Is History the Agreed-Upon Lie: Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, Janet Morris, ed.

First published at: http://ishistorytheagreeduponlie.blogspot.com/2015/05/dragons-throughout-history-by-janet.html

Saturday, May 23, 2015

DRAGONS Throughout History by Janet Morris

Our “History as the Agreed-Upon Lie” began for the human species when we first painted animals on cave walls and left our hand-prints there; then in Mesopotamia  where we cut decorations into monumental stones as early as the 12th century BCE.  Were there ever dragons —  real ones?  Many cultures refer to them in myth and legend: some had legs; some but not all breathed fire; some lived in the ocean, others on  land; some flew.
So perhaps dragons hide deep in our racial memory, going back to the days when we were the size of German Shepherds and lethal beasts ruled sea and ground and sky. Did we ever eat them?  Today, the most fierce and proud of Western civilization’s professional warriors may refer to themselves as “snake-eaters”  — not because of their dietary preferences, but because of their strength, determination, and competitiveness.For more than thirty years I, with my husband Chris Morris and other like-minded folk, have been exploring the heroic ethos as did Homer in his day and Shakespeare in his:  not simply the “monomyth” of Joseph W. Campbell, but also heroism and anti-heroism as it has shaped our myth and cultures, and still does today.  In novels we like to read and love to write, history and myth and legend mix and reinforce and explain and articulate one another as only the written word can do.  Writers have depended on myth, legend, and history in disparate portions to create humanity’s greatest literature — the better the writer, the bigger the serving that writer gives us of history turned dramatic and allegorical.We live today in a time where anti-heroes are ascendant, which makes exploring the heroic ethos even more interesting.  Was Achilles an anti-hero?  Or a hero?  Homer blamed him, at the start of the Iliad, for the many souls his petulance sent down to Hades; later, when the Amazon Queen Penthesilea insists on facing Achilles in single combat at Troy, he warns her in a demeaning fashion, then kills her with one blow to her breastplate.  Then, taking off her helmet, he falls in love with her and  kisses her dead mouth on the battlefield in an undisguised act of necrophilia.  Humans are complex, have always been.  Homer, better than most, showed us the manifold nature of the heroic heart.

When we had a chance to develop a series for Perseid Press called
“Heroika,” anthologies, books designed to treat the heroic ethos
throughout human history, we jumped at the chance.  We called the first
of these anthologies, “Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters,” not expecting our
writers to take the “dragon eating” part seriously. But some of them
did.  Some even offered me olden family recipes… These story span
man’s recorded myths and legends of dragon hunting, from the third
millennium BCE and Hittite/Hurrian Myth of Illuyankas to tales of
magical realism set today and tomorrow. The men and women in these tales
include hero-cult figures such as Heros Equitans,  Rhesos of Thrace, who
preceded the myth of St. George and the Dragon yet embodied it, as well
as people who might live in your town, might have lived in your time, in
your grandfather’s time…. Heroika may yet present nonfiction articles
in subsequent volumes. This, the first
volume, relies solely on fictional tales… or does it?

So we ask you — no, better, we dare you to put aside your preconceptions and see what seventeen agile minds made of our call to duty as they each wrote a story about “Dragon Eaters” in human history, some about the men and women themselves, some about the myth, some about our racial memories.

Perseid Press specializes in writers who write dangerously for readers who read dangerously. In Dragon Eaters, people test themselves and their beliefs against forces of nature and hope to prevail with … the art of dragon killing:

Here’s a description of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, publication date May 25, 2015

“Dragons have been eating humans for centuries. Now heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe. Learn how to hunt, kill, and eat the wild dragon. Never before has revenge tasted so good. A literary feast for the bloody-minded.

In Janet Morris’ anthology on the art of dragon killing, seventeen writers bring you so close to dragons you can smell their fetid breath. Tales for the bold among you.

HEROIKA 1 — DRAGON EATERS, an anthology of heroic fiction edited by Janet Morris, features original stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, S. E. Lindberg, Jack William Finley, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, J. P. Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, A.E. Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth W. Patterson, Bruce Durham, Mark Finn.

Come explore your own ancient history with us, in Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters.  Live a little — read dangerously.

Donny Swords interviews Chris and Janet Morris’ on “The Black Sword” project

http://mishanoamy.blogspot.com/2014/11/chris-janet-morris-nine-heroes.html

Chris & Janet Morris: Nine Heroes interview 6

Chris & Janet Morris

Nine Heroes: 9 Questions

Interview 6

(Exploring Heroic Fantasy’s Nine Heroes.)

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While I have deep respect for all the talent possessed by authors in this round of Nine Heroes interviews, I must confess I have reverent awe for these masters.  Chris and Janet Morris exude unrivaled passion for heroes in literature,  They evoke the spirit of the men and women they write, whether it is in their undeniably brilliant Sacred Band Series, or in novels such as their Sci-Fi masterwork, Outpassage.

