In the run up to the publication of forthcoming Alchemy Press books we will be posting short interviews with the various contributors. This time we talk to Jonathan Oliver, soon to appear in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.
By day I’m the editor-in-chief of three imprints, by night I tinker with my own words. Well, that isn’t technically true. I’m not vastly prolific so I sort of fit writing in, in bits and pieces when I can. Mainly in lunch-breaks. I like to write whatever takes me, to be honest. I tend towards the darker end of the spectrum, but of late my stories have often been slightly more hopeful.
What was it that inspired “White Horse”?
The White Horse at Uffington is quite close to us, so it seemed like the perfect setting to talk about myth and magic. As nobody really knows who created it or for what reason, I decided to come up with a legend of my own. At its heart, the story is about parenthood (especially fatherhood) and how we overcome mistakes made and the parts of ourselves we’re often not that comfortable with. Man, that sounds way too deep! The literary inspirations certainly came from writers such as Alan Garner and Robert Holdstock, who explore our relationship to myth and landscape.
How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?
Hmmm, I like my fantasy pretty varied. It doesn’t necessarily have to be urban, but my favourites in that field are probably China Mieville (especially Perdido Street Station), Christopher Fowler, Mervyn Peake (Gormenghast is really one vast city), Gaie Sebold to pick just a few.
As an editor at Rebellion you’ve been involved with publishing tie-in fiction and co-creating shared worlds – what’s the appeal in those for you?
Yeah, that’s for the Abaddon side of things. It’s great fun creating a whole new world in collaboration with someone. We never published tie-in fiction as such; instead we decided on the types of fiction we wanted to publish and then set up worlds for the authors to play in. The joy really came with seeing writers go mad with what you had set up and put their own spin on things.
What will you be up to next?
I’ve just finished a pretty dark story called “Turn”, so that’s gone out for consideration. Currently working on something set in the world of silent movies (which features my sweariest character yet!) and am sort of prodding the novel in my mind. It will happen at some point. Having written two already, I’m just massively aware of what hard work they are. But yes, the novel will happen. Even if it breaks me. Which it probably will.