Hell Week 2018 – Orpheus/Janet and Chris Morris #HeroesinHell

Welcome to Orpheus

Who are/were you?

I was the Thracian Argonaut, magician, musician, and prophet. Still am, though here I do hell’s bidding, such as sitting in this dank cell with you as my interrogator.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell? Eurydice, the oak nymph, my wife; most beautiful and desired of women, lo these many years lost to me – twice sought and once returned to me from Tartaros

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work? Love is the province of the soul; death cannot faze it nor passion still its rhyme.

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours? You jest. Do you not see the puddle by my feet, the wet where I sit on your prison bench? Do you cannot hear the dripping from my flesh? All of us who served on Jason’s Argo drown again and again in salty water, and between drownings our skin drips brine continually.

Who are your friends/allies here? Friends in hell? That’s the contradiction. My friends met in hell are my friends met in life; those met in hell who serve my ends let me serve theirs: such men and women, witches and goddesses, and empowered souls like Shakespeare and Marlowe serve the gods of hell from their day and set us tasks that lead us to more curses and misery: in hell, suffering is the only true coinage, and even that be scarce.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

Home? Environment? I am a musician, part of the pit orchestra in New Hell, a place where all the worst from every day and age gather together and prey upon one another, eon after eon. Sometimes we serve as sea-going mercenaries in Jason’s crew, but with Medea on our track, these days bring only danger, loss, and separation for an infernity that makes lovers weep and the devil grin.

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How do you spend the endless years here? No, not ‘eternity.’ Infernity – thanks for that to John Milton, who like the Bard of Avon and his lover Marlowe create words to suit their trials and tribulations, words that jump from their lips and torture damned souls the more.

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world? Adjusted to digital damnation? To weapons that don’t work well but take their feet and serve like soldiers; to politicians spouting lies from their umbilicals? From avengers, who stalk one another throughout hells ages and devise punishments more foul the deeper in hell you go. Feel that cold, seeping from the brine that drips from me? The closer to hell’s belly you get, the more you suffer its cold – loveless, lonely, and afraid.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? I know what I did, writing my Orphic missives: I called upon hell and it answered, sending a viper to kill my Eurydice and sending me on fruitless quests to find her deep in Tartaros.

What are your greatest fears here? That, once I find her, I should lose her again – only so many times can a mortal beseech Hades and Persephone for manumission. Eurydice is the breath of salvation to me; without her, afterlife is an empty threat.

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Author Spotlight

*Name and bio:

Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. Christopher Crosby Morris is an American author of fiction and non-fiction, as well as a lyricist, musical composer, and singer-songwriter. He is married to author Janet Morris.

Tell us about your story for this edition. For Lovers in Hell, Janet and Chris Morris wrote a novella in three parts which follow lovers as they lose and find one another among hell’s multifarious domains.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen? The characters for lovers include those who have served in other volumes of this series, such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Sappho, Samael, Orpheus, and some never before met, such as Eurydice,

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge? We do a new Hell volume every year or so, or whenever we have enough stories that meet our criteria. In the time between volumes, we discuss with our group of writers story names, themes, and execution. Writing for hell is not easy. At this moment, we have two more volumes plans, so we may never escape hell ourselves . . .

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options? We’ve wanted to do Lovers in hell for years, but we didn’t have the right group of writers for it. This year, all the requirements came together and we called for stories for Lovers in hell. Next will be Mystics in Hell, which suits our current list of characters and invites new ones.

What are you currently working on? An anthology and a new novel by Janet and Chris Morris, as well as some new music.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them. Aristotle: On Breath, one of the most accessible works of Aristotle in the Loeb edition.

Ghost Stories of Henry James – in which something actually happens during each story, most often in the last two paragraphs. We learn more from James every time we read him, as we do with Waugh.

What are your views on authors offering free books? We disapprove of this generally, and only once in a great while offer books for free, if we’re introducing a new author or reissuing a series.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Don’t comment on reviews if you can possibly avoid it.

Which books/movies/plays have influenced your life? The Black Stallion. Justin Morgan Had A Horse, The Iliad. Hamlet. Henry V. Brideshead Revisited. Lion in Winter. Atlas Shrugged.

In these days of movies and video games are books really influential? I hope so. The books we write aren’t for beginning readers, in any case, and if the casual reader or the various Hater sects are attracted to digital games and other diversions which provide no deeper value or commentary on the human condition, then that’s fine with me: it keeps them off the streets.

What do you think are the top three inventions/discoveries in human history and why? Fire, which allowed the earliest development of humanity. The Wheel, which allowed humans the key to engineering. Early writing (such as pre-cuneiform and hieroglyphs), which created the tools for written history. The Rosetta stone, which showed people the possibilities of comparative linguistics.

 

Hell Week 2018 – Michael Dellert/Peter Abelard

 

About yourself:

*Who are/were you?

I am Peter Abelard, once a master and canon at the University School of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. King Philip (now remembered as the First) was king of France when I was born. William of Champeaux called me the “supreme master” of dialectic after I replaced his master. My writings were denounced by the Church, and amid the scandal of a forbidden love affair, I was excommunicated and forced to burn my works in disgrace.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell?

Whom it has always been, hand to heart: the beautiful and learned Heloise d’Argenteuil. She was born the unimportant wife’s-daughter of a minor branch of the prestigious Garlande family, ministers to the medieval royal court of French King Philip.

She grew into one of the most learned young women of western Europe, renowned for her brilliant exegeses of philosophical and spiritual texts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French. She and I conspired to make her my pupil, under the auspice of her uncle, one of my fellow canons at the Cathedral School of Notre Dame.

But calamity overtook us.

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work?

There are some who say that love is something His Satanic Majesty simply cannot understand, and therefore, he cannot control it. Others, like myself, imagine He understands it all too well.

Heloise and I were illicit young lovers in turbulent times. Our tale in life ends full of wretched disappointment.

Now in Hell, we are buffeted about eternally by the gyring hurricanoes of our lively passions, and yet forever separated from one another by those same gales. Only in moments of respite can we simply be together, as we once were in life. And even then… Well. It is hell, after all, is it not? How many happy marriages are there in life, nevermind hell?

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours?

If I am to be honest before the Lord, my worst sin in life was: ‘insufferable arrogance.’ The rules of the Church and the nobles mattered not one whit to me, if they could not see what was plain before their faces in my teachings. Why should the good Lord promise the world an intellect such as mine and then litter the way to understanding with such obstinate fools?

And, if loving Heloise be a sin? I fully admit my guilt and repent the evil of it, but not one whit the joy.

Alas, there is no forgiveness for arrogants and seducers. Thus, I am tormented by raging cataracts and gales, buffeted by the winds of my passions like so many discarded broadsheets in the streets, blown at random through the netherworld.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

I have not known a home in the millennium or more of my torment, for the winds blow where they will. Most recently, the turbulent storms of my passions for Heloise deposited my lover and I in the nightmare city of Perish, a hellish grotesque of our beloved earthly Paris. Is nothing sacred?

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How do you spend the endless years here?

Another curse of my torment is to be broken upon the wheel—repeatedly. Wheresoever I go, I must be wary of anything with a wheel, lest it turn upon me, run me down, and mangle me.

So really, we travel a lot. And then stay a while. And then travel again. Between the ceaseless buffeting of storms and the relentless pursuit of runaway iron-shod cartwheels, I spend what time remains in discussions of love and philosophy with my beloved Heloise — smarter than myself, and by half.

The infamy of our sins kept us apart in life, but now it is delicious torment to have all of eternity in which to do as we please, rather than as we should.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?

Did I not mention the insufferable arrogance?

I was adulated by the crowds who gathered in the streets and worshipped by women as their knight. I grew rich on the fees paid by the aristocratic families of my students, and I was ruined for many women. I was a seducer sure of my charm but overwhelmed by work, traveling on horseback and power quarrels, when I deflowered a daughter of the powerful Garlande family, ministers to the royal court.

For these many sins — of passion and unrepentant pride, both in thought and deed — I was castrated, excommunicated, and disgraced in life. And for these many sins, I am cast down to Hell.

What is are your greatest fears/desires here?

My greatest fear is that I should be separated from my beloved Heloise. Despite all that happened between us, we maintained a correspondence of letters and advice, each to the other. Now, in Hell, we struggle to remain together against the passions that buffet us from each other. She is my only hope of someday, somehow, finding redemption in this world of loss.