The Morris’ go far back in the writing world, and are worth checking out if you take nothing else from these interviews.  They have talent often wept for and dreamed over.

So what do they offer Nine Heroes?

The right to call itself an edition scribed by legends.

Never ones to go light, The Morris’ delivered Rhesos.  Black Sword is one of the main reasons I loved Nine Heroes.  This is legendary stuff, literally.  The ease in which this story brings the ancient hero to life is an appalling feat for lesser writers than Chris & Janet Morris.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

Black Sword by Janet Morris/Chris Morris

“Anyone who has read a Ways of the Stygia novel would know I love black steel. Regardless of the gods who forge it, it is a fascination of mine. Anybody who has read my blog would also have a comprehension of my respect for Janet & Chris Morris.
Here, armed with her new hero Rhesos, and he with his black blade, Janet Morris pierces the imagination, delivering a classic hero. The story was engaging. It smacked of brilliance. When I finished all I wanted was more.
Thank the gods there will be a full-length novel soon starring Rhesos, child of gods, red-haired, with a temperament that reminds me a little of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, or El Borak… the troubled adventurer who is more than meets the eye… a hero steeped in myths and substantially viable for the ages.


If you are a Morris fan, do not miss Rhesos’ first story.”

Describe your hero, or heroes.

The hero of The Black Sword is Rhesos of Thrace, in Greek mythology known as the youngest king to arrive at Troy to fight, a nearly forgotten hero today but a truly mythic warrior. Sources say Thracians of this period were often of “heroic” proportions, red-haired and blue eyed, so Rhesos has those traits. He was a horse-breeder as well as the king of Thrace, and wore gold-trimmed armor and bedecked his white horses’ harness with silver and their chariot with silver and gold. In our story, he is described as “more beautiful than daylight.”

Live beside heroes, click here.

The female protagonist (one cannot truly call her a hero) of the Black Sword is Salmakis, the water nymph or naiad who became famous for her seduction and attempted rape of Hermaphroditos. When we first see Salmakis, she is an ancient crone, but she doesn’t stay old for long. She has bargained secretly with the gods to release Rhesos from his silver-veined cave in Rhodope and send him to her, so she can use him to restore her youth and beauty. When he meets Salmakis, he is a lowly mercenary who has just fought on the Macedonian side in a losing battle. The morning after they tryst, the crone is nowhere to be seen but a lovely young girl gives Rhesos a new panoply of weapons, all made from of black metal “kissed by blood.”
Tell us about your character in 9 heroes.

Homer counted Rhesos among the great heroes in the Iliad. Other classical writers including Euripides and even later writers such as Shakespeare extolled him. In the Iliad, at Athene’s urging, Diomedes and Odysseus murdered Rhesos as he slept on the night he arrived at Troy with “thousands at his back,” for fear of the oracles that said if his horses drank from the Scamander and he fought the next day on Ilion’s battlefield, the Achaeans would lose the war. Upon his death, since Rhesos’ mother was Calliope and his father Strymon, the river god, the Muse Calliope appealed to the other gods to allow her to resurrect him and grant him immortality. She won the right, but the agreement confined him to an underground cave for centuries. A hero-cult grow up around him in that interval, Heros Equitans. In our story, he remembers little of his life before the cave, and begins piecing things together…

What type of setting did you place your story in?

Our story begins in ancient Chaetae in the 4th century BCE, between Mygdonia and Macedon, and soon moves to a Greek settle in Asia Minor, Dicaea, and northward as Rhesos tries to get home to Eion.

What inspired your story?

The stories of Rhesos and his hero-cult and of Salmakis, the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon, were stories we longed to tell. When the opportunity to create a new hero for Nine Heroes presented itself, Rhesos was the obvious choice:  a great mythic hero, cut down by treachery early in his prime, then immortalized. Combining a story of Rhesos post-resurrection and Salmakis, who could gift him with weapons made by Hephaestos by calling on a fellow nymph, was too perfect a chance to miss. This story also allows us to interweave other mythic beings and powers, including the Erinys Tisiphone and Athene’s priestess at Troy, Theano, as well as Calliope and Pallas Athene (First to Fight) herself.

Is your story a part of a broader work or series?

In the Sacred Band series, we had been working in the 1st century BCE culture and geography, so an epic set there was a good choice because we were conversant with Greek settlements in Asia Minor. This story may be read as beginning in the Mygdonia of the Sacred Band, but Rhesos does not encounter the Sacred Band of Stepsons in this story. Rhesos has his own fascinating mythos. The Black Sword is a mythic tale, partly historical if you credit recent research that uses an ancient solar eclipse in Homer’s Odyssey to pinpoint April 16, 1178 BCE as the date Odysseus returned to Ithaca. If that much of Homer is true, then we feel comfortable taking as true Homer’s tale of Rhesos’ death at the hands of Odysseus and Diomedes.

