Moorcock Interview: Contents

Michael Moorcock Interview: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.

From March 17, 2003 to March 21, I posted five parts of an email interview I conducted with British author Michael Moorcock in preparation for an article that was published in the April 2003 issue of Cinescape magazine. the software I use to manage this web site makes it difficult to accomplish certain kinds of archival ordering, so I’m adding this table of contents.

I conducted the interview in January and sat on it, a drawback of generating material that is destined for print first. While I was waiting for the magazine to come out (… and waiting, and waiting …) a trade magazine broke the Elric movie story, which made me sad. Oh well, live and learn!

Hope you enjoyed, or will enjoy the interview.

Michael Moorcock Interview, Part 5

Here is the final part of my interview with Michael Moorcock. I’ll add a separate table of contents that presents the parts in order to overcome the awkward categorical ordering.

Readers will want to know of the author’s website,, which has a wide range of material available, including Mr. Moorcock’s online forum, in which he will happily respond to site visitor’s questions at length. However, the forum is somewhat hard to find on the site, and I’ve been told it’s by design, so I’ll provide you with a link to the root of the site and permit the intrepid their own pleasure of discovery.

I apologize again for breaking up the posts with other topics, but I’m afraid you’ll have to take that up with the President.


You are currently facing complications of neuropathy in your foot, I believe. If I understand correctly, you may have another operation coming up. Is there anything you’d like to say about your health in general or about the specific state of it at the present time?

I’ve enjoyed good health most of my life and been generally very active. Being less active in Texas and using marijuana to offset the pain of neuropathy helped, I believe, get me into the condition where the arteries in one leg hardened, compromising blood flow to the foot which is now in jeopardy. Moral – keep walking and go easy on the wacky backy. I long to be able to walk without pain again and with luck that will happen eventually.

Other Authors

You’ve cited Mervyn Peake as an inspiration for your work online in the past. His best known work, Gormenghast, was filmed recently. What was your opinion of the adaptation?

I thought it was a very worthy job. It needed someone with Peake’s imagination to make the most of it. Sadly it’s rare to find such people, of course. Some of the actors were great. Some of the added lines were diabolically bad.

Alan Moore, the author of Watchmen and From Hell, has cited you as an influence in the past. Has his work been an influence on you?

An inspiration, certainly. I just recently had an idea I couldn’t use because it’s too like one of his. I thought of offering it to him, but of course he has plenty of his own.

Moore wrote a prose novel, Voice of the Fire in which his – and your – themes of geography and history are beautifully addressed. Are you familiar with it?

Yes. I’m a great admirer of Alan’s fiction.

Have there been or are there plans afoot for the two of you to collaborate?

Two recluses? I wouldn’t mind doing it some time, if Alan wanted to, but it hasn’t come up.

You are probably the most persistent, thoughtful and idiosyncratic critic of Tolkien’s work that I’m aware of, carefully separating your thoughts on his work from your thoughts on the man himself. Do you see the success of the films as a triumph or a tragedy?

A triumph, though I find the films themselves deadly boring and the infelicities (potatoes, tobacco, gunpowder) irritating. But they set a bench-mark and it means it’s now possible to try to make an ambitious adult fantasy film, which I’m hoping Elric will be!

Your work, and particularly Elric, is widely understood as standing at the opposite pole from Tolkien’s in the realm of fantasy writing. Is that a fair characterization?

I describe this tradition in today’s (January 25, 2003) Guardian, reviewing the US author Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, which preceded Tolkien’s first LOTR volume in 1954.

I think some of us are less interested in offering escape than Tolkien, less interested in stroking ourselves a la Gollum. Who, incidentally, is the only character I really like in the whole quasi-epic. Which probably says it all. That said, I was fond of Tolkien, who was a very nice, decent human being. He was, however, of his time and I am bound to react to his generation – soupy about self-sacrifice in war (because of Ypres and so on), suspicious of working classes and dark Easterners.

