Page 1 of 3
By Patrick (2007-02-13)
Q: Without giving too much away, what can you tell us of UN LUN DUN?
Un Lun Dun is a book designed for younger readers - though of course I hope that adult readers will also enjoy it. It's a classic story of children from our world who find their way into another, odder place. The place is sort of a twisted city. It's a homage to that tradition of books like the Alice books, the Narnia books - cross-fertilised with the urban tradition of books like Michael de Larrabeiti's Borribles. It has a playful attitude to some of the assumptions often associated with Golden Child books. It also has plenty of monsters, of course, probably even more per page than most of my other books. And some of my very favourite I've invented ever. More than that, without spoilers, I cannot say.
Q: Speaking of your newest novel, it begs the questions: Why a children's book?
I've always wanted to write a children's book. No book that I read as an adult, no matter how much I love it, has an impact on me the way books did when I was a child, and I think there's something very inspiring about that absolute fervour and abandon with which children read. It's also because the kind of fairy-tale logic I can use in a YA book I could never get away with in an adult book, so there's a real narrative freedom.
Q: What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
I don't think that's for me to say - I think writers are often the worst judges of what they're good or bad at. The thing I enjoy most, and that I _hope_ I do well, is monster-creation.
Q: Your political beliefs regarding Marxism are well known, especially with the recent release of your book on the subject. How do these beliefs affect your writing?
I once said, in answer to this question, "both hugely and not at all". Because obviously like anyone who has strong opinions, my world-view, the kinds of concerns and interests I have, has a big impact on the kind of things I'm interested in examining in the fiction. But not at all, in the sense that the fiction has to be its own end. No matter what any writer's interested in - politically, socially, emotionally, scientifically, whatever - their fiction has to work as a story in its own terms, including for readers who don't agree or aren't interested in what I'm interested in.
What I hope is that for people who are interested in the same stuff I am - political and other - there's texture to the books, but for those who aren't, the story, and the monsters, keep them happy and turning the pages.
Q: Your fans are eager to know when you will be returning to Bas-Lag?
I will definitely be returning to Bas-Lag, but I have a couple of books I want to write first. I suspect I'll be going back to Bas-Lag the rest of my writing life, but I want to intersperse it with non-Bas-Lag books. The worst thing possible would be to turn into a self-repeating machine.
Q: In the past, you have never been shy about expressing your opinion concerning the genre. You have been critical of traditional, epic fantasy. What are your thoughts about the current state of the genre? Where would you like to see it go?
It seems to me fantastic literature at the moment is in a very healthy state. What I hope is that we continue that trend, and that people continue to experiment.
I'm interested to see more fantastic fiction written in non-traditional prose styles - drawing on avant-garde techniques at the sentential level of prose, as well as structure, for example. Of course you wouldn't want that all the time, but even if it doesn't always work, it's always worth experimenting. Trying new stuff.