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Rhesos is a new hero for us with whom we are well pleased. We are currently working on a novel about him that begins with “The Black Sword” story, somewhat expanded, and goes fascinating places thereafter. We may well do more than one novel with Rhesos, but the book with the working title “Rhesos of Thrace: Black Sword” will be a complete adventure of epic scope.

In four lines, tell us about your story.

Fleeing a battle he fought as a mercenary in service to Macedon, fighting deserters and brigands as he goes, Rhesos comes upon a smithy’s hut late at night and asks to buy equipment. The old woman there gives him shelter, food, and agrees to sell him weapons, but she’s disappeared in the morning, replaced by a comely girl who provides Rhesos with a black-iron panoply. Heading north, he comes upon a mercenary band encamped before the hilltop town of Dicaea and asks for work. The mercenary leader challenges him to single-handedly kill a monster threatening travelers in a nearby cave and bring back the monster’s head, giving him a horse and a guide to go with him to make sure he doesn’t abscond with the horse. In the cave, Rhesos confronts an Erinys, Tisiphone the Avenger, who offers him a deal involving a monstrous head….

Which, besides your own is your favorite story?

“The Act of Sleepless Nights” by Walter Rhein and “Just One Mistake” by A.L. Butcher. Although very different, each story is character driven and those characters are memorable.

A Man and His God: A Sacred Band Tale

Release Date:02-12-13

Publisher: Perseid Press

An immortalized cavalry commander joins forces with the high-priest of the god of war…. Where myth meets legend, two men kiss and Tempus’ world changes forever. Meet and mourn the Slaughter Priest in “A Man and His God.” In this canonical short novel, the Sacred Band begins when Abarsis, Slaughter Priest, brings his Sacred Band to Tempus and dies in his arms. In this pivotal story, the Sacred Band is formed from love and death….

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How many of the other authors in Nine Heroes have you read?

We read the entire book, each story in order.

Would you make another anthology with Heroic Fantasy?

We look forward to the opportunity.

A sample of Rhesos from Thrace.

“Rhesos of Thrace”

The Black Sword

(copyright (c) 2013, 2014,

Janet Morris and Chris Morris:
Somewhere an owl hooted. Out of the night a bat came at him, then veered off, drawn by the smell of his blood but not bold enough to tackle anything as big as he and still moving. Not yet. His shoulder muscles ticced, remembering too many vampire bats and too many
teeth tearing at him in his gloomy cave.If the bat came back, he’d need to draw his dull and tacky blade again. He was a good killer of bats; he’d had lots of practice, underground.
But no bat dove at him again until he nearly reached the lighted hut. No cave, this. He’d lived in a cave long enough to know one when he saw one. He was relieved: if not a cave, then not a ruse
to pen him up again in some hoary underground prison. This place looked tumbledown, ramshackle and . . . real enough: a simple hut of wood and stone with one window, a closed door, a darkened shed that smoked from a banked fire within, and a fenced area between.

When the bat swooped once more at him, he instinctively yelled and drew his weapon. Or tried to: his sica’s blade hitched and caught so that he grasped hard with both hands, one on his hilt and one on the scabbard, to tug it loose. By then the bat was gone, but he’d made enough noise that the door to the hut swung open.

A stooped figure stood there, barely clad and backlit: “I’ll not surrender without a fight, mind you.” A woman’svoice, speaking common Attic, reedy and laced with laughter; a small shape, bent forward, withered arms akimbo: “And you’ll be needing what, this time of night, proud warrior?”

Teasing, now, was this ancient crone. He’d cast aside his leather mantle and armor; lost his helmet, quiver and bow,knife, shield, and javelins, whilst he’d fled that battleground of wicked haze and ghosts. So he was no better garbed than she, in only tattered chiton with sica girt. On her threshold, he realized he was shivering.
Two strangers, alike in prospects, with little to lose and little to gain, took each other’s measure silently until Rhesos answered her: “I’m looking for shelter, food, and better weapons.”
“Better weapons in the morning, if you can pay. My husband owns the only smithery you’ll reach afoot within a day’s journey, but you’d know that. And I yet do a bit of leatherwork and weaving. The rest –– food and shelter –– you’ll get if I like the look of you, the sound of your name . . . and your money.”
“Rhesos of Thrace, from north of Thessalia, southwest of Great Scythia.” Only the smallest of lies, close enough to truth for a northern boy raised by fountain nymphs; a youngling king who’d arrived too late to fight at Ilion and lost his men and horses there. He wasn’t about to explain how he’d come here, since he was hardly certain where here was: He’d been born in Eion, but common folk called every place north of Macedon either Thrace or Scythia. He jingled the coins in his purse instead.

