Book Spotlight – Dream Dancer – Janet & Chris Morris – Scifi/Post Apocalyptic

Dream Dancer

Title: Dream Dancer

Authors: Janet and Chris Morris

Genre: Science Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic


Everything you’ve seen or read till now took you only to the brink . . .

Neither pure fantasy, nor straight science fiction, nor earthbound dynastic saga, Dream Dancer is a stunning amalgam of all three. It is a family saga with the epic appeal of Dune and the action and excitement of Star Wars. It is a saga of love, power and treachery that will appeal to men and women equally; full of action, compulsively readable and quite unlike anything being published in the realms of fantasy today.

The heroine, Shebat, is a remarkable girl from Earth. She is brought to the vast empire of the Kerrion family by a renegade son; named as its future ruler on a whim of his autocratic father; abducted to the slums where the Kerrions’ slaves drug themselves with powerful mystical sorcery; and finally rescued to take part in a great rebellion. She falls in love with one brother but marries another and becomes more Kerrion than some born to the name. A magical seductress of men, passionate in her lust for power, Shebat moves among those who control the destinies of millions, for whom treachery and betrayal are as easy as murder.

Set in the timeless future on a primitive, savage Earth and on the sophisticated habitats of deep space, Dream Dancer is the first volume of a three-part saga.

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

‘Neither pure fantasy, nor straight science fiction, nor earthbound dynastic saga, Dream Dancer is a stunning amalgam of all three. It is a family saga with the epic appeal of Dune and the action and excitement of Star Wars.’

Links etc.

Universal Link

You can learn about Janet Morris here:

Janet Morris on Wiki



Zweihander Interview – Will and Kit


 Character Names: William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe

Relationship: Roommates; Playwrights; Co-authors

World: New Hell

Books:  Rogues in Hell; Dreamers in Hell; Poets in Hell; Pirates in Hell (Heroes in Hell series)

How and where did you meet?

Will Shakespeare: When alive, we met as rival playwrights, Kit holding forth in the ‘Admiral’s Men company’ wheresoever the troupe played, or at the Rose; and I at the Globe, where I owned an interest in the house.

 Kit Marlowe: Eyewash, all that. Shakespeare’s a famous liar. My Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II, were performed in my lifetime; the rest, posthumously, but for Dido, Queen of Carthage, writ by me and Thomas Nashe, and ‘performed’ by the ‘Children of the Chapel,’ as fair a clutch of boy charmers as ever gamboled on any stage. I met my death not too long after I met Will, a matter of my spying here and lying there, most times with Walsingham, whose wife took umbrage, as women will, when boys and men make love. Still, those plays set a new standard in quality and introduced blank verse. Mine were not, like Will’s, tripe writ for money-grubbery by the uneducated and for the uneducated. I helped Will write his Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three and got no credit for it. Still, my own four plays performed on Earth after I arrived in Hell did what art should do: shined lights on evils hidden and calumny of the vilest kind.

 Will: Kit, let’s not linger on this question, unfortunate as it may be. We were sometime lovers, sometime haters of one another, but always haters of repression and Elizabethan frippery. If your spying got you killed, Kit, your love of controversy sparked it — yea, incited it.

 Kit: Incited? Poor choice of words, methinks. Edward the Second was first performed five weeks after my death; so that play, at least, retained its bite.

 What is it you like most about the other person?

Kit: Like about Will? His soft white skin, his ample buttocks — his mobile mouth, empowered tongue, and nubile breasts.

 Will: Kit means he adores my ear for language, my deeply probing artist’s soul, and my knack of staying out of trouble whilst I slip and slide among the rich and reprehensible at Court. Do recall I’m not the one who ended life with a bodkin thrust deep in that eye so like a doe’s.

What is it you hate most about each other?

Will: We said that. But, since you ask for more: his blasphemy and his need to fill his pages with the ‘vile heretical conceits’ that sent him to trial before the Privy Council.

 Kit: We told you that, and, like the Privy Council, you’ll acquit me on the grounds that truth itself can’t be denied — for long.

Will: Christopher Marlowe, like your English Agent in the Massacre at Paris, I hate your overweening pride and lurid need to confess your days of secret agency under so thin a guise as that play. What were you thinking, to warn Elizabeth of agitators, a theme far too dangerous to survive? And how many refugees from the low countries died of your ideas planted in their tiny little heads?

Do you think your partnership will last?

Kit: Henry Sixth answers that, for my part. It’s what Shakey would have writ had he an education or a life made dangerous enough to enjoy. And the rest, you see before you: two souls forever doomed to one another’s company in the bowels of perdition, to count eternity’s every day, and nights more deadly still.

Will: Kit’s a good boy, a young fellow led astray by childish derring-do, and with a taste for the hurly-burly that snuffed his life before its time. But now I have infernity to reform him, and Satan provides the irritant around which we’ll secrete a necklace of pearls while we write as we’ve never writ before.

