Thursday, 10 May 2012
It's a sad turn of affairs when a chap has to interview himself...
OldMark: Thanks, NewMark, for taking a moment to let me interview you. 2009 salutes you.
NewMark: No problem. There’s loads of spare time in the future.
OldMark: Wow! Really?
OldMark: OK. OK. We’re on a clock here. I get it. Sheesh. So tell me, am I rich and famous up there in the future? What’s 2012 like? Tell me they’ve found a cure for male pattern baldness.
NewMark: We have hover-cars and my dreadlocks are down past my arse. I’m flying to all those book awards you haven’t heard of yet in my solid gold helicopter. How about we talk about the fuckin’ book? Focus!
OldMark: OK. Got it. No lottery predictions, no small talk. Right King of Thorns, what should people know about it?
NewMark: Well here’s the thing, OldMark. With Prince of Thorns I said very little concerning what it was about. I thought I’d set it out there and let the reader make up their mind. And what a lot of different things they thought! You simply wouldn’t believe it. But I won’t spoil it for you.
Of course like many books Prince of Thorns is about a collection of many different things all at once. Obviously it’s about a particular unfolding plot with a beginning, middle and end. But it’s also about
(i) the issue of nature vs nurture – was Jorg the product of his experience or would he have been a monster however idyllic his childhood?
(ii) the ambiguities in responsibility and purpose that arise from the protagonist's age
(iii) the disparity between what Jorg tells the reader about his motives and responsibility and what the reader actually deduces
(iv) the changes wrought in us through experience as opposed to those wrought by simply growing.
And running through all of that it’s about anger, passion, internal conflict ... all that great stuff that pulses through literature. I don’t claim to have done a good job of it, but I do claim to have tried with honesty and without reserve.
OldMark: And there’s me thinking I just wrote a story! Wonderful what a year of navel gazing will do for you. Anyhow. What does our navel say about King of Thorns? It doesn’t sound like there’s much left for it to be about?
NewMark: When my editor (Jane Johnson, you've not met her yet, but you're going to like her) read it she said in her editor's letter: ...it is shaping up to be the most extraordinary work of fantasy I have ever read: because you take such risks...
Well I wasn't aware I was taking risks as I wrote it but they seem to have worked for the readers so far. Will that hold true for the wider world? It's nearly time to find out.
OldMark: Yeah... but what's it about?
NewMark: Well, I’m gonna leave it pretty much open again and see what people tell me it’s about. Pretty clearly though it’s a reversal of established paths. The ‘chosen one’, the ‘golden and virtuous hero who has been foretold’... that ain’t Jorg. Jorg’s the guy in that guy’s way, the one scheduled for demolition and to be a footnote in the history books. That’s pretty much the starting point.
The other main thing I wanted to note is that Prince of Thorns was written as a standalone. King of Thorns is written as book two of three. It won’t leave you on an annoying cliff-hanger – it will be a self-contained and hopefully satisfying story – but it does contain elements that are enriched by the reading of the trilogy’s final book. There are small components of King that might appear a bit standard – they are not. There are parts of King where a line of story might seem to end before its time or evade some detail the reader would have liked followed up – these things are picked up, elaborated on, and completed in the final book.
OldMark: So basically two years have passed and I’m just as tight-lipped as ever?
OldMark: So what about this whole author thing? How’s that working out for me? Is it fun? Have we done anything cool?
NewMark: Well. I guess it’s like anything. Stuff’s rarely as good as you think it’s going to be. Anticlimax is the norm. So that’s where you’re lucky, OldMark. You didn’t ever entertain a burning desire to be an author and you didn’t build up an imaginary landscape of how great it would be. The main difference in your life is that all that spare time you never had and used to fill with PC games and writing, you still don’t have and now fill with twitter and facebook. You don’t write nearly as much as you used to because you’re less bored and there’s always someone wanting a chat or an interview or you have to recheck your Amazon or Goodreads ratings...
OldMark: Sounds like you need to unplug the internet! Better still leave the computer room entirely and dig the typewriter out of the attic.
NewMark: We’ve got a laptop now, with wireless internet. There’s no escape.
OldMark: Cool! I always wanted a laptop.
NewMark: Oh, and the economy really tanked. Your company laid off half its scientists before Christmas and the rest of us might be out on our ear before next Christmas.
OldMark: Suckage. You’re not ever getting another job what with your caring responsibilities!
NewMark: True. But it would give me time to write!
OldMark: Or you could just exercise a little sodding self control and turn the internet off.
NewMark: Yeah, yeah. Oh! That’s the other thing. Signed an options contract on the film and TV rights today. Still an Everest to climb without oxygen before there’s any chance of an actual film, but hey, we’ve put our mountain boots on and got a ticket for base camp!
OldMark: Oh shut up! If you’re just going to make stuff up this interview is over!
NewMark: No, straight up! This guy from Hollywood- Hello? Hello? You still there? ...