nine weeks. I’m working in Adobe Audition and can handle everything up to but not including audio-post mastering chores (adding noise reduction, some compression and normalization processing before converting to Mp3 for submission). I am an ACX.com (Amazon>Audible>ACX) user and have no plans to market outside their considerable infrastructure; I’d recommend them to beginners because they’ve done the homework necessary to service all the stakeholders in a project. ACX is also a good place to listen to samples of what other production teams are doing and obtain a reference point of view as to what constitutes a finished product. ACX costs nothing to join; they’re compensated from what Audible gets from sales of your book.
 
I say feat due to your performance.  You are merged with your and Janet’s characters in that delivery.  This summoning of Tempus or whomever is speaking shows a deep connection to your characters.  Do they make you laugh or cry?
I had already read The Sacred Band aloud two or three times before embarking on the narration. We are meticulous about “voicing” our characters and punctuate and format very carefully to emphasize their characteristic speech patterns while still retaining transparency of style. For our first audio project we decided to hire Alex Hyde-White to learn the ropes and see how an accomplished pro would narrate our material. He did a bang-up job with Wake of the Riddler, a shorter TW piece of Janet’s, and immediately caused me to realize what I could bring to our work because of my greater familiarity. I am gratified that you heard the characters coming through because after experimenting with inventing a distinctive sound for each character I opted instead to read with consistently clear articulation and to respect each character’s mood and message within the limits of my voice rather than risk caricature.
They don’t make me laugh or cry. They make me disappear. I miss that when we’re not together.
 
Your music is intelligent and endearing, quite moving actually, were you going for the same effect on the audio book?
Thank you. Yes, in both cases it turns out to be what I do instinctively. After countless attempts to sound “commercial” musically, I finally took Miles’ advice and dared to embrace what comes out of me ingenuously. Being comfortable in one’s own skin is worth whatever effort is required to make it so. It took me decades to get there (hence my remarks about the acclaim of others) but once arrived, I rejoice to possess sheer bandwidth that accommodates a broad spectrum of emotion without disproportion.
 
What is your take on violence in books?
Gratuitous…or not. If a story is merely a vehicle to roll out a train of atrocities, what’s the point except to titillate adolescent sensibilities? Writers of all sorts leverage threats of violence, many to avoid the laborious task of carefully laying out a sequence of events building to a genuine need for overt confrontation. I write for the more experienced reader, and myself, who want a little more justification, realism, and reason to care what happens than a story where hardware and machinery are indistinguishable. No doubt about it, there’s violence in books.
 
Who are your favorite musicians?  Authors?

Ray, Mose, kd, Chet, Tony, Sly, Diana Krall, Tommy Emmanuel, Bill Evans, JS Bach, CPE Bach, Mozart, Davey Spillane, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Nat, Haydn, Corelli, Leadbelly (see video), Lightnin’, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Dinah Washington, Aretha but she ticks me off, Eddy Arnold, Mitchell Parish (wrote the lyrics to Stardust), Carmichael (wrote the melody to Stardust), Michel Legrand.
Janet Morris, Arthur Clarke, Hermann Hesse, John Milton, Will Shakespeare, Jack London, Will James, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Heraclitus of Ephesus, P. G. Wodehouse, Harold Bloom, Homer, Deborah Koren, Mika Waltari, Sam Harris, Roger Penrose.
 
How long did it take to compose the backing track on the Outpassage trailer?
Read Outpassage It took about two days, back in late ’78, culminating in that recording. It’s a song called No Man’s Land, a bedroom demo recorded on a TEAC 10 inch four track reel to reel with Janet on bass, Leslie Kuipers on guitar, Nathan Seely on drums, Ted Lo on ARP string synthesizer, and me on guitar and vocal. It smoked sufficiently that we began playing the Boston fusion clubs around Berklee and generally had a very good time. We were regrouping after moving back from LA in the wake of the MCA album’s short but glorious run, and I still had three quarters of my band to work with and Ted and Nathan eager to jump in. We were listening toMahavishnu and Return to Forever and I was wondering why nobody ever sang over that kind of stuff, plus it was in my “sky high” period when I’d figured out how to build section momentum with circular patterns. The song has some cool cousins I’ll put up pretty soon. What I’m digging now is that shelf life is pretty much irrelevant these days and No Man’s Land has a rabid following on a site called NumberOneMusic.com ; entry level listeners take in Hendrix and Gaga and Norah and Eminem and me all at once and could care less when a piece of music was made or even whether the artists are still alive.
 
Tell us about your publishing house.
Perseid is damning the torpedoes and putting out stuff that is representative of what we grew up wanting to read; we say books for experienced readers, or books worth reading.
 
What inspires you?
My favorite of your questions.
Growth. A starry sky. Acceptance of the greater without diminution or forfeit of personality. Personal truths: the value of distinguishing between what one is told and what one learns from experience. The love of a dog. The suppositions of consciousness turned upon itself. In music the ability to reharmonize melody, steal time (rubato) and imply realms beyond physical scope. Kindness. Exploring Heraclitus’ thesis that all things are reflected in all things. The hunger for truth, beauty and goodness. Sister Wendy.
We live in cataclysmic times, for all I know analogous to all preceding ages. What is unknown to me so overwhelmingly eclipses what is known that my fate is to be inured to the idea that uncertainty is somehow requisite to continuity. I accept. I am human for a blink, a moment in an infinite progression. My moment too is subsumed in eternity and, being part, reflects its whole — harbors the DNA of the eternal — from micro to meta. So, even as a relatively infinitesimal particle I may intake my portion of the entire mystery of mysteries. If I am a moment, so am I eternal. Beyond cool.
And partnership…to host an intellectual life is a high privilege, to share such a life closely, transcendent, to make art of such sharing, nonpareil.
 
For readers new to your novels, which three would you recommend?
 
The Sacred Band (book, e-book, audio book) Click Here.
 Outpassage (book, e-book) Read Outpassage
The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl (book, e-book). Buy
 
How important are reviews to you?  For marketing?  For sales?
 
Reviews are Rorschachs of their writers, offering subjective accounts of questionable exposure to some work or other. The substance of reviews is of most interest to other reviewers. Although taken for marketing currency, reviews are seldom value added. Creators inevitably fail to accurately calculate the effect of reviews on sales because the study of the relationship is an inexact science at best, at worst an obsession stymieing their creative efforts for lack of prudent allocation of attention.
 