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Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

Hi, I’m Michael E. Dellert. I’m the author of The Matter of Manred Saga, an ongoing collection of fantasy tales, and the short-story “Calamity,” my contribution to the Lovers in Hell anthology. I’m a writer, editor, publisher, and writing coach. I also have two teen daughters who will be delighted to discover their good Catholic father is a Hellion. I live in the Greater New York City area.

Tell us about your story for this edition.

My story for Lovers in Hell, “Calamity,” addresses issues of love, fear, separation, pride, and humility in a fantastic Bangsian excursion into a nether-hell of torment, paranoia, and passion.

Love and romance is always a challenging topic to address. Love is (along with fear) the most universal and primal of emotions and the subject of enough literary energy to start its own fusion reaction. So what about Love in the most unlovely setting of all: Hell?

That was the question I had to ask myself when I was invited to write for Lovers in Hell. How can lovers maintain their relationship in the face of the curses that Hell can throw at them?

Several other writers in the Heroes in Hell series have depicted historically infamous sinners—Shakespeare, Napoleon, Marlowe, Caesar—with important (and sometimes successful) romantic relationships. How do they manage it? What keeps the fires burning in Hell? How would Peter Abelard and Heloise d’Argenteuil manage it? What would be their curses? What obstacles would seek to drive them apart?

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

I had long been doing research on the period of the 1100s AD in Western Europe, but had never had the opportunity to do a deep dive into the Parisian academic life of Notre Dame during that period. Paris was the height of intellectual inquiry and argumentation in the Europe of the day, and the rock-star of that academic scene was Peter Abelard. He quarrelled with his colleagues, had a scandalous affair with a lady of a powerful noble family, and was excommunicated for the heresies of his Rational philosophy.

But more than all that, Peter Abelard is most well-remembered as one half of a tragic love story between himself and his student, Heloise d’Argenteuil, the tale of a lifelong respect and care for each other, despite the tragedies and plots that contrived to keep them apart in life.

And if a man is best judged by his enemies, Abelard’s were considerable, including powerful members of the monolithic medieval Catholic Church, right up to and including the Popes of his age.

Abelard was a perfect nexus for exploring a bit of the philosophy and politics of the historical Church as well as questions about love, gender equity, pride, and what it means to be ‘damned.’

How did you become involved with this project?

Near as I can figure: pure blind luck. I happened to be doing an author event on Facebook, supporting the publication of a writing colleague and promoting my Matter of Manred series.

Joe Bonadonna, whom I knew by reputation as the author of the amazing work in (among other things) Mad Shadows and Three Against the Stars, reached out to me afterward and introduced himself as an agent for Perseid Press’s Heroes in Hell Anthology Series.

I’ve been a fan of Heroes in Hell going all the way back to its first incarnation in the late 1980s. It’s been a playground for such legends in the field as CJ Cherryh and the current franchise-owner and Hellion-in-Chief, Janet Morris.

So, when Joe offered me the opportunity to submit a hellacious short story for consideration in an upcoming Heroes in Hell title, I was honoured, as well as challenged, by the thought of taking up the distinguished mantle of ‘Hellion.’ It’s a privilege to join this illustrious and infernal society in their sandbox, and I am grateful to be included in their company.

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?

The most unique thing about the “shared world” anthology series is how it creates such a deeply contextualized milieu. The authors each bring their own specific world-views together to create this dynamic backdrop against which the actions of the characters unfold. It’s a rare sort of social contract, a mutual pact of trust between authors: that we’ll do honor to the conversation that’s gone before.

Operating within that environment requires a deep respect and admiration for the history and effort that each of those authors and editors has contributed to the series, over the course of decades.

So the first thing I did was re-read the entire anthology, from its earliest incarnation to the present, to remind myself of how lovingly this Hellish world was developed, to refresh myself with the conversations among these great and many authors, and to understand the obligations that come with writing a story set in this world. It’s a privilege, and a lot of responsibility.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?

The tragic historical romance of Peter Abelard and Heloise d’Argenteuil was a mainstay of popular literary culture in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, depicted with various degrees of lurid detail, but always as a tale of forbidden—but consensual—love between student and master.

The reality of their historical correspondence raises some interesting questions about consent, however. Abelard repeatedly admits that he took unfair advantage of Heloise, and perhaps even raped her. And yet there is no denying the love, care, and respect they have for each other—particularly she for him—in their later epistles.

So theirs was clearly a complex relationship, set amid a pivotal moment in European history: the rise of the university system, Rational philosophy, the early Crusades, and the consolidation of Catholic authority.

I wanted to explore what that complex relationship would look like in Hell, faced with no social inhibitions against their once-forbidden love, and only their own demons between them.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently developing a new novel project, featuring adventure on the high seas of a savage shore, the dangers of imperialism, and the horrors of colonial subjectivism. A team of former soldiers and adventurers are dispatched in search of a mythic artefact erected by an ancient race in a lost city. Will they survive long enough to solve the mysteries and enigmas left in the ruins of empire?

I’m also tying up a fiction book proposal for another novel that’s already in the can, to be offered to publishing agents.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.

I just finished reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, which I’m sorry to say I hadn’t already read. It’s the story of an interstellar war, and the cruelties to which man will put his fellow man in the interest of “the greater good,” told with a spartan, yet delicate and philosophical style.

I also just re-read Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. A classic swashbuckling Golden Age of Piracy adventure by a modern master of adventure tales, it’s the story of a dashing English privateer and his plot to steal a galleon of Spanish gold. Set in the seventeenth century Carribean against the backdrop of the colonial pirate city of Port Royal, Jamaica. The manuscript was found complete among Crichton’s artifacts after his death, and published posthumously.

In between, I’ve been working my way through the complete Arthur Conan Doyle bibliography of Sherlock Holmes titles, and revisiting Lovecraft country.

What are your views on authors offering free books?

Authors and publishers have always offered free books to book-buyers, when that used to mean, “bookshop owners and booksellers.” On my shelf, I have a Galley Copy of an Arthurian young adult fantasy that was passed along to me by the shop-owner of a Waldenbooks, when I clerked a summer there. The Galley Copy had been sent to the owner for free by the publisher, to whet the store’s interest in stocking from their new upcoming catalog of properties.

And professional book reviewers and critics with major media outlets, professors of courses in certain subject matters, talk-show hosts, all these have received free books from authors and publishing companies. “Promotional” copies of work have always been an important part of the business model of writing and publishing.

It’s certainly part of my business model as a writer. For promotional and personal reasons, I offer a free newsletter and blog where I share creative writing tips and fresh fiction scenes from my workshop. The second “story” in my fantasy saga, The Epistles of Eithne and Eowain, is available for free from my website, and a digital copy of Hedge King in Winter is available to subscribers of my newsletter.

But at the end of the day, writing’s a job and publishing’s a job, like any other job; the ledgers have to balance. The free copies have to pay for themselves, through their promotional value. So it’s all a balancing act and every author has to tread that line as best they can.

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

There was a Twilight Zone episode from the ‘80s series reboot, in which a professor argues with a devil over the plight of his soul. Throughout the episode, the devil is wearing a lettered, novelty t-shirt, but the message of the lettering changes everytime he’s in frame. My favorite message from that shirt: “Gehenna is a City. Much like Newark.” I myself grew up in that great State of New Jersey, so ever since, “Newark NJ = Gehenna.” I take a certain home-team pride in that.

What other books/short stories have you written?

So far, I’ve written and published a series of five stories — an epistle, two novellas, and two novels — in The Matter of Manred Saga, a series of heroic, low-fantasy, medieval adventures with strong Celtic themes and imagery:

  • The novellas, Hedge King in Winter, and
  • A Merchant’s Tale;
  • Nine letters between lovers, The Epistles of Eithne and Eowain;
  • And the novels, The Romance of Eowain, and
  • The Wedding of Eithne.

I also offer creative writing advice and free snippets of fresh fiction on my blog and in my newsletters, The Adventures in Indie Publishing.

Your readers can learn more about my writing from my blog and newsletter.

They can also follow me on Amazon and Goodreads, on Twitter (@MDellertDotCom) and on Facebook (Michael Dellert, Author).

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Cover Reveal and Book Spotlight – Lovers in Hell (Heroes in Hell) – Historical Fantasy/Fantasy/SharedWorld/Hell Week

lovers in hell

Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools. Our damned lovers include: Christopher Marlowe and Will Shakespeare, Napoleon and Wellington, Orpheus and Eurydice, Hatshepsut and Senenmut, Abelard and Heloise, Helen and Penelope, Saint Teresa and Satan’s Reaper, Madge Kendall and the Elephant Man, and more . . . — all of whom pay a hellish price for indulging their affections.

