This Interview has been provided by Orbit, and is printed with their permission.
Andrew Harman is the author of numerous comic fantasy novels, including THE SORCERER’S APPENDIX, THE FROGS OF WAR and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S GENE. In September, Orbit is delighted to be publishing his latest book, IT CAME FROM ON HIGH, along with new-cover reissues of his first four. What better opportunity, we thought, for a close encounter of the Harman kind …
Does your new book IT CAME FROM ON HIGH represent a change in direction for you?
Not just for me. Frankly, I don’t know of anyone else who’s written an SF, romance, anti-conspiracy-theory, Vatican-based comedy which proves that the Turin Shroud is real. OK, maybe Harry Harrison might have thought about it once, I guess . . .
Was it more difficult to write something set in the ‘real world’, as opposed to the fantasy kingdoms of your earlier novels?
Ohhhh, yes. In fantasy it’s so easy to ‘tweak’ the rules as you go along. You know, like on page nine hundred and six of book eighteen of the Interminabiliad when it says something like, ‘Suddenly she found the Sacred Amulet of Cheese Appreciation, and, in a flash, she knew exactly what to do with the fifteen pounds of ripe brie she had been collecting for weeks. In moments the kingdom would be free.’ Cop out. Saying that, though, the challenge of writing a comedy that’s factually correct and utterly absurd at the same time does keep one on one’s toes. You wouldn’t believe the problems I’ve had with time zones lately . . .
What exactly is it that came from on high?
In a cliche, – aliens. Two of them.
And they just happened to come to Earth, no doubt?
Well, anybody who’s anybody knows the movie industry around Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani is crap. Here at least we give aliens a break. OK, so maybe Narns are more Oscar-worthy than Klingons, but who cares – we’ll give a couple of stagestruck beasties from Galaxy 3C390.3 a screentest. Won’t we?
Is there anything even vaguely serious about your new book?
Strangely, yes. Being a Catholic I wanted to make sure all the belief systems are correct. And they are. You know, Robert de Niro getting banned from reading the Pope’s latest poems, that sort of thing. Actually, apart from the fact that this book implies JPII is no longer Pope, I really believe he’d enjoy it.
Why do you think comic fantasy is so popular?
For me, it’s the fact that the only boundary is your imagination.
How do you relax after a hard day’s writing?
Easy. All it takes is a stiff gin and a trip into Oddworld with my mate Abe . . . fitting, I suppose.
And what more can we say? IT CAME FROM ON HIGH. It’s coming from Orbit. Look out.
Copyright© 2002 Orbit. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. The interview has been provided by Orbit and is printed with their permission.