By Diane Y. Welch
James Morris is a young man on a mission and with his enthusiasm and energy the future looks promising as he starts to makes his mark in the world.
While Morris, 18, jokes that he “needs to find a moment of sleep,” his path forward is one of serious intent as he weaves his many talents into a fabric composed of literature, music and philanthropy.
On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 4, Morris, with his supportive mom, Maria, appeared at his book launch at San Diego’s Mysterious Galaxy, a genre bookstore specializing in science fiction, mystery, fantasy, and horror.
Morris not only signed his latest novel, “Water Tower,” but also entertained those present with a set of his self-composed music inspired by the book. Awareness was also raised for the foundation Earn Your Wings that Morris founded last year. It’s mission is to help keep kids safe.
Attendees were encouraged to “open up their hearts” to purchase Morris’s book, plus one of their choice for donation to the Chadwick Center at Rady Children’s Hospital, where Morris also volunteers.
The book signing event was on the heels of the official release of Water Tower at Comic Con last month. The novel is a sequel to Sky Bound (released October 2012) and is book two in the Young Adult, Science Fiction Three Kingdom’s Trilogy, self-published by Morris through Red Plate Publishing.
Morris recently graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School and is heading to study Audio Engineering Technology at Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville.
He gives credit to several of his high school teachers and staff who made a difference in him forging this path forward: Tim Foley, former music teacher; Dawn Brannman, teacher and Director of Community Service Programs; and Dean Marlena Conroy, whose support made it possible for Morris to balance being a student, music artist, author and community organizer/volunteer.
Voracious reading – “My room is wall to wall books,” he said – nurtured Morris’s talent for storytelling and lyric writing. Eager to share this talent, he has created a writing workshop – Words Create Worlds – for teens and donated his books to local schools in the Poway School District where they have “embraced his book,” said Maria Morris, who serves as her son’s top cheerleader and publicity agent.
A singer/songwriter, Morris’s musical compositions have been recorded onto CD and last year he was a nominee for the San Diego Music Awards. His latest CD – Catch Fire – is now available, along with Speed of Dark, Three Part Plan, and Fall.
Initially starting with piano, Morris then taught himself to play guitar at age 13, he said, and for the past three years has played gigs at local coffee shops, on the radio, and at local fundraising events.
“James is a great songwriter,” said producer/ composer Gardner Cole about Morris’s abilities. “There’s a craft to writing and he’s got it.”
Now working on book three of his action-packed dystopic trilogy, Morris said there is already interest from a movie company to make the Three Kingdom Series into a major motion picture, although as talks have just been initiated, “it’s too early to go into any details,” he said.
The world of the three warring nations that Morris has created in his novels introduces the reader to a 15-year-old protagonist, Sam Cutter, who despite his awkwardness is brave and determined to “stand up to powers far beyond the ordinary, whether they be good or evil.”
A fast-paced and action-packed adventure, Water Tower has already earned praise from Jeff Edward, author of The Seventh Angel, who noted, “James Morris combines the world-building ingenuity of Philip K. Dick with a raw-edged creativity that I’ve never seen in such a young author. Remember this kid’s name because you’re going to be asking for his autograph.”
As for Maria Morris, she has high praise for her teenage son’s social responsibility and philanthropy. “James is a wonderful role model for other kids and teens, and I’m so proud of him,” she said.
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