Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Audio book news

I was asked by facebook friend and audiobook reviewer Sharon Harriott whether there is an audiobook of A Vengeful Longing. The answer is yes!

I have to confess that I'm not a fan of audiobooks myself. Reading has always been a silent occupation for me, and I find the reader's voice too intrusive. This is especially so when I'm listening to audiobooks of my own work - which, frankly, is something I just can't do. However, I do know there are people who love them, and indeed some who rely on them. (Audiobooks in general, I mean - not my audiobooks!) So for those of you who are interested, the audiobook of A Vengeful Longing is available through audible, as an mp3 download. I think that means you can put it on your ipod, if that's the kind of thing you're into. It's read by John Curless, who may or may not be this guy:

I'm sure he does a great job, though I can't bring myself to listen to the clip on the audible page. Perhaps you will be able to and report back in the comments what it sounds like.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Yes, this morning I finished writing the first draft of my new Porfiry Petrovich novel, A RAZOR WRAPPED IN SILK.

Current word count stands at 124,942. I imagine I will cut that down significantly (10%?) in the editing.

I'm eager to crack on with that, as cutting words can be tremendously satisfying. But I do need to get some distance from it before I begin the read through.

And it's a lovely sunny day. I feel good.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Armando Iannucci, librettist

I heard on Radio 4 the other day that the comedy genius Armando Iannucci has "written an opera", as they put it, although as he himself admits, he has actually provided the words. The composer is David Sawer. Traditionally, an opera is the composer's piece, and it is the composer's name that is associated with it. The librettist does not usually get a look in. It's Verdi's La Traviata, not Piave's. But the Today Programme package I listened to failed to even mention the composer's name. Skin Deep, we were told, is a new opera by Armando Iannucci. I wonder how David Sawer feels about that!

I haven't seen it yet, though I am hoping to do so soon, when it transfers down to London. I was very interested to read this article by Iannucci about the process in The Times. As I've also written a libretto for an opera, I identified with a lot that he said, particularly this:

Somebody asked me to write an opera. I wasn’t expecting that. Being asked to write an opera is like being asked to demolish a power station or go in a rocket with Al Pacino: it’s not something you’d ever expect to do in your lifetime. You’ve got to say “yes” no matter the amount of trepidation that soon follows once you’ve agreed.

This too struck a chord:

it’s always a useful constraint on the ego to wallow in a line you’ve written only to be told that it needs to be four syllables shorter. You realise that you are there to service the music, not the other way round. Your words are like costume and scenery; part of a larger experience.

I would add that it is an amazing experience to hear words you've written set to music by a brilliant composer and sung by fantastically talented singers. It's an enormous privilege that's strangely humbling too.

And as an extra treat, here's a clip from Armando Iannucci's previous operatic work, Ibiza Uncovered: The Opera

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bearded bloke writes about bearded bloke

Rowan Williams, author of a recent book on Dostoevsky.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, subject of a recent book by Rowan Williams.

In honour of this wonderful event, I have grown a beard. Photo will appear soon.

Seriously, though, the book - Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction - sounds fascinating. I have to admit that I did not know Rowan Williams was an authority on Dostoevsky. He speaks Russian too, which is very impressive.

Here's the blurb from amazon:

This is an extraordinary book, which through the lens of Dostoevsky's novels enables the reader to consider the nature of God in the 21st Century - a societal landscape fraught with tensions and social inequalities.When an Archbishop of Canterbury takes time off to write a book about Dostoevsky, this is a sign of great hope and encouragement for The Church of England and for all those who seek God.The current rash of books hostile to religious faith will one day be an interesting subject for some sociological analysis. But to counter such work, is a book of the profoundest kind about the nature and purpose of religious belief. Terrorism, child abuse, absent fathers and the fragmentation of the family, the secularisation and the sexualisation of culture, the future of liberal democracy, the clash of cultures and the nature of national identity - so many of the anxieties that we think of as being quintessentially features of the early twenty first century and on, are present in the work of Dostoevsky - in his letters, his journalism and above all in his fiction.The world we inhabit as readers of his novels is one in which the question of what human beings owe to each other is left painfully and shockingly open and there is no place to stand from which we can construct a clear moral landscape. But the novels of Dostoevsky continually press home what else might be possible if we - characters and readers - saw the world in another light, the light provided by faith. In order to respond to such a challenge the novels invite us to imagine precisely those extremes of failure, suffering and desolation.There is an unresolved tension in Dostoevsky's novels - a tension between believing and not believing in the existence of God. In "The Brothers Karamazov", we can all receive Ivan with a terrible kind of delight. Ivan's picture of himself we immediately recognise as self-portrait. The god that is dead for him is dead for us. This Karamazov God of tension and terror is often the only one we are able to find. This extraordinary book will speak to our generation like few others.

