Chris Morris, narrator and co-author of The Sacred Band audiobook, speaks out:

Audio Book Narrator Interview one – Chris Morris

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The Sacred Band mythic novel, unabridged by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris

The Sacred Band mythic novel, unabridged by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris

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

or on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/

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

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

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

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

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

Hell Week

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

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

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

The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl, by JanetMorris and Chris Morris, reviewed by Joe Bonadonna for The Dowser’s Delusions.

A review of Janet and Chris Morris’ THE FISH, THE FIGHTERS AND THE SONG GIRL

 

More tales of the Sacred Band: Love in war and realms beyond imagining….

 

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl, by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. Revised Author’s Cut, published by Perseid Press, copyright © 2010 by Janet Morris. 386 pages. Cover art: Peter Paul Rubens, “The Consequences of War” (detail), 1637-1638.  Image copyright © The Perseid Press, 2012. Reviewed by Joe Bonadonna.

 

“Your commander reaches for yonder stars and gods do eye him. And there are more Fates in the wide worlds of men than those whom he has aided.” – from The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl.

 

The team of Janet Morris and Chris Morris once again grace us with another excellent anthology of Homeric Heroic Fantasy, featuring Tempus, Niko and their Sacred Band of Stepsons. This compilation is comprised of both new stories and earlier tales, herein revised from the original Thieves’ World® series, stories such as “What Women Do Best,” “Power Play,” and “Sanctuary is for Lovers.” Brand-new tales, written especially for this book, include “Shelter from the Storm,” “Lemnian Deed,” “Ravener, Where Art Thou?” and the title story. All the magic, action, adventure, humor and human drama I’ve come to expect from Janet and Chris Morris are here in spades, and there are enough revelations and plot twists along the way to keep you on your toes.

 

This collection takes place after the Morris’ masterpiece, The Sacred Band, and gives us more of the history of the Sacred Band as Tempus takes his Stepsons and Thebans north, a world away, into unexplored regions and a mythic country. Though they are courageous, these fighters, they are no strangers to fear. Though they are warriors, hard and tough, they are not immune to love and compassion, to decency and common humanity. And though the gods at times play their part, there is never a chance that Deus ex machina will overwhelm these wonderful characters and seize control of the stories. In fact, at times it seems that the gods are really no match for the human and mortal characters. As in Greek mythology, which is the heart and soul of all the tales of the Sacred Band, the gods are as weak, as fallible, as jealous, and as imperfect as mortals – and sometimes even more so. 

 

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl is a highly intelligent and extremely complex collection of tales that reads very much like a novel, and is built on a large and strong cast of characters who live and breathe, sweat and bleed. We meet new characters and revisit old, familiar ones. And, while we travel through unknown territory with Tempus, Niko and the Sacred Band, most of these stories are centered in good old Sanctuary®, where war is brewing between the empire of Ranke and the Beysibs of Harka Bey over control of that infamous town of rogues and thieves, whores and priests, mages and mercenaries. Tempus and the Stepsons, the 3rd Commandos under Sync, and the Rankan Empire all want to rid Sanctuary of the Beysibs, install an interim ruler, and make Sanctuary an independent state. So that’s the background on what’s going on and the hub around which these stories revolve. Now, let me tell you a little about the players involved.

 

Once again we encounter Molin Torchholder, Vashanka the Storm God’s priest; he’s always trying to curb the actions of the Sacred Band, and this time out strikes a bargain with Tempus for his own secret agenda. We learn more about the Stepson Straton and his love affair with Ischade the necromant; they set out to rescue Strat’s partner Sync, who’s been totally enthralled and held captive by Roxane, the Nisibisi witch who played such a large role in The Sacred Band and the Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy; her demon-familiar, Snapper Jo, now tends bar at the Vulgar Unicorn® and dreams of being human. Herein we get tangled up with Zip, the Death Squad guerilla leader who introduced Sync to Roxane; he also gets romantically involved with Kama, daughter of Tempus, and becomes a player in the war for Sanctuary’s independence. Randal, the shape-shifting, jug-eared mage is here, too, and he’s still allergic to animal forms, especially when he changes into one. We also meet Cassander the Healer, a gifted horse doctor who buys a live fish, a kite-ray that he needs to heal a young girl named Seriti. (Interesting thing about this fish: it’s used to create a sort of “organic battery,” which is then used for healing and purposes of interrogation. Cassander is like a heroic fantasy version of television’s MacGyver.)

 

Niko, right-side companion to Tempus, has been immortalized and is now the avatar of Harmonia, the Theban goddess of Balance and Justice. He has his hands full taking care of two children: Arton, who at times can see the future, and Gyskouras (Kouras), who is the god Vashanka’s son, through Tempus who actually fathered him. Jihan, Froth Daughter of the god Stormbringer, shows her maternal side when she and Niko defend the boys against deadly snakes sent by the witch Roxane to slay the lads.