 Describe the other person (max 100 words):

Kit: Will, go ye first, and light our path with your dulcet tones, so like a cello but a string or two short.

Will: Master Marlowe, my thanks for your recital, though it best be delivered later and revisited daily, as the Privy Council sentenced you to come before them every day: every day of the ten you had yet to live . . . Withal, I’ll try to answer the question: this Marlowe creature hungers for adoration and thirsts for justice, both of which were as precious scarce in life as they remain dubious in afterlife. Nevertheless, his talent is wider than the face of Paradise and tempered by a lifetime few would have dared to live — and I love him for his childish heart and indomitable soul.

Kit: My turn, then, to laud the Bard in terms free of spite and full with admiration: such a mind for the human animal has ne’er been seen on the black earth — not before he lived his quick span, or at any time thereafter. Although glorifying humanity may be an empty effort, he’s made them look into themselves, and find there what joy can be had, and give it value.

 Describe how you think the other person sees you

Will: I think not, for safety’s bereftest sake.

Kit: As my better half insinuates, ‘twould take a three-part comedy of errors to do that story justice. So I’ll not begin it, lest it never stop till eternity runs out.

Tell us a little about your adventures.

Will: Then or now? Becoming famous in life holds no candle to sustaining afterlife. We’ve written three plays now for Satan, and suffered the attendant woes of those who know true ignominy. We wrote Hell Bent, and died in it every night. We wrote The Witch and the Tyrant, and fell afoul of its graveyard stench. We wrote another, Pirates in Perdition, and found the very sounding of its name an incantation to summon fiends and demons and all manner of unexculpated souls.

Kit: Read our plays writ here, to Abbadon’s order, or don’t. But be warned: you’ll risk your wizened hearts every time you turn our pages and let your eyes rub words too dangerous to speak aloud.

Tell us about your world – and your part of it.

Will: Hell is the Reformation come to grief, with no Third Act to cure it.

Kit: Hell is where the heart is, and seldom beats. But when it does, that heart beats as only love can. We are Satan’s personal poets, and no worse can befall a soul who yet owns an ear for courage or for rhyme.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Kit: Right here. Scoffing at evil while we glorify every flaw that makes man human. What else, in hell, is a playwright to do?

Will: Enough, Kit. The last line of this comedy is mine: We’ll be here as long as ghosts roam the world and fools rule it; as long as regrets power penance and singers keen their pain.


You can find Will and Kit in the following:

Janet Morris on Amazon

Perseid Press Website


Back into Hell – Hell Week 2015 – Altos the Angel

Now who’d expect to find an angel in Hell, except of course his lordship, the Fallen One? Amongst the damned his presence is…unusual. So over to you… (brave angel this one…misguided perhaps but brave).

Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you? I am Altos, an angel on special assignment.

* Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? I am here to rehabilitate His Satanic Majesty.

Who are your friends/allies here? All well-meaning souls I consider my allies, those not entirely given over to iniquity.

Describe your home/environment in Hell. I arrived with the fallen and have watched Hell develop from total darkness to its current state. Although I hail from on high this is my home for now, wherever the Prince holds forth you will find me.

Do you have any enemies here? My adversaries are the blind passions of the damned, most significantly Vengeance.

Come on be honest, what do you think of HSM leadership? Satan is comprehensible, if not justifiable, and actually a lover of beauty in his way.

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

Chris Morris

* Tell us about your story for this edition. The Wager relates an incident involving Satan and Altos where militaristic hordes from all ages have gathered for a “final” reckoning.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen? Satan’s isolation and profound understanding of humanity are fascinating, yet very difficult to draw—in this story by resort to a ghastly and grand-scale event demonstrating the worst proclivities of his charges, the lost souls of men. Because of his proposition to the angel—his most worthy, divine audience—he can indulge his urge to instruct his eternal adversary on high. Even Satan loves company.

What are you currently working on? I’m narrating audio books; I’ve completed The Sacred Band a novel by Janet Morris and myself and I, the Sun by Janet Morris. Next up is Shards of the Glass Slipper II: Queen Alice, by Roy Mauritsen.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them. Re-read The Golden Sword by Janet Morris, the second volume in her Silistra series quartet and The Best Poems in the English Language by Harold Bloom, his compendium of great poetical works and a great starting point for those like me who seek a chronological framework in which to appreciate the history of poetry in our language.

What marketing tips/writing advice can you offer other authors? Until you’ve found your storytelling voice as distinct from those writers you admire, write only what you know as passionately and articulately as you can without distorting your effort by trend-following or obeisance to niche-market rules and practices. Find and write what only you can and love the moments of total immersion necessary to bring them to life.

Heroes in Hell (series)

A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Chris Morris

Today I welcome author, singer and songwriter Chris Morris and his character.

Character questions:

*I am Tarhunt the Storm God of the Hittites and the Hurri lands.

