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#Author #Interview Stanley Morris

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When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first two books when I was about 14 years old.  One was a science fiction book that featured teleportation booths that allowed travel between the Earth and Mars.  The other was a western.  I was reading Zane Grey books at that time.

How long does it take you to write a book?
For a book of about 100,000 words, it takes me about six months when I’m motivated.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My problem is not too few ideas, it is too many ideas.  I have pieces of paper all over my main office area with concepts for books.  They come to me from other books, television, movies, conversations with people, things I read about on the web and sometimes just out of the blue sky.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to tend my farm.  I love to grow stuff.  When I was about eight, I took an avocado seed and planted it under an outside water spigot.  My parents were amazed when it sprouted, and once it grew to a decent size, my dad had to dig it up and replant it.  I grow vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, and an amazing amount of weeds.  I also like to watch sports on TV.  My man-cave has four TV’s and in August they will all be tuned to the Olympics, or Nascar, or football, or golf.

What do you think makes a good story?
Including the lost books, I have written nine books.  I like them all, but Surviving the Fog has a special place in my heart.  A good story has a tight credible plot, rational dialogue and actions by the characters, unexpected twists, and a smooth ending.

Where are you from?
I was born in Linwood, Caifornia, and raised in Norwalk, and Concord, California.  I lived in New Mexico for six years, Texas for five years, and I have lived on the island of Maui for the last twenty nine years.

Tell us your latest news?
Well, the lemon grass is looking nice, and the jacaranda trees are blooming.  As far as books are concerned, I’m presently working on Julee Mackenzie and the First OfficerJara Mackenzie Versus the Planet MarlCaptain Mackenzie and the Last Chance Spaceship, plus a few other books.

When and why did you begin writing?
This is an excellent question.  I began writing when I was about fourteen.  I think that I had these ideas in my head, and I was compelled to put them down on paper.  In those days, I wrote my books in longhand with a pencil so I could erase mistakes.  I don’t remember wanting anyone but me to read them.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are always messages in my stories, and they are usually aimed at younger readers, mainly those from fourteen to twenty four.  I have firm beliefs, and I like to convey those beliefs in my writing.  Too many adults are unwilling to accept the intelligence of young people, to accept the ability of young readers to understand complex ideas, and to accept the necessity to tell them the truth.  In Surviving the Fog, the setting was a youth camp that taught the importance of both abstinence and birth control.  In Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure, I want young readers to see the importance of commitment and family.

How much of the book is realistic?
I believe that most of the science is realistic, but I can’t be positive about this because I am not an astrophysicist.

What book are you reading now?
At the moment, I have several books going and I switch around.  I just finished Hunger Games and two mangas.  I am readingExplosive Eighteen by Evanovich, V is for Vengeance by Grafton, Colossus by Hiltzik, a Harlequin romance, and will soon start Ring of Fire III which is a series of stories edited by Flint.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here are excerpts from some of the stuff I’m working on.
From The Governor of Arslan.  This is a rough draft.

Ten year old Jum was the youngest member of the battle troop of Kahz.  Normally he would not have been allowed to invest the city of Arslan, but his father's foot injury had prevented the older man from being present at the taking of the city, so he had sent his only son to represent him.  And rules were rules, no matter that Jum was only ten, so on his back was his knapsack, and inside were the collars made of colored ribbons and the stiff lengths of twine.
As he was walking down the dusty street, a small dog darted out from under a table that was at the edge of a shop on the side of the street.  It came to a stop in front of Jum and began yapping at him ferociously.  Jum grinned.  The dog was no more than a puppy.  Jum knelt down, and the dog stopped its yapping.  Nervously, it crept toward Jum.  Carefully, Jum reached out his hand, and he allowed the dog to sniff him.  Then he began to rub the dog's head.  The dog crept closer. Jum took the dog in his hands and lifted it.  When the dog began to lick Jum's face, Jum giggled.  Suddenly Jum heard a cry, and a small girl, younger than Jum, rushed out of the shop.  She came to a stop in front of Jum.
"That's my puppy," she cried.  "Give him back!"
Jum looked at the girl.  She was about six years old.  She was dirty, and she wore only the usual short wool shift that girls wore in this part of the world.
"What's your name?" Jum asked.
"Gea," was the answer as the girl ducked her head and scuffed her toe in the dirt.  “That's my dog," she repeated.
"I'm, Jum," explained the boy.  "I'm a warrior of Kahz.  You are my prisoner, Gea," he added with an air of self importance.
"You’re a warrior?" asked the girl with doubtful look.
"Yes," replied the boy, "Honest.  Look, I have a slave collar for you to wear."
He handed the puppy to Gea and removed his knapsack.  He knelt down and opened it.  Curious as to what was inside, Gea came closer and crouched down to take a look.  Jum removed one of the collars.
"See? You have to wear this around your neck."
Gea took the collar and studied it.  "It's pink," she said.
Jum blushed.  "The other colors were already taken," he said defensively.  Why couldn't I have gotten a red or yellow or a manly brown?  He thought glumly.
"It's pretty," said Gea as she tied the collar around her neck.  "What's that?" she asked as Jum removed one of the brown hemp twines from his knapsack.
"It's to tie your hands behind your back, before I send you out of the city," he explained.  "You have to wait for me at a place by the last house. There's a man there who will tell you where to go."
"But then I can't hold Zak," the girl objected with distress in her voice.  "He'll run away."
"Oh," replied Jum. 
He frowned as he thought over her words which were perfectly sensible.  This was a dilemma, he realized.  No one had told him what he should do if he captured a girl who was holding a puppy.  Grown-ups, he thought with an exasperated sigh, never think about these important things.