Now advertising is a little different….
I would like to thank Chris Morris for this famously insightful and encouraging interview.  It is good to know the human condition is not wasted on him- but rather seen as an opportunity to grow.  Bravo- Chris!  See everyone next time.  🙂Thanks for reading.Donny  
Chris’ Links: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/http://www.amazon.com/Outpassage-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00IDC1E84/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Fighters-Song-Girl-Sacred-Stepsons-ebook/dp/B007VQIJFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410294833&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fish+the+fighters+and+the+song-girlhttp://numberonemusic.com/christophercrosbymorris/https://www.reverbnation.com/christophercrosbymorris?profile_view_source=profile_boxhttp://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Knows-Christopher-Morris-Band/dp/B004GNEF3A/https://soundcloud.com/christopher-morris http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorrishttps://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings http://www.sacredbander.comhttp://www.theperseidpress.com/# http://www.facebook.com/christopher.c.morris.7?fref=ts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLqxH_Tx5VA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g79LZAgk8w https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EylzKQa4yghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCv4GA5W5eA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICAPn0E7NC0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SQFmxwfT7ghttp://www.amazon.com/Outpassage-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00IDC1E84/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=    Where to find Donny Swords stuff:   Donny Swords author ( Facebook )  (Blog) Primal Publications (Facebook )  (Blog) The Indie Collaboration ( web )   Novels & Links

Andrew P. Weston:Bestselling Talks About Author’s Favorites True Stories

first published at:  https://princessofthelight.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/best-selling-author-westonandrew-reveals-his-top-10-memories-scifi-perseidpress/

 

BEST-SELLING AUTHOR @WESTONANDREW REVEALS HIS TOP 10 MEMORIES #SCIFI #PERSEIDPRESS

 Hi, my name is Andrew Weston. I’m an author living in a cupboard under the stairs…? Sorry, the darn medication must be off again.  Truthfully? I like to spend my time fishing for dreams among the stars. I haven’t caught anything yet, so perhaps it’s time to change my bait?

Anyhow, as some of my readers will be aware, before turning my hand to writing, I experienced life’s rich tapestry as a specialist in the military, and later, as a police officer in a number of varied roles. Looking back over the years, I thought it might be fun to reveal my “Top Ten Memories” (Or, at least, those recollections I’m willing to share – hee hee).
They’re not necessarily in order, as I tried to group them together into little themes, but such experiences made me the person I am now, and in a strange way, have influenced my writing. See what you think…

 

  1. The birth of my first child: (Or indeed, all of my children, come to that). A tremendous experience that no father should miss…especially when you’re allowed to assist. A privilege I enjoyed for each of my little gems.
  2. Delivering a child: And it wasn’t one of my own! I’d only been in the police for several years and after serving in a city environment, moved to a rural station covering hundreds of square miles of forest. That’s when I came across a young couple who had broken down while driving to hospital for their first baby. Back seat of a car – no problem! (To be honest, mother did all the work – father did most of the sweating and pacing up and down, and I merely pretended it was just another day at work). And do you know what; they didn’t name the baby after me?
    (Just as well, it was a teeny-tiny girl). All together now, aaaaaah!
  3. Getting arrested: Seriously. As I progressed through my career, I worked undercover on a number of occasions. During a sting where I’d been placed among a gang of druggie thieves, a number of officers from out of area were brought in to assist in rounding up the dregs of society. They took one look at me and decided I was one of the most unsavory individuals they’d ever seen, and I was the first one they jumped on. Those fur-lined cuffs really pinched. Ah – happy times.
  4. Throwing myself out of a perfectly good airplane: Not too much to say here as so many other guys in the military have done a similar thing. But the sense of freedom you get on the hill…ah, there’s nothing like it.
  5. Getting shot: Staying on a military theme. Top tip: not recommended. And while I appreciate the fact you have to expect it when you join the military – and especially in the kind of role in which I served – it’s a bit of a bummer when it actually happens to you for the first time. (A true “protruding bottom lip moment” if ever there was one).
  6. Discovering I am immune/resistant to the euphoria opiates are supposed to instill: What can I say? I’m one of those quirks of nature. Following a serious injury – mentioned above – and later episodes in my life, I have been hospitalized on a number of occasions. Try what they might…morphine, codeine, tramadol, fentanyl, doctors could find a lot to help. I didn’t get high; it barely reduced the pain; and really, all I took away from the experience was constipation, itchy rashes and bathmat tongue. (No wonder I ended up working undercover on certain departments, eh?)
  7. My mom, the drug cultivator: See how this continues a pharmaceutical theme? While I was serving in the police, I’d pop home to Birmingham, in the UK, to see how my parents were from time to time. On one occasion, my wife and I arrived late on a Friday evening, and after a meal, went to bed.
    So you better understand the setting, you should know my mom owned an antique restoration business and used to live above the premises itself. While this meant she had no front garden – as that was given over to customer parking – she had a rear courtyard, in which she used to grow plants and cuttings she’d collect while out on countryside walks.
    So, there I am, Saturday morning, bright and early. I take a cup of tea out into the rear courtyard, sit down, and as I’m raising the cup to my lips, come face to face with one of the healthiest cannabis plants I’ve ever seen.
    What the flip-flop?
    Managing to swallow a mouthful of tea without choking, I put my mug on the floor, lean forward and actually pinch myself. It can’t be? Yes it is. NO! It can’t be?
    I examine it for the umpteenth time, and eventually accept the inevitable truth.
    ..you little par-tay minx!
    So, then I’m thinking…how they hell do I slip this into the conversation naturally?
    Anyway, about half an hour later, mom gets up; makes her own tea; dawdles out into the yard, whereupon I join her on the bench and compliment her on her green fingers and say how nice the makeshift garden is looking. I point at one or two shrubs and bushes, and ask her a little bit about them, and gradually work my way toward exhibit ‘A’.
    “So, when did you get that particular plant over there?”

“Oh that?” she says, “I was out walking Ben – the dog – up Haldon Woods. He ran off into the undergrowth, and when I went to find him, I spotted a whole load of them in a glade. I liked the shape of the leaves so took a cutting to bring home.”

“You liked the look of the leaves, eh?” I say, wondering where this will go.

“Yes,” mom replies, “I was hoping they’d have flowered by now so I could see what color the petals are.”

I start laughing. She asks me what’s so funny, so I explain, “Well, you’re gonna be out of luck. By now, the leaves would normally be drying and ready for rolling.”