Why are you embarking on this quest? The dragon Illuyankas brought me battle and vanquished me, eating my heart and my eyes.  From that day on, I planned revenge, and now I will take it, using my own children, now grown,  to triumph over this dragon who eats the children of our country.

Where are you from? I live in the heavens, but my main temples are in Nerik and Hattusas

*Tell us about dragons in your world. This dragon Illuyankas demands human children for sacrifice.  He is a dragon of the sea, and sometimes he mates with human women.

Do you have a family? I begot upon the daughter of a poor man and a goddess  a  son named Sarruma, through whom I will avenge myself upon the dragon Illuyankas. And also I begat a daughter, to help me lay low this dragon and stop him and his family from eating Hattian children.

What is the best way to kill a dragon? To kill such a dragon, even a god must go carefully.  I will smite him with my lightnings, and overcome him with my lightnings. I will strike the sea, and it will arise to my purpose.  I will summon the storms, and they will come to aid me. When he is weak I will pierce his eyes with my trident. I will make the sea boil with my wrath, and the dragon will die of my rage.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero?

To be a god, one must be a hero.  One must heed the peoples of the lands, and bring good things upon them.  I bring the thunder, the lightnings, the rain to nourish beasts and crops. I fight beside my people when they war, striking down their enemies and even their gods.  I summon the rain and the wind and all weather.  In the Hatti lands, where we have 1,000 gods, I rule them all. For the sake of my peoples, I call the other gods to aid me and together we fight great battles.

Author questions: I am Christopher Crosby Morris, writer, narrator, and musician. I have been a defense policy analyst and futurist.

How do you define a hero? A hero is one who serves a cause greater than the self.

Why did you choose this era to write in? This anthology needed to start with a dragon from earliest days of myth. I chose the Hittite and Hurrian Illuyankas myth because it may well be the earliest battle of god and dragon ever told.

Give us a couple of lines about your characters.The narrator of my story is Kella, the actual narrator of one of tablets that record a variant of the Illuyankas myth. In my story Kella, high priest of Nerik, in the north of Hatti, tells a first-hand account of the second battle between the dragon and the storm god.  The hero of this tale is the storm god himself, Tarhunt, who begets two children specifically to help him defeat the dragon who previously had eaten his heart and his eyes. There is another variant of this story, in which Tarhunt’s daughter and her human lover get the dragon drunk and tie him up so that the gods can come down and slay him, but that is not the variant we tell. In our story, although the storm god’s daughter has a role, he himself fights this rich and predatory dragon…  and if I tell you more, I’ll give away the story’s ending.

Heroika: The Dragon Eaters is a dark heroic fantasy – how do you define that genre? Dark heroic fantasy was once called simply heroic fiction or mythology – which is always dark, always allegorical, and usually carries a moral whose value is shown in the story. For me, heroic fiction is any tale in which a character strives to put aside his personal well-being in search of a solution to problems greater than his own.

How much research did you need for your story? My wife, Janet Morris, and I have spent many years reading and researching Ancient Near Eastern myth and legend, some of mankind’s earliest stories. But researching in detail the myth of Illuyankas required not only a deep familiarity with the various versions of the story, but enough command of the early texts to be able to create a single version out of several.

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? I have written for a number of shared universes, including Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell universe, Bob Asprin and Lynn Abbey’s Thieves’ world universe, C.J. Cherryh’s Merovingen Universe, and more.  I actually enjoy the challenges of working in a shared cosmos. I’ve also written stand-alone short stories, another different form. A novel allows you time to work with more layers of story than does a short story, in which space is very limited.  In a short story, you must know everything about the “past” of the characters, but not tell all, only the climax. So compression of the most radical sort is needed for a short piece of fiction which must have a beginning, middle, and end in a confined space.

What other novels/short stories have you written? With Janet Morris, I have written a number of novels:  The Sacred Band is my favorite, with its grand canvas and heroic ethos. I have also co-written The Fish, the Fighters and the Song-girl, Outpassage, The 40-Minute War, Threshold, Trust Territory, The Stalk, The Little Helliad, M.E.D.U.S.A, and other novels, including several by pseudonyms.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. Recently, I came to the craft of narration, and found that it allows me to mix my musical, technical, and prose skills in a new and most satisfying way.  I have just finished narrating The Sacred Band for Perseid Press, available on, and am just in the final stages of producing I, the Sun for Perseid Press, which will be released on for Perseid Press.

Tidbit: My favorite recipe for dragon meat is simply to brush it with olive oil and vinegar and cook it over an open fire for about two hours, or until the skin is black and the scales fall off.

Author website/blog:


Amazon page:


Audio Book Narrator Interview one – Chris Morris

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

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

Welcome to Christopher Crosby Morris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawyers in Hell

Rogues in Hell

Dreamers in Hell

Poets in Hell

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

Where can we learn more about you?

