Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Paul Cornell?
A Dad, a writer, a fan.
You’ve got a number of projects on the horizon, so I thought I’d take them one at a time. First up, your new Lychford novella, The Lost Child of Lychford, which was recently published by Tor.com Publishing. It’s the second in the series, but how would you introduce the setting to a potential reader? And what can fans of the first book expect from the second?
In a modern-day little Cotswolds market town, three very different women are thrown together to defend their world against dark magic. There’s loads of warm comedy, but some real horror too. The second book starts at Christmas, and is a comfy portrait of a woman stressed out by the season… until the bad stuff starts to sneak in.
You also have a new novel coming up, Chalk, also published by Tor.com Publishing. What’s this one about?
It’s a horror novel about school, the 1980s, and the magical escape of pop music.
What inspired you to write these books? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I enjoy talking about real life using fantasy metaphor. This is material I need to talk about, and I need to see if an audience reacts the same way I do.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
My much older brother left crates of books and magazines in the attic, including Eagle Annuals and whole runs of Galaxy and Worlds of If.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
Well enough. I don’t feel I have a choice.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I divide what I have to do into chunks, and work long enough every day to get in on deadline.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I wrote stories at school as a survival mechanism. Then fan fiction, which got me my first audience, in fanzines. I only started writing seriously when I failed an astrophysics degree and needed to eat. I tend not to like my earlier stuff, I look to the future all the time.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
Healthy, increasingly diverse, with some ancient idiots failing to stop modernisation. It’s not up to me to judge where I fit in.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing Saucer State, the revival of my old comic Saucer Country, for IDW, and a third Lychford novel. I’m also developing several other ideas.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
A Dream of Wessex by Christopher Priest.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I have no idea what the correct terms for most parts of speech are. I practice grammar without ever having studied what’s under the hood.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
My son starting to be more able to tell me about what kind of day he had.