Shakespeare said “To be wise and love exceeds man’s might,” and in Lovers in Hell, the damned in hell exceed all bounds as they search for their true loves, punish the perfidious, and avoid getting caught up in Satan’s snares. In ten stories of misery and madness, hell’s most loveless seek to slake the thirst that can never be quenched, and find true love amid the lies of ages.

Featuring stories by:

Janet and Chris Morris

Nancy Aspire

Joe Bonadonna

S.E. Lindberg

Michael E. Dellert

Michael H. Hanson

A. L. Butcher

Andrew P. Weston

 Lovers in Hell on Amazon UK

Lovers in Hell on Amazon.com

HELL WEEK 2018…. Coming soon…. so get your pitchforks ready.

You have been warned.

Dirty Dozen – Author Interview – Walter Rhein – Fantasy

Welcome back to Walter Rhein, fantasy author. He’s visited a couple of times before, but he’s back to talk about his exciting new release.

  1. Please tell us about your publications.

My latest book is called ‘The Literate Thief‘ and it is the second book in a three-part series entitled ‘The Slaves of Erafor.’ I first embarked on this journey when I met Janet Morris on Facebook. Having some discussions with her inspired me to put together a narrative I’d been daydreaming about. The narrative involved slavery, but not in the historical sense. I wanted to approach the idea of how we all become slaves of thought to various ideas, and what the cause of this widespread slavery is.

The scary thing is that this series has become more relevant. I’m seeing more and more instances of narrative control in the media, particularly in the United States. However, I didn’t write this book as a response to US politics. I wrote it as a general condemnation of evil as it tends to manifest. Any similarities to current events are purely coincidental.

  1. What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?

I think it’s important to know that the idea that ‘quality work finds an audience’ is something of a myth. Sure, maybe over time a quality book will gain traction, but you really have to publicize it. The publishing world is very corrupt. I meet a lot of people with Master’s Degrees in English and they make me want to pull their hair out because a lot of what they’ve been taught to believe is simply not true.

Also, literature is very elitist. There are many poverty class writers out there who are producing fantastic work and the literary community completely ignores them. When I say ‘poverty-class’ I’m talking about storytellers that you might come across in bars or other places. I’ve heard stories told in bars that are better than anything that would ever come out of a prestigious magazine by highly educated writers. I think those highly educated writers resent their lack of talent, and the grand talent that can be found elsewhere, and they take action to make sure those voices are silenced.

  1. If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.

Willy Wonka. Chocolate.

4. What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?

 I don’t understand how you can promote a book without giving some copies away. After all, don’t you send a book to the publisher for free? It’s not like publishers pay you to read your work now is it?

The reality is that all major publisher give away hundreds, if not thousands of advance reader copies in order to hit the market riding the crest of a wave of reviews. Sometimes indie writers are held to a different standard than major publishers on this issue, which doesn’t make any sense to me.

I don’t think it demeans the work at all. You want people to read what you wrote and that’s not easy to do. If you think something is important enough to put in the effort to publish it, then you shouldn’t have any qualms about doing whatever you can to get as many people as possible to read it.

  1. What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

 I actually just did this on my own blog. There was a review that I really appreciated on Amazon, so I took the text and responded to it on my blog, you can read it here. Responding to reviews is very important I think, as long as you don’t do it in a way that makes you look foolish. I find that the reviews I’ve received have greatly helped me improve my work, and they direct the sequels a little bit too. Interacting with readers is the whole point of this endeavor.

However, I would say don’t respond on Amazon, because Amazon might freak out and delete your whole account. It’s always important to bring the debate to a platform where you have control.

  1. How do you deal with bad reviews?

I haven’t gotten too many lately, but that’s just a by-product of my current popularity I think. I have a wonderful group of followers who offer genuine comments and are excited about my books. If I move up to the next level, a little bit more mainstream level, I’m sure I’ll get more negative reviews. If a reviewer offers what I believe to be a viable point, I’m always grateful to them. However, it’s irritating when you get a negative review for some reason that’s absolutely absurd. But it’s like getting into an argument on Facebook, you have to trust that the next person who comes along can see which person is arguing in semi-coherent sentence fragments, and which one seems to flash a little education.

The toughest critic I’ve encountered so far is Janet Morris, but when she points something out I’ve always agreed that something had to be changed. Sincere criticism makes you a better writer, so I’m always appreciative of that.

  1. What’s your next writing adventure?

 I have extensive notes for two books, first is the follow up to ‘The Literate Thief’ which will be the third book in the series. There will be something of a conclusion to a major narrative thread in this volume, but I’ve not dismissed the idea of doing a fourth volume.

I also have a book about education that I’ve been scribbling notes for. I haven’t quite figured out what the tone for that one will be, but I think it has to be comical, something like ‘Catch-22.’ I’ve written a dozen or so chapters for it, but I haven’t quite gotten the narrative voice figured out. Once I get it, I’m pretty sure the book will flow out of me quickly, but you can’t push it in the meantime.

  1. What is the last book you’ve read?

I’m currently reading ‘The Scarecrow‘ by Cas Peace. It’s one of her Albia stories and it’s fantastic. Peace is a great writer that more people should be aware of.

  1. With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling?

Without a doubt. The reality is that if you go mainstream you’re going to get the same old safe narrative over and over again. Mainstream follows the trends and indie sets them. I was in a Barnes & Noble the other day and I took a picture of the front display just because there wasn’t a single book on sale that I had any interest in reading whatsoever. It’s all book adaptations of powerful films and biographies of boring celebrities that are famous for doing nothing. Who wants to be traditionally published when that’s the kind of garbage you have to write?

  1. Are indie/ self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?

I’m published with Perseid Publishing, a small press owned by Janet Morris. Morris is a very well-respected writer, but I still find that I’m regarded with skepticism among certain writing communities. I’ve come to believe that the literary community is, to some extent, more interested in silencing voices than giving them a platform. This makes sense if you consider the money angle. It’s easy enough to understand that some groups don’t want a book to be widely read if it doesn’t make money for their company. That’s a case where the quality of a work is irrelevant.

I remember one instance where I was at the Chippewa Valley Book Festival. I was selected for this festival and I was sitting at a meeting with one of the other authors who was regarding me with undisguised contempt. I started talking with her and she clearly had the sense that I didn’t deserve to be there. Now, this was a writer I’d never heard of, and whose name I can’t even remember. It just struck me as very strange that she’d be so critical of somebody who had a publisher and who had been selected to appear in the festival. But that’s a very prevalent attitude.

Who knows? Maybe they’re scared and intimidated.

  1. Is there a message in your books?

I always aspire to have something useful in my books. I don’t know if it’s a “message” but it’s an encouragement to at least start thinking about certain problems or issues. A person can be greatly empowered just by examining something that s/he always believed was true without question.

Sometimes if you line up a bunch of ideas, people connect the dots and come to a new conclusion about something they’re carrying around in their mind. The fact is that there’s a lot of junk in our mind that doesn’t do us any good. In fact, it was put there on purpose to not do us any good. The difficult thing is that a lot of people have become very attached to that junk and if you try to tell them to throw it away, they become very offended. So what you have to do is set up the whole argument and have them walk along the argument with you, and at the end, hopefully they come to the realization themselves.

My hope is that I’m helping people remove the junk. Others might say I’m contributing to the problem. The good thing about writing is that, in the end, the reader can listen to you or not.

  1. How important is writing to you?

It’s just something I have to do. If I don’t write for a long period I start feeling really bad, like groggy. It just helps me take a break from thinking, or carrying ideas around in my mind. Once they’re recorded I can stop worrying about them, I guess they become somebody else’s problem at that point.

Mainly I think of my kids. Growing up I always felt that there were a dozen or so pieces of information that adults could have given me and I would have had a much easier life. I’m trying to make sure I get as many good little nuggets of information nailed down for my kids to find as I possibly can. The thing is, there are a lot of lies out there. There are false narratives used to make you beholden to some other entity or individual. That’s the kind of thing that writing can fight against, but it’s an eternal struggle.

Thanks for having me!

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Book Spotlight – Storm Seed #Fantasy

Book Spotlight

Storm Seed (Sacred Band Series Book 7) Janet and Chris Morris

Author’s Cut Edition

#Fantasy #mythic #ancient

Hot off the e-presses, the final “lost” volume of the Sacred Band series in an all-new Author’s Cut edition. Travel with the Stepsons to a future undreamed. Meet the changeling son of Tempus and Jihan. Learn what it takes to become a dragon. Bring gods to a godless realm. High adventure awaits in Storm Seed by Janet & Chris Morris.