My music is very important to me. Because you asked how to learn more about me, I recommend you sample my most recent album, available as MP3 Music and on CD at Amazon:

You can hear more of my music on:

You may read about my history and see my bibliography at:

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

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

Sacred Band

Hell Week

A Week in Hell – Day 5 – Marlowe

Welcome to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour. Today we are joined by one of the Pit’s most talented poets…. Over to you Kit…

Name (s) Christopher Marlowe Kit Marlowe, Marley, Morley.

Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain).  I was twenty-nine when murdered. I’ve been in Hell since 1593 A.D.  How many years is that?  Time in hell is impossible to gauge.  I was killed on a Wednesday, May 30, supposedly for my heretical beliefs, but more for my spying.  A man had to make a living in those days.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I was a good friend of William Shakespeare, and still am.  We wrote plays and more together, and still do. I was killed at the behest of a woman jealous of her husband’s regard for me, but the reason given was my ‘vile heretical concepts,’ although the wittol who stabbed me in the eye could barely read. I was then in Sir Francis Walsingham’s intelligence service, and called to answer questions by Privy Council.  Someone didn’t want to hear the answers.

Who were you in life? A famous poet, a playwright, a spy, a rakehell, a lover of pleasure, boys and girls, men and women, and the sound of words in my ears. And still am all of those.

How do you think you ended up in Hell? ’Tis said I am in hell for writing these lines in my Dr. Faustus:  “Hell is just a frame of mind.”  Or so Satan tells me.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. I look as I looked when I died: young, fetching.

Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. I live wherever Will Shakespeare lives, these days, in New Hell or Pandemonium, behind the Devil’s own theatre, if we’re not playing at the Old Rogue Theatre in new Hell.  When in New Hell I have as many beds as I have fingers, but since Will I leave them cold and lonely.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life? A moral code? In Hell and life, Don’t get caught.  In literature: Honor is purchased by the deeds we do; honor is not won until some honorable deed is done. Virtue is the fount whence honor springs…

… and so sprang I, full formed from Satan’s breast like all the rest of these souls come home to roost.

Would you kill for those you love? After all sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice! I’ve killed for less.  I’d kill for Will Shakespeare, for that soul above all others whom I love.  In life I cared for nothing but my writing and my pleasure…  and a bit of ‘who’s your father’ wherever I could find it.

Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term….Death in hell, like death on earth, is overrated. I’d die a thousand deaths to save Will, or any other so unfortunate to have me as a lover.  But I’d die first for my work, for my honor, for my heart – and did, in life.

Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? Phobias? My heart is fixed on one soul alone, and that soul is my gravest weakness. I don’t want to lose track of Will Shakespeare, now that I’ve found him again. To protect that tender soul from Satan is worth more to m now than protecting all of England from her foes was when I breathed a poet’s air in life.

What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? Ah, the Deceiver is clever.  He holds out blandishments to the souls he wants to torture, and twists them here and leads them there, offers all and takes it back again between two heartbeats. He’s got the right job, that devil.  Everything I thought became the devil best in Faustus only forshadowed Satan’s wiles.

Who are your friends here? You want a friend in hell, you say? Get a dog, if you can find one that’s not deathly rabid. Byron did – and says it’s really his dog Boatswain, not rabid now, never mind that this dog’s coal black and that in life his Boatswain was black and white. Will Shakespeare is my closest friend, a bosom friend, you’d say. Then Byron, who drags along behind us now and again. But friends in Hell are boils to be pricked and burst forth poison. They don’t last long. I have Will, but for the nonce, I fear. And without him, Hell will be without its single light of grace.

Who are your enemies? My enemies? Abounding. Jealous louts, foolish intelligencers of Satan’s will; now add that whole crew from the Iliad, because we used a few skins of theirs in our plays. And Satan, I dare say, is my worst enemy of all, but so sly:  the worst enemies are always those who pretend to be your friend. Every overreaching protagonist in my plays has his like in Hell, and I’m faced by every one of them.

If I recall relationships are… difficult. Is this the side of humanity you miss the most? Once I said, and still believe, “All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.” But in Hell, as I’ve been known to say, ‘boys are few and tobacco tainted.’  So I make do with whatever comes my way that’s an untainted slip for my boat.

Making love in hell is a fool’s errand, leading straight to death and the Undertaker’s table. Harboring love in Hell is my greatest weakness now, as it is the downfall of any honest soul. But love I do, that mad and delicate Will Shakespeare, whom the Devil will pry away from me for pure amusement. That I know the truth makes living this farce it not one whit less dire.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. Will Shakespeare and I were born on the same day. While I lived, I raised blank verse to an art form; too bad my imitators couldn’t keep it there. I earned my way through school engaging in ‘matters touching on the benefit of my country.’ I wanted most of all to be an atheist, but that didn’t keep me from ending here. I got to hell by grabbing Ingram Frizer’s dagger whilst he was threatening me that day in Deptford at Eleanor Bull’s house. We struggled. The rest is a history much disputed. I didn’t die immediately after Frizer stabbed me in the eye, for I recall it well enough. And it hurt like very hell. Pick any story about me you wish. They’re all likely to be partly true.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Lawyers in Hell

Rogues in Hell

Dreamers in Hell

Poets in Hell

Author name


Chris Morris (Christopher Crosby Morris)

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.