“Eh?” And I’m glad to see she appears genuinely puzzled.
“Mom…how can I put this? People don’t normally grow these for their pretty flowers. They’re more interested in smoking the leaves?”

“Eh?” she mumbles again.

“That’s a cannabis bush.”

“A what?”

“Cannabis. Weed. Ganja. An honest-to-God, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred pounds and go directly to jail, cannabis bush.”

“Don’t be so ****ing stupid,” she spluttered, “It can’t be drugs. They were growing wild in the middle of the forest.”

(I know…sigh)

“In a glade, off the beaten track, right?”

“Yes,” she replies indignantly, “so there’s nothing suspicious about them.”

….How I wish you could have listened in on the conversation….
Long story short? I quickly put her right about the tricks of the trade many drug dealers employ to grow their wares, and ensured the drugs were properly disposed of. (And no sitting round in circles and inhaling deeply was involved)

  1. Climbing my first mountain: See? I’m still talking about getting high…the connections abound in this top ten:)

monte-rosa-02
1983 – Monta Rosa, Switzerland

A truly exhilarating experience and something that gave me the climbing bug.

  1. Getting naked when I shouldn’t: Intrigued? Well, I had to attend hospital for a follow-up surgery for one of my injuries – this one, to my left shoulder.
    Those of you who have also been in a similar position know the score. You go into a little waiting cubicle. You’re told to take off your clothes, place them in a locker, and put on the items laid out for you on a chair. (In this case, hospital slippers and robe) Somewhat Spartan, but what can I say. The NHS is struggling.
    When the operating team was ready, a nurse came to get me, and escorted me through to the preparation room.
    I walk in there – everyone’s busy preparing for the op – and as they go about their business, one of the surgical staff says, over their shoulder, “Just take off you robe and wait over there.”

I thought…hello? But then I reasoned, well, they obviously know what they’re doing, and they’ve seen it all before.
So I took off my robe and stood there like a peacock, proud and defiant…until one of the nurses turns round, spots I’m naked, and let’s out a yelp of surprise… “Oh my God, where’s your gown?” (You know – the paper-thin tie-up pinafores that shows your butt to the world)

Bemused, I replied, “What gown?”

“The gown in the changing cubicle.”
“There wasn’t any gown in the changing cubicle,” I tried to explain, by now, strategically gesticulating so as to hide my morning glory, “I was told to take off my clothes and put on the stuff placed out on the chair.” Pointing desperately, I made sure to emphasize, “That’s the slippers on my feet and that robe draped over the counter…” Then I added the punchline…”I thought it a bit strange you’d want me to be naked for a shoulder operation?” Ta-dah!

We laughed.
They got me a gown.
We laughed again.
Then they put me out, and I’m sure, talked about it and laughed even more while I was unconscious. Sigh – good times.

  1. Getting set up on a blind date: Some of you might know the score. Friends phone you up out of the blue and invite you out. You turn up. Several other couples are also “mysteriously” in attendance, along with a cunningly arrange single lady whose been fooled by the lies they’ve told about you. Ha!
    Well, I’m actually very glad that happened, as that’s how I met my wife.

And here we are on our wedding day…

DSCF0681
See, all you romantics out there…Blind dates can work😉

 

(Apologies for the state of the photo – but it’s reproduced from an actual picture)

 

So, there you go. A Top Ten that’s a little bit different. But, when you think about it, it’s still “author related” as it’s often said – Write What You Know.
Having experienced quite a few things most people never get to see and do – and having had a great deal of fun along the way – I can dip into those various episodes and “relive them” through the pages of my work. When you’re able to add those little details of what a certain episode feels like, sounds like, tastes like, the transformation it creates to your interpretation of the fictional environment adds that depth of perspective that plucks your scene from the page and places it where it belongs: alive and kicking, within the imagination of your reader.

 

IXExordiumLARGE

 

Perhaps you’ve spotted that as you read The IX Series or Heroes in Hell? I do hope so, as it makes the effort I put into my work all the more worthwhile.

 

Anyway, that’s it for now. Next time? My top ten tips regarding personal grooming and the washing of shaved heads. See you then.

Andrew Weston

 

Author Biography:

Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestsellers, The IX, and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with two of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for http://Astronaut.com  and Amazing Stories.

 

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/

Publisher: Perseid Press

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WestonAndrew

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-P-Weston-Author/102335216581151?ref=hl

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/andrewweston/

Andrew P. Weston Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/

The IX Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/

Hell Can Be … Fun!

Weston’s Hell Bound- Hell can be fun!  First published in the web by Seth Lindberg: http://www.selindberg.com/2016/07/westons-hell-bound-hell-can-be-fun.html

Hell BoundHell Bound by Andrew P. Weston
S.E. rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Grim Reaper will lead your through a wacky, dark Hell
In Andrew P. Weston’s Hell Bound, our protagonist and tour guide into Hell is Daemon Grim: he’s a snarky bounty hunter, Satan’s right-hand man for reining in the damned. Grim is so impressed with himself that it takes a while to realize that he may, like everyone in Hell, may actually be subject to being played.

Grim was introduced to the Heroes in Hell series in the previous installment,Doctors in Hell. In short story form there, he was tasked to retrieve Dr. Thomas Neill Cream who had escaped topside. Doctors in Hell is an anthology,an enjoyable introduction to Hell which serves as a great entry point to the series. Heroes in Hell is a long, sustained series, but Doctors and Hell Bound confirm that anyone can hop along and enjoy the ride from any stop (it is always a good time to go to Hell). Reading Doctors will help the reader appreciate the full novel Hell Bound, but doing so is not necessary.

For new readers, I summarize the Heroes in Hell milieu. It is a fantastical place built from myths and religions—so do not expect Tolkienesque elves or dwarves. The primary realm explored is called Juxtapose, which is a satirical mirror of our earth’s cityscapes (the Seine river featured as “Inseine”, Paris called Perish, the Eiffel Tower represented as the Awful Tower, Facebook is called Hatebook… which sadly seems too appropriate…). Since time has little meaning in Hell, beings from past and present meet and scheme (i.e., Tesla and Chopin). There are other realms beyond Juxtapose connected with ethereal gateways. All are populated by beings being tormented and try to outwit Satan or their comrades. Even Erra, the Akkadian plague god, has visited Hell to torment Satan. No one is safe! It is a splendid, wacky place that works well.

