China Miéville Answers Five Questions

The paperback of Railsea was published earlier this month and tomorrow (watch this space) we’ll be offering a discount on the ebook. Written with China’s usual indomitable style, perfect prose and with a rip-roaring, exciting storyline, Railsea appeals to the young, the young at heart and basically anyone who enjoys a darn good book. And if all that sounds like hyperbole—have you read a China Miéville novel?

We caught up with the author recently to quiz him about the book.

What did you enjoy most about writing Railsea? The illustrations? The ampersands? The moldywarpes?

I got a massive kick out of the ampersands. I enjoy them every time I see them. I am aware not everyone agrees—some people hate them—but they made me happy. I liked using a good friend’s name, as a present to him, for not one but two characters. I liked wedging in homages, in a junkpile of references. I enjoyed writing a book about a diesel-, not steam-, train, and on a sky that was free of dirigibles.

Where did you get your inspiration for the book?

From rubbish.

Which of the characters in the novel do you think you’d most like to journey with?

It would depend where, surely. But for most places I don’t think I could do better than the Shroakes, for companionship.

Do you think there’s a huge difference between writing for adults and children? What did you find harder or easier?

Neither is harder or easier, at least not for me, it’s all about getting into the voice of a book, which is hard to do, but if you can do it, and you’re in, then things unlock. The difference is to whom you’re talking, or to whom I’m talking—my 35-year-old-self? My 10-year-old-self? Both at once? And so on. Certainly, I suppose, there’s a difference between writing very particularly with younger or older readers in mind—but I’m not convinced it’s anything like as big as many differences among books “for adults”, or indeed “for children”. It’s not pointless to focus on it, at all—but neither is it, I think, the most pointful thing one can do.

Which of the creatures in the book is your favourite?

I love them all but probably, I suppose, the antlions (of which I’ve gone on about before). I’ve had a thing about them ever since reading Lindsay Gutteridge.

This article was originally published on the Tor UK blog.

Julie Crisp is the editorial director for Tor UK. She discovered the joys of science fiction after reading Dune at ten and hasn’t looked back since.


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