Front Page

A Week in Hell – Day 1 – an interview with the Devil

Now this is something that doesn’t happen every day… the special guest on my blog is Satan. Yes Lucifer himself. 

Welcome (I think) to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour.

Name (s) Satan, the Deceiver, Son of the Morning, Old Scratch, Old Nick, Shaitan, Prince of Lies, Lucifer (not to be mistaken for Lucifer the Lesser).

Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain). I was the second most powerful in Heaven; I don’t age.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I bet God that I could prove to him that mankind was flawed, an unworthy impulse, and lost. I vied with the Almighty for control of the great Above, and lost again, was cast down along with my faithful, a third of the angels then in among the heavenly host.

Who were you in life? I never sunk so low as to live a life.

How do you think you ended up in Hell?I was bested by the Almighty in a war that tore the firmament apart.  He cast me and mine down, and down, into the Deep, where for an eternity we flew with no place to alight.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. As I like it:  white, beauteous or black, awful.

Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. New Hell is my domain, all the hells that came after the invention of Christianity are mine to hold and rule, including all the underworlds of infernity.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life? Not having had a life, I have only a code by which we judge those who once lived. The 613 Commandments were not suggestions; any who broke any one or more of them — and ignorance is no excuse, nor is agnosticism, nor atheism — are mine to teach what torment truly means.

Before I was cast down, I enjoyed the company of the Highest, bathed in glorious light. Mankind is the reason for the war in heaven, and unto them we render just punishment, for they brought us here, all the fallen angels who followed me.  And here we stay, by deific decree, making our little patch of all the hells most hellish.

Would you kill for those you love? After all sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice! I love the Almighty. I sentence souls to their just deserts; we kill them regularly, and resurrect them, and kill them more. But they never learn.  Some day, He will see that we were right, that humanity is fatally flawed with hubris and despite.  Until then, dying only improves them a little bit:  it makes them wary.

Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term….Death is denied all of us. We have lost our heavenly lives, because of humanity, and banishment is our lot. No angel wants death, nor oblivion. Being denied the face of God is punishment enough. These questions seemed designed for damned souls, not their overlords.

Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? I am plagued by the stupidity of mankind, the unwillingness of humanity to accept its flawed nature; its inability to admit defeat.  So we must torture them more and more:  from Above, seven personified weapons and one god of plague and mayhem were sent here to make sure we torture damned souls hard enough, and well enough, and long enough.  And so we will.  We’ll go not back unto the Deep:  too cold down there, with no place to land, flying in darkness forever…

What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? Cleverest?  Most just, you mean:  rebirth – the damned can find no way out of here but oblivion, and that is unavailable to most.  They die and die and die again, and so few ever can repent.  Only a handful of souls have ever held their anger long enough and well enough to deserve manumission:  it’s the nature of the arrogant thieves in hell to change everything but themselves.

Who are your friends here? My fallen angels, the top twelve of those.  Samalel, Angel of Death, is closest to me of the fallen host.  Michael, my familiar, is my only ‘friend’ in the way you mean, and he is not human, and never was.

Who are your enemies? All the teeming damned, begging and crying and whining and scheming and lying and dying again and again for crimes they continually repeat.

If I recall relationships are… difficult, is this the side of humanity you miss the most? Sex, you mean? I can have sex with any soul, with the most famed temptresses, with president and kings. I can make any of the damned love me…  well, nearly any. I am embarked upon a fling with William Shakespeare at the moment, and sex is the most minute part of the love I crave from any soul who takes my fancy….

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. Marilyn Monroe was my private secretary for many years.


Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Lawyers in Hell

Rogues in Hell

Dreamers in Hell

Poets in Hell

Author name Janet Morris

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

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Welcome to a Week in Hell…

A Week in Hell? What does that mean I hear you ask? Another crappy week at the office? Well yes actually but that isn’t what the post is about.  I am honoured and delighted to be involved with the promotion of this landmark and award winning shared world series created by Fantasy author Janet Morris.

The latest, and seventeenth instalment has just been released – Poets in Hell.  Hell is, well Hellish, and things are getting worse. The auditors are in, which is never good, a coup has failed (again) and the likes of Marlowe, Beowulf, Odysseus and Mary Shelley are causing mayhem.

There are lots of authors involved, including Janet and Chris Morris, Joe Bonadonna, Yelle Hughes, Jack William Finley, Doug McKittrick and a whole hellish host.  Varied styles flow through the Heroes in Hell series but every story has a delicious helping of dark humour and witty plotting, within a flawlessly crafted world. The denizens of Hell try to buck the system, and you can guess how that goes. So far we’ve been entertained by Rogues, Lawyers, Kings, Dreamer and very many more denizens of the Realm of Darkness.