Having recently read Doctors, I was intrigued with the Heroes In Hell world. I wanted to experience it more but needed a tour guide. Daemon Grim did so in entertaining fashion. I wanted to “see” how the Undertaker refreshed the damned as they underwent subsequent deaths; I wanted to experience more odd-ball pairings of historical figures struggling to complete their life’s missions; I wanted my tour guide to have some depth, even if he was unaware of it. The story is a bizarre cat-versus-mouse hunt, with Grim chasing Cream through very dark realms, upturning mystery after mystery. A scavenger hunt-like game ensues with beautiful, cryptic poetry that leads Grim further and further into a web of deceit. Antagonists are aplenty.

Hell Bound delivered. Andrew P. Weston did a superb job balancing the needs of a full length novel with the freedoms/constraints of a shared world usually expressed in short story form. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who enjoy a bit of dark adventure.

Estri of Silistra Interviewed

Originally published by  Library of Erana at: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/character-interview-number-thirty-eight-estri-of-silistra/

Character Interview Number Thirty-Eight – Estri of Silistra

Name (s) Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi

Age: Three hundred forty Silistran years old

Please tell us a little about yourself.

First, I must say that your language is difficult, not one intuitive to me. Nevertheless I shall try to answer you in your own tongue. Excuse my syntax, and I will tell you what I can.

Once I ruled the greatest house of pleasure in the civilized stars. When I reached my majority of three hundred years, I undertook a quest to find my father at the behest of my dead mother. So I left my position as Well-Keepress in my beloved Astria, and nothing has been the same for me since. All I thought I knew, I now question. So many truths proved false, so many assumptions groundless, so much love lost and found. I have greater powers now than I once did, but wisdom can triumph over power, and color all life anew.

I have been many things: aristocrat, outcast, picara, slave, ruler. I have served powers greater than my own, and baser than my soul could stand. I have had everything, lost everything, and gained knowledge by seeking love along the way. Doubtless I am wiser now than when I began my journey out of Astria, having learned that true wisdom comes only to a loving heart. But where love lies, there hatred takes root, and envy, and fear, and dangers undreamt. And yet, love is the key to every mystery: to life and death and creation itself. For without love, what are we, but a brief glimmer seen against eternal night? Where are we in this combustible universe? What arms hold us safe? What we learn, exploring, brings us home to ourselves, to our own loves, our own hearts. Creation plays no favorites, seeking only change. Love can surmount all, I once believed as a naive girl, and believe it yet.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Copper-skinned, copper-haired, with a body to please the gods.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Silistra’s moral code I still hold as mine: my world was wrecked and sundered by unbridled lusts for power. We who remain must rebuild not only our population, but our faith that whatever man destroys, nature can put to rights . . . given time.

Would you kill for those you love? I have done so, and killed that I myself survive.

Would you die for those you love? Would that I had the chance. To die for something is an honor.  To die for nothing is a cruelty greater than any other.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? Ha. You must not know my people, to ask such a thing. Some say my strengths are in my blood, that I was bred to this battle between the spirit and the flesh, between man and woman, between life ineffable and life everlasting, a battle begun long before I was born. Some say my coming was devoutly to be wished, and others say I and those who love me are travesties, a flaw in the natural order. I myself say that life and love are their own justification, where passion rules.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? What entitles you to know my heart, my mind, my soul? Shall I feed you platitudes, disarming truisms and children’s tales? Of my beloveds, you need to know very little, perhaps only one thing: “We are all bound, the greatest no less than the meanest,” as my lover says. I prize the sky and earth and every creature upon it with a love fierce enough to defeat even the foolishness of man.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I have whatever walks or crawls or slithers or swims, slinks or flies free in our air. We are part of our world’s nature, sometimes its victims, but never its masters. I have friends among the honest killers of the wild, for all kill to eat and thrive and risk their own lives so their offspring will survive. Sometimes I ride on the backs of those who roam the plains or stalk their prey, or live cheek by jowl with them; sometimes not. But they are not mine any more or less than I am theirs.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them. You haven’t the time to hear my story here and now. I’ve written some of it; look there to see my mother, my father, my lost child, my relations, deadly every one. My bloodline is old: to live so long, to prowl the universe and shower in star’s breath, my family well learned the wisdom of survival, when to destroy and when to succor.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behavior? How do you think it influences you? Where I live, some can survive for hundreds of years or more. When my mother bade me seek my father, she sent me on a trek more dangerous than my young and foolish self understood. Before then, I thought that men and women were put on the ground to reproduce, to conserve, not to destroy. To claim my heritage, I learned hard lessons — about the nature of life, and the degree to which we are all controlled by the wisdom of our sex. And thus did I blindly go forth to claim my inheritance, thinking all I had to do was ask and the universe would serve my pleasure. I learned otherwise, in the doing; that the world turns by a greater will than mine; that reality is the child of biology, that all things come into being by strife; these truths I learned by battling against men, against women, and sometimes against the gods themselves.

I learned many lessons about what men will do to win, and what women will do, and why. I learned that men who punish men and women lust to rule all; that women who punish men and women lust after dominion, and how dangerous both can be.

From childhood’s days to these, I have striven to keep my wits well about me, and shape my own fate.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. In my three hundredth years, I was known as the most beautiful and exotic courtesan in the civilized stars. I commanded a great price.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Silistra is a planet in the Bipedal Federate Group.  Our main exports are our life-extending serums. Our men, in their romance with machines and technology, warred until our planet and its ecology was all but destroyed and life on the surface became nearly impossible. One result of this war was that conception became very difficult, and those who could conceive a child had power. Then did our leaders develop the life-extending serum which gave us some hope of not becoming extinct.  For thousands of years, a few survivors languished in underground shelters, while women took power away from the men that had nearly destroyed us all.