“I can pay.”
“Then you’re lucky. You’ll not be my enemy, but my guest. We in Chaetae have no quarrel with Thrace. Come in and eat, and I’ll find you one of my husband’s sheepskins to chase the cold from you.”

So this was Chaetae, some backwater between Mygdon and Macedon.
“Of all I’ve been, I’ve never been lucky. Until now, little mother.” He could still turn a phrase and lift a skirt when the occasion demanded, even a skirt as old and filthy as hers smelled.
“New days come then, Rhesos of Thrace.”
The stringy-haired crone retreated into her hut, beckoning him to follow.
Warmth waited in there, and food with aromas that made his mouth water –– and safety for a single night seemed tantamount to safety forever.
“Where is your husband?”
“He’s away somewhere,” said the crone, piercing-eyed, and smiled a long-toothed smile while she looked him over as if she’d pinch his buttocks next…

In closing, I want to thank Chris and Janet for their patient mentorship and invite you to read their individual interviews found on this blog. This has been a tremendous string of interviews.  Don’t be afraid to grab a copy of Nine Heroes, it is a distinctive read.

Thanks for reading this article.  Feel free to post feedback in the comments section below.

Donny

Janet Morris and Chris Morris’ Roundtable Podcast part 1

New podcast with Janet Morris and Chris Morris:
http://www.roundtablepodcast.com/2014/10/20-minutes-with-janet-and-chris-morris/

Dave Robison of Roundtable Podcast says:

This week’s “20 Minutes With…” segment isn’t.

20 Minutes, that is.

Why? ‘Cause when you get the opportunity to sit down with your literary heroes, you don’t hold yourself to petty things like temporal constraints.

I and the exceptional Michael R. Underwood sit down for an incredible conversation with Janet Morris and Chris Morris, creators and editors of the “Heroes in Hell” series, numerous Thieves World tales featuring the cursed immortal Tempus Thales (whose adventures are continued in The Sacred Band of Stepson’s series), and more marvelous speculative fiction than can be listed on Wikipedia.

Seriously… there’s never been a conversation like this on the RTP before. DO NOT miss this episode.

We’ve had some amazing authors Guest Host the RTP, astonishing creators who’s ideas ring through genre fiction and the SpecFic community.

But I’ve never interviewed one of my heroes before.

The fiction of Janet Morris and Chris Morris (“Heroes in Hell”, “Thieves World”, and more) has been a fundamental influence on my taste and aesthetic in genre fiction and having them on the show was an unparalleled delight.

I knew I’d never be able to do it alone, so I was hugely grateful when Michael R. Underwood agreed to co-host the show with me. Between the two of us, we engaged in (waaaay more than) 20 minutes of incredible discourse with these eloquent storytellers, discussing the symmetry of music and story, the resonance of the craft of fiction and non-fiction writing, and how to “ascend from the pit of self-doubt into the light of self-knowledge and mastery”.

This is one episode you DO NOT want to miss.

http://www.roundtablepodcast.com/2014/10/20-minutes-with-janet-and-chris-morris/

Janet Morris and Chris Morris interview on the collaborative process in literature

Originally published in Uviart.  Thanks. Uvi Poznansky, for this incisive interview