In celebration of this infernal new release, His Satanic Majesty has given permission for a little party with payment later…Damn, maybe I should have read the small print. Anyway what will follow over the next few days is selection of author and character spotlights from the bowels of HSM’s domain. Including one from the Lord of Sin himself. Enjoy!

Please note all the excerpts are copyrighted thus: Poets in Hell, copyright (c) 2014, Janet Morris. It is with the kind permission of Ms Morris I am able to run these interviews and excerpts.

Keep reading for the most infernal collection of interviews ever posted….

For more info on the series please visit the links below.

Character Interview Number Ten – Dennis Cox and Paige Barnett – Sci-fi

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Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s): 

Sergeant Dennis “Det” Cox

Ms. Paige Barnett


Cox:  “Body age, twenty-seven; chronological groundsider age, fifty-three.  Because I spend so much time in transit to out-system worlds, my body clock and Earth’s calendar are seriously out of whack from relativistic effects:  Rangers call that the ‘relativity tax.’”

Barnett:  “I’m twenty-eight by Earth chronology, but my adventure on X-66B lost me thirty Earth-months, and I’d been out-system once or twice previously, so my body clock age is twenty-five, three years younger than my groundsider date of birth.”

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Cox:  “I do demolition and run recon units for the 203rd Ranger Regiment; I’m a team sergeant.  I’d rather be out-system than groundside or anywhere in Earth’s solar system.  Like any other Ranger, I’m a volunteer who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, air, or space. As a Ranger the US expects me to move farther, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier.  I’ve completed all my missions so far, sometimes as a lone survivor.  I meet the enemies of my country and defeat them on any battlefield because I’m better trained and fight with all my might.  Rangers don’t surrender.  We never leave a fallen comrade in enemy hands.  I try like hell never to embarrass my country.  Sometimes lately that isn’t easy.”

Barnett:  “My last appointment groundside (by that, I mean on Earth) was as Executive Assistant to Raymond Godfrey of InterSpace Tasking (IST), one of Earth’s most powerful spacefaring corporations.  At IST, an executive assistant’s is a very prestigious position; I don’t make coffee:  I set Mr. Godfrey’s agenda.  Or did until recently, when I took an impromptu leave and met Sergeant Cox, here, through an online dating service, and everything changed for me.  I’ve been out-system to a classified mining colony since then, involved in sensitive matters I can’t discuss…”

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less.

Cox:  “Six foot one, 8% body fat; I bench-press 340 lbs.”

Barnett:  “I’m five ft. 8, fit and trim, with red-brown hair.”

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?

Cox:  “Lead the way:  never fail comrades, keep mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight.  Do more than my share; give better than one hundred percent to any task.  Serve my country, no matter what it needs from me.”

Barnett:  “I’m a person who embraces a cause that’s just.  I believe in right, I recognize wrong.  I believe that success for one should mean success for all.  I believe democracy will triumph only if everyone does their share.  I believe in equality, but I’m realistic:  human rights must be guarded by everyone, all the time, or be lost.  I’m working to make our society more fair to all.”

Would you kill for those you love?

Cox:  “I only kill in pursuit of a mission objective, and the enemy doesn’t tend to include people I love.  Would I kill to protect a loved one?  Count on it.”

Barnett:  “That’s not a simple question.  I’ve held a gun.  I know how to shoot.  I can’t imagine that killing is the most effective way to solve our problems – never has been, isn’t now, and won’t ever be.  But kill, to protect someone I love?  If there was no other way, yes.”

Would you die for those you love?

Cox:  “Hasn’t happened yet.”

Barnett:  “Of course I’d die to protect a loved one.”

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?

Cox:  “Weakness?  I can get impatient with bureaucrats, or liars, or treachery, or orders given by those who aren’t at risk.  I’ve been known to shoot from the hip.  Strengths?  I do whatever it takes to get the job done, meet a mission objective, even if I don’t agree with it.  I’m loyal to my Ranger code, to my outfit, to my troops, to my nation.  I get back home, every time.  I don’t expect miracles from my comrades:  I know that people disappoint you.”

Barnett:  “Weakness?  I’m female, obviously, and fertile, so that means I need to be better at my job than a man, because my hormones interfere with me more than a man’s interfere with him.  I form attachments, and these can impact my judgment.  I forgive too much sometimes.  I don’t like bumping my head on the glass ceiling, which happens whenever large amounts of money and power are involved.  Strengths?  I’m loyal, smart, educated.  My word is my bond.  I’m a good infighter and strategic planner.  This last year has taught me how good I am at surviving.  I’m still standing, and moving forward.”

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why?

