An Interview with Michael Moorcock
|conducted by Sandy Auden|
Every story illuminates a dark recess or expresses a heartfelt opinion.
Michael Moorcock may not physically reflect Elric's red eyes and albino colouring, but you will find his echoes reverberating through the Eternal Champion under the surface...
'A lot of my work is really about is Law and Chaos,' says Moorcock. 'About common sense and romanticism, and finding a balance between the two. Both aspects are strong impulses in me, so it's no surprise that they come out in my work.'
'I'm naturally given to plunge into all kinds of things, though maybe less so these days. Linda, my wife, is the same. We'll go places that most people would be too scared to go. If we're travelling abroad, we'll wind up in the dark alleys rather than on the brightly lit boulevard. You'll find much more interesting stuff in the dark alleys, you'll actually have real experiences if you do that. If you travel and just stay with the tour company you're not going to see much.
'That's what attracted us to each other. We both enjoyed taking risks. I don't want to overstate it though, cause it sounds sort of, bullshit really, but that's what we were like. As a result we got to meet all sorts of people and we heard all kinds of stories. You end up with a much better idea of how the world works and what the broad mass of people are really experiencing.
'And for a writer, particularly a writer of imaginative work, there's always a tendency to put yourself in an ivory tower and write about things as they should be rather than things as they are. I prefer to write versions of things as they are. So when I'm writing about the Eternal Champion, I'm saying this is you and me. That it's actually a lot harder to face the ordinary problems of life, such as the landlord, than it is to face a fire-breathing dragon. That the same kind of courage is always required of you. Although one isn't actually the same quality as the other. In fact, you might prefer the experience of a fire breathing dragon than dealing with the landlord!'
Moorcock's stories always see Elric, with help from his sword Stormbringer, restoring the balance between Chaos and Law. So does Moorcock also have a less chaotic side to him? 'I've brought up three kids,' he says. 'And I think I did it fairly responsibly. But I suppose I was indulging Chaos and Law in my life at the same time really. One day I'd be climbing out of my car onto the roof while it was going along the road, cause I felt like a breath of air (I wasn't driving by the way!); next day, I'd be making sure I got the kids to school.
'There's never been much division between the two sides of me. I just decided when I was very young, that I was not going to let the world frighten me into a corner. And yet at the same time I had the perfectly ordinary desire to live a perfectly ordinary life. I think there's a lot to be said for that normal life, but personally, I've never lived a particularly cautious life. It's not possible, I'd get bored to quickly. Yet at the same time I think I've lived a fairly sensible life, when required. I haven't been perfect by any means, I've been pretty imperfect really, but I've done my best. I've always managed to pay my mortgage and that sort of thing while living a financially reckless life. But if you've got a facility, as I have, for writing pretty fast, you can usually catch up on yourself if things start to go very bad.
'I'm just not a person who's going to avoid experience, but at the same time, I don't want anyone to get harmed by me making those sort of explorations. All through my fantasy novels you've got the constant searching for equilibrium until the Eternal Champion becomes fundamentally a champion not for Law or Chaos, but a champion of Equilibrium, of both. That's something that has developed as my own ordinary human wisdom has developed.'
Moorcock's eleven stories of Elric, the Eternal Champion have been recently optioned by Universal Studios.
(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)
Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.
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