Terry chats with Paul Cornell (and gives away a copy of London Falling)

Paul Cornell (photo credit Rob Monk)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?

Neil, China Miéville, Carrie Vaughan, Sophia McDougall, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Pinborough… loads more not on the top of my head.

Whose work do you read when you’re reading entirely for pleasure?

Chris Priest, Stephen Baxter, M. John Harrison… I like New Wave SF, particularly from the UK.

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!


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TERRY WEYNA is spending the second half of her life as a reviewer, critic, scholar and writer, after having spent the first half practicing law in a variety of states and settings. (She still does legal research and writing for a law firm in California). Terry lives in Northern California with her husband, professor and writer Fred White, the imperious Cordelia Louise Cat Weyna-White, and a personal library that exceeds 12,000 volumes.

View all posts by Terry Weyna

12 comments

  1. As both a Christian and a scientist — but not a Christian Scientist :) — I also don’t find a conflict between the two. I think those who do see them as conflicting don’t have a good understanding of either.

    I’ve never been to London but I love reading stories set in London. I’m looking forward to this one. Thanks for the review and interview, Terry!

  2. Melanie Goldmund /

    Well, Terry’s review of London Falling has definitely piqued my interest in this series of books.

  3. Jan Arrah /

    I wanna read this book so bad! Huge fan of Paul Cornell and have been for a while.

  4. Myra C /

    I enjoyed your interview with Paul and his new book sounds like a great urban fantasy/police procedural read!

  5. SandyG265 /

    This sounds good and mixes two genres I enjoy.

  6. Barbara Elness /

    I enjoyed the interview and I’m very intrigued by the descriptions of London Falling I’ve been reading. I’m looking forward to reading the story, I believe I’m going to love it. By the way, I think the cover is fantastic. :D

  7. Tizz /

    So if this was published in the UK, does that mean the usual rules are reversed and people in the US aren’t eligible? And do we furriners have a chance at this one? I live in London, so any book that catches its numinous quality is a definite yes.

  8. April /

    I had this book on my TBR list as soon as I heard of it. I’ve only been to London once – and as a teenager towed to one place or another I never got to do any real exploring – so I tend to explore through books.

    This one sounds very interesting!

  9. Josh Atkins /

    I love Paul Cornell’s work & I can’t wait to read London Falling!

  10. Colette /

    This sounds like an intriguing new book and I will have to find a moment to read it. I could be sucked into a whole new favorite fantasy world. I enjoy books that put fantasy into a familiar setting, one that is almost our own.

  11. DragonReader /

    I am excoted to read this book. Sounds interesting and I have really enjoyed Mr. Cornell’s short fiction.

  12. Barbara Elness, you have won a copy of London Falling.

    Please contact me (Marion) with your US address and I’ll have the book sent right away.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Book News: May 3rd, 2013 | My Bookish Ways - [...] At Fantasy Literature, there’s a great interview with Paul Cornell, author of LONDON FALLING [...]
  2. More Wolverine and London Falling Freebies! - […] a new interview with me about London Falling at Fantasy Literature.  And another at Fantasy Book […]

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