Today, we welcome back British writer Paul Cornell. Last post we chatted about his Doctor Who writing. This time around we’re focusing on his other writing… and man, has he done a lot of other writing! Scripts, novels, novellas, short stories, comics… you name it, he’s done it.
The Interview — Part Two
Prose, every time. You can just do anything, with time, character, budget, all within your grasp absolutely. Comics are a joy to me, but there are still limitations. With television I’ve always found that achieving anything is a major victory. I’ve enjoyed some of those, but it’s much, much tougher to get anything made, let alone anything good. I’ve been wondering for years if television is worth it.
Yes, it’s hard to write for two in the same day. Prose to television is like putting on a pair of those mechanical arms and working remotely.
You have two nominations in this year’s Hugo Awards — “One of Our Bastards is Missing” (published in The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction Vol3) has been nominated for best novelette and Captain Britain And MI13. Volume 3: Vampire State has been nominated for best graphic story. Huge congratulations! Can you tell us a little about each of these?
Well I’m just ecstatic about this. My two previous Hugo nomination pins are my proudest possessions, and now I have two more! And getting one for prose feels especially impossible and grand. The novelette is my take on Ian Fleming’s novels, the questions those raise about masculinity, with perhaps different answers. It’s set in a world where something fundamentally different happened in the history of science, the details of which I haven’t revealed yet, and so the great game, the balance of power of nineteenth century nations, has continued. It’s also me talking about nation states again, which I’m fascinated by and don’t see going away. Similarly, Captain Britain is all about the vampire diaspora looking for a home. I’ve seen some very kind reviews that confirm my feeling that you don’t need to be immersed in Marvel continuity to enjoy it. Bastards is available for free from my blog, as are the first two issues of Vampire State.
“One of Our Bastards is Missing” is the second story to feature your character Jonathan Hamilton, who first appeared in “Catherine Drewe” (published in Fast Forward 2). Any plans for more in the series?
Yes, I’m several thousand useless words into a rubbish third one, The Copenhagen Interpretation, which is flying like a sack of potatoes at the moment, and will need some savage rewriting. I think I now know what to do, though.
Your latest piece of television writing is Pulse, a pilot which recently screened in the UK. Can you tell us a bit about Pulse and whether or not it will become a series?
I don’t know yet, we’re still waiting to hear. It’s a techno medical horror thriller show, dark doings in the health service. It’s wonderfully directed by James Hawes and we have a great cast lined up. All we need is the go-ahead.
You’ve written for both DC Comics and Marvel, for a number of established comics series from Dark X-Men to The Fantastic Four. Is there any series you found more difficult than others to come to grips with?
That Black Widow mini-series, I didn’t make that work at all. Entirely my own fault, down to my belief that all continuity counts. To tell her origin in that space, I shouldn’t have also tried to do a modern story.
If you had the chance to actually meet one of your characters in real life, which one would you choose, and why?
I think Pete Wisdom and I have a lot in common.
Do you have a dream project (something that you would love to work on but are not sure will ever happen)?
There are some DC books I’d like to write, but that apart I’d like to get on with establishing myself as a novelist. That’s the next thing.
So, what’s next for Paul Cornell, assuming your next project isn’t top secret?
I have a novel coming out from Tor next year, about which I can tell you very little. Before then, I’m very much looking forward to Worldcon in Melbourne. I love Aussie, and I’m looking forward to touring around before the event and seeing a lot of old friends.
Many thanks to Paul for taking the time to answer my questions. For more info about him and his writing, check out his blog. You can also follow him on Twitter. And if you’d like to hear Paul speak, he will be attending Aussiecon 4 (the 68th World Science Fiction Convention) in Melbourne in September this year. For more info about Aussiecon, check out their website.
And tune in next time to find out about a world dominated by invading tripods.
Catch ya later, George