When the time came that Silistrans could live above the ground, we instituted the Well system, where a fertile woman could come to find a man who could impregnate her, and the nature of our culture, under the guidance of our spiritual leaders, became life-conserving, rather than life-destroying.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behavior. On Silistra, some believe in gods, some are descended from gods, some meet with gods, face to face. Whether or not we believe in gods, the gods who made us take a hand in our fates. We are a culture that values those skills by which an individual mind can shape the future. Our dhareners, interpreters of the will of those gods who walk with mankind, guide our development by choosing our paths and making our laws.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I have been to places on Silistra that are thought mythical and mystical, where few outsiders have ever been; I have gone to the places where gods hold sway, and seen what few Silistrans have ever seen. I have traveled among the stars, and farther.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) On civilized Silistra, our government is controlled by our dhareners, our spiritual leaders, and by the Well-Keepresses, hereditary matriarchs, or by the cahndors, hereditary patriarchs. But our governments have no simple rule by the lowest common denominator as seen on other worlds, nor the rule by wealth, nor are we controlled by a theocracy as you will know the term. The composition of our high councils varies, depending on where one lives or travels. Like our government or not, it has kept us safe from the depredations of plutocracy and the tyranny of mercantilists and their machines. Some parts of Silistra are timocratic, some oligarchic, and some, such as the Wells, are controlled by a hereditary matriarchy or patriarchy.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?We are few, and some are black, brown, copper-colored, red or white. On Silistra, what is in the heart, the mind, and the bloodline determines status, not the color of skin.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Silistran myths are predominantly memories, from before the fall of man. My favorite is the legend of Se’keroth, and if you read my writings, you will see why.

We also have a divination system, called Ors Yris-tera, that guides some of us and helps us forecast the Weathers of Life.  But on Silistra, any legend that survives is a memory of truths from the past or a portent of the future. Or both.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? Most of us live without technology, as you know it, by choice. The off-worlders who visit try to seduce us with their machines of ease and speed, but we have lived upon and below the surface of a world ravaged by technology for too long to be fooled. True strength lies in the one’s mind and heart. If we wish to do more than a person should, the old weapons and tools of our fallen past still exist in our ‘hides,’ where those who lust for such things can still find them.

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

High Couch of Silsitra:         https://www.amazon.com/High-Couch-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01B1M1JBY/

The Golden Sword…………. https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Sword-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01FCMA7LM/
The Silistra Quartet consists of four books in chronological order:  High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. The first two books are now available in hardcover, trade paper, and e-book “Author’s Cut” editions from Perseid Press.  The final two books will be available from Perseid in 2017.

The Bantam and Baen editions of the Silistra Quartet are out of print.

Author name: Janet Morris

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://sacredbander.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
https://www.blackgate.com/2016/03/19/vintage-treasures-the-silistra-quartet-by-janet-morris/

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Andrew P. Weston on The Golden Sword

Andrew P. Weston reviews The Golden Sword on Amazon UK:

See the original review here:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3NXZ6A89FX83X/

5.0 out of 5 stars An epic series to rival Stephen Donaldson at his best, 31 May 2016
This review is from: The Golden Sword (The Silistra Quartet Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
The Golden Sword continues the exploration of moral dilemmas in a world populated by people whose philosophies and beliefs are very different to our own. A place where society’s main focus is on the restoration of their race’s genetic vitality and exuberance.
Reenter Estri – High Couch of Silistra. Having completed the “chaledra of the mother” – a journey to find her godlike father – Estri returns to Silistra under very different circumstances than when she left. At a whim – it would seem – she has been plucked from a position of reverence and power, and reduced to nothing more than a chaldless slave. But why?
Thus begins a voyage laden with intrigue and revelations, where we discover more, much more than petty politics and interplanetary shenanigans are involved. It would appear that even the Shapers – the creators of events and reality – have an interest in Estri’s future.
To reveal why would spoil what lies in store, but suffice to say, you will be drawn into the turmoils Estri faces; share them and experience them as if they were your own.
As I’ve often emphasized, my favorite reading involves stories that are as complex as they are involved; stories where the author takes the threads of their tale and weaves them over time into a rich tapestry of involved, mature dialect and stimulating plots; where the characters of the protagonists and antagonists are allowed to evolve through trials both subtle and challenging. (Stephen Donaldson – a true wordsmith of our times – springs to mind with his immortalized character, Thomas Covenant).
In “The Golden Sword” you have it all. Morris has created an epic series to rival Donaldson at his best and something that will make a welcome addition to any discerning reader’s bookshelf.
The Golden Sword, second novel in Morris’ Silistra Quartet, is available in digital editions as well as deluxe trade paperback and hardcover from Amazon and wherever fine books and digital editions are sold.
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The Golden Sword by Janet Morris, #2 in the Silistra Quartet

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Join us on Silistra, a planet where biology creates reality, and the war of the sexes never ends…

Janet Morris’ classic series, now available in new Author’s Cut editions from Perseid Press:  http://www.theperseidpress.com/?page_id=1558

The Golden Sword: Sui Generis

See the original Book Spotlight on Mage of Erana:  https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/book-spotlight-the-golden-sword/

“High Couch is a classic. It is also, so far as I know, sui generis. In a long life of writing and editing in which I have written nine books, edited more than two hundred and read thousands I do not know of another book like it, not even remotely. On one level it is an exciting sci-fi adventure. On another it is a sword and sorcery epic, and on yet a third it answers Freud’s famous question, “What do women want?” A brilliant woman has decided to give the game away, and guess what, feminists have attacked her for it
The writing style is heroic, but readable and fun. The characters are recognizable, the plot is satisfying, and the world it creates is like nothing you have seen before, but is still believable.

“It also contains what I consider the most erotic single sentence in all the thousands of books I have read, “Flesh toy, come here!” If that doesn’t set up a scene in your mind then you have no business reading fiction.

“I’m not going to give the plot away. I’m just going to recommend it. Highly.” — Jim (James Franklin) Morris, author of award-winning bestseller, War Story and Vine Voice reviewer.

Book Spotlight – The Golden Sword

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Book – The Golden Sword – Book II of the Silistra Quartet

Janet Morris – fantasy, science-fiction, epic

 

Beginning in May 02 2015, after more than 30 years of print, the four volumes of The Silistra Quartet are being published in all-new Author’s Cut editions by Perseid Press, revised by Janet Morris.  The second of these, The Golden Sword, released in May 2016.

The Silistra Quartet is a series of fictional memoirs by the High Couch of  Silsitra herself, Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi. The books chronicle the adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe, The Silistra Quartet is Mythic Fiction, combining elements of science fiction and fantasy with mythology, metaphysics, and magical realism from a distant realm.

The Golden Sword

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

Overview: The Battle of the Sexes is never over…

She had the power to create planets.
The sixty carved bones of the Yris-tera foretold her ancient fate.
Her heritage of power took her beyond time and space and stole from her the
one man she loved.

Enslaved on the planet Silistra tomorrow’s most beautiful courtesan unleashes the
powers of the gods.

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Overview:  High Couch of Silistra:  Biology dictates reality

One woman’s mythic search for self-realization in a distant tomorrow…

Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.

Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.

Praise for the Silistra Quartet:

“Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.” – Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine

“The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe” – Frederik Pohl

“To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time. The best single example of prostitution in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series. […] Each the books exhibits a consciousness its form as an historical autobiography; the author appends glossaries for each novel and includes prologues, epilogues, biographical sketches, and copious notes to guide the reader into a better grasp of the mult-levels of the work, […]  To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time.  — Anne K. Kaler, The Picara From Hera To Fantasy Heroine

FOR ADVENTUROUS READERS ONLY
“Long ago the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that centuries later the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children . . . and their social order is based on their fertility and sexual prowess.
On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control: the High Couch of Silistra.” — Jim Baen, publisher, Baen Books.

 

“The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series… Estri’s character is most like that of Ishtar who describes herself as “‘a prostitute compassionate am I’” because she “symbolizes the creative submission to the demands of instinct, to the chaos of nature …the free woman, as opposed to the domesticated woman”. Linking Estri with these lunar and water symbols is not difficult because of the moon’s eternal virginity (the strength of integrity) links with her changeability (the prostitute’s switching of lovers). […] Morris strengthens the moon imagery by having Estri as a well-keepress because wells, fountains, and the moon as the orb which controls water have long been associated with fertility, […] In a sense, she is like the moon because she is apparently eternal, never waxing or waning except in her pursuit of the quest; she is the prototypical wanderer like the moon and Ishtar. She is the eternal night symbol of the moon in opposition to the Day-Keepers […] At her majority (her three hundredth birthday), she is given a silver-cubed hologram letter from her mother, containing a videotape of her conception by the savage bronzed barbarian god from another world. […] If Estri’s mother then acts as a bawd, willing her lineage as Well-Keepress to her daughter, then Estri’s great-grandmother Astria as foundress of the Well becomes a further mother-bawd figure when she offers her prophetic advice in her letter: “Guard Astria for you may lose it, and more. Beware of one who is not as he seems. Stray not in the port city of Baniev …look well about you, for your father’s daughter’s brother seeks you”. Having no brother that she knows of does not stay Estri from undertaking the heroic quest of finding her father.” – Anne K. Kaler, The Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine.

A transcendent review of The Sacred Band

We love this review by Jim (James Franklin) Morris so much we feel compelled to share. A review from a real warrior, war correspondent, award winning author, does not appear every day.  If you’re not familiar with Jim (James Franklin) Morris’ outstanding accomplishments, read this Amazon bio:

Jim Morris (James Franklin Morris) :  Jim Morris served three tours with Special Forces (The Green Berets) in Vietnam. The second and third were cut short by serious wounds. He retired of wounds as a major. He has maintained his interest in the mountain peoples of Vietnam with whom he fought, and has been, for many years, a refugee and civil rights activist on their behalf.

His Vietnam memoir War Story won the first Bernal Diaz Award for military non-fiction. Morris is author of the story from which the film Operation Dumbo Drop was made, and has produced numerous documentary television episodes about the Vietnam War. He is author of three books of non-fiction and four novels. He has appeared on MSNBC as a commentator on Special Operations.

 

Now, here is Jim’s review of The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris:  http://www.amazon.com/review/R3J14RSVNACDDL/

5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Case for Reincarnation, April 5, 2016
“This review is from: The Sacred Band (The Sacred Band of Stepsons) (Kindle Edition)

This book makes a terrific case for reincarnation. Not that reincarnation is a theme, it’s just that I find it hard to believe that it was researched in a library. I find it much easier to believe that the authors have an intimate familiarity with the world of The Sacred Band through repeated lives as both man and woman, warrior and sorcerer/sorceress. Some of what I love about it is that the warriors seem like the warriors I know, even though they are from thousands of years earlier. Supernatural happening abound, but they don’t seem made up; they seem perfectly natural, and the supernatural beings have the same kinds of personality quirks as the rest of us.

tempus thales six books

Perseid Press editions of the Sacred Band’s adventures in Sanctuary and Beyond…

“I can’t say enough good about the prose. It’s perfectly suited to the story in word choice and in rhythm. It wouldn’t be better suited if it were written in heroic couplets, but even so it’s a smooth and facile read.
“I do have one problem. Daily life kept dragging me into the mundane world and out of the one I had chosen to inhabit for as long as I could. I know there’s a prequel out there somewhere, probably Thieves World, and I’m going to find it.

“If you like adventure and magical realism I know of no place where better is to be found.”

To learn more about The Sacred Band, capstone in the Sacred Band of Stepsons series, you’ll find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere in hardcover, deluxe trade paper, digital format, and an audio book edition on Audible.com.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/
Water Rhein's interview with Janet Morris about her novels, stories, and everything

Professor Baker reviews High Couch of Silistra

Read Professor Baker’s original reviews of High Couch and other fine books at:  https://profesorbaker.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/bookreview-asmsg-high-couch-of-silistra-the-silistra-quartet-book-1/

#BookReview #ASMSG High Couch of Silistra (The Silistra Quartet Book 1)

One woman’s mythic quest for self-realization in a distant tomorrow…

Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.

Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.

“Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.” – Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine

“The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe” – Frederik Pohl

“The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series… Estri’s character is most like that of Ishtar who describes herself as “‘a prostitute compassionate am I’” because she “symbolizes the creative submission to the demands of instinct, to the chaos of nature …the free woman, as opposed to the domesticated woman”. Linking Estri with these lunar and water symbols is not difficult because of the moon’s eternal virginity (the strength of integrity) links with her changeability (the prostitute’s switching of lovers). […] Morris strengthens the moon imagery by having Estri as a well-keepress because wells, fountains, and the moon as the orb which controls water have long been associated with fertility, […] In a sense, she is like the moon because she is apparently eternal, never waxing or waning except in her pursuit of the quest; she is the prototypical wanderer like the moon and Ishtar. She is the eternal night symbol of the moon in opposition to the Day-Keepers […] At her majority (her three hundredth birthday), she is given a silver-cubed hologram letter from her mother, containing a videotape of her conception by the savage bronzed barbarian god from another world. […] If Estri’s mother then acts as a bawd, willing her lineage as Well-Keepress to her daughter, then Estri’s great-grandmother Astria as foundress of the Well becomes a further mother-bawd figure when she offers her prophetic advice in her letter: “Guard Astria for you may lose it, and more. Beware of one who is not as he seems. Stray not in the port city of Baniev …look well about you, for your father’s daughter’s brother seeks you”. Having no brother that she knows of does not stay Estri from undertaking the heroic quest of finding her father.” – Anne K. Kaler, The Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine

“Long ago the human colonists of Silsitra waged a war so vicious that centuries later, the planet has not recovered.  Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birthrate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children… and their social order is based on fertility and sexual prowess. On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria, and holder of the ultimate seat of control:  The High Couch of Silistra.” — Jim Baen, publisher, Baen Books
High Couch of Silistra, by Janet Morris, is a superb book. It is Book One in the Silistra Quartet. The other books in the series are: The Golden Sword (Book 2), Wind From The Abyss (Book 3), and The Carnelian Throne (Book 4).
      
