In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle reads a rare but revealing extended interview with one of fantasy fiction’s greatest writers
When John Steinbeck was once asked how he went about writing, he replied, ‘With a pencil.’ Some writers are reluctant to give away too much about their inspiration, their influences, their thinking and writing and editing processes, as if wanting to perpetuate the Romantic fallacy that genius and inspiration just strike and that the lucky, ‘gifted’ individual is driven to pick up a pen and write down what the Muse dictates.
Despite his prodigious gifts and his long-standing success as a novelist, Michael Moorcock is only too happy to share the secrets of his craft. In a 1992 book, Death Is No Obstacle, which is essentially a long transcript of interviews the writer Colin Greenland had with Moorcock in 1990, Moorcock happily reveals some of the ‘tricks of the trade’ of writing genre fiction, as well as thoughtfully exploring his own relationship with various genres of popular fiction. The book isn’t easy to get hold of – copies tend to go for around £50 online. I’m indebted to my university library, which owns a signed copy.