From Julee Mackenzie and the First Officer.  This is a rough draft.
Julee waited until the person had fully entered the entry room, and then she triggered the mag net she had rigged after Jara had reported the existence of the arriving spaceship.  The net dropped onto the space suited person, and a small electrical impulse was sent though the drop line.  The figure began a desperate struggle to remove the suit’s hood, but the mag net kept pulling the arms of the suit away from the hood, until the figure passed out from lack of oxygen.
When the form had almost ceased to struggle, Julee killed the low amperage electrical impulse to the mag net and hurried to the form on the rock floor.  She carefully removed the hood.  The man inside wheezed once and tried to reach for her.  She sprayed him with the can of uninhibitor.  The man took a whiff, smiled at her, and then he passed out.
“Now what?” thought Julee. 
After considering her options, she began to remove his space suit.  He was not a large man, and it was easy to maneuver him in the light gravity of the asteroid.  She got him unsuited, and then for good measure she pulled off his skinsuit, and she stretched him out on the rock floor, laying him on his stomach.  When she heard the sound of footfalls behind her, she whirled around, afraid that another intruder had snuck up behind her.
“Who is he?” asked Jara who was holding Davud’s small hand.
Julee’s heart rate returned to its normal rate.
“Don’t scare me like that,” she exclaimed, “And I told you to stay in the safe room.”
“Sorry,” murmured her unrepentant sister while staring at the naked man.  “Who is he?” she asked again.
“I don’t know.  A slaver or maybe a rock jumper.”
“What are you going to do with him, Ju?  Are you going to space him?”
Julee had been tempted to do just that, but now that her sister and brother were here, the moral values that she had learned from her father caused her to rethink her next move.
She sighed.  “I’m going to return him to his ship.  Maybe they will get the message that we want to be left alone.”  An idea occurred to her.
“Get me an everlasting marker, Jara,” she ordered.
She waited until her sister found the package of colorful pens, and then she used the bright red to write “Go Away!” on the man’s forehead.  She carefully replaced the pen and viewed her effort with a smirk.  That’ll learn him to mess with the Mackenzies, she thought.
“You’re not supposed to draw on people,” Jara lectured disapprovingly.  “Dad said.”
Julee shrugged and turned to Davud.  “I want you to watch the man while Jara and I get a mover.  If you see him start to wake up, come and get me real fast.  Okay?”  Davud solemnly nodded.
Julee turned to Jara.  “We’ll use a mover to carry him up the exchange, and then we'll dump him at his ship’s lock.  Come help me.” 
Julee and Jara went back though the corridor to the rock’s large hollow space where they mined the ore that they sold to the traders on First Rock.  They retrieved a mover, unfolded it, and carried it back to the entry room.  When they arrived, they found three year old Davud holding the empty package of marking pens. 
“I draw,” he said with a wide happy grin.
Julee looked down at the man’s brightly decorated body.
“Oh, dear,” she said with a gulp.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I cannot imagine a writer who does not constantly seek to make his/her work better.  As for Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure, I’m sure that I could have added to the information about Marl.

What are your current projects?
Other than the books mentioned above, I’m working now and then on Growing UpThe Time BubblePrincess of the Space Lanes, a sequel to The Colors of Passion and Love, and some short novellas from Tales of the Ragoon.  I will probably never get to The Werewolves of Antarctica.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
There are books which can teach you how to edit your material.  One of these is The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I am very, very grateful that you have read or are considering my stories.  I accept that not everyone will like my material.  I very much appreciate reviews, even when they are negative.  I would rather be panned than ignored.

Blurb for Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure
Ho, I'm Sarah Talmaiz. I snuck out of the house last night to go riding on Reggardi's space yacht, but when it came down to crunch time, the jerk wouldn't take "no" for an answer.  Luckily some space junk disabled the yacht before... you know.  Then this guy, Pall Swiftcar fixed the yacht and offered to take me aboard his freighter if I "united" with him.  Well, better him than Reggardi, I guess, because my face still hurts. 
What's this, Pall?  You're not going back to my home planet, Marl?  You're heading to the Hoop?  You can't be serious!  So that's what "uniting" means?  Are you crazy?  I can't go to the Hoop with you, I have homework to turn in.  Take me home!!
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