|An Interview with Richard Morgan|
|conducted by Sandy Auden|
Richard Morgan's novels are deep, dark and violent. All four of his novels feature harsh futures and exceptional
body counts, but they also hold seeds of hope and occasionally high moral standards. This continual balance of right
and wrong is personified in Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs character, and there's the usual trail of blood and gore in
the wake of our (anti?)hero in his latest adventure, Woken Furies.
The new book sees Kovacs returning home to Harlan's World, a water covered planet surrounded by Martian orbital platforms that shoot down anything above an altitude of 400 meters. He's on a journey of implacable retribution when he's blown off course into a maelstrom of political intrigue and technological mystery after a simple fight in a bar. Already on the run from gangsters and religious assassins, he soon discovers that someone has sent a far more dangerous adversary in pursuit -- a copy of himself.
Morgan creates a detailed backdrop to his action, full of historical and political texture. He also embeds the clues to his plot all through the story, to be slotted in later with some fresh information. With such an intricate construction, the first question to ask Morgan has to be: How do you achieve the multi-layered, lived-in planet affect in Woken Furies? Do you have a Kovacs 'bible' that gives you all the back history of the planets he has visited?
Sometimes, of course, that's helped by the fact that there are already background aspects from the two previous novels to pick up and use; and sometimes, believe me, it's hindered! A couple of times in Woken Furies, I was forced to do some substantial re-inventing because the backdrop I'd wanted to give just wasn't permissible, given already existing detail.
But as to the multi-layering, that just tends to build up as the novel develops. Detail branches out to detail and pretty soon you've got a coherent web, and then the new details start to suggest themselves at increasing speed because they've already got some kind of home to go to.
How many passes does it take you to complete a novel like Woken Furies?
What themes did you want explore as you were writing Woken Furies?
Did you feel the pressure of expectations when writing Woken Furies as you did with Broken Angels?
So I just jumped in, ploughed up and down a bit until I had a sense of direction and then set off. Again, despite some obvious hallmarks of the Kovacs brand, Woken Furies was intended to be a slightly different type of novel to Altered Carbon or Broken Angels, so I didn't really have anything to stack directly up against.
What's the most enjoyable aspect of novel writing for you?
I attained this a lot sooner with Broken Angels than I did with Altered Carbon, which meant that for most of the time it took me to write Broken Angels, I was on a solid creative rush.
For Woken Furies, I think it kicked in from about chapter twenty onward. Once Kovacs was on his way south to Newpest, I could feel a definite plot momentum and a gathering density of background. I wouldn't say it wrote itself from there on in, because there were still quite a few major plot twists to wrestle into shape, but it certainly felt like the train picking up speed. It's an awesome feeling and there's nothing chemical to touch it!
Talking of climactic moments, Kovacs -- like any red-blooded human male -- has a healthy sexual appetite, but how important are the sex scenes to the overall story?
Certainly in Woken Furies the sex drives the narrative forward in terms of giving Kovacs motives (or at least part-motives) for what he does. He is an intensely female-focused man and it stands to reason that sex with some of those females would play a major role in defining his personal life.
Are you running through the Kama Sutra for your sex scenes, ticking several more off as you finish each novel?
So when will we see Mr. Kovacs performing again?
What?! Why not?
And anyway, I think you can only go to the well a certain number of times before the law of diminishing returns sets in. I wouldn't say there'll never be another Kovacs book because, as one of my American fans pointed out, in ten years I'll be a different man and so will Kovacs, and who knows what fresh perspectives that might throw up. But for the time being, I'm definitely taking the less is more line on this.
So what are you working on now? Who will we be meeting instead?
So, rest assured, even if there's no Kovacs fix coming up soon, there will at least be more Richard Morgan stories to enjoy...
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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