Swift Six Character Interview – Ser Colin

Character Name: I am Ser Colin i’Nola, of the Order of the Morning

Which book/world do you live in? I was born and raised in the kingdom of Kholast, and I fight in the service of King Boris III. (In the novella, With a Broken Sword)

Tell us about yourself: I am the newest, and youngest, Knight of the Morning, which none of my fellows will let me forget. I squired for Ser Jane i’Julia for four years. First blooded at the Battle of Winter Creek. Knighted for valor at the Stone Hills Betrayal.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Ser Jane would say my greatest weakness was “exuberance.” Usually, she meant impatience to prove myself.

As for my greatest strength, it feels boastful to answer such a question myself. If I must answer, then determination. Though I am the last knight between the Berledthi invaders and the people of Three Bridges, I will not yield and I must not fail.

Name three important people/creatures/institutions in your world (such as lovers, pets, government institutions, leaders, gods etc).

1) The Order of the Morning, of course, and its members. Especially my mentor, Ser Jane.

2) Terrwyn. Only a seamstress, but an impressive woman, and the leader of the Three Bridges Resistance Army.

3) Three Bridges Resistance Army. Hardly an army. A collection of dockworkers, fishers, crafters and traders. But they have spirit. And spirit goes a long way.

What does ‘heroism’ mean to you?

Who will stand in defiance of certain defeat? Who will risk his own life to save others? Call that man a hero, but don’t expect him to accept the title. To him, there is no other option.

What do you think of your ‘creator’?

If he is responsible for those foul Querain sorcerers and their evil plans for the good people of Three Bridges, then he must be a sick individual.

Give us your favourite piece of advice:

“Kings come and go. Borders shift and change. It’s the people that matter.”

Links to book

www.books2read.com/u/3GRxOb

Adventures in Marketing – Bundle Rabbit II – Heroic Tales #Fantasy

You may remember my previous post about Bundle Rabbit – the online book bundling service. I now have The Light Beyond the Storm – Book I featured in a forthcoming bundle. Heroic Tales features 19 tales of fantasy and heroes, brave deeds and daring adventures.

Heroic Tales - Bundle Rabbit

Synopsis

Imagine: you are seated about a blazing campfire, you and the other bards.  Tales of Achilles, Beowulf, Alexander, Odysseus, Conan, Tarzan, Joan of Arc and other heroes are told, along with new ones that carry on with the Jungian archetypes so central to our very nature.  Men and women who brave the unnatural, the fantastic, and the plain weird.

Without the circle of firelight, shapes of menace and strangeness stalk horrifically, but the heroic tales hearten us, and strengthen the entire tribe in both body and spirit to continue the battle of good and right, against the strange and evil.  We all have the need, deep within us, for Heroic Tales!

It’s quite a mix of tales from Jay Bowers, Stefon Mears, N.W. Moors and Jerusha Moors, Michael Kingswood, Carl S. Plumer, J. D. Brink, Louisa Swann, Xina M Uhl, Robert Jeschonek, Blaze Ward, Douglas Smith, Robert Jeschonek, Perry A Wilson, Debbie Mumford and Leslie Claire Walker.  For details of each book please check out the Bundle (as we will be overrun with links).
Table of Contents
1. “A Barbarian in Chicago” by Simon Stanton
2. “Lair of the Wulf” by Simon Stanton
3. “With a Broken Sword” by Stefon Mears
4. “Icarus Rising” by N.W. Moors
5. “Lee and the Monkey Idol” by Jay Bowers
6. “Glimmer Vale” by Michael Kingswood
7. “Afterlife” by Jay Bowers
8. “Shadows of Death” by Carl S. Plumer
9. “The Quest” by J. D. Brink
10. “The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I” by A. L. Butcher
11. “The Girl with the Candy Cane Legs” by Louisa Swann
12. “Necropolis” by Xina M Uhl
13. “The Sword That Spoke” by Robert Jeschonek
14. “The Forestal” by Blaze Ward
15. “The Wolf at the End of the World” by Douglas Smith
16. “The Wife Who Never Was” by Robert Jeschonek
17. “Family” by P. A. Wilson
18. “Witchling” by Debbie Mumford
19. “Faery Tales: Volume 1” by Leslie Claire Walker

It’s due out 11th July – on Bundle Rabbit, Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 19 books for less than $5 – now that is a bargain right there!

BundleRabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/heroic-tales

Heroic Tales on Kobo

Heroic Tales on Barnes and Noble

Heroic Tales on I-books

Heroic Tales on Amazon.co.uk

Heroic Tales on Amazon.com

 

Heroic Tales - Fan set.pngHopefully there should be some forthcoming interviews with authors and characters for this bundle – so keep your eyes peeled for those.

 

 

Hell Week 2017 – Larry Atchley Jr/Henry Morgan

 

 

Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you?   Tell us about your life before you came here, and after. I, Henry Morgan, was born in Wales around the year 1635 but the opportunities for a Welshman in those days for adventure and wealth were scarce, so I set out for the West Indies for some excitement, and to try to make my fortune as a privateer. The governor of Jamaica gave me a letter of marque so that I could legally attack Spanish ships and seize their cargo. I was even able to attack many cities under Spanish rule, including Panama City, Porto Bello, and Maracaibo raiding them for their riches. I was one of the most successful privateers of all time. King Charles the 2nd awarded me knighthood and I became Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica after retiring from privateering.

After dying and ending up in hell, I suffered many lifetimes worth of years of drudgery and toil before I could acquire my own ship and begin plundering the riches of the ships on the seas of hell.

* Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? Morgan: My love for riches was surpassed only by my love for drink. Perhaps my excesses with strong libations led to my damnation. Of course privateering is nasty business.  I killed many men.  Some people had to be physically convinced into giving up their information about the defenses of the cities I plundered.

Who are your friends/allies here? Morgan: I found unlikely allies in the shopkeeper Anton LaVey, founder of the modern Church of Satan before his damnation, and the Viking heroes Erik the Red, and his son Leif Eriksson, and Ragnar Loddbrok who joined me on my quest for the Unholy Grail that is rumoured to allow damned souls to become inebriated.

Do you have any enemies here? Morgan: HSM’s naval forces are on the prowl for me and my ship “Stingray” because I have plundered many trade vessels on the seas of hell.

Pirate – is that a word you resent? Morgan: I do not resent being called a pirate, though for most of my career I was known as a privateer, plundering Spanish ships and cities under the service of the British Empire and His Majesty the King.

How do you define ‘piracy’? Morgan: Taking something of value from someone else for one’s own personal gain.

What is the WORST thing about being here? Morgan: The worst thing about being in hell is not being able to get drunk. But I am working on a solution to that problem.

Before you arrived here did you actually believe in HSM and his fiery domain? Bet that was a shock! Morgan: I figured that if there was a hell, I’d be bound for it.  I wasn’t all that surprised to find out it really did exist.

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How to you spend the endless years here?Morgan: I bide my time by plundering ships, and looking for a loophole to the rule of not being able to get drunk in hell.

What do you miss most about your old….life? Morgan: I miss rum, wine and brandy, and the sensation of drunkenness.

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

Larry Atchley Jr. grew up in Grapevine, Texas, and has been writing stories and poems since he was in middle school. When he’s not writing, he likes reading and collecting books on a wide range of subjects and genres, hiking and mountain biking in the woods, birding, Kung Fu martial arts, playing guitar and harmonica, listening to all kinds of music, and watching britcoms and movies with his wife Ali, who is a writer and artist. Larry performs along with his wife and fellow crew members with the group The Seadog Slam which performs recitations of pirate poetry and performs pirate songs at various public appearances and festivals in North Texas.

* Tell us about your story for this edition.

Captain Sir Henry Morgan was famous for his drinking as a pirate buccaneer in the seventeenth century. I thought it would be fun for him to be on a quest for the one object in hell that was rumoured to be able to let damned souls get drunk, despite His Satanic Majesty’s rule against it being able to happen. Drunkeness would be the one thing that Morgan would miss most dearly from his life before damnation, and so he would want it more than anything. He goes to Anton LaVey’s shop Hellish Curiosities and Clothiers, a place known for its rare artefacts, to see if LaVey knows if it really exists and where it might be located. They end up going on an adventure together to try to find this so-called unholy grail.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

I thought that Henry Morgan was an interesting choice because of his infamy for his love of the drink and the troubles it got him into in life. I wanted to explore his obsession/addiction and how it would drive him to search for the ability to get drunk again while damned to hell where it wasn’t possible to become inebriated.

How did you become involved with this project?