http://uviart.blogspot.com/p/guest-interview.html

Guest

Interview about Collaboration:
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.”
with
Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Authors of
And more books
So said Shakespeare’s Polonius of Hamlet, in Hamlet. So say Janet Morris and Chris Morris, lifetime collaborators in words, music, and strategy. I cornered this elusive pair to ask some hard questions about how they do what they do, and why.
Janet and Chris, writing is known to be a solitary art. How do you two manage to write seamlessly together, so much so that no one can tell which of you wrote what?
Uvi, Apropos of collaboration, Shakespeare’s Touchstone said in As You Like It, “We that are true lovers run into strange capers.” As Chris and I often do.
But first let us give you our view of collaboration as an art form. For centuries, two or more people have been collaborating on written works under one person’s name. History is rife with collaborations, announced and unannounced.
Some examples? Shakespeare had several close collaborators, none so famous in his own right as Christopher Marlowe, who seems to us to have been his closest collaborator, due to similarity in each man’s work and style. We’ve written of these two collaborating in various tales in our Heroes in Hell series. J, the Yahwist, first writer of the Old Testament, also had many collaborators. Even before Biblical times, collaboration was common: the Greek mythic cycles were written not only by Homer, but by many writers; whether these collaborators wrote at the same time, or followed one another, is immaterial: these were true collaborations. As literature became a business, not merely an art form for the collective memory of the human race, the custom and marketing strategy of putting one — almost always male — name on a work became an unwritten convention, pushing anonymous contributors into the background. Yet they often can be found, peeking out from history’s shadows, unsung and influential.
But these questions are about us, collaborating today: while we’re alive, we can answer what questions we choose, rather than leaving posterity to wonder; be as forthcoming as we wish about life and love and art. For us, life and love and art are one. We have always written together, first song melodies and lyrics, later novels — but always with one of us taking the lead, the other in support. In our early days, Janet supported Chris’ music, and Chris supported Janet’s prose. Since we met in 1966, we spent years smoothing the rough edges of our collaborative process, learning to focus on the art in question, not the artist, and thereby improving both. If we write seamlessly, it is because we deliberate about every thought, every phrase, every word, every rhythm, yet strive never to lose the shape of the initial conception. Our prose is rhythmic, our plots inventive, our song lyrics carry messages because we are keenly aware that a person has only so much time in life, and must use that time wisely.  When we begin a new piece of prose or piece of music, we start with a clear idea of what that story or song must say. We vigorously weed out irrelevancies and polish our idea until it is bright, clear, shining in our hearts and in our minds. When writing prose, the mind’s eye is where the visualization first takes place; when we write music, it is the ear which first carries the message to the brain.
All art is communication of ideas. We have co-written op/eds and policy pieces for governments, strategic plans for military, academic, and industrial users, as well as fiction. Writing nonfiction has taught us when and how to be sparing of words. Chris has been the voice of a TV station and products as well as our music. Now we are exploring the close relationships between music and writing fiction by producing audio books. The Sacred Band (audio edition) took a year to complete. Because the story’s characters live deep in our hearts and first drew breath in the 20th century, we took great pains to ensure that the narration remains true to the characters, who have evolved over decades and millions of words. Narration is only one breath away from literary exposition.
For each art form, our process is the same: one of us begins the effort with a title, a musical passage, a topic or an idea, or a clearly-stated purpose. Once the title and the purpose of the piece are agreed, the process of perfecting story and rhythm — yes, even fiction should have its rhythms, its beats — is sometimes begun by one or the other. Often, when a day’s work is completed by one, the other adds a voicing, a suggestion, recognizes a lost facet or missed opportunity, clarifies whatever is unclear; changes are agreed, and at the end of the day, we are sitting together, reading or playing the work aloud and finishing what the morning began. In music or prose, we never continue drafting or recording a long piece of work until we’re both happy with what we’ve done previously. If later in the evolution of the piece an element needs to be included that was omitted or unrecognized in the work as we began it, we go back and make those changes. Some recent examples of this process can be seen in our Heroes in Hell series,
For instance, Chris began Babe in Hell (a story in Rogues in Hell) with the idea of a baby and Solomon reprising the famous Biblical story, albeit in Hell. To Hell Bent in Dreamers in Hell Chris immediately added the quip “And twice on Sadderdays.” Once we’d named the play which is the centerpiece of the story, Janet added the flayed skins of heroes to be used as props. But sometimes, in longer works, we can’t recall who authored what lines. In “Words” in Poets in Hell, working on the first paragraph, Janet asked Chris to supply the crucial word: “Words are the what? of the mind” Janet asked. Chris said “mortar.” So the line now reads “Words are the mortar of the mind.” And so it goes, a natural give and take, sometimes contentious, often strenuous, always fascinating.
Our process is not quick. We’ve taken years to do a book such as I, the Sun; we say The Sacred Band (TSB) took eighteen months, but if one includes the research and discussion time before the first word was written, TSB culminates years of effort to crystallize that story so we could then write it. In this way, we please ourselves, and have pleased many readers and listeners as well.
You who know our body of work are now wondering why one name appears on so many of the books or musical compositions. For now, suffice it to say that publishers think readers want a work crafted by an individual, preferably a male (unless the work is a romance or a book about women in society).
Now that you have told us how you write together, answer this harder question: Why?
Why write together? A collaborator provides perspective, a broader view; a universality that one mind, male or female, often cannot attain. For centuries such collaborations were known only behind the scenes:  the woman or man who was the editor, co-creator of ideas, first reader, was the power behind the throne, unnamed, a secret presence. So how do we decide whose name goes on a work when only one name appears? If one writer drives the work individually, or if a work is best read as the product of male or female, we so credit it. For this reason, we have several times used male pseudonyms when selling a book to a publisher for a particular market.
As you point out, the two of you haven’t always published with joint bylines. How did your first official collaborations come about?
