Sci-Festival is drawing closer to the close, but I still have a couple of great interviews for you. Today, Stanley Morris.
How did you get into writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy?
I was one of those children who fell in love with Star Trek. The idea of other star civilizations captivated me. I wrote my first two books when I was about fourteen, one of which was a science fiction novel that used teleportation booths to travel between Earth and Mars. I started haunting the library for science fiction books, and not long after that, I ran into Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein. I was one of the first members of the National Space Institute started by Wernher Von Braun which later become the National Space Society. But I am a terrible speller, so it was not until computers, word processors, and spell checks were invented that I really had the opportunity to tell my stories. I began writing my first epublished book in 2008.
Which is the first aspect of a story you usually plan? The plot, the setting, or the characters?
That is a good question, and it’s the first time I’ve been asked that question. I would have to say the setting comes first along with a scene from the book. Then the characters take shape, and then I imagine another scene. At that point I let the characters tell me their story.
If you had to say that your stories were Sci-Fi/Fantasy crossed with something, what would it be?
Definitely Sci-Fi/Romance. I write stories about ordinary young people placed in extraordinary situations. Although I enjoy books like Niven’s Ringword, I don’t enjoy them as much as I do stories like the Heinlein juveniles and the Asimov Elijah Bailey books. The story of my life is about a young man who met a girl that changed the direction of his life, and that is a reoccurring theme in my writing.
What, or who, would you say is your greatest influence in your writing?
I’ve been influenced by writers such as Heinlein, Asimov, Jayne Ann Krentz, and others, but much of my writing is a synthesis of my conservative religious upbringing, the atheistic science of my schooling, and the moral code I reluctantly developed as an adult. The murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the defining moments of my life. Morality and science are not synonymous, but neither are they mutually exclusive, and some aspects of human morality may be embedded in our DNA. I like to make that point in my stories.
How did you come up with the idea for the book you’ve listed here?
Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections is an offshoot of the first book, Surviving the Fog which is a post apocalypse book. Several female readers complained that I focused too much on the boys to the exclusion of the girls. A conversation about that at Goodreads caused me to consider how Kathy, one of the minor characters in Surviving the Fog, might have viewed the events that took place in that book. To my surprise I realized that she had quite a different viewpoint. I began writing her story, and for the first time in my writing career I decided not to set a word limit for the book, but to continue writing until I was satisfied that I had told her story. Two hundred thousand words later I finished the book. It is my longest manuscript by far. The original story was based on my negative response to Lord of the Flies and my positive reaction to Tunnel in the Sky.
What was your proudest moment in the creation of this book?
Now that is a hard question to answer, because there are many sections in this book that were extremely satisfying. Perhaps it is the moment I finished writing about a wedding. I felt that I had succeeded in getting across my belief in the importance of community to humankind. Ants create hills, bees create hives, and humans create communities.
Have there been any points that had you doubting yourself? How did you get past them?
Continuity is always difficult if you are writing a book that needs to be consistent with another book. During the writing of this book I reedited the first book and made a minor timeline change. The last chapter was the most difficult to write. I had to wrap up the story, and yet I had to led readers know that this was only the end as far as we were concerned, and that the lives of the characters would continue. I am satisfied with the ending, but not as satisfied as I am with other portions of the book.
What is your favourite aspect of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres?
It is the freedom to let my imagination go wild. I can walk with Frodo in Middle Earth or speed through space with both Solos. I can learn about cultures totally mystifying to humans, live through an apocalypse, and dance with unicorns.
What is the element you like the least about the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres?
I don’t like Sci-Fi that is all about blending with the philosophical cosmic all. I’m not that interested in a writer’s philosophy, religious views, or political views. I don’t mind these, since I do some of this too, but I want a good story first. I don’t like Fantasy that uses a new critical element in the final pages. Set the rules of your fantasy in the early stages of your book and follow them. It is okay to have a twist on the rules.
Discounting ‘because I’d have made a lot of money’ (if that is the case,) which Sci-Fi or Fantasy book/tv series/film do you wish you’d written, and why?
Several choices such as Firefly, Revolution, or Jericho would be tempting. Maybe Jericho, so I could have made it more Midwest and less Hollywood. It might have survived. Discounting my own book, I would love to help bring Eric Flint’s 1632 series to television. I think it would make an excellent series.
Stan Morris is from California, but currently lives in Texas on a farm. Aside from writing Science Fiction, he enjoys gardening, watching sports, music, and reading. He likes science fiction (Heinlein, Asimov, Weber, Flint), romance (Krentz, Roberts, Morisi, Chesney), mystery (JD Robb, MC Beaton), historical fiction (Lindsey, Stewart), and history books (Shelby Foote, David McCullough, William J. Bernstein.)
I don’t recall, exactly, when I accepted the likelihood that my mother, and my father, and my sister, and my brother were dead. I remember gradually becoming alarmed when the Camp Administrator, who we called ‘the Admin,’ did not return with the counselors who had left with her. And I think the first time I cried was the morning Jackie, the single remaining adult, refused to leave her cabin. I must have begun to face the truth when Jacob told us about the fog covering the land below us, but it was sometime after that when I realized that I would never see my family again. I was alone in a dangerous world, trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by a deadly mist, and surrounded by strangers I had never met before that fateful month of May.