I Met Janet Morris online in 2010 when she was reviving the Heroes in Hell series for the 21st century. I was invited to submit a story for the anthology Lawyers in Hell, and had my story “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” accepted which was my first published story. I subsequently went on to have stories published in several volumes in the series including Rogues in Hell, Dreamers in Hell and Poets in Hell. Being one of the regular Hellion writers for the series meant that I could submit a story for the latest book. I managed to get something in at the eleventh hour that Janet graciously put a lot of work into editing it into a usable story in time to be included in the book. I can’t thank her and Chris Morris enough for the opportunity to have a story in this edition the of the series.

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?

It takes a lot of research and knowledge of the rules and tropes of the series that you are writing for. It is harder than writing a stand-alone story but I find that it is very rewarding writing for a shared world series. You get to be part of a much bigger world than anything else you could come up with yourself. It is an honor to write for the Heroes in Hell series, especially since I have been a fan of it since the first books in the 1980’s.

What are you currently working on?

I’m always working on more short stories and two or three novels that are works in progress. Mostly dark fantasy, action adventure fantasy genre stuff.

*If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell”

-Oscar Wilde

 

What other books/short stories have you written?

“Remember, Remember, Hell in November” my first published story, which appeared in Lawyers in Hell in June 2011. “Ragnarok & Roll” in Rogues in Hell, “Knocking on Heaven’s Gates” in Dreamers in Hell, and “Poetic Injustice” in Poets in Hell. He has also contributed stories to the Sha’Daa shared world series created by Michael H. Hanson, which include “Time for a Change” in Sha’Daa: Pawns, and “Harmonic Dissonance” in Sha’Daa Facets. Other works include “Shadow of a Doubt” in the horror anthology, What Scares the Boogeyman, and “A Light in the Black” in the Victorian era historical horror anthology Terror by Gaslight. His poetry credits include “The Stoic’s Mask” in the art/poetry/story collection Klarissa’s Dreams and “The Shadow People” in the poetry collection A Book of Night. I’ve written countless other unpublished short stories and poems and have a couple of fantasy novels as works in progress.

What do you think are the top three inventions/discoveries in human history and why?

The printing press, the personal computer, and the internet. They are all ways in which we have expanded, shared and spread knowledge throughout the world.

EXCERPT from your story:

From “Unholiest Grail” by Larry Atchley Jr. in Pirates in Hell, edited by Janet Morris

     Morgan felt a palpable fear rising from his bowels, and although prayer was denied him, he could lament in the privacy of his skull.  And this he did: In my life I have faced many challenges, from men, women, from the sea. I have faced each one with bravado and courage. But now comes a rarer torment: this uncertainty of being forever snuffed out of existence in hell, a punishment too cruel. If he died here, he might be obliterated, with no return even to the netherworlds. He might cease to exist completely, and eternally, forgotten as if he’d never lived at all. A shudder wracked his sturdy frame. I surely don’t court obliteration. But to revel in the sensation of inebriation again, after all these years . . . for even a chance at that most delectable of experiences; surely it’s worth the risk. The craving for drink has been upon me ever since I awoke in this domain of the damned. But it’s been the strongest since I first heard the story of the unholy grail. ‘Drink is the devil’ we privateers liked to say while alive. Knowing it causes one to commit deeds both careless and terrible. It brings forth the worst in a person. But never could I abstain from it, that carefree, impassioned, elated, and yet numbed feeling of drunkenness. I love it so. I love it more than life itself. I made my deal with the devil every time I besotted myself. And I’ll gladly do it again, to cast off the doldrums and despair of existence in hell.

 

Links:

Facebook: Larry Atchley Jr

Blog/Website: www.larryatchleyjr.wordpress.com

Twitter @LarryAtchleyJr

Amazon : https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006OGZJVE

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6440299.Larry_Atchley_Jr_

 

Hell Week 2017 – Day 6 – Janet Morris/Medea

pirates-in-hell_vertical-webbannerWelcome to Day 6 of Hell Week. Today the Infernal Interview Service catches up with series creator Janet Morris, and her character Medea.

 

Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you?   Tell us about your life before you came here, and after.

I am Medea, daughter of the king of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of Helios the sun god, priestess of Hekate, who rules Erebos and judges the damned who come there. More to the point, I am the oldest witch in hell. I met Jason when he came to Colchis to claim his inheritance and swore to claim his throne by bringing home the Golden Fleece. Like a fool, I fell in love with him. I helped him secure the Fleece, pass every test, on the condition that he would marry me should we succeed. Sailing in the Argos with his Argonauts, we did all of those, and more

* Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?

Jason and I killed my brother, who came chasing after us to grab the Fleece once we secured it. Then, later, when he spurned me for a daughter of Creon’s, did I turn upon fickle Jason, and killed both our children. Although I had a right to my revenge, one of those or both brought me to hell.

Who are your friends/allies here?

Friends? If you wish a friend in hell, find a dog who lived on Earth before coming here. Scarce those are, but no scarcer than a friendly soul in hell. Those in hell who’ll help me are the Erinys, the Furies, the Moerae, the Fates; but those exact their own diabolical price. Men here like Jason, once my lover, might ally with me in perdition, but no one has a ‘friend’ in hell, anymore than a lover who will be true to oath or promise. And my once-husband, Jason? He sired a race called Minyans, bedding every Lemnian woman he could find. What more about his morals need you know? Such souls now feel my wrath and will feel it more, forever.

Do you have any enemies here?

My enemies are legion. Among the greatest are Jason and his crew of heroes, every one. Some of those heroes live on in hell, flayed, without a patch of skin anywhere upon them — a due punishment for men who killed so many whilst they lived. Some need more humbling; some have earned an afterlife of pain. And, by Circe’s will and Hekate’s devising, I am one who sees to the torment of the deserving. I have told you I am hell’s oldest witch, and thus damned souls are my natural prey.

Pirates – is that a word you resent?

In my days on the black earth, what you call piracy was an honorable profession, a way to test would-be heroes, and what then was called glory is now called evil-doing. In hell, sinners sin and sin again: their fates abide in their natures: and pirates in hell today can be thieves of music, words, or souls. I serve my purpose, to terrorize and penalize the damned. Thus I please the Lords of Hell and get my revenges. So do I resent the word piracy? By all means, if you mean my ‘piracy’ from ancient times. My deeds that got me here were fated, not my fault.

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world?

I stay much to myself, much in Erebos, where I can drink the Waters of Forgetfulness should I wish a good night’s rest. Because I am hell’s greatest sorceress, I travel whither I choose, chasing enemies, breaking hearts, setting rights to wrongs, and wrongs to right.

How do you define ‘piracy’?

Define it? I lived it when such a quest had meaning. Now mere plagiarists and thieves of arts and letters are called pirates. Here latter-day warriors have weapons that make cowards of them all. To me, betrayal of the heart is the greatest piracy: Jason stole my heart – how long ago? – and I’ve yet to get it back.  So his steps do I shadow, his hopes do I destroy. And all like him, arrogant men who sack and pillage and lay waste here in damnation, are due to feel my wrath before infernity shall end.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

I have said, I rest in Erebos, where those heroes end who can’t remember their names or fames. From there I range wheresoever my damned quarries roam. Satan sets me tasks in his New Hell, where the New Dead dwell; nor are the Old Dead safe from me. But, alas, not even the greatest witch in hell can rid its fastness of guilty humans. But I say to you that the New Dead, those hedonistic souls who care only for themselves, torment one another more than even I can devise. So I stay among the Old Dead, since sinners there abound, and pick and choose. And why are you here, my dear? Have you not yet felt my fury?

Come on be honest, what do you think of HSM leadership?

Ah, Satan. He is what he is, suited to his modern flock of fearful souls, who all believe they don’t belong in perdition, who groan and moan over the slightest torture. Ha!  Now, Hades: there is a ruler worthy of the name.

What is the WORST thing about being here?

That I still love Jason:  that’s my torment. No matter how I try, I cannot shake his hold on my poor and shrunken heart.

Erra and his Seven – what’s going on there then?

Ah, Erra and the Seven – called the Sibitti. Erra and his personified weapons are doing more to make the underverse hellish than Satan ever did. The plagues in hell are of Erra’s making, and the floods, and there be more to come from the Babylonian Plague God and his minions., before eternity runs out.

What are your best tips for surviving in Hell?

