Thursday, October 27, 2022

6 books with William Henry Morris

William Henry Morris writes, edits, and writes about SF&F. He writes fiction for the indie, literary Mormon market as William Morris and lives in Minnesota with his wife, daughter, and cat. You can find him wallowing in the supposed spaces between/amidst/around the literary and the fantastic (and the humorous whenever possible).

Today he tells us about his Six Books:

1. What book are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison. Like, many SF&F fans I was quite taken by The Goblin Emperor, but I think I like her The Cemeteries of Amalo series, which is set in the same world, even better.

The setting down in the city streets rather than the rarified air of the court is more my style. Thara Celehar, the wry, melancholic, murder-solving prelate who can speak to the dead, is a compelling character (although I’m also very worried about him). And I like that the books deal with questions of faith, religion, class, and industrialization in secondary world fantasy.

2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?

I’ve made no secret that I’m a huge fan of Sofia Samatar’s work. It may be out in the world by the time this is published, but I’m very excited about The White Mosque. It’s not SF&F. It’s part memoir, part history, part travelogue, but I have no doubt that it’ll be fantastic—and it looks like it tackles some of the same concerns as Samatar’s two excellent fantasy novels.

For a true SF&F pick, I can’t believe we have to wait until the middle of next year for Vajra Chandrasekera’s debut novel The Saint of Bright Doors. His short fiction never fails to destroy me. I look forward to seeing what he does in novel form.

3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?

This is sort of strange considering that a) I read it just a few months ago and b) it’s not a finished book, but I’d really like to dig back into John M. Ford’s Aspects and better understand what he’s accomplished with the novel and think more deeply about where it might have been going. There are some potentially innovative for secondary world fantasy elements to Aspects that I find fascinating, especially the political system.

4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?

I’m sure there are books I read as a teenager that I’d not be quite as enthused about if I were to read them now. Hmmmm.

This is not a movement from negative to positive, but I don’t think any SF&F novel I’ve read has risen in my estimation over time as much as Sarah Tolmie’s The Stone Boatmen. I think it’s an incredible achievement of secondary world fantasy that comes across as deceptively simple, perhaps even quirky. And yet themes, characters, and moments in it continue to unspool whenever I think about them, which I still do from time-to-time.

5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

It may not seem like it based on the work of mine that’s been published so far, but Lloyd Alexander’s Westmark trilogy had a profound influence on my understanding of both literature and the world.

I suppose I could say that whatever kernels of pragmatic hope that can be found in my fiction are remnants of my experience reading that trilogy, especially The Kestrel, and the way in which darkness and decency get intertwined across those novels.

6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome?

The Darkest Abyss: Strange Mormon Stories was recently published by the BCC Press under my William Morris moniker, which is what I use for my work that appears in the incredibly small, but fascinating [to me] indie Mormon literary market.

The 18 stories in the collection range from alternate history and science fiction to folk horror and literary experimental. If you’ve read any of my stories that (the late, lamented) Big Echo published—especially “Ghosts of Salt and Spirit”, which is in this collection—then I think you’ll find my these stories work in a similar mode, albeit all of them have some sort of tie-in to Mormon history, experience, and/or (often highly speculative in strange directions) theology.

Readers without much familiarity with Mormonism may miss some nuances (heck, a lot of Mormon readers would miss some nuances, although they’re probably not going to pick up the collection anyway). But they also may find them of more interest than standard portrayals of the Mormon experience, which tend to stick to certain narratives (whether produced by the LDS Church or by those who aren’t Mormon).

Thank you, William!

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.