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This Interview has been provided by Orbit, and is printed with their permission.
David Gemmell's classic Drenai series, which began with his first novel, LEGEND, was reissued in September with new covers. We took the opportunity to have a close encounter with Britain's king of heroic fantasy.
Which book do you remember best from your childhood?
THE HOBBIT. I was around seven and the headmaster of my junior school, in a bid to encourage reading, came into the class every Thursday to read to us. I found myself looking forward to that hour more than any other. He had a great reading voice and I used to close my eyes and live the story.
What is the most outrageous thing you have ever done?
Drawing a veil over the criminal and the sexual...I once put my head in a lion's mouth. I was a junior reporter and I had been ordered to write a feature about a circus that was in town. I asked the lion tamer if I could join him in a training session. The paper had to sign all sorts of insurance forms, but I did go in the big cage. For what it's worth, I have never smelt anything so foul as the breath of a big cat. It was almost toxic.
What is your favourite film?
Rocky. Sylvester Stallone's script is magnificent and the movie rightly won the Oscar for Best Film of 1976. The other Rocky films were entertaining but on the whole they devalued the original concept.
Which character from fiction would you most like to be?
I can think of no one from history or fiction that I would like to be. When I was a child I would have given anything to stand beside Harold at the Battle of Hastings. As a teenager I wanted to be the one man in High Noon who would back up Gary Cooper. I remember standing at Piccadilly station one day and looking across the platform at an enormous poster emblazoned with the name DAVID GEMMELL in four-foot-high letters. The first thought that came into my mind was, 'Must be nice to be him.'
What is your greatest fear?
Where's your favourite place?
Tucson, Arizona, just as the sun goes down and the Catalina mountains turn gold.
If you were invited to a fancy-dress party, who would you go as?
Hercule Poirot's taller brother.
What irritates you the most?
The English habit of building up heroes and then seeking to tear them down. I think we are in danger of becoming a mean-spirited people.
What is your favourite word?
Prat. It's so wonderfully expressive.
How do you indulge yourself?
I play computer games. I just bought 'Age of Empires' and I play it constantly. Mind you, I can't play it without the cheats. It's so infuriating. I kept getting killed, so after a week of being massacred I nipped on to the Net and went into a Games chat room. A twelve year old was talking about how it took him an hour to figure out you can't get very far without building several storage pits. An hour! I could have shot him!
Do you have a motto?
The louder he spoke of his honour, the faster we counted the spoons.
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.