Surviving hell?  All souls in hell are dead, do you not realize that? What survival do you mean? The survival of the soul?  They have that, yet they complain.  Soon enough, methinks, Satan will turn to obliteration: an end to all hell’s over-crowding, and to Satan’s own sentence here. Hell has its gods, to commute a sentence. Irkalla can send a soul straight to what you call heaven, if she will. But seldom does. The damned get here, and then they sin, and sin, and sin: every evil inherent in their persons do they exalt. So few, the tiniest fraction, deserve salvation. And those masses who love evil, and repeat their crimes in hell, are cursed with survival: even if they die, the Undertaker resurrects them, and they return to their vile ways. For those who cannot bear more punishment, hell holds out obliteration: not only not to be, but to never have been at all.  And this, to arrogant humankind, is the most frightful end, yet devoutly to be sought by the worst offenders here.

Before you arrived here did you actually believe in HSM and his fiery domain? Bet that was a shock!

I came not to New Hell, where Abbadon rules, but to Hades’ domain, where I have respect, even in Tartaros. There am I assigned retributions to meet out to the damned. Remember, I am not a damned fool like you. I am the oldest witch in hell. So bow down before me, and I may be easy upon you, sinner.

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How to you spend the endless years here?

Time here is fluid. A day can be an hour, a century a week — never time enough for anything redeeming to be done, but time enough for every evil to mature, and spread, and multiply.

What do you miss most about your old….life?

Jason, when we were lovers. Jason, even now that he despises me. With love grown cold in his breast, I miss my days among the Argonauts, when heroes were heroes and my powers at their peak. Yes, Jason. I miss him only, and miss him most of all wherever in hell I may roam.

 

Author Spotlight

*Janet Morris (a/k/a Janet E. Morris)

Here is my bio from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Morris

My first book was published by Bantam in 1977, and I have been writing for a living (fiction or fact), ever since.

* Tell us about your story for this edition.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

Hell has so many fascinating characters, as many as human history has produced, that I use both characters who continue through the series, and characters who have only a bit of time upon Hell’s stage. Right now, I am writing Heroes in Hell stories with my husband Chris, and these center primarily on William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and how their compatriots or inheritors in life are faring in hell. We already know what brought Marlowe to hell. He’s there for writing in Faustus the line: “Hell is just a frame of mind.” In Pirates in Hell, we find out why Shakespeare is damned. This round, we had a fortuitous intersection with current reality, where Shakespeare and Marlowe are concerned: in 2016, scholars decided/admitted, using technological capabilities to underpin instinct and study, that Marlowe must be given co-author credit on at least Henry VI, Part 1, 2, and 3. That, plus the fact that Pirates in Hell admits stories swung around all sorts of piracy, allowed us to use the premise that, in hell, where book piracy and plagiarism are rampant, Marlowe and Shakespeare spat about how and why Kit Marlowe’s name has been omitted as co-author of Henry VI for centuries. Since Marlowe still struggles under a curse which allows him to remember lines he and others have written previously but gives him a hellacious case of writer’s block where new work is concerned, the restoration of Marlowe’s name to at least the Henry VI plays was a story-line too enticing to ignore.

How did you become involved with this project?

I created the Heroes in Hell series when I was at Baen Books and had a multi-book contract that had no creative limitations, not even specific titles: this ploy was how Jim Baen lured authors he otherwise could not afford. So I mentioned the Heroes in Hell concept to Jim Baen on the phone and he agreed I could do a “shared universe” series called Heroes in Hell (HIH).  And that I did, creating, producing, commissioning and editing multiple volumes of stories from authors (many of them writers who then were also friends) that include, so far, two Nebula Award finalists and a Hugo Award winner. We did 12 volumes, including both HIH novels and HIH stories, in the 20th century, and resurrected [sic] the concept in the 21st century with volume #13, Lawyers in Hell.  Pirates in Hell is #20.  But, since all Heroes in Hell volume have a targeted subject, and yet each stands alone, you can start anywhere in the HIH series, make your own order, depending upon your interests: you can choose to begin with HIH novels or HIH shorter fiction. The rules in hell are simple: no one rightly sent to hell gets out. For each novel or story, given writers must use several historical characters, or mythic characters, or legendary characters previously approved for their use by me, and follow the long-arc of the series per se, as well as a volume arc Chris and I give them. We then approve their story concepts before they are allowed to write, since the HIH universe (Hell as we describe it) is our property . So with these constraints, the volumes each have a theme and yet they are subject to tie-in thematics from other volumes which we provide to them.

Writing for a shared world requires rules all writers obey. Even without that constraint, writing for a shared world is most challenging, particularly when you haven’t used a character previously. Introducing new characters, writers must answer the following question to my satisfaction and Chris’: “Why is this character in hell?” Often the basic answer is revealed early in the first story using that character, sometimes it is revealed slowly. If you are using characters previously used by others, you must get my permission to use preciously-appearing characters, and write them to be consistent with the way they’ve been written previously. We have voluminous documents to which writers can refer, not only about New Hell, but about many of the dedicated hells such as Tartaros or Arali.  Since it is in human nature that like groups flock together, we have a few dedicated hells, hard to get into or out of, whether or not you are native to that culture. Some of these are Greek or Akkadian or Elizabethan. With the future hells, we allow only agreed-upon technology and future history, since no character can be historical if that character has not yet lived. Some people wheedled the option of writing about fictional characters, but those are rare, and they must be characters from the 19th century or earlier, or characters or persons from recent times who are in the public domain.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?

While Chris Morris and I are working with Shakespeare and Marlow, we’ve been focused on their thread, but always include a new or different character as well, such as J the Yahwist or Diomedes from the Iliad or Medea the Colchian witch. Satan is one of our characters, so we always write a first story which doubles as an introduction to the volume, That first story is always the most taxing one, since we need to find a way to set up afresh the constraints, threats, and givens that all writers of that volume will share. It’s great fun, but its job is to serve as an orientation for the volume not, in or of itself, serve as a free-standing story, though sometimes we can make the intro story serve as both.

What are you currently working on?

I am still working on Rhêsos of Thrace, and also, with Chris, doing the updating and revising for the Author’s Cut volumes of my backlist. We’re only now finishing Tempus Unbound, and on deck is City at the Edge of Time, to be followed by Storm Seed; when those three are released, the ‘Farther Realms’ Sacred Band books will all exist in Author’s Cut editions. Besides our own work, we edit and format works by some writers who interest us, including but not limited to Michael A. Armstrong, Andrew P. Weston, Walter Rhein, Thomas Barczak, so publishing per se takes up much of my time. Plus, although we don’t take unsolicited submissions, we are always reading submissions from writers we find compelling.

If you could have a dinner party with any man and woman from anywhere and any when who would invite and what would you eat?

I’d invite Heraclitus of Ephesus, Confucius,  Albert Einstein, Roger Penrose, Homer, Marguerite Yourcenar, and a smattering of my HIH characters:  the Yahwist, Shakespeare and Marlowe. We’d eat roast lamb, which is familiar to all, barley and wild rice, and desert would be a green salad and/or a cheese board. We’d have wines with the meal and after, with chocolates.

Which 10 books would you save to keep you sane after the apocalypse? Oxford Classical Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, The Iliad, the Odyssey, Paradise Lost, Hamlet (or complete Shakespeare), Tamburlaine, Faustus, the I Ching, Spenser’s Fairie Queen.

 

EXCERPT from your story.

Goat-Beard the Pirate, Part 1

or

Bitter Business

 

Janet Morris and Chris Morris

“Now I could drink hot blood and

and do such bitter business as the

day would quake to look upon.”

—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

“Piracy in hell is bitter business, when freebooters steal whate’er a soul holds dear.” Grey doublet askew, buff linen shirt open, sans breeches and still bare-arsed but for hose, Kit Marlowe stalked Will Shakespeare across their attic hideaway in the New Globe Theatre. Heels drumming, Kit dogged Will until poet cornered poet at arm’s length. “And bitterest when what’s stolen is words, and the thief’s a lover, a friend — or you, vaunted Bard of Avon.”

“Call’st me thief? O’er the three Henry the Sixth plays?” Shakespeare rose up stiff and livid. “Accept this truth: Once you were dead and your name expunged from those scripts, I ne’er could restore it. When Satan reissued our Henry Six ‘masterworks’ as mine alone, he meant to vex you, Kit. This bone you’d pick with me’s sucked clean of marrow. Pirates run amok throughout perdition. Not only do they ply the floods and stalk the shores, they infest New Hell’s publishing houses. When we both lived, you helped me, yes. But —”

“Helped you?” Kit nearly spat. “But what?”

For a painful eternity, Kit’s question hung in the air between them, an implacable specter, until Shakespeare sought sanctuary in Hamlet’s speech: “‘But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.’” Will hid his bearded mouth behind a fingering hand while his eyes pled mercy.

