Interview with Michael Morris

What do you read for pleasure?
I read widely, mostly fiction, but also current affairs.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I enjoy Utopian/Dystopian literature, starting with Thomas Moore's original 'Utopia', which appealed to me mostly because it was so far ahead of its time in its democratic and socialist principles. Ursula LeGuin's 'The dispossessed' would also rank well up there as a more detailed and thought provoking study of both the strengths and weaknesses of an anarchist society. For dystopain literature I like 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley. At a time when most science fiction authors were predicting the age of space flight and colonisation of planets through advances in physics, Huxley made the more accurate prediction that in the next generation would actually be biology that would make the most advances, predicting the advent of test tube babies and animal cloning. George Orwell's 'animal farm' was an interesting read, both as an allegory for revolution and as a literal account of the way animals are treated on farms. Lastly the original 'hunger games' is something that affected me very much with its stark horror and portrayal of a ruthless society, as a prediction, or possibly a warning.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I still think nothing can compare to the feel of paper and the sight of ink. But maybe I will change my views as e-readers become cheaper, more compact and easier to read.
When did you first start writing?
I enjoyed writing in primary school, both poetry and prose. I wrote for fun, not just to please teacher. My first juvenilia was a rather bloodthirsty account of a married couple who were also generals in an army in an imaginary country called Klinken, against their enemies the Iron Club Men. Secondary school later killed any creative urges in me, especially the rigid structure of the school classroom, the continuous fear of corporal punishment, and the set readings with no scope for different tastes. The purpose of secondary school education was to please teachers and get good marks in exams, neither of which is conducive to creativity.

I only took up writing again when I finished my science study and wrote scientific papers for journals. Later I also wrote advocacy pieces for animal welfare and animal ethics journals where I not only reported the science but interpreted and evaluated it. These required similar skills to fiction writing in that they required engaging with emotions and not just the intellect, and writing something that someone would want to read for its own sake, not for the knowledge they would gain from it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The type of material I have written, critical of the establishment, and the governments of both the left and the right for their callous disregard for animals, is not one that sits well with mainstream publishers. I generally see there is a great future in independent non-vanity publishing, though probably not yet.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I will answer that once I am successful. I have not been publishing on Smashwords long enough to say.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Not a particularly noble reason but I suppose I enjoy being able to dictate to the world and order it as I want it in my imagination. Through fiction I can date wonderful women, set the world to rights, eliminate injustice and invent nasty surprises for those I dislike. For my non-fiction writing my aim is a better society for its non-human members.
What are you working on next?
I am working on a fictional account of an animal rights group, with all the intrigues and conflict that go on in such groups, and there will be a murder involved. I don't want to give any more away at the moment.
Who are your favorite authors?
CS Lewis for the way he combines the best aspects of the Christian and pagan tradition, and Tolkien for creating a whole new world. Ursula Le Guin for her one book showing how an anarchistic society is possible, and I really enjoy the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend. It is amazing the way a woman author can get right inside the skin of a disaffected unconfident teenage boy and young man.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am starting my own business teaching environmental subjects, so that takes a lot of my time. I am also studying small business management full time.
How do you approach cover design?
By calling in the experts. I have no colour sense at all, as anyone could tell you who has seen what I wear.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have based my latest crime novel around the theme of animal rights. Very little fiction has been written on this subject, but a number of non-fiction books, such as journalist Will Tuttle's "Green is the new red" have focused on the struggle of activism groups to get themselves heard among the clamour of the business-as-usual corporates and their minders in government. My book is based around two factual episodes, the way US Surgical attempted to discredit the animal rights movement by exploiting the weaknesses of a mentally unstable woman, and a series of spies, paid for by the police and the animal commodification industries that plagued the animal rights and environmental movement in New Zealand early this century.
Published 2014-08-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Factory farming and animal liberation: the New Zealand experience
Price: Free! Words: 60,580. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: June 27, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Engineering, trades, & technology » Agriculture / Sustainable Agriculture, Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » Activism
(5.00 from 1 review)
This book describes the shocking ways factory farmed animals are treated in New Zealand, the lengths industry and government will go to maintain the status quo, and effective ways to make a difference for animals as individuals and as a society. The issues raised about exploitation, political influence and effective activism can be applied to many situations worldwide.