That said I think it’s foolish to depict him as a racist or, indeed, any sort of fascist. He was of his time. But his books don’t really rise to being a real epic simply because of that. What irritates me is not Tolkien but Tolkien-worship. I suspect those who think he’s the greatest writer in the world haven’t really read much really good fiction. I think the same of those who might say the same of me…

Did you write Elric with the conscious intent of developing a literary antidote to Tolkien?

Yes. And to Robert E. Howard, the other example in my day.

And to wind up: In a true wizard’s battle, who would prevail: Gandalf or Elric? 😉

Elric, I suspect. He’s a lot less self-important and a lot trickier.

Michael Moorcock Interview, Part 4

This is the fourth part of my interview with Michael Moorcock, the next to last part. In his work, there are several themes that stand out. Foremost among them are the setting and importance of urban civilization; the use of three-part characters – three persons locked in a relationship, often of both blood and sexual love, two partners male, and one female; addiction; and anarchism as a political and personal philosophy.

For many readers of my age, our introduction to one of the serious questions of political philosophy – the relationship of the individual to the state – came through Mr. Moorcock’s writing. Certainly, I personally was introduced to the tragic history of Russian anarchism through his writings. I would have been very unlikely to have looked into it further if I had not read about Mr. Moorcock’s idealized portrait of Nestor Makhno.

I believe that reading much of his fantasy as a preadolescent laid the groundwork for my own receptivity to some of the ideas and ideals of punk rock. Punk’s adaptation of the rhetorical posture of anarchism arguably (and ironically) stemmed from the countercultural ideals of the London and Parisian hipster scenes of the late 1960’s.

Running thoughout his fiction are references to a city, Tanelorn, which in his mythos is a perfect place, a haven of rest and civilization that exists everywhere and nowhere, behind the real and physical cities we live in, and in the context of the stories, a sort a genuinely extant Platonic ideal of the city.

A similar concept underlies much of his fantasy writing, in parallel with Joseph Campbell’s well-known idea of the Hero with the Thousand Faces. Mr. Moorcock calls his hero the Eternal Champion, and posits that his fantasy characters are, in essence, different incarnations of the same being. Over the whole scope of his work, this idea – that the main characters he spins tales of are in some way the same being – grants a powerful sense of vastness to the books, a kind of operatic grandeur to the material.

Mr. Moorcock has a deep appreciation of turn-of-the-century British pulp fiction, which was created for mass audiences of both the young and the working class. This fiction frequently practiced a kind of imperial pedagogy and functioned as propaganda for the economic and political structure of the day. The writing of Rudyard Kipling is a kind of parent to this genre, which will be mostly unknown to American readers – in a way, Tintin is a descendant of this genre in Europe, and Tom Swift once was here in the United States.

Mr. Moorcock has repeatedly selected particular flavors of literature from the late Victorian and Edwardian era, and affectionately made use of the linguistic style and tropes employed therein to craft his own tales wihin the skins of the mostly-forgotten books.

Among these titles are his Warlord of the Air cycle (the White Wolf/Borealis collected edition is titled A Nomad of the Time Streams), in which an idealistic young British Army officer, Oswald Bastable, comes unstuck in the multiverse and experiences a very different first half of the twentieth century than ours (his has many more airships than our did, darn the luck). The Brothel in Rosenstrasse is a moody reflection on the genesis of World War One, written with great delicacy and feeling; Gloriana is a reflection on empire and its’ costs (on the page I have linked to, the brief description appears to be for another book – but there’s detailed reader review that merits attention, lower on the page).

Finally, and among my favorites, are his Dancers at the End of Time, which I have a difficult time describing (There’s a companion volume as well, Legends from the End of Time). It’s a love story between a human with the powers of a god and the innocence of a child and very, very proper Victorian, sadly, married to man she does not love. The Dancers series was clearly written in celebration of what love can mean, and is by turns wildly romantic, incredibly silly, and deeply moving. Every time I read it, life gets a little bit better for my wife.