They seldom fenced with quotes lately, too angry at each other. But now that Will had begun it, Marlowe meant to weaponize the game. For his first beat, he brandished his Elegia 1: “‘Rash boy, who gave thee power to change a line?’ An attribution line at that? In hell I may be, but ’tis insufferable to be plagiarized by you. . . .”

“Kit . . .” Shakespeare’s riposte died upon his lips.

Pulse racing, fury out of control, Marlowe tried to stem his words, but failed: “This bit’s yours, or so you say, but it’s surely apt: ‘For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright/ Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.’”

“With my own sonnet you dare despise me?”

“Despite is but a taste of what you’ve earned from me,” retorted Marlowe, tongue clumsy, blood rushing in his ears. “Did you not proclaim in Henry the Fourth ‘the fox barks not, when he would steal the lamb’? Take care, brash despoiler who hath ravaged me. Confess and make amends, Willie, or that’s the last quote of ours — or is it yours? or mine? — ’twill issue from my lips till infernity runs out.”

In the garret they’d leased once Satan expelled them from Pandemonium, time held still. Kit’s ears heard nothing but their breathing; no draft blew through their attic to cool their wrath; no sweet peace winged their way.

“Thus dies our game of quotes and more, this day!” Shakespeare’s voice shook; wherever no goat-beard bristled, his rosy cheeks drained white. He stumbled over his own lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “‘O, then, what graces in my love do dwell,/ That he hath turn’d a heaven unto a hell.’”

“Your ‘love’ am I? New words may come hard to me, but mine old I have aplenty. Recalling olden words, here’s more ‘deathless prose’ in which I had a hand but got no credit: ‘Love is familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love.’ Or so we once agreed in Love’s Labours Lost.”

Shakespeare sighed. “Marley, I’ll see Old Nick this very night. Beg him to change those attributions and include you. No sinners read those early plays; instead they ogle the hell-born travesties we stage for Satan. Since your words dried up, your soul’s gone cold. But we’ll fix it. Fix everything.”

A promise impossible to keep in hell, now we’ve provoked the Deceiver’s envy of what we two alone can share.

Marlowe shook his head, raised empty hands and dropped them to his sides. “There’s no fix for human frailty; no cure, unless it be Milton’s ‘obliteration’. And as for piracy, I bore with its bile whilst we lived and taste it still. But run not to the Archfiend’s wily embrace. He’s got no Muse of fire for me nor patience left for you; your glory droopeth, to his baleful eye.”

“Not so. Come with me, Kit, to His Infernal Majesty’s reception. Tonight. We’d best not ignore his invitation. All New Hell’s illiterati and their publishers has he summoned: every paltry poet and pusillanimous pundit in perdition will attend. As your Passionate Shepherd begged, ‘Come with me and be my love,’ and we’ll make every slight that’s wrong come right.”

When Will Shakespeare wheedled, contrite and on his game, Marlowe never could resist him. Yet Will’s affair with Satan too oft abandoned Kit to Jealousy’s embrace.

From their window overlooking the Globe’s stage and its tuppenny seats came a scrabbling of claws, a whoosh of wings, a shower of glass. Like love in hell, no pane in that window ever lasted long, but shattered once puttied into place. Kit spied the vandal, a red-eyed bat hanging upside-down from the window’s empty frame, staring unabashed.

Bats in hell exhaled contagion wherever plagues rode the air.

The hairs on Marlowe’s nape bristled. Heed this omen, Will Shakespeare: Diábolos, Old Scratch, the Prince of Hell, call him what you will, now sends his presumptuous bat, wings wide, for you and me.

Aloud, Kit scoffed. “Be your love, Will? At what cost? Go with you where? On this unclean night? Through twisty byways where purge and pestilence sack the damned?” Alas, Kit knew he’d do what Shakespeare asked, face even obliteration for this wraith, this shadow of the man he’d loved so well. “If you insist, I’ll attend you on this fruitless errand, albeit I’ve no hope for it. Your lusty devil won’t heed my plea, or yours. How many times before has Satan backhanded me for barging along beside you?”

At Kit’s last word, with one flap of wings the bat dropped from the sash and glided into its mother night. Did it hear? Understand? Hell bore few animals as the living knew them: hell-bats to shrive the doomed; hell-goats to feast on garbage; hell-horses whose manes and tails hissed like asps; hell-hounds, sometimes manlike. Save the rare curs or coursers come to seek their masters, hell hosted no loving fauna, no creature company for the dead.

Marlowe buttoned his threadbare shirt, donned his breeches, and paced Will through soggy lanes where few dared walk, where brigands roamed in gangs. Here Satan’s latest purge dissolved unwary souls to salty sand, while other damned, unscathed, scuffed through their glittering remains. If not for the floods that flushed its streets, Marlowe thought, New Hell soon would be but one huge dune.

Past the New Globe they ventured; past the Rose, still dark in fear of plague. Receipts were down at every playhouse, audiences scarce. Nevertheless, when they reached their destination the sidewalk teemed with the sad, the bad, and the mad, a mob desperate to gawk at arriving unworthies and glimpse the infamous.

An imposing structure overshadowed all. The hub of Satan’s New Hell seat, a horseshoe upside down and open at its top, arched toward Paradise and its bloody vault. Red carpet smoldered underfoot, gold festoons lined the forecourt’s fence. Torches blazed along ranks of spearhead finials on wrought-iron pickets, displaying the occasional severed head.

At its grand entrance, fiends of carmine and black formed a sweaty cordon barring groundlings here to gawp, whilst Shakespeare’s name assured entry for him and Kit as if it were a watchword.

A liveried orange demon who reeked of week-old corpses escorted them inside, around, up and down stairs that led in more directions than hounds seeking scent, till they came to a cathedral of a hall.

Once inside, their demon guide bowed low and left them.

Now Marlowe realized where Shakespeare’s fame had brought them. This was a fete for the piratical elite, an A-list affair convoked by Satan’s Masters of the Revels, his seven fallen angels, each banished warrior of heaven more gorgeous than the last. Before them, souls from every epoch mingled, resplendent in outrageous finery. While outside calumny, poverty, deviltry and woe oppressed all hearts behind the spear-topped fence, here chatter flowed, laughter pealed.

And stopped . . .

Into that sudden silence, a second orange demon boomed their names, its tail wagging like a dog’s: “Master Shakespeare and Mister Marlowe.”

Necks craned. Fingers pointed. Misers and monsters, demons and debauchers (hell’s every publisher, privateer, prostitute, pimp and poseur) took their measure.

Marlowe tugged his doublet tight to hide threadbare shirt and cuffs, while leers cast his way said he’d be welcome naked. When he’d been a player, spy, and rakehell, such looks had bought him comfort on many a night. Notwithstanding, at that awkward moment Kit felt supremely underdressed; he should have followed suit when Will buttoned on grass-green shirtsleeves and donned his candy-apple codpiece; or at least worn a leather jerkin over the doublet — but no: rebellious, he hadn’t.

A sigh of whispers grew among this staring clutch of vipers. The crowd parted, and Marlowe happed upon more pressing matters to regret; for toward them strode Satan himself, reigning lord of the latter-day hells, a sinning soul on either arm: one male, one female.

“Will, be you wary . . . keep in mind why we’re here.” Kit tried in vain to wet his lips. When his words had fled him at Satan’s behest, they’d taken all his spittle with them.

“Do you see who that is, the big hairy man in the brown mantle, leaning on his staff?” Shakespeare’s whisper tugged Kit’s ear like a child: “King Solomon, from bible times. Do you recall him from the polo field where he begged my bodkin to slice that infant in half?”

A phantom babe, if ever it lived at all, meant to raise hopes of innocence and dash them, the Trickster’s favorite game.

“Will, remember, we’ve only come to convince Old Nick to redress this piracy; provide compensation, restitution or at least retraction, emendation, some satisfaction. . . .”

Shakespeare heeded not a word, but floated down that final stair and straight to Satan, white-winged and magnificent. Beneath one creamy pennon slid the Bard, as if into his rightful place.

That freed the female from Satan’s hold. Once out from under the devil’s pinion, Kit recognized her: J the Yahwist, she who first gave song and grace to the Old Testament.

J regarded Kit with but the faintest smile, as might a goddess . . .

She’d understudied a role in a play of theirs, come to a dress rehearsal, but they’d never stood this close. She extended a hand to him.

He couldn’t resist. That hand promised lost joys. Forgiveness nestled in her eyes. Exaltation graced her lips. She smelled of sympathy and more: a scent with a darker note, a hint of expiation. . . .

