I loved Paul Cornell‘s new book, London Falling which is a terrific mash-up of urban fantasy and police procedural (here’s my review). I had a few questions for Paul and he was kind enough to spare some time for me. I’ll send one commenter a shiny new copy of London Falling (US and Canadian addresses, only, please).
Terry Weyna: Paul, London Falling is terrific fun to read! Please tell me we’re going to be reading more about Quill, Costain, Sefton and Ross — will there be a sequel? Will Lofthouse be more involved in the next investigation?
Paul Cornell: The sequel, The Severed Streets, is out in December in the UK, but I don’t know a US release day yet. The hook line is: ‘Jack the Ripper is back, and this time he’s killing rich white men’. Lofthouse will be vastly more involved next time out, and you’ll get answers to the questions raised in the end scene of London Falling.
I was intrigued by all of the conflicts in London Falling, particularly what seems to be a conflict between religious belief and science. Sefton, particularly, doesn’t believe in God, Satan or hell, and yet seems to come face to face with at least two of those made manifest. Would you say more about the struggle between religion and science, and what role this conflict plays and will continue to play in your series?
Myself, I don’t think there is as much of a conflict between the two as people think there is. But my characters are ordinary people, and Sefton especially is a proud atheist, so for him this ‘conflict’ model is a natural way to see things. (I notice you don’t bet on which two of those three!) I think as he continues down the path of initiation into the mysteries, he’ll realise that dualities like that aren’t much use. And the others will wonder what he’s going on about.
London is not just a place in your novel, it seems, but also an idea. One gets the impression that you have something of a love/hate relationship with the city. Tell us what London means to you.
There’s not much hate involved, really. London is that big gravitational thing that was always there at the Eastern end of the motorway when I was a kid growing up in the West Country. I’ve lived there myself (in Mora’s house!) and had good times and bad times. I love its layers, how things can change hugely just by turning a corner, how big things are tucked away in small places, how you can feel the forces that shape it.
Whose work inspired you as you wrote London Falling? Are you consciously influenced more by the fantasy writers or the crime writers as you blend the two genres?
I think I have one eye on Neil Gaiman often, because Neverwhere is kind of the touchstone for this stuff, but I also try to take crispness and directness from people like Christopher Priest. My favourite crime writer is Dorothy L. Sayers, who I can’t see had any impact on this book at all!
How different is writing a novel from writing a television script? Do you prefer writing a work that is entirely your own creation, instead of writing in a shared universe like Dr. Who?
Hugely, even though I love Who so much. To start one’s own world is the best thing, the central thing. It’s especially satisfying to create one with its own rules and hidden occult systems, that’ll gradually be revealed over time.
Who are your favorite writers of urban fantasy?
Whose work do you read when you’re reading entirely for pleasure?
Thanks very much, Paul, and I can’t wait for The Severed Streets!
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of London Falling (US and Canadian addresses only, please). I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!