In this segment of the interview, Mr. Moorcock refers to Linda, his American-born wife. They live in a suburb of Austin, Texas.

Urbanity (Tanelorn, London)

Is Tanelorn London?

No. But London might become Tanelorn. We have to do our best!

Why did you leave London?

Linda’s asthma meant we had to think about moving. Linda’s nieces live in Texas. The air was better outside Austin. But we’re now thinking of moving back to England eventually, maybe to a place in the country fairly close to London. I miss London.

Did you write Mother London and King of the City primarily in London or in Texas?

Did the location have an impact on the works? If so, what can you tell us about that impact?

Mother London was written entirely in London. King’s notes and some chapters were sketched in London but the book was written mostly in Texas. Locations are important, but not where I’m writing at the time, only what they mean in terms of narrative and so on.


Not only Elric, but other incarnations of your Eternal Champion as well, are depicted as dependent, medically or in addiction, on drugs (or souls, or whatnot).

I might just about be addicted to writing, but that’s all. I come from a totally unaddictable family, it seems (behaviour aside). My mother gave up smoking the day she found out it was bad for you. I’ve given up all sorts of things for the same reasons.

Have you ever been dependent, medically or in addiction, on drugs yourself?

See above.

What draws you to the theme?

I’m interested in human behaviour and the way people are addicted to ritual, ideas, ways of life. Often such habits are very destructive.

Would you characterize your relationship to writing per se as a dependency?

I don’t think so. If I’ve nothing to write about, which I suppose is rare, I simply stop. I can go for months just reading, watching movies and so on.


When did your interest in anarchism as a political philosophy begin?

Reading Kropotkin as a boy and finding that his kind of anarchism struck resonances with my own ideas of freedom and justice.

Would you describe yourself as an anarchist currently?

Yes. It’s the closest political philosophy to my own ideas. Not necessarily very practical, but it resonates, just like my feminism, with ideas of what is morally right – the freedom of the individual and so on.

Were you in the past?


Can you describe the core values of the anarchism that presents itself in your books?

Human dignity and its importance. That’s what makes me write political books like Warlord of the Air and little cameos like A Winter Admiral. Respect for human dignity…

British Pulp

In the Warlord of the Air cycle, your inversions of this literature are so through as to be programmatic. Did the anarchist content of these books emerge from the logic of inverting the models?

Not really, since my anarchism is what resonates with my inner self. All anarchism is for me is a formal way of dealing with the political world and so on.

In the Elric material, on the other hand, the anarchist values appear largely as reflections of Elric’s specific character. When you were writing the books, did the theme emerge of intent or from the character, as you wrote him?

Elric was always a version of myself, if a highly melodramatic one. So Elric’s moral struggles were mine in the early books. Somewhere in all my fantasies you’ll find a moral theme, even if it doesn’t dominate the story. And the rights of the individual to formulate their own morality is always important. I don’t necessarily APPROVE of the morality the individual formulates, of course, and I believe that morality in the end has to do with our consensus views of right and wrong.

In the works did the anarchist themes emerge organically, or did you set out with a pedagogical goal in mind?

No. As I said, my anarchism, like my feminism, comes out of my own instincts, not the other way around. Those ideas, of course, help me formulate certain ideas about action, but they don’t have much to do with ideas about stories.


The theme of the sister-lover disputed over by two brothers (or cousins, what have you) appears most clearly in the Cornelius books and the Elric books, but also in more realist form in Mother London and King of the City.

Where did this theme originate? Did you invent it, borrow it from folklore or literature, or does it reflect a personal experience in your own life?

Well, I was in love with my cousin when I was about five. Maybe that’s it. Certainly it remains a powerful emotion. She died of polio. But as an only child I suspect that I am simply fascinated by the idea of Potential relationships with siblings!

In your childhood, did you have a non-conventional relationship with others that made this theme resonate for you?

I had very conventional friendships. I am still in touch with my very best friend from my childhood.

Fate and Will

To what do you attribute the prominence of fate and will in your writing?