First, let us begin at the beginning, and therefore place Book One in its historical context before looking at the current edition:

Returning Creation is the alternate title for High Couch of Silistra, the first book in the Silistra quartet, by Janet Morris. Published in 1977 byBantam Books, High Couch of Silistra was the debut title of her writing career. It was one of the first science fiction/fantasy books to include bi-sexual/pan-sexual characters and erotic themes. The series went on to have more than four million copies in print and was also published in French, Italian and German.

Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine, is quoted on the Baen Books reissues of the series as saying, “Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure,” andFrederik Pohl is quoted there as saying “The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe.”

High Couch of Silistra front cover.jpg

1977 Edition

Blurb: “The original human colonists of Silistra nearly destroyed their planet in a war so vicious the populace had to go into underground shelters for centuries and, even many centuries later, the planet has not recovered. Infertility is one of the worst problems facing the planet’s populace—thanks to the fallout of that deadly war. The women of Silistra are treasured and have established Wells where the male population can attempt to create a child, if they are fertile.

In The High Couch of Silistra, Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control begins an epic adventure to discover her origins and save the dwindling population.”

High Couch of Silistra, 2015 Edition

The first thing we notice is the difference in image selection on the covers of the 1977 edition and the 2015 edition. I see the 1977 cover as an accurate reflection of female images from 1977 pop culture. This was when, for example, Jimmy Carter was inaugurated President, Elvis Pressly died, the original Star Wars, movie came out, the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner) won an Emmy award,and a poster of Farrah Fawcett in a revealing red one-piece bathing suit sold 5 million copies. Zeitgeist pure…

The 2015 cover, on the other hand, is more indicative of humanity’s shared cultural heritage. It is allusive to the Roman and Greek culture of antiquity, which is appropriate for the globalized world we live in today. The unifying characteristic in both cultures, therefore, is its ability to appeal to a wide and diverse audience of readers despite its apparent boundaries confining it to strictly adult reading material. Attracting over 4 million readers since its publication in 1977, it has transcended its borders and become a timeless classic. In other words, this is a must read.

What makes a classic? Theme, style, and impact are three answers I would give. The possibility of the extinction of the human race has always been a theme that concerns each generation of humanity. That would be the ultimate irony of our civilized world if future circumstancs were to result in the extinction of the human species. Therefore, a book which helps us to imagine just such a scenario is always going to draw the attention of a wide readership. It was true in 1977, and I am convinced it is still true in 2016.

Style: Janet Morris in all her books writes in a direct, engaging, and entertaining style. She draws the reader into the book, captures your attention, and then leaves you with no other option but to keep turning the pages. This book is no exception. From page one to page last, any book by master storyteller Janet Morrison is a delight.

Impact is just as important as theme and style. If a book is not able to make you have an emotional reaction to it, or identify with the characters, their trials and tribulations, their ups and downs as they search to overcome the cause of conflict in their lives, then you simply lay the book aside. And you forget it. A book must impact its readers if it wishes to be memorable, if it seeks a place on the bookshelf as a classic. Janet Morris’ High Couch of Silistra Series has long ago earned its place in this pantheon of timeless classics for adults.

To conclude, let me say that if you like adult reading material that is pleasurable on a number of emotional, intellectual and sensual levels, and superbly crafted, and with a timeless story, that will keep you turning the pages, then I highly recommend this book. 5 stars.

The Silistra Quartet: a comprehensive view

This article by John O’Neill originally appeared in Black Gate Magazine:

Vintage Treasures: The Silistra Quartet by Janet Morris

Saturday, March 19th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

High Couch of Silistra-small The Golden Sword Janet Morris 1981-small

In the last few weeks I’ve touched on a few tales of modern writers who didn’t make it — or at least, fantasy series that never got off the ground, and died after one or two hardcover releases without even a paperback edition. To switch things up a bit, today I thought I’d look at one of the most successful fantasy debuts of all time, a series that became a huge international hit with its first release, launching the career of one of the most prolific fantasy writers of the late 20th Century: Janet Morris’ The Silistra Quartet.

The Silistra Quartet began with Janet’s first novel, High Couch of Silistra, which appeared in paperback from Bantam Books in 1977 with a classic cover by Boris (above left). Although it was packaged as fantasy, High Couch was really science fiction, the far-future tale of the colony planet of Silistra, still recovering from an ancient war that left the planet scarred and much of the population infertile. With a dangerously low birth-rate, it’s not long before the human colonists of Silistra develop a new social order, with a hierarchy based on fertility and sexual prowess.

[Click the images for bigger versions.]

High Couch of Silistra received a lot of positive press attention, and Janet released the sequel, The Golden Sword (above right, cover by Bob Larkin), the following year. It outsold the first one, and her career was well underway.

All told, there were four volumes in what came to be known as The Silistra Quartet, all published as paperback originals by Bantam Books.

High Couch of Silistra (1977) — also published as Returning Creation (Baen, 1984)
The Golden Sword (1977)
Wind from the Abyss (1978)
The Carnelian Throne (1979)

Bob Larkin returned to do the cover for the fourth volume (below right). The cover artist for Wind from the Abyss (below left) was uncredited.

Wind from the Abyss-small The Carnelian Throne-small

Here’s the colorful description from the back of High Couch of Silistra:

Long ago, the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that, centuries later, the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children, and their social order is based on fertility and sexual prowess. On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control: The High Couch of Silistra.

When Bantam re-released the entire series in 1981, they hired artist Lou Feck — known for his standout work on the Star Trekpaperbacks, and his defining work on Robert E. Howard’s Kull paperbacks, among others — to produce four brand new covers. Here they are.

