This is part two, a day late, of my Michael Moorcock interview. In this section, Mr. Moorcock responds to my questions about the original series of Elric novels and stories.
In the late nineties, White Wolf Publishing issued a 15-volume series that collects nearly all of Mr. Moorcock’s fantasy and science fiction, including two volumes of Elric stories and novels. The set comprises a good 75,000 pages, and reading it straight through is one of the more remarkable literary experiences I’ve ever had.
Sadly, the books now out of print, as is the case for a similar four-volume collection from White Wolf of Fritz Leiber’s elegant, beautifully written, and witty Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories.
However, the White Wolf books are well worth tracking down, and most of the volumes can be located either via Amazon’s used-book listing services or via alibris, another used-book dealer listing system.
Previous Elric publications
In the White Wolf editions, the first copyright date is 1961. is that when the albino was born?
A little earlier, in the late fifties. Then Ted Carnell, editor of Science Fantasy magazine, asked me to write some heroic fantasy stories, and the first of these Elric tales appeared, I think, in 1960.
How many original Elric novels were there?
The ones reprinted in the Fantasy Masterworks series published by Victor Gollancz in the U.K. Some novellas and one novel, Stormbringer.
Why and when did you move on from the character?
I had already written a straight novel when I was 17 and lost it, then an allegory called The Golden Barge, published many years later, and of course I had written a great deal of journalism, short stories, comic strips before I ever did Elric, so I didn’t really move on. I started doing the Jerry Cornelius stories, which related to modern times, in 1964.
Elric the movie
You’ve recently mentioned in your online forum that an Elric movie is in the works. Can you tell us more?
Yes, I’m working with Chris and Paul Weitz. After the success of About A Boy they wanted to do an epic and Chris is an old Elric fan. They came to see me and we hit it off. I just heard Universal want to do the picture, but it’s early days yet.
At what stage of the development process are you?
Very early discussions between my people and Universal’s people!
Can you tell us about the changes to the story that you’re making to accommodate the needs of the cinematic medium?
Yes, I want the chance to improve the dynamics of the originals, which were written out of order and over a long period. I like movies to be movies and books to be books. I see no point in producing a slavish version of the books.
How involved to you hope to be in the story, development, and writing of the film?
Quite a bit. The Weitz brothers want me involved and so far we’ve worked very well together on the proposal and so on.
What writers would you like to see tackling the screenplay? Any “dream team” picks to direct?
We sort of think people will appear when they know the film is about to be made!
Who do you see as Elric? Moonglum? Cymoril? Arioch? Yrkoon?
The only actor I’d really like to see in the movie is one of my stage favourites, Simon Russell Beale, who did a wonderful (plump) Richard 3 at Stratford a few years ago. He’s a wonderful actor. Good singer, too.
If you were to appear in a cameo, who might you imagine yourself as?
Smiorgan Baldhead, though I’d have to shave my scalp!
[Editorial interjection: Since this interview was conducted, Mr. Moorcock has mentioned in his online forum that Jude Law’s name had come up in consideration for the role of Elric.]
Elric’s role in the destruction of Melniboné, I imagine, will make a persuasive case for itself as a potential focus of the tale. Can you mention the saga’s highlights that you hope to address in the film, such as this particular event?
Yes, the current proposal ends with the destruction of Melniboné as a result of Elric’s decision to accept the dark power of the Black Sword.
[Next: Mr. Moorcock’s literary novels.]