I suppose I’m interested in how we are driven and formed by context. In one context we become one sort of individual, in another, another. So that’s what it’s mainly about.

Do you believe, on a personal level, in destiny or in free will?

I believe in a little of both. I tend to drift into things. I drifted into writing fantasy, singing in rock bands, making records and so on. If asked, I’ll do it. If not, I probably won’t.

To what to you attribute the prominence of these themes in your work? Are there specific artists that influenced you to adopt these themes?

I can’t think any.

Do you, personally, feel that your life more reflects your exertion of will or the effects of fate?

No. Generally I don’t exert my will. When I do, however, I tend to get what I want, it’s true. But generally it’s other people seeing something in me and asking me to do something – write a fantasy series, make a record, whatever. Terrible, isn’t it!

[Next: a brief look at Mr. Moorcock’s health, and words on the work of Mervyn Peake, Alan Moore, and (batten down the hatches) J. R. R. Tolkien.]

Michael Moorcock Interview, Part 3

Beginning in Mr. Moorcock’s New Worlds days, he began producing formalist pranks and serious high-modern pieces that eventually combined into one continuing work, the Jerry Cornelius books (if I have my history right). All four were recently reissued in the book A Cornelius Quartet, and from a formal perspective they are the trickiest of Moorcock’s work. He went on to use the chops first seen in the Cornelius books in the related works Mother London, King of the City, and in the ongoing Colonel Pyat books, of which there will be four, mirroring the Cornelius series.

Three of the Pyat books have been published: The Laughter of Carthage, Byzantium Endures, and The Century. The final book, Jerusalem Commands, was completed to a first draft stage earlier in 2003.

UPDATE: I have no idea how that got by. The next paragraph is an accurate rewrite.

Three of the Pyat books have been published: The Laughter of Carthage, Byzantium Endures, and Jerusalem Commands. The final book, The Vengeance of Rome, was completed to a first draft stage earlier in 2003.

The Pyat books follow an anti-semitic Russian exile, Colonel Pyat, through the course of his life from his birth in Czarist Russia to his eventual resting point in Moorcock’s London. Pyat is the prototypical unreliable narrator, and underlying his anti-semitism is the clear fact that he his himself a Jew, something that he goes to great lengths to deny to himself throughout his life.

In addition to his wildly embellished life story, recounted in the first person, it seems probable that the Colonel may also be crazy, as he clearly afflicted by a recurrent delusional paranoia in which he’s stalked by a revolutionary commissar, long dead on the steppes of central Russia.

The Pyat books are in some ways the most ambitious work of Mr. Moorcock’s long career, and offer peculiar rewards, in that the narrator, although charming in a roguish way, is also a deeply flawed creation, and spending psychic time with the character is emotionally trying. I’m always up for a challenge, though, and am looking forward to reading Jerusalem Commands in turn when it is published.

Colonel Pyat

Can you tell us about the just-completed Jerusalem Commands The Vengeance of Rome?

Well, all four books were supposed to investigate the origins, our complicity in, the Nazi Holocaust. They are black comedies about a Jew-hating Jew who makes friends with the top Nazis and winds up in Dachau.

Where did the idea for the Colonel come from?

A neighbour in Notting Hill.

Did you ever know a specific, factually extant Russian exile similar in background and attitude to the Colonel?

Yes, that neighbour. Who was actually Polish.

In your opinion, did your Colonel factually serve with Cossacks, or might he have stumbled upon a copy of Babel’s Red Cavalry?

Sharp observation. Actually Babel’s influence was more from his Benya Krik stories, about the Jewish crook in Odessa. He did ride, against his will, however, with Hrihorieff’s so-called Cossacks, who were active during the Russian civil war.

Mother London

[Ed.Mother London, at the moment, is my favorite of Moorcock’s works. It tells the story of three people, Londoners, from the time of the blitz up through the early 1970’s. One of the characters is mentally ill, and believes that he can hear the collective voices of the city in his head; as the novel progresses, it’s less clear whether this hallucination is simply that, or if perhaps it’s a true fact of the character’s life. The book is a love letter to Moorcock’s hometown, and has a lyric tone throughout.]