Our first official collaborations in song music and lyrics preceded our collaborations in books and stories by about a decade. Although Janet received some writing credits on The Christopher Morris Band (MCA 1977) record album, and High Couch of Silistra was published under the byline ‘Janet Morris’ in that same year, not until 1984 was the first fantasy fiction story, “What Women Do Best,” published with the byline ‘Chris and Janet Morris’ in Wings of Omen, (Ace, 1984). And that occurred only with editor Bob Asprin grumbling that ‘now everybody’s going to want to do this in Thieves’ World®.’”
If Janet hadn’t been a canonical contributor to the series at that time, we wouldn’t have gotten permission for the dual byline. And sure enough, other spouses and collaborators long relegated to the background began appearing in Thieves’ World volumes and other places.
Subsequently, we signed a multi-book contract with Jim Baen, one of the caveats being dual authorship for some titles, but not all. We delivered those books, including The 40-Minute War, M.E.D.U.S.A, City at the Edge of Time, Tempus Unbound, and Storm Seed with dual authorship and Jim published them that way.
This in turn led to other joint book contracts, including but not limited to Outpassage (1988), Threshold (1990), Trust Territory (1992), The Stalk (1994), as well as several books by single-author male pseudonyms.
Nevertheless, publishers generally still wanted single male names on adventure or nonfiction or ‘serious books’ and female names on romance books, so the market continued to conform to its preference for single-writer bylines.
A book with the name ‘Janet Morris’ was still worth more to a publisher than a book with ‘Janet Morris and Chris Morris’ as listed co-authors. So we created male pseudonyms and these books commanded substantial advances in markets formerly closed to us. In the minds of publishers then, and perhaps readers, a story told by a single male was preferable, but even a tale told by a woman was preferable to a tale told by one woman and one man. We set our sites on this ox, and set off to gore it. And might have succeeded, as male/female co-authorship became more commonplace, but our brainchild “nonlethal weapons” intervened, taking us out of the fiction marketplace for nearly two decades. In that interval, Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, another writer at the literary agency which handles us, wrote War and Anti-war with his wife Heidi Toffler, insisting her name appear this time as co-author. The revolution had begun in earnest among writers with enough clout to enforce their wishes.
Do you believe that putting a man’s name or a woman’s name on a book effects who will read that book?
We experimented, as did other writers and publishers, with putting different names on books. Sometimes Janet wrote with other male or female writers, to see if the ‘Janet Morris’ brand could be transferred as publishers looked for ways to turn writers into franchises, as was done with Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, etc. But when a better writer is paired with a lesser writer, quality may suffer, and even honest writers trying to accommodate one another may lose the consistency of purpose, passion, and voice that a single writer or a self-chosen pair of writers can achieve.
The ‘brand name writer’ bias may then kick in, causing readers to buy only books written by the individuals or pairs of writers they already enjoy, not the franchised producers of subsidiary works or ‘as told to’ books.
As for the ‘gender’ bias in literature, at present this is still a real and strong force. Men looking for adventure fantasy or science fiction or military books are less likely to buy a book written by a woman; women with a strong allegiance to women’s rights and women’s issues are less likely to buy a book by a man or co-written by a man.
So the issue of whether a man’s name or a woman’s name goes on a book may be inextricably linked to subject as well as story, insight, and prose quality.
You’ve both written under single-author pseudonyms, always choosing a single male. Why did you do that? Do you still do it? If, so, why or why not?
We did this to break out of the science fiction/fantasy ghetto, into the mainstream, in days when those genres had a more limited market than today.
Do we still do it? No.
In actuality, our body of work allows us to write what we wish under either or both our names. For instance, we’re writing a novel about Rhesos of Thrace — as is our wont, this book has a Homeric feel, a purport that takes the Iliad for true, but focuses on a single character from that story and his later adventures. This book is a true novel — one part mythical realism, one part dark fantasy, one part heroic fiction in the literary sense, and one part a historical representation of the mythos of that character. We plan a new Sacred Band of Stepsons novel, which requires very specific voices and explores the hero-cult as a fait accompli, a subject fascinating us.
But if we were to undertake a contemporary story dealing with modern politics (sexual, racial, governmental and corporate), we’d consider writing such a book under a new male pseudonym, to allow us complete freedom of what we’d say and how we’d say it, because the truths behind these topics are brutal and unwelcome to those who think revisionist history will solve all the problems inherent in modern society and the human condition. Which condition is, of course, the only fit subject for fiction.
What are the benefits and debits of collaboration so far as process, not marketing, is concerned?
If a pair entering into a collaboration sets ground rules, defines story elements and shares a joint preoccupation with the characters, two hearts, two sets of eyes and two sets of ears impart an enhanced perspective, powering the creation of characters spun from utmost reality, characters perhaps more fully realized than a single mind might contrive to make them. In a pair made up of one male and one female writer, the native intelligence of both sexes is present in great measure, bringing a universal verisimilitude. The process of reaching truth and clarity for characters and story may have uncomfortable moments for one or both writers, but facing those places in the soul where one hesitates to look is the true purpose of fiction — to portray the world through a temperament (or two, or three).
What advice would you give to other collaborators about creating and marketing their joint works?
If two collaborators each have a previous body of work, then once both acknowledge parity, a new book can begin taking shape. If one writer is better known or better at structure or at lyric, then play to those strengths. Do not show this book to third parties, or discuss it with others until both writers are completely certain of every nuance, every line, every twist and turn of plot and psyche.
If two collaborators have no previous experience working with others, they must work harder to put aside their preconceptions and look at story and character honestly: success, not in the short term but for all time, depends upon the quality of every word. Make sure that both collaborators share the same goals. Define the story elements. Invoke the characters and be sure both agree who those characters are and what they represent concerning the story’s driving purpose.
Then begin, starting at the beginning. Create an adventure that two can share, and you will have created an adventure that the world can love.
Only when this first book is finished, no longer a fragile vision, but a full blown juggernaut of risk and beauty, show it to a publisher whose other publications attract you. If you both like what an editor or publisher has previously chosen, they may well decide to choose you.
Book Links:
Author Links:

“Hero up with the Sacred Band audio book: Listen. Like. Buy. Review. Share. http://thndr.it/1qNI36m”

“Life to you, and everlasting glory.”

Hero up with The Sacred Band

Join the Sacred Band of Stepsons.  Become a mercenary of the god of war. Fight for honor and freedom of  the human spirit. Heroes shape society. Meet ours. Become one of us.  Make the world better, one battle at a time. Learn what it means to say to others “Life to you, and everlasting glory.”

People share their hopes, their loves, their fears by listening.  The oral tradition changes humanity for the better. Change your fate with The Sacred Band:http//www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srImg?qid=1410452704&sr=1-1 . You can play your part by listening to the story of The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris on audio books available at Audible.com and Amazon, and recommending it to others.

“Hero up with the Sacred Band audio book by Janet Morris and Chris Morris: Listen. Like. Own. Review. Share. http://thndr.it/1qNI36m

Find The Sacred Band audiobook written by Janet Morris and Chris Morris at Audible.com, on Amazon, and at iTunes.

Chris Morris on voice acting, narration, the oral tradition in fiction, and narrating The Sacred Band.

Library of Erana interview:

Audio Book Narrator Interview one – Chris Morris

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As part of the interviews discussing all parts of reading, writing and enjoying great books today something new. Audio books.  Audio books have been around for ages – I have copies on cassette tape (yes remember those?) and one on CD but now most are MP3 and far easier to listen to than having to change the tape every 30 minutes!

As the first of these interviews I am very pleased to welcome Chris Morris, author, musician and audio book narrator.

Welcome to Christopher Crosby Morris

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am all about sound. Most of us can hear farther than we can see and have deep sound vocabularies we seldom consciously bring to bear in appreciating more of all that goes on in our lives. My mission is to wake people to the enhanced quality of life available through fully developed hearing.

How did you become involved with audio book narration and production? We read aloud as part of our writing process, often repeatedly, until our prose is properly voiced. Telling stories, whether in prose or song, is a listening sport. To be able to produce our written works in audio versions completes our audience’s spectrum of storytelling accessibility and for many provides a more profound experience than reading. Plus, I know the sorts of nuance each character brings and can impart something of what they’re like at the nonverbal level.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? At some time or other I’ve read our entire catalogue aloud, rehearsing you might say. My favourite is I, the Sun, which is next up in our production queue.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I prefer heroic fiction. I do not/will not read dystopian material because it stifles growth of character, which is our destiny.

What are you working on at present/just finished? At the moment I’m reading Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder. I’m narrating it as I read it for the first time, so it had better be heroic or I won’t read the next one.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  I read a chapter at a time on my Kindle Fire HD. I review the day’s material and highlight the names of the speakers to avoid mixing them up on the fly. I record in Adobe Audition and, when I misspeak, pause a moment, press the ‘M’ key to leave a marker, then immediately read the passage again and continue; I find it easier to go back later and edit at the marker points than to stop the bus, excise the offending bit, and then punch in to begin again; it’s about flow and rapport and technical interruptions can quickly degrade one’s performance.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  A point comes when I disappear and the story takes over, although I’m emotionally immersive and a section fraught with feeling can throw me off centre enough to leak into the voice and one has to stop and regroup at such a point; I’m steeling myself to deal with some of the death scenes in I, the Sun. So what’s enjoyable is being the voice of moments that transcend considerations of normalcy and possess the scope to portray extraordinary circumstances to the audience.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yes.

Do you listen to audio books? I listen to anything narrated by Derek Jacobi or Jeremy Irons; I also admire Alex Hyde-White’s narrations.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes. But see below..