 

As for Tempus the Sleepless One…as always, he has a full plate. When the two gods – Father Enlil (Lord Storm) and Vashanka the Pillager – vie for space and attention inside the head of an exhausted Tempus, Abarsis the Slaughter Priest, founder and now patron shade of the Sacred Band, comes to his aid and grants him one full night of rest. And Tempus will need that rest, for even more trials and tribulations await him:

 

Kama, his daughter, is on a covert mission and becomes apprenticed to Hakiem the storyteller, who claims to be neutral in this war but seems to have all the right connections. New to the Stepsons is Gayle, a foul-mouthed mercenary who can build a string of profanity around a single word; he’s been assigned to protect Kama, even from those who are trying to help her. But then Kama is framed – implicated in, and about to be indicted for sedition and attempted murder. Meanwhile, Molin Torchholder wants to save and marry her, and Jihan claims to be in love with young Randal, the Hazard Class and shape-shifting mage. So Tempus decides it’s best to stop the marriage between Randal and Jihan; with Randal’s permission he then sets out to woo Jihan away from the young mage for many reasons of his own, not to mention for the sake of romance. But first Tempus must send out teams of Stepsons to find the traitor who framed Kama for murder and sedition.

 

There is so much more to this anthology and to these stories, so many levels and layers, and the fun is in the reading and discovering how all the many threads tie together to create a tapestry of great storytelling. As in all Janet and Chris Morris’ stories of Tempus and his Sacred Band, their writing is crisp and spot on. Their use of present-tense to grab the reader with a sense of immediacy and urgency is always well-played and never jarring. There is a balance and simplicity, a beauty and poignancy in their prose that is not overdone, not overplayed; they write with a deep insight into the human soul, with compassion and humanity. Here’s a favorite passage of mine that takes place when the ghost of Abarsis the Slaughter Priest appears to take Niko’s former partner to heaven:

 

She knew ghosts when she saw them; this one was a spirit of supernal power, a fabled strength, a glossy being of such beauty that tears came to Ischade’s eyes when it sat down beside Niko, ruffling his hair with a fawn-colored hand.

 

“I am Abarsis,” it smiled in introduction, and she saw the wizard blood there, ancient lineage, and love so strong it made her head hurt; she’d given up such options as this ghost thrived on, long ago.

 

“We need Janni’s soul in heaven; it’s earned its peace…”

 

I like that passage a lot. For me it’s writing that aims for the heart, as well as the brain. The philosophy, the credo of the Sacred Band will make you pause to think, but the way the characters are written, whether heroic, villainous or something in between, will make you feel.

 

One thing I’d like to mention is the women characters. In a review of one of the Sacred Band books, the reviewer brought up the point that the female characters are either witches or goddesses. Now, part of that statement rings true to history, true to a time when women controlled most religions, when women ruled as queens. But women play much more diverse roles in the Sacred Band mythos than witches, goddesses, priestesses and even whores. First, there is Kama, a Sacred Band warrior as deadly, as proficient in the art of killing as any man. There are the two Lemnians, Breisis and Ditki, who once fought against the Band but have now joined with them. And then there’s Madame Bomba, a shrewd business woman who has her hands in everything, her eyes on everything, and her heart in the right place. These women are all empowered – they are forces to be reckoned with, such as: a witch that even the gods fear; a necromant who feels love and compassion; a goddess who wants to be human; veteran warriors who have not sacrificed femininity and gentility, tenderness and caring.

 

To talk more in depth about the plots of each story would be to give too much away. I think, I hope that what I have given you here is tease enough and has piqued your interest enough to have you seek out this volume and lose yourself in the wondrously magical and yet all too gritty and real world of the Sacred Band. And for those of you who haven’t read my Black Gate and Amazon reviews of The Sacred BandBeyond Sanctuary, Beyond the Veil, and Beyond Wizardwall, please check them out. I think you’ll like the realms of wonder created by Janet and Chris Morris.

 

Life to you all, and everlasting glory.Image

Sacred Band Character of the Week: Shamshi

Shamshi

Shamshi is a military character in the Sacred Band of Stepsons fictional universe and in the Thieves’ World shared fictional universe. The illegitimate son of Datan, the Nisibisi sorcerer, and Adrastus Ajami’s Mygdonian wife, Shamshi falls under the sway of Black Nisibis early in life, helping his father trap and hold the Froth Daughter, Jihan, during Tempus’s assault on Wizardwall. Bold and willful, Shamshi takes part in several plots aimed at the destruction of the Sacred Band of Stepsons until he is taken hostage first by Askelon of Meridian, and then by Tempus at the end of the Wizard Wars. Niko, Tempus’s partner, pleads to take the boy to Bandara where he can be trained as a secular adept, and Tempus relents and allows it. Niko brings Shamshi and two other trainees of his back to Lemuria just before the Battle of Chaeronea, after which the Sacred Band, including Shamshi, travel to Sanctuary. There Shamshi falls once more under the influence of Askelon, lord of dreams, and deserts the Sacred Band, becoming first a sniper set on vengeance and later a pawn of the angry Fates, who use an ancient poison to transform Shamshi and, through him, make an end to much of the evil he embraces.