This struck me as your most personal novel. How autobiographical is it?

Very. Much of the boyhood of Mummery stuff is based on my own life and much of the Joseph Kiss material is based on mine, though I never climbed a palm tree in Kew’s Tropical House.

Which character do you identify most with?

In Mother London, Joseph Kiss. In my overall work, Mrs Cornelius, the rather blowsy old mum with a lot of common sense in the Pyat and Cornelius stories.

Were you consciously thinking of either Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow or of Alan Moore’s From Hell as you wrote this book?

No. I’d read neither at that time. Have you read either?

[Ed. – Yes. We then had a private email exchange on the subject. The geography of London is central to all three books, expressing itself with the force of a character in each book.]

King of the City

[Ed.King of the City is a companion volume to Mother London, picking up the story in early 1970’s London and moving up to near the present day. The main character is a rock musician and tabloid photojournalist, and Moorcock’s language changes to reflect this man’s aesthetic sensibilities, which I would characterize as punkish. Again, and as he usually does, three characters and their life-long relationship is the center of the story.]

In this book, you adopted a very distinct voice, very different from the rest of your work.

I always try to get the ‘tune’ right first in a book. The tone is the most important thing for me. Once I have the cadences, I can also begin on the form. I wanted a brash, aggressive, masculine, subjective voice for King.

How difficult was it to get the short sharp voice in hand?

Not hard. He’s angry, as I am, at social injustice and so on. He hates the encroachments of consumerism, as I do. Not hard at all!

What other works do you relate this book most to from your oeuvre?

The Jerry Cornelius stories. The hero of King is a sort of matured or at least more realistic Cornelius.

[Next: Broad themes in Mr. Moorcock’s work are explored.]

Michael Moorcock Interview, Part 2

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.]

Michael Moorcock Interview, Part 1

Michael Moorcock is one of the most prolific F&SF authors of all time, and his work is not easily collected because it spans media. Personally, I’m always discovering new bits and pieces of stuff by him that I haven’t yet read.

Moorcock is one of my all-time favorite writers, and I’ve devoured his works since I first discovered them as a preadolescent in the fondly-remembered DAW editions, each featuring impressively pulpy paintings of the characters inside.

He wrote a book adaptation of Malcolm McLaren’s Sex Pistols movie, the Great Rock N Roll Swindle, a rarity that I recall seeing in a record shop in 1982 and having a hard time believing my own eyes. He’s written for and performed with Hawkwind and other musical acts. He’s frequently cited as the driving force behind the late-sixties upheaval in SF termed the New Wave, due to his editorship of New Worlds.

In the eighties and nineties his work became both more postmodern and less “fantastic” as he excavated lost authors and styles in English prose composition, culminating in Mother London and King of the City, both critically acclaimed.

As my own tastes have broadened and become more literary, it’s been a delight and a pleasure to find that Moorcock has been there too – and I have found his most challenging and mature works, such as Mother London, to strongly satisfy my mature tastes, while still finding new depth in the older works I first read as a child, such as the Elric cycle.

I conducted this interview by email on January 20, 2003 for a story which is printed in the April, 2003 issue (#70) of Cinescape. Email proved slightly more adventurous than we’d hoped, involving some unexpected technical hurdles. I’ve edited the questions for clarity and brevity and Mr. Moorcock’s responses for spelling and punctuation. My questions are in bold type; his responses are not.

As I did for Man Conquers Space, I’ll break it up into five parts and post nothing more while I’m running it. The final part should be up on Friday.

Michael Moorcock: Intro

To what do you credit your prolific output?