Kit Marlowe took two steps to kiss fingers that scribed the advent of creation. Her touch brought him near to tears. “Yet hell-bound, mighty J? Why do you tarry? Why comest thou here?”

“I am come for a line of mine, pirated by a mortal, a self-styled apostle named John: my line about the Word. Do you know it?”

“Know it? I lived it. Yes, I know it.”

“And do you not hear, with your unerring ear, that it belongs with my Genesis, not with the scribblings of some Johnny-come-lately?”

“I hear.” Many dwelt in hell, but this soul, called simply J, belonged Above. She had come on Mercy’s agency, rumor whispered, to inspire the damned — to give them words, give them hope — and been entrapped by Satan’s wiles. Within her orbit, for an instant sorrow left him. Kit forgot all travail, forgot even delirious Shakespeare, snuggling in the curve of Evil’s wing. . . .

“And why are you here, Christopher Marlowe?”

“I’m here about a play or two I helped write. But standing next to you, my loss sums as naught.”

J’s laughter tinkled like bells. “How could that be, you who wrote ‘Come with me and be my love?’” From her lips, the same line Will had used to jolly Kit into coming here became eerie, beguiling; as was what followed: “I have extra words betimes; words meant for hell’s most needy. Who knows but that I might have some for you? Would you want words about love transforming all, Kit Marlowe? Words to sound a higher octave of being? Would words to transfigure suit you?”

“What? You mean you could . . . ? I’d — That is, you would . . . ?”

Meanwhile, Shakespeare had not forgotten Kit:

Into Marlowe’s colloquy with J intruded the Bard’s voice triumphal: “I did what you wanted, Marley. I have Satan’s promise. And look who I found! You recall King Solomon: Solomon of the Song of Songs, of —”

“Will, not now! J says she . . .” Kit looked from Shakespeare to J, but she had slipped away into the crowd.

Consternation must have remade Kit’s face, because bulky, rough-hewn Solomon shrugged: “The Yahwist seeks her own redress of grievances. And a way out of hell.”

Kit could no more than stare.

“Everyone in hell seeks a way out.” Will sneered. “What makes her special?”

“She does.” The apostate King Solomon struck the floor with his staff for emphasis. “You must understand: J has basked in the paradisal light, walked near to the One — and now, for denying her faith by a slip of the tongue, she is marooned here.” Solomon sighed like a desert wind. “I know — she offered you words, didn’t she? She would. But our host Abaddon will never let her heal a soul like yours, as damned as your friend here describes you. You’ve doubtless heard my proverb, ‘As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.’ Few in hell have a friend. Do not pursue the Yahwist. Cleave to your friend Shakespeare and seek the truth of ages.”

Solomon’s words fell like rain on Kit’s roof. Marlowe had no answer for the Israelite king’s bombast but to look away, seeking J’s face in the crowd.

Alas, no Yahwist.

Where was she? What was she? A fortuity found and lost in a heartbeat? Salvation? A glimpse of deliverance? A breath of the sublime? Her offer of words — words to heal his mind, his heart, his riven soul — might never come again. Kit’s gut growled, protesting his loss.

[End of Excerpt]

 

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y8WWKMT/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pirates-in-hell-chris-morris/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Morris

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroes_in_Hell

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/janet-morris/

https://michaelaventrella.com/2012/05/15/interview-with-hugo-nominated-author-janet-morris/

https://plus.google.com/+JanetMorrisaspis/posts/fKEThwitP61

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/JanetEMorris/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Janet-Morris/108035375883983

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=janet%20morris%20and%20chris%20morris

 

Blog/Website

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://sacredbander.com/

 

Twitter

https://twitter.com/uvmchristine

https://twitter.com/uvmchristine/media

 

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y8WWKMT/

https://www.amazon.com/Pirates-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/

 

https://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8

https://www.amazon.com/Pirates-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris/dp/0997758449/

 

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/series/40812-heroes-in-hell

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/121072.Janet_E_Morris

 

 

Hell Week – Day 4 – Michael H. Hanson/William Lauder

And it’s Day 4 in Hell. I must say those ‘Marshmallows’ were very suspicious…Today the Infernal Interview Service meets Michael H. Hanson and his character William Lauder.

Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you? Tell us about your life before you came here, and after.

I am William Lauder (1680–1771) and while alive was a Scottish literary forger, the second son of Dr William Lauder, one of the original 21 Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, by his spouse Catherine Brown. My success was short-lived. Several scholars, who had independently studied the alleged sources of Milton’s inspiration, showed that I had not only garbled most of my quotations, but had inserted amongst them extracts from a Latin version of Paradise Lost. This led to my exposure by Bishop John Douglas, and I was obliged to write a complete confession at the dictation of my former friend, Samuel Johnson. After several vain endeavours to clear my character I emigrated to Barbados, where I purchased a hotel and also taught in a school. I remained there until my death.

*Who are your friends/allies here?

I have none. I have a very dangerous secret that could undermine Satan’s authority throughout Infernity, and so I cannot trust any soul.

*How do you define ‘piracy’?

In my case, I am a pirate of intellectual property, specifically Satan’s very own tortures.

*Describe your home/environment in Hell.

I am the most unusual of damned souls in all of Infernity. I have somehow acquired abilities to mask myself from the awareness of all supernatural beings, and so travel across many different parts of old and new hell, unnoticed and unseen.

*Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How to you spend the endless years here?

I travel and become a student of all knowledge. I possess Eidetic memory, Total Recall, and Serial Recall. I learn hundreds of languages and study all that is known of quantum physics, the sciences, philosophy, and engineering.

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

he son of a U.S. Army Sergeant and a Nurse, Michael H. Hanson is a Poet who has penned and published four anthologies of his verse, ‘AUTUMN BLUSH,’ ‘JUBILANT WHISPERS,’ ‘DARK PARCHMENTS,’ and ‘WHEN THE NIGHT OWL SCREAMS,’ and is currently working on an illustrated collection of poems for children titled THE GREAT SOAP REBELLION, and a collection of science-fiction and fantasy poetry titled “ANDROID GIRL and Other Sentient Speculations.” Michael’s short stores have been published in the last seven anthologies in Janet Morris’s recently restarted Heroes-in-Hell shared-world. He is also the Creator of the shared-world, urban-fantasy Sha’Daa Series which currently consists of “SHA’DAA: TALES OF THE APOCALYPSE,” “SHA’DAA: LAST CALL,” “SHA’DAA: PAWNS,” “SHA’DAA: FACETS,” “SHA’DAA: INKED,” and the recently published “SHA’DAA: TOYS.” Michael has written and published over one hundred short stories in the sci-fi, horror, and fantasy genres across the past fourteen years.

*How did you become involved with this project?

I have written a short story for every HIH anthology ever since the series was restarted six years ago. The Editor of my SHA’DAA shared-world series was one of two people who had convinced Janet Morris to restart the Heroes in Hell shared-world after its long hiatus. Shortly after she decided to move forward on this idea, I received a phone call, and the rest is history.

*Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?

With a lot of hard work and intense focus. I had actually created my own shared-world anthology a few years before joining HIH. It is called SHA’DAA, and the first two anthologies in my series had already been published when I began work on my short story for LAWYERS IN HELL.

*What are you currently working on?

I am overseeing a single-volume shared-world book that is a science fiction take on Homer’s “The Odyssey.” It is tentatively titled NOT TO YIELD and takes the form of an adventurous space opera. It will be published by Moondream Press (an imprint of Copper Dog Publishing LLC).

*What other books/short stories have you written?

I created and am a co-writer in the SHA’DAA shared-world series, which currently consists of the following five anthologies: “SHA’DAA: TALES OF THE APOCALYPSE,” “SHA’DAA: LAST CALL,” “SHA’DAA: PAWNS,” “SHA’DAA: FACETS,” and “SHA’DAA: INKED.”

My short story “Rock and Road” will appear in the Roger Zelazny tribute anthology, SHADOWS & REFLECTIONS, edited by Trent Zelazny and Warren Lapine, tentatively scheduled for publishing as a Hardcover edition in June 2017.

My short story “C.H.A.D.” will appear in the horror anthology C.H.U.D. LIVES!, edited by Eric S. Brown, tentatively scheduled to be published as a trade paperback in November 2017.

SHA’DAA: TOYS is tentatively scheduled for publication on Halloween 2017.

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelhhansonpoet/?ref=bookmarks

Blog/Website: http://www.copperdogpublishing.com/

Twitter: MichaelH.Hanson@TheShaDaa

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004NMDQ3E

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30811748-sha-daa?from_search=true

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