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Audio storytelling, rather than being something new, is returning to us something very old in our DNA, the wonderment of gathering to hear a voice fill the darkness and elicit our participation in a tale as we imagine what we hear. All the world’s cultures need this very much now. The spoken word is primal in its power to involve us and, properly uttered, humbly magnificent, the grandparent of our better selves.

Can you remember the first audio book you owned? Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) narrating the Adventures of Pinocchio.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? Before committing to produce our own audio books we signed up on the ACX site and began sampling the narrator talent there, which is considerable. We engaged Alex Hyde-White and David Kudler, both of whom gave us singular performances of shorter works and were supportive when I mentioned I’d like to give narration a go.

What I bring to narration is musicality. Good singers proceed from a natural speaking voice to the edges of register, tone, and volume their rendition of a piece requires; narration is similar but with the added consideration that one’s ‘piece’ is a lot longer than the average song and that ‘guest voices’ have to be incorporated into the narrator’s own. Listening to others sing my book pushed me right over the cliff.

By the time I finished my first run through of The Sacred Band, I had learned to produce an anchor voice – a centre sound – to carry all the exposition and yet have enough scope to inflect humour or suspense and other tensions when called for. We all have this ability and developing it is my lifelong fascination.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) So far so good. What I like most about ACX is the amount of homework they’ve done to address the needs of all the parties to a production. Since the audio book form is newly resurgent there isn’t the lore or fading dominance of crumbling “big houses” of audio book publishing – they’ve simply never existed – and ACX has a band of brothers feel to it at the moment that I like. Hope it lasts.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not really. You do learn very quickly what your articulation preferences are. Glottal stops are unacceptable. Regional dialectics wear thin rapidly. Vocal caricaturization, if I may coin a term, or cutesy voices drive me straight into the arms of my nearest dog.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I always wanted to be lanky.

Where can we hear your audiobook? You can hear a free sample of my new audiobook, The Sacred Band, written by Janet morris and Chris Morris and narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris, on Audible.com at:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/

What will you be narrating next? After I finish Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder, I am scheduled to narrate I, the Sun by Janet Morris, Outpassage by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, and then Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris.

You are also an accomplished author and prose editor. Where can find books you’ve edited, and some of your books and stories? I have many published stories. Some of my most recent short fictions appear in the following anthologies, some of which I edited. [These links are for Amazon Kindle, but most titles are also available in trade paper on Amazon, and in electronic editions on Nook as well as Kindle.)

Lawyers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Lawyers-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B0057Q0OIK/

Rogues in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Rogues-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B008JZCFMO/

Dreamers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Dreamers-Hell-Heroes-Nancy-Asire-ebook/dp/B00DEB1IJE/

Poets in Hell   http://www.amazon.com/Poets-Hell-Heroes-Book-17-ebook/dp/B00KWKNTTW/

My novels co-written with Janet Morris are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in Kindle, Nook, and trade paper editions.  They include but are not limited to:

Where can we learn more about you?

My music is very important to me. Because you asked how to learn more about me, I recommend you sample my most recent album, available as MP3 Music and on CD at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Knows-Christopher-Morris-Band/dp/B004GNEF3A/

You can hear more of my music on: https://soundcloud.com/christopher-morris

You may read about my history and see my bibliography at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2

Social Media links for Chris Morris (Christopher Crosby Morris):

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings

http://www.sacredbander.com

http://www.theperseidpress.com/#

http://www.facebook.com/christopher.c.morris.7?fref=ts

For other interviews with Chris and Janet and their characters please look here:

Sacred Band

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/character-interview-number-three-nikodemos-fantasymythic/

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/character-interview-tempus-fantasy/

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/character-interview-ghost-horse-fantasy/

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

Hell Week

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/a-week-in-hell-day-5-marlowe/

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/a-week-in-hell-day-1-devil/

A taste of Beyond Sanctuary in Mage Blood, now a Kindle Single and Audible.com audiobook.

Tempus – takes the fight to the Wizards…who will survive?

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MAGE BLOOD [Kindle Edition]

Janet Morris

Tempus and his Sacred Band of Stepsons prepare to take the Wizard War to the Mages of Wizardwall in this gripping story set “Beyond Sanctuary.” With Jihan the Froth daughter at his side, Tempus and the core of the Stepsons ride into the embattled town of Tyse, where they find friends and foes among the witches, wizards, and warfighters. From the first full length novel inspired by the Thieves’ World (R) series, “Mage Blood” takes you into unknown realms fraught with unimaginable peril.

Hear the Stepsonsspeak in the Audiobook edition of Mageblood, from the Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy.

Hear the Stepsonsspeak in the Audiobook edition of Mageblood, from the Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy.

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