To learn more about Shamshi and the rest of the characters in The Sacred Band go to the freebase site at www.sacredbandofstepsons.freebase.com

Sacred band Character of the week: Jihan

Jihan

 

Jihan, wind-charmer and Froth Daughter, is a military character created by Janet Morris in the Sacred Band of Stepsons universe and the Thieves’ World shared fictional universe. Jihan is the daughter of Stormbringer, primeval god of wind and wave. She came to earth from her home in the sea to consummate an arranged marriage with Askelon, lord of dreams, which never took place because Askelon chose at the last moment to wed Tempus’s sister-in-arms, Cime, instead. Having agreed to remain in human shape for a year, Jihan decides that Tempus must repay her for her loss of a husband by providing her a year’s companionship. Preternaturally powerful, passionate, childlike, and headstrong, Jihan stays a year with Tempus, fighting at his side in every battle, bringing her more-than-mortal strengths to bear in his cause. After a year with the Sacred Band of Stepsons, Jihan returns to her father’s sea. Twice more she comes and goes, fighting beside the Sacred Band when it suits her, trying to convince Tempus that they should have a child. Eventually she does have a child by him, and raises it beneath the sea at the edge of time. When this child escapes and comes seeking vengeance upon his absent father, Jihan follows, returning to the Sacred Band once again. Her son eventually joins the Stepsons, and Jihan too rejoins Tempus’s forces intermittently thereafter, where she uses her power over cold and water to aid the Band on several occasions, including the Battle of Meridian.

Gender:

  • Female

Place of Birth:

  • Sea at the edge of time

Character Created By:

  • Janet Morris

Appears In These Fictional Universes:

  • The Sacred Band of Stepsons universe
  • Sacred Band of Stepsons
  • Thieves’ World fictional shared universe

Also known as: Wind-charmer

Notable Quotes:

“Time is so…fluid where I live” -Jihan, The Sacred Band

“I am always yours to call, wherever the sea can reach.” -Jihan, The Sacred Band by Janet Morris & Chris Morris

“My father has relented. He’s given me leave to come back and be with you, poor lonely, sleepless man — eternally.”- Jihan, Beyond Wizardwall, by Janet Morris

“Don’t forget, Riddler, how I love thee. Or all we shared together. Or that this sea and all other seas can lead you back to me.”- Jihan, City at the Edge of Time, by Janet Morris

“Shed your mortal skin and let me take you beneath the waves.”-Jihan, City at the Edge of Time, by Janet Morris

“What’s holding us up then? I’ve had my fill of babies and monks and twaddle. Let’s get out into the World and see what wrongs we can find to right.” She grinned. “Or vice versa.”-Jihan, Tempus, by Janet Morris

Check out more information on Jihan and all the other Sacred Band Characters at the Sacred Band Freebase site HERE.

Rare interview with Christopher Crosby Morris, coauthor of The Sacred Band of Stepsons series

Remain mindful that reality for the characters is inchoate until we compose the prose. In a very real but quantum mechanical and/or metaphysical way, their moment is not yet formed or specific until we observe them, but is “just now” impinging on them when we prepare to write a tale.

Read this and more insightful comments about writing the Sacred Band series, music, and other works, both fiction and nonfiction, from Chris Morris in this landmark interview.

http://www.inspirationforum.co.uk/showthread.php?tid=6372Image

New Sacred Band of Stepsons video site

Now you can find the Sacred Band on Qwiki.  This is a beautiful site with many wonderful images and text from “The Sacred Band of Stepsons” page on Wikipedia.

Enjoy.  We did.

http://www.qwiki.com/q/The_Sacred_Band_of_Stepsons

The Sacred Band gets a new 5-star review

The Sacred Band, our mythic novel, just received a new 5-star review from an Amazon “Vines Voices” reviewer:

Well researched, passionate and engrossing…

a fascinating saga of men, gods and godesses, honor, truth, loyalty and courage.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched, passionate and engrossing, June 26, 2012
By
This review is from: The Sacred Band (Paperback)
Disclaimer – I have known Janet and Chris Morris for ~20 years, but mostly through their non-fiction work with non-lethal weapons and systems. Their attributes of passion for the subject at hand, thorough research, and the ability to write exceedingly well (often hard to find these days) extends beyond their defense policy work into this excellent book.
Readers new to the Sacred Band may find the going slow, at first. Stay with it – you will be rewarded by a fascinating saga of men, gods and godesses, honor, truth, loyalty and courage. Building on the factual numbers of bodies found under the Lion of Thebes, honoring those killed in the battle of Chaeronea, the story takes off and builds momentum to the end. The reasons for the climactic battle scene will not be spoiled here, but they answer the who, what, and especially the why of the main events.
Read this, and enjoy.
And watch our Sacred Band of Stepsons music video on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICAPn0E7NC0
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