London Falling is the first urban fantasy novel from writer Paul Cornell, who has written for Doctor Who and a number of comics for Marvel and DC, including The X-Men and Batman & Robin.
CultBox caught up with Paul this week for a chat…
How would you describe London Falling? I notice the word magic doesn’t come up in the book despite the magic elements in it…
“It’s my nod to the word ‘mafia’ not appearing in The Godfather. My police heroes would, I think, feel awkward to start calling it that. But they might get there after a few books.”
What made you want to write urban fantasy?
“It gives me the chance to write about right now, in a different way to how [science fiction] does that. This book’s a bit SF, though, in that our heroes take apart what they encounter and treat it all as a problem to solve. They don’t take these strange creatures at face value.”
There’s some tremendous world-building in the way you make our London terrifying and mysterious – did you do much research into London’s myths and legends and haunted hotspots in writing London Falling?
“Loads, though some of it is my own invention. I’ve sort of improvised around the edges. The stuff about West Ham Football Club is my favourite: all that occult history, and connections to Henry VIII!”
Did you do a lot of research into police work?
“A huge amount. I’ve gotten to know so many police and intelligence analysts during the writing of this book, and they’ve helped hugely to make these feel like real coppers, I hope.”
Can you imagine, or would you like, London Falling to ever become a TV drama?
“I wouldn’t mind that at all, or a movie!”
Are you a believer in the supernatural?
“Sometimes. I’ve had some weird experiences of my own, but I’m more a Fortean. I like to take a step back from this stuff and say ‘that’s interesting, but you can’t ignore the socio-psychological aspects.’”
What can you tell us about the sequel? Does it have a title yet?
“It’s currently called Hell is for Londoners, and the one line summary would be: ‘Jack the Ripper is back, and this time he’s only killing rich white men.’”
It’s a bit of a mystery to us why there’s not been a Paul Cornell episode of Doctor Who since the brilliant ‘Human Nature/Family of Blood’ – would you want to write any more if you were asked, or is that an ambition that’s been satisfied?
“I’m always available for selection by Doctor Who. But it pisses me off that people keep asking, as if nothing else I do matters to them.”
You’ve written novels, comics, and TV scripts – obviously they’re all very different and have different challenges, but which do you personally get the most enjoyment out of writing?
“Prose, hugely. Writing a novel is such an incredible, huge thing to have done. There’s no thrill like it. And there’s nothing to match the space a novel gives you, the control over all aspects of the experience for the reader.”
You’re writing the ‘Marvel Now!’ Wolverine – what can you tell us about your approach to the character?
“He’s the ultimate responsible adult, with a few issues of his own to deal with. It’s all action, all character, and entirely accessible to anyone who’s never read a Marvel comic.”
Are Logan and London Falling taking up all your time now, or do you have anything else planned?
“There are loads more things planned! I’m working away in all sorts of different media, and some of those things, hopefully, will come to light in the New Year.”