Cox:  “Not many relationships, period.  Relationships among the Rangers?  Sure.  Some.  But in my job, you lose friends, so you don’t want too many.  I’ve got allies here and there – in and out of government.  Paige, here, for one.  I haven’t got much in common with groundsiders or folks in-system.  That’s okay.  I protect ’em, I don’t need to socialize with them.”

Barnett:  “Relationships per se are important to me.  In my job at IST, connectivity was all.  And now, working on special projects, connectivity and the ability to move among echelons are equally important.  And of course, Dennis and I have forged a strong bond.  I have ties to certain Fourth Worlders with whom we work closely. But allegiances and alliances change.”

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?

Cox:  “Yeah, Paige Barnett.  Space travel is rough on dogs.  Out-system, there isn’t much life to like above the vegetable level.”

Barnett:  “Dennis!  He’s just…  Well, what’s an animal, after all, but a very close relative of humanity?  We’re all genetically similar.  But as for a pet I see every day, no.  My life doesn’t allow for pets right now.”

Do you have a family? Tell us about them.

Cox:  Not groundside.  My extended family is the 203rd, and we work mostly out beyond this solar system….  And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.  A guy like me makes enemies who think your family is a weakness, and I’ve got more enemies than I need right now.”

Barnett:  “A family?  Well, my groundside parents are dead.  But I’ve found a group of people with similar beliefs, if you will, who are like a family to me…  In fact, although this might sound silly, the whole human race is my family.  Honestly.”

Cox (whispering):  “Christ, Paige, shut up.”

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you?

Cox:  “My dad was a Ranger.  My uncle was, too.  So it’s in the family, the Code and all.  They taught me survival skills, how and when to fight back, how to judge a person or any other threat before you engage.  And what discipline means to your survival.  So I’m tough on my teams, sometimes, to keep them alive.”

Barnett:  “My education, really.  We lived in Massachusetts, so I went to all the best schools, where I learned to learn and keep on learning.  My parents left me comfortable and idealistic, so my career focus naturally became one of changing the world for the better.”

Do you have any phobias?

Cox: “Rangers don’t have phobias.  We have skills, hot washes, after action reports, and fitness evaluations.  I don’t like being out of control.  I don’t like things whose danger or value I can’t quantify, such as faulty equipment or people with divided loyalties.  I don’t like PTSD.”

Barnett:  “Betrayal.  Spiders.  The unknown.  Making mistakes.  Losing mental acuity.  If Dennis were being honest with you, except for the spiders, he’d have mentioned all of these.”

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

Cox:  “I’m not interesting or unusual.  I’m just another team sergeant who does demolitions and recon missions.”

Barnett:  “I’m at the forefront of amazing scientific discoveries, the details of which I’m not at liberty to disclose to you right now.”

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.

Cox:  Which one?  Between missions, I’d rather be out-system than groundside on Earth.  Earth changes so fast:  the fashions, the music, the women, the laws:  I don’t recognize it half the time when I’m here.  I stage from Ranger bases out past the asteroid belt, when I can – stay among my own kind.  My last two missions weren’t anything I can discuss, beyond saying we’ve been working closely with contractors to  solve problems on mining colonies and terraforming planets which the US wants to annex.”

Barnett:  I live on Earth nearly all the time, although I did go on a rather long excursion out-system recently.  Working for IST, one of the biggest out-system mining and terraforming entities among the stars, I maintained cognizance of all Earth’s activities in our solar system and beyond.  The time dilation aspect of interstellar travel causes some difficulties in technology uptake by the out-system settlements, but basically humanity has no choice:  we must establish many colonies off world:  we have too many people for one planet to sustain.  So we terraform, we colonize, we mine.  Usually the first humans out-system are technologists and what we call Fourth Worlders who, like Fourth Worlders on Earth, are looking for a new start and opportunity and work hard for those things.”

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour.

Cox:  My religion is nobody’s business but my own.  I was brought up as a God-fearing man, but these days I don’t think God is what we’ve got to fear.  People are like salmon searching for a forgotten spawning ground:  they’ll die trying to get somewhere they haven’t been before.  There’s a new cult among some Fourth Worlders:  redemption, resurrection, the holy way.  I’ve encountered some of those people.  Like with other religions, these early practitioners are revolutionaries.  And when revolutionaries become violent, no matter what they believe, that can require military intervention.  So, no I’m not a ‘follower’ of any religion, but yeah, this one’s affecting my behavior.

Barnett:  “I’ve found, over the last months, a deeper spiritual connection that I’d ever thought to have.  As we go farther among the stars, many beliefs are changing.  The universe is an amazing place, with surprises beyond our wildest earthly dreams.  I’m finding the universe to be full of wonders and a coherence I hadn’t expected – even a love of life, if I can put it simply.  The universe hasn’t shown us all its secrets yet, and we have found no species like us, but creation is full of wonders and I believe humanity’s journey is only beginning.”

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?