About the Author
The Rt. Hon. and Most Reverend Rowan Williams is Archbishop of Canterbury. He was formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford and Archbishop of Wales.

When I told my wife this news she suggested I should get a copy of either A Gentle Axe or A Vengeful Longing to him for a quote. Well, it worked with Lorraine Kelly, another fan of Dostoevsky! (That sounds like a good pub quiz question, doesn't it? What connects TV presenter Lorraine Kelly and Archbishop Rowan Williams? They are both fans of Dostoevsky.)

This is a very lazy blog post, I admit - although surely I deserve some credit for working in both Rowan Williams and Lorraine Kelly. My excuse is I'm desperately trying to finish my latest novel. I really am nearing the end, which is making me incredibly tense and bad-tempered. I feel like it could all fall apart in my hands. There is the faint hope that it might not.

One more winner to announce

All the winners' books have gone off now, including one to Fiona Robyn, who I forgot to mention in my last post, and who is also running a FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY MADNESS FRENZY FEVER type thing on her own blog.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lucky winners!

The three lucky winners of my Paperback Giveaway Madness Frenzy are:

Sarah Fox

Peter Devonald

Clare Clarke

Philip Amos

Iasa Duffy

Mary Akers

Jen Persson

Sharon Scinicariello

Mack Lundy

Rachel Green

Gerry Byrne

Alicia Gifford

Bonnie ZoBell

Miranda Morris

Carol Reid

Morgan Hayton

Martina Schwiebert

Loveina Khans

Justine Taylor

Gerry Byron

Hang on a sec, let me count that again.

Oh, looks like I miscounted first time. Never mind. Everyone's a winner. No more books, or jiffy bags, now, so I'm afraid the competition really is closed.

But, what's this? Another chance to win copies here!

I feel a special mention must go to Morgan Hayton, who contacted me on behalf of the 'Books for Fiji' project.

This is the message Morgan sent me:

The [Books for Fiji] group started about 6 months ago, I am 16 and went on a school trip to Fiji to do volunteer work at some schools there. One school we went to only had a few books for the whole school and village, when we got back to Australia my teacher Mrs Dawson set us 5 students a task of how to help on our own, I came up with the idea of building the library one book at a time via people just sending one book when they got my email, I contact authors like Jackie French and Garth Nix and they sent a book but also suggested to put the request on Facebook as most author have a page there, well thats how its has grown and got to be on Pass it on and also on a local community radio in Melbourne.

I was so impressed, I sent off a copy of both A Vengeful Longing and A Gentle Axe. If anyone else would like to donate a book, please get in touch and I will pass on Morgan's details.

Oh and I had some more ink on Sunday, in the Sunday Times, from Joan Smith. I shall post a quote when I get a chance.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In today's Guardian!

A great review of A Vengeful Longing by Cathi Unsworth.

As fans of Morris's previous A Gentle Axe will know, this author not only has the nerve to lift his lead character from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment but also the skill to bring that distant Russia and its inhabitants to life, while drawing parallels with our own world.

A great start to the weekend!

Friday, January 09, 2009


I think it's only fair that I declare the competition closed now as I have had more entries than I have books to give away. There will be another competition on another blog next week, which I will give details of as soon as I have them. So if you are not a lucky winner this time, you will have another chance.

I am now going to sort through the entries and notify the winners. With any luck I will be posting the winners' names here later.

While we're on the subject of giving giving away free books...

I thought this was very interesting. My thanks to Mary Akers for the link.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

FREE books!!!!!! Paperback giveaway madness!!!!!!!

Hey, do I know how to write a headline! You can't argue with FREE, can you? And for those of you who like reading, 'books' is a pretty good pull too! In fact, what could be better? It's such a good offer I'm now wondering if I really needed all those exclamation marks, or 'screamers' as they're known. And maybe 'giveaway madness' doesn't quite hit the right tone. Ah well, too late now.

Here's the deal, to celebrate the official publication day of the UK paperback of A Vengeful Longing (shortlisted for the 2008 CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger, longlisted for the 2008 CWA Ellis Peters Award for historical crime fiction, runner up for New York Magazine's best thriller of the year) I have three signed copies to give away as prizes in my FREE TO ENTER competition (never hurts to slip in an extra 'FREE' now and then). All you have to do is email me at rogernmorris at blueyonder dot co dot uk with the name of the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment who is the protagonist of my books A Gentle Axe and A Vengeful Longing.

Also, you'd better tell me where you'd like the book sent.

It's as easy as that!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year... let's hope so.

Jeepers, how the New Year creeps up on you. All of a sudden we're in 2009. A new year means a new edition of A Vengeful Longing, the mass market UK paperback, which comes out a week today on the 8th of Jan. Here's what it looks like:

It should start appearing in the shops around now, but it's already available for pre-order here.

Of course, the downside of having another book out is that it gives me something else to obsessively google and rank-check. Anyone know a good hypnotherapist?