By AK Dale
CAPE COD, Mass. – Well, so there’s this writing thing…
Janet E. Morris had something to say…you know, use her mouth, verbiage, volume, lips moving.
So, she ended up…taking up the pen and keyboard.
“I never meant to become a writer, but I had things I wanted to say, contributions to make to the way my society was evolving,” Morris said. “I wrote my first novel during the 1970s, when women’s roles in society were being questioned. We who had come of age in the 1960s under constant threat of nuclear annihilation were questioning abuses of power. I sold the first draft of the first novel I ever wrote to Perry Knowlton, the first agent I ever met – High Couch of Silistra, Bantam, 1977 – and with him sold many more books until I left writing and editing for twenty years to institutionalize Non-lethality and the nonlethal weapons program.”
That’s pretty intense stuff for a woman who has grown into roles as an author and even more so as an editor. She notes her editing work in the Heroes in Hell series.
“There I was commissioned and edited two Nebula-nominated and a Hugo Award-winning stories. With Chris Morris, I have recently created Perseid Publishing, a small publishing house specializing in books ‘for the experienced reader.’”
Janet Morris works as a writer, author, and editor for Perseid.
Despite all the hats she wears, Morris finds time to write and when she does so it is with tremendous verve.
“I only write when a story forces me to write it,” she said. “Because I am analytical by nature, usually I do substantial research on facets of a compelling story both before and as I am writing. Each story itself is my inspiration. I listen to classical music or my husband’s fusion instrumentals when I write or I write in a quiet room when possible, but often my best ideas come when I am doing something unrelated, so I carry paper to write down lines of dialogue or narrative that will key a scene for me when I get back to my desk.”
Once she is bound and determined to work on a piece that future piece of artwork becomes her sole focus in the arts and she caresses it with every inch of her mind.
“When I am writing a novel, I am always working on that novel, no matter what else I’m doing,” Morris said. “When I wrote full time, publishing was very different than today, controlled by corporations who determined what books they would push and what books they would merely publish. Today there are fewer big companies and more independents, Perseidbeing one of those; standards of objective “good” or “bad” are nonexistent, and the biggest obstacle to success is attracting those who will like your work among so many competing titles and deconstructed ‘genres’ that the ‘novel’ itself is imperiled.”
The writing process, like any other within the industry, offers its own challenges and burdens.
“The most rewarding aspect of writing, for me, is drafting – disappearing altogether, being absorbed into the story, going where the story is, and experiencing it for the first time in an organic process that understands its pacing and its purpose in the way that the universe always understands itself,” Morris said. “For me, the joy of writing is in the metaphysical experience of being transported into another realm of hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, touching other intelligences and being swept away into their knowingness, often wiser than my own. The part of writing I like the least is whenever I’m not actively writing draft. When I write draft, nothing hurts, nothing matters but the story, and I am elsewhere. When I edit, or proof-read, or deal with the day-to-day issues surrounding publishing, this is decidedly non-mystical and non-magical for me.”
There have been enough days in the profession for Morris to have enjoyed the fruits of her labors in many forms.
“Successes have been many, and for that I’m grateful,” Morris said. “From the Silistra series, which had four million in print by the time “The Carnelian Throne” was first published. We have had some extraordinary creative successes. Sometimes our most valued creative successes are not the same as our most commercial successes, but that is also part of the nature of publishing.”
For a long career born out of standing for something, Morris has no plans for that changing anytime in the near future. Her writing is her voice and so shall she be heard.
“We always tackle social issues and always write the book we want to read, always write what we choose, at the length we choose, and with the perspective we choose,” Morris said. “ We chose to write The Sacred Band which may well be that quintessential novel that caps a career, we’ll see. We may later write more about nonlethal weapons, but right now we are writing exactly what we want to be writing.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION on JANET E. MORRIS
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