The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Simon R Green

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Joining us today is Simon R. Green, author of Blue Moon Rising, Beyond the Blue Moon, the Adventures of Hawk & Fisher, the Novels of the Nightside, the Secret Histories Novels, and the Ghost Finders Novels. Green revisits many of his worlds in the wide-ranging collection Tales of the Hidden World, available now from Open Road Media. Read an excerpt from “Quantum of Solace,” a brand new story of the Droods, here on Tor.com.

Join us!

Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.

I started out as a professional actor. Mostly theatre, some television. Unfortunately a long spell of bad health put an end to that. So I drifted sideways into writing. But I’ve been performing with local groups for over thirty years now, appearing in open air Shakespeare every Summer. And on one occasion, I appeared naked; in an open air production of Tom Jones. I was playing Tom’s hypocritical tutor, Thwackum. Tom goes to see his girlfriend, Mucky Molly, and finds another man got there first; and of course it’s Thwackum. In the script, it said he should appear wearing a long nightgown. The director said no, he should appear wrapped in a sheet, to show he’d come straight from Molly’s bed. And I said, no I’ll appear naked except for a strategically-placed three-cornered hat. I meant it as a joke, but… When I finally did this at the (un)Dress Rehearsal; I’ve never heard a sound like it, from the audience. They didn’t know whether to spit or go blind. But I left that stage to a standing ovation. Funnily enough; I was never asked to go nude again…

Tales of the Hidden World Simon R GreenStrangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

In the Shaman Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me, Shaman had to solve six great mysteries of our time, including the Philadelphia Experiment. While I was researching this, to my amazement I discovered that the US Navy has a FAQ site, all about this. How often must they get bombarded with questions, that they felt the need for a FAQ site? Much reading and a lot of digging convinced me that something did happen. (The ship’s log book is still missing, for example, even though to remove a log book from its ship is a court martial offence.) But nobody seems too clear what. So I did what I always do on these occasions, and made shit up.

Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.

The Daleks, from Doctor Who. I started watching this show right from the beginning, and I never got over the impact the daleks had on me. Like many small children of my generation, I would watch the show and hide behind the settee when the daleks appeared. I hadn’t realised how often I did this, until I re-watched the original tv serial Daleks: Invasion Earth on dvd, for the first time in many years, and found I was watching whole chunks of story I’d never seen before, because I was hiding behind the settee the first time round…

Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle-earth (or some other fictional realm)…

It has to be my very own Nightside. The hidden dark heart of London, where it’s always night, always three o’clock in the morning and the hour that tries men’s souls. But, like the old Soho it’s based on, the Nightside has the best clubs and bars in the world. Where you can drink wormwood brandy that tastes like a supermodel’s tears, Angel’s Urine (which sold very well until people discovered that wasn’t a trade name), or radioactive holy water with a depleted uranium parasol. Or restaurants that specialise in meals made from extinct or mythical creatures; like dragonburgers, (flame-grilled,) moebius mice (they stuff themselves,) and stuffed baby Morlock. (Stuffed with baby Eloi.) And just like the old Soho I remember so well, in the Nightside there’s always enough sin to go around, at popular prices.

What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?

The film First Men In The Moon. I saw this in the cinema on my eight birthday, and that was it. I just sat there and loved it, and thought; I want more like this! Then Doctor Who came along, and Star Trek and Hammer horror films, (especially the Quatermass movies,) and I have spent my entire career trying to write books that would have the same impact on me, that those stories had on me. And of course, let us not forget Robert A Heinlein, H P Lovecraft, and Leslie Charteris. We are all of us standing on the shoulders of giants…

Heroes vs. Villains—which are more fun to write?

Heroes do the things that make you cheer, but villains often have the best dialogue. My favourite line I came up with for a bad guy: Some say the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled, was to make us believe love is real…

List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.

  • I have written fifty novels, all of them different.
  • I don’t believe in letting series go on too long; we’ve all seen too many series where it’s obvious the author is getting tired, and the characters and the books suffer. I’d rather get out while I’m still ahead.
  • I have written eight Deathstalker books, twelve Nightside books, I plan to write twelve Secret History books; and I think trilogies are for wimps.

What’s your favorite fairy tale, or fairy tale retelling?

I would recommend John Bellairs’ The Face In The Frost. Possibly my favourite fantasy novel. It’s funny and scary and has all the strengths of the traditional fairy tale. I read it once a year on Christmas Eve; as my special treat to myself.

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