I was an infant prodigy. Usually what marks an IP is an ability to understand on some instinctive level the structure of the work you’re reading, hearing, seeing. This allows you to proceed without the usual struggles, enables you to solve technical problems very readily. To my embarrassment I was quoted in The Guardian as saying I was like Mozart. That’s the only similarity. But I could structure essays very well at school and was a prolific journalist by the time I was 17.
In your own words, introduce yourself to stranger who doesn’t know you or your work.

Michael John Moorcock, b. S. London 1939, middle class, educated widely, expelled once, did badly at school, left at 15 and was earning my living writing by the time I was 16. Editor of Tarzan Adventures by 17. I’m a professional literary man!

What was your home environment like? Could you describe your family life as a child?

Very happy, probably thanks to my somewhat feckless father leaving my mother as soon as the war ended. Grew up with rockets whizzing down. Very malleable landscape. Wide family experience. One uncle raised dogs in SE London, another lived at 10 Downing Street, Churchill’s secretary. Mother allowed me wide freedom so I saw a lot of London from an early age. Read a great deal, including the ERB [Edgar Rice Burroughs – MW] books my father had left and also G. B. Shaw. First book I bought was The Pilgrim’s Progress. That’s probably how I came to think all visionary books had to tell a moral tale as well!

ELRIC: Recent and Upcoming Novels

The Skrayling Tree is due out soon. Can you describe the book for us?

It’s about the Matter of America. Lots of U. K. and U. S. writers have written about the Matter of Britain (Arthur and so on), so I thought I’d go to Longfellow and his influences, who tried to tell the epic story of native Americans. So it’s about Hiawatha on his dream quest, a young albino called White Crow on HIS dream quest and Elric of Melniboné in 10th century Europe on his dream quest! The elements all come together in ‘Vinland’. Skraeling is the Viking word for native American. I use North American Indian and Viking mythology as well as my own invented myths. Three strands of the narrative come together in a finale involving a City of Gold…

The book features your best known character, Elric. Could you describe his character and appearance?

He’s an albino with bone white skin and crimson eyes, a sorcerer-emperor of a decaying kingdom which has ruled the world for ten thousand years. But physically weak as he is mentally powerful. He learns his magical craft through a series of dreams, taking decades in the dream time but only a single night in his real time. He depends upon a soul-sucking black sword for sustenance and has certain moral doubts about this means of staying alive…

The Skrayling Tree is a sequel to The Dreamthief’s Daughter, published in April 2001. What motivated you to begin writing about Elric again?

I have ideas for Elric stories about every ten years. Having completed a sequence of science fantasy stories in which I consider the nature of Chaos Theory as it relates to my multiverse idea of myriad worlds, in which similar stories are played out infinitely, I had the logic I needed to extend the stories which I wanted to deal with the authoritarian, some would call fascistic, nature of heroic fantasy and also extend the range of what I could write about from Elric’s viewpoint. He and I are growing up, after all…

When was the last time (prior to these books) you’d worked with the character?

Ten years ago with The Fortress Of The Pearl and Revenge Of The Rose. In those I wanted to refine the writing and ideas about Elric’s character somewhat. They are more ambitious in different ways to these new ones.

Will there be more in this series?

One more, The White Wolf’s Son, which will open in my old home village of Ingleton, W. Yorkshire and involve Elric landing outside my house in a balloon…

Did you reread the original books before you opened this new chapter in Elric’s life?

No. For some reason I seem to be able to keep all this stuff in my head. Chaos Theory, when I first read Mandelbrot, was like being given a map of my own mind. Made it possible to work with and formalize certain instinctive ideas.

Can you describe the role of female characters in the original books in comparison to their role in these newer books? To what extent is there a specific intent to revisit the feminine in the newer works?

I’ve been a convinced pro-feminist since I read Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics in Evergreen Review. My female characters have often been active, from Queen Yishana in the early Elric stories, but I have developed other active female characters and worked from female viewpoints at least since The Adventures of Catherine Cornelius and Una Persson in the Twentieth Century which was published in the mid-1970s.

[Tomorrow: More on Elric, this time the original books – and yes, a movie, at long last.]