High Couch of Silistra-1981-small The Golden Sword 1981-small
Wind from the Abyss 1981-small The Carnelian Throne 1981-small

One thing I liked about the Feck editions was that they advertised the other volumes on the back, which made it easy to track down the entire series.

Wind from the Abyss-1981-back-small

I got to know Janet years later, and she was kind enough to answer my questions about the genesis of the series for this article. Here’s what she said.

High Couch was the first book I ever wrote and my first published work; the manuscript was my first draft, and the only change Fred Pohl request was one passage near the end and the addition of a glossary; that paperback original achieved a New York Times Sunday Magazine review.

On the basis of High Couch, Bantam bought the next three in the series when each was presented to them. The second book, The Golden Sword, outsold High Couch in its first edition. By the time the fourth in the quartet, The Carnelian Throne, was released, according to Bantam’s ads, they had over 4 million copies of the first three in Bantam print.

I hadn’t liked the Boris cover, so Bantam then did a second edition with covers by Lou Feck. My agent, Perry Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd, achieved many foreign language sales, including French, German, Italian, and several more. Based on Silistra‘s sales, my next trilogy, the Dream Dancer or Kerrion Space saga, went to auction in the U.S. and UK simultaneously and, now able to quit my day job, I was able to make my living as a novelist for over 20 years, until I withdrew from fiction writing in favor of nonfiction writing in the defense and internal security arena. I returned to fiction writing in 2010.

Janet also sent me an assortment of foreign covers. I don’t have space for them all (sorry Janet!), but here’s a sampling.

High Couch of Silistra - Bastei Lubbe 1987-small le trone de chair - Fr Cover-small
The Carnelian Throne Edelstein Thron - Bastei Lubbe 1987-small l'ere des Fornicatrices - Fr Cover-small

In the US, Baen re-released the entire series in 1984-85, once again with brand new covers, this time by Victoria Poyser. High Couch of Silistra was re-titled Returning Creation for the Baen edition.

High Couch of Silistra-Returning Creation-small The Golden Sword Baen-small Wind from the Abyss Baen-small The Carnelian Throne Baen-small

Here’s a collage of some of the English and foreign editions in the series:

Collage of Silsitra covers Bonadonna-small

The books were out of print for over 30 years… until Janet began reprinting them in brand new Author’s Cut Editions through Perseid Press, beginning with High Couch of Silistra in September 2015. Here’s the announcement for The Golden Sword, which Janet tells me will be available in digital format in May.

The Silistra Quartet-small

Here’s a closer look at the cover for The Golden Sword.

The Golden Sword Author's Cut Edition-small

See more details on the entire series at the Perseid Press website.

We’ve published two piece of fiction by Janet Morris and Chris Morris as part of our Black Gate Online Fiction line:

Seven Against Hell
An excerpt from The Sacred Band

Our previous coverage of Janet Morris includes:

The Perfect Prescription for Perdition: Doctors in Hell, edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris by Joe Bonadonna
Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters edited by Janet Morris, by Fletcher Vredenburgh
I, The Sun by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
A Mining Colony, a Blind Date, and a Ghostly Alien Hand: Outpassage by Janet Morris & Chris Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Love in War and Realms Beyond Imagining: The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Tribulations Herculean and Tragic: Beyond Wizardwall by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Caught Between Rebels and the Empire’s Blackest Magic: Beyond the Veil: The Revised and Expanded Author’s Cut by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Return to Thieves World in Beyond Sanctuary: The Revised and Expanded Author’s Cut by Janet Morris, by Joe Bonadonna
Heroic Fantasy with the Sharp Edge of Reality: The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, by Joe Bonadonna

Field Notes #2 from Heroika

Field Notes on Heroika:  Witness the Birth of Alchemical Warfare

HEROIKA1 New banner heroika_TChirezpromo

A guest post by S.E. Lindberg

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, the first in an emerging historical-fantasy series from Perseid Press, showcases seventeen perspectives on killing serpents from ancient to modern times. The forthcoming second installment, Heroika 2: Shieldless, likewise fuses mythological themes with adventure, this time by tracking unarmored heroes & skirmishers across time.

“Legacy of the Great Dragon,” my short story for Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, features the Father of Alchemy Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, Hermes was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his teachings to the living. One of the earliest known hermetic scripts is the Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. Within that, a tale is told of Hermes being confronted with a vision of the otherworldly entity Pymander, who takes the shape of a “Great Dragon” to reveal divine secrets. “Legacy of the Great Dragon” fictionalizes this Hermetic Tradition, presenting the Great Dragon as the sun-eating Apep of Egyptian antiquity. Hermes’s teachings are passed to humanity via an Emerald Tablet.

Heroika 1 Perfect promo 6&9

The actual Emerald Tablet (if it was indeed “real”) is arguable the most popular work of Hermeticism since its reveals the secret of transmuting any material’s base elements into something divine or valuable (gold). Many refer to the Tablet as being the philosopher’s stone, or the knowledge embodying it. In fact, the tablet no longer physically exists, but translations of it do. Sir Isaac Newton’s translation of the tablet’s inscription remains very popular, and undeniably cryptic.

Following the Emerald Tablet from Ancient Egypt into the Hellenistic age, the “The Naked Daemon” entry in Heroika 2 pits the mystic Apollonius of Tyana (deceased ~100 CE) against zealots who destroy what remains of the Alexandria Library. In life his principles had been aligned with those of the pacifist gymnosophists (a.k.a. naked philosophers); hundreds of years past his death, Apollonius finds himself reborn as a daemon empowered with Hermes’s Emerald Tablet. He observes the Roman oppression over pagan scholars and is challenged with an urgent need to defend knowledge. Will he rationalize war by unleashing the power of alchemy to do harm? Will he become an angel or demon? How will alchemy transform The Naked Demon?

heroika revised 1

 

For more on fiction inspired by alchemy by S.E. Lindberg, check out an article on the Mappae Clavicula or the author’s blog at S.E. Lindberg.

Read more about Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, at any of theses links:

http://www.theperseidpress.com/?mbt_book=heroika-1-dragon-eaters

https://www.blackgate.com/2015/06/16/heroika-1-dragon-eaters-edited-by-janet-morris/

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters is available from Perseid Press for Kindle, Nook, in trade paper and in an audiobook narrated by Rob Goll:   http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Eaters-Heroika-Volume-1/dp/B0193RZ4XI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1458244671&sr=1-1&keywords=heroika+1+dragon+eaters+audioHeroika

 

 

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