Remy, over at The Fantasy Review recently interviewed Michael Moorcock for the release of his new book 'The Metatemporal Detective'. Not only did Remy conduct a great interview (check it out!) but he also let me sneak a few of my questions in as well. Without further ado, here they are...
Q: In the forewords of your 'Eternal Champion' series, you've mentioned that some of these tales were written in a matter of days (sometimes hours), is this still the case with your recent works? When was the last time you wrote an entire book over the course of a weekend?
No. It takes much longer now I’m off my drugs of choice (coffee and sugar). But I still work pretty quickly. The latest Elric novella only took three or four days. My books used to take me three days, working nine to six with an hour off for lunch. By the 1970s I was taking five or six days. By the late 80s it had become a matter of weeks. Gloriana, for instance, took six weeks.
Then by 1979, doing something really ambitious like Byzantium Endures, I took 6 months. The most recent Elric books took around a month a piece. Originally, I did one draft and never reread. I’d pay a friend to read the manuscript for any mistakes then send it straight to the publisher. As a result I’ve never read most of my own books. These days, I tend to do a second draft.
Q: Some fantasy authors (naming no names) have run into difficulties dealing with the sheer size of their cast of characters. This can result in a series that runs far longer than planned and mostly deals with needless minutiae in order to tie up plot strands. Your body of work has continuity that stretches back around forty years with a large number of recurring characters. Do you feel that you have managed to avoid these pitfalls?
I hope so, because I tend to think in terms of characters and have most of them as ‘personalities’ in my head. That’s how I can usually keep the stories in my head.
Q: The last couple of years, in particular, have seen a number of debut fantasy authors whose work has met with acclaim. Did any of these authors catch your eye? Which (if any) would you recommend to someone picking up a fantasy book for the first time?
I like China Mieville, Storm Constantine, Steve Aylett, Jeffrey Ford, Jeff VanderMeer, K.L.Bishop, Steve Redwood, Holly Black, all of whom I think are superb. I’d also recommend Michael Chabon’s recent work as well as Walter Mosley’s imaginative fiction.
Q: One of my favourite books, of yours, was the 'Nomad of the Time Streams', I found the satire insightful and the use of certain political figures (in different situations) an eye-opener. What kind of lessons would Oswald Bastable learn if he were to find himself in today's world? What 'world figures' might he meet and what would you have them do?
Well, I think I’ve shown that in The Metatemporal Detective. Those stories, in tone and intention, are pretty close to what I was doing, I think, in Nomad. I’m very glad you saw those books for what they were intended to do, since some people just saw them as ‘cool airship stories’ as it were. Most of the imitators of those stories haven’t used the technique for what it was originally intended to do. Begg and Bastable are close cousins!
Q: It's the night before 'The Metatemporal Detective' is released. Will you still feel nervous about how it's received or did that feeling vanish a long time ago?
I have that feeling occasionally, especially when an ambitious literary novel, like Vengeance of Rome, is coming out, because they tend to get many more reviews in the regular press. But I’ll be in Paris when TMD comes out and I probably won’t remember the actual date. I’m still pleased, though, if I get good reviews and unhappy if I get bad ones! I do still care about how a book’s received, though I know it makes very little difference to sales and so on.
Q: Are there any little 'rituals' that you always adhere to on the day a book of yours is published (slap up meal, smoke a huge cigar etc)? What will you be doing on the day that 'The Metatemporal Detective' is released?
Well, now you mention it, I think I’ll have a slap up meal, since I WILL be in Paris and any excuse is a good one. Indeed, I’d like to arrange some sort of launch party in Paris for the book. We’ll see if that’s possible.
Q: Your more 'fantastical' works inevitably tie into the all-encompassing multi-verse and 'The Metatemporal Detective' looks to be no exception. Bearing this in mind, would you recommend 'The Metatemporal Detective' to someone who is reading your work for the first time?
Yes, I think I would. It’s a book I’ll probably give the guys at my local Post Office for Christmas. It’s a great PO and I always try to say thank you in some way. It’s a book I’d offer someone who said they didn’t know my stuff.
Q: Finally, Elric, Corum and Dorian Hawkmoon go out for a few drinks. By the end of the evening, which one…
i) Will have been arrested?
ii) Will have made a move on someone else’s girlfriend?
iii) Will be drunkenly holding forth on a topic they know absolutely nothing about?
Good heavens! These guys are HEROES! They take themselves far too seriously for that. And also they are either very happily married or are mourning some lady they’ve lost or accidentally killed. And they’re too laconic to hold forth on a subject they know nothing about.
Their CREATOR on the other hand might not behave quite so well. So the answer to all three questions is ME...