Cox:  “I ship out on missions that are usually lengthy, mostly to new terraforming planets, or wherever military assistance is requested.  My last two missions were to mining planets, can’t tell you which ones and it wouldn’t mean anything to you if I did, but way out at the edges of human civilization.  I go where my teams are needed.  Not vacation spots, at least not yet.”

Barnett:  “I’ve travelled, primarily for business, to all the US off-planet installations and settlements in near space, and a few beyond.  I’ve been on superforce jump ships, so far away it takes nearly a year to get a message back to our home solar system.  I’ve experienced ‘slow-freeze,’ suspended animation, and walked on planets in the first stages of terraforming.  I still like Earth the best of all.”

Name and describe a food from your world.

Cox:  Prepack meals, self heating:  anything in them tastes the same.  I like real or simulated steak from Earth or farming settlements, if I get lucky: Earth is still ‘my’ world; hell, it’s everybody’s world until we become self-sufficient elsewhere among the stars.”

Barnett:  “Food?  A clam bake: Maine lobster, baked potatoes, clams, corn cooked in the sand on a beach.  Earth-raised free-range poultry, fed without hormones – I have enough of those on my own.”

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?

Cox:  “Magic?  Sure, fifty calibre gas-powered handguns, thallium shot, plasma rifles, tactical satellites, shaped charges.”

Barnett:  “Magic is all around us, in science:  in the way day follows night and people find one another and work together for the betterment of all.  Humanity’s ability to colonize the stars is magic:  not even relativity could stop us; our ingenuity comes from the most magic realm of all:  consciousness and superconsciousness.”

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.)

Cox:  “Democracy is a dream that people like me protect.  As for monarchy, tyranny, theocracy, and the rest of those big words, sometimes those words describe our enemies, sometimes not.  Facing hostile ideologies, we suppress them, export them or eradicate them if we can…”

Barnett:  “Of course, meritocracy is what we all want, if we’re honest, and kakistocracy is what we’re trying to avoid.  Democracy is Dennis’ choice because he’s US military, although really our government is a Republic, with all its attendant problems.  But we’re getting better at keeping our ideological conflicts manageable.”

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?

Cox:  “Hey, this is Earth we’re talking about, and its colonies.  We have all sorts of people:  every colour, national origin:  Used to be 193, but now its 202 member states in the UN.  And they get along only as well as they need to, in order to survive.”

Barnett:  “Earth spawned many races; many of us even have Neanderthal DNA.  Intermarriage is creating a racially ambiguous strain of humanity, which may be the only way we’ll ever all get along:  people historically try to destroy anyone different.”

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people.

Cox:  “Nope.  Can’t think of any, beyond the Trojan Horse, and I’m not Greek, but those Trojans got greedy and brought hell inside their own walls, and it destroyed them.  I’m hoping never to be a part of doing that.”

Barnett:  “Joan of Arc has always been a hero of mine, but she’s not strictly mythical.  Neither is Boudicca.  But both of them are inspirational, along with Mary Magdalene’s supposed gospel.”

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without?

Cox:  The technology level for Rangers depends on how far out-system you go:  new tech and pre-existing milspec tech need to be compatible, so there’s about a twenty year lag between what we have out-system and the newer stuff that groundsiders can get.  I couldn’t do without my recon suit; its comms and pharmakit keep a guy alive out there.  Ranger don’t depend on implants:  implants can’t survive slow-freeze and superforce jumps and be compatible with the comms on the other side, so that’s a good thing.  I guess what else I really need is my 10mm side arm and my .50 cals.”

Barnett:  I agree with Cox about communications:  they’re the single most critical element to our survival.  We need satellites, ground penetrating and side looking radars, millimetre wave technology, spectral imagery.  But most of all we need increasingly better faster-than-light travel, no matter the relativity tax:  humanity demands a new frontier.  The Goldilocks zones of other star systems spread throughout the universe are our best hope for thriving as a species.  Without those, we’ll breed ourselves to extinction in a few more generations:  our ever-expanding footprint is the greatest threat to Earth or any earth-like planet’s ecosystem.  We need a place to go, if we won’t control our lusts.  And we won’t.  Things will get worse before they get better.”

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.

Cox:  I can’t comment.

Barnett:  I can’t comment.

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention?

Cox:  Kinetic kill and electromagnetic weaponry.

Barnett:  Photonics.  Faster than light travel.

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.)

Cox:  George Washington, because he brought together the right people to frame the Constitution.  If you’d been where I’ve been, you’d know that not just groundsiders, but every single sorry soul in every conflict dreams about living in a democracy – except the brainwashed ones.  President Kennedy, who got us to the Moon.  Sun Tzu, because he got it all right.”

Barnett:  “Plato, because he tried to offer choices to everyone. Jesus Christ, because he tried to offer salvation to everyone.  Martin Luther King, because he tried to offer freedom to everyone.”

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links: OUTPASSAGE

Author names: Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

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