Meet Graham Edwards

Here we are with our brand new experiment: find the authors that aren’t still translated into Italian and bring their voices to the Italian market.  We hope to see them  in our bookshops as soon as possible.

If you belong to the lucky ones that can read them in English, we hope this interviews can make you know something new about them.

Just a warning: This is the first of a long series of  “not in Italian language” interviews, it means that we are ready to conquer the world! 😉

So let us introduce our first victim, who lends himself to be tortured by us with a great sense of humor: Graham Edwards, the author of Dragoncharm and The String City Mysteries series.

Dear Graham, first of all thanks for granting us this interview. Welcome to Fantasy on Air.
We hope you enjoy  yourself with us and that we will soon meet live in the flesh.
Let’s start by introducing you to the Italians: Graham Edwards, writer, born near Glastonbury Tor, now living in Nottingham. First question: are you Robin Hood?

No. However, I was a member of an archery club a few years ago. I was hoping we might get to storm Nottingham Castle, but apparently there are laws against it.

Ok seriously (but not too seriously), when did you start writing, and when did you decide that it would be your chosen path?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Possibly longer. As a child I made scruffy comic books, then graduated to writing bad science fiction stories on a battered typewriter. Gradually the bad science fiction got better. While I was an art student, I self-published a one-off SF comic called Colossus with my friend Andy Wicks, but I was in my mid-20s before I decided it was time to knuckle down and write my first novel. That turned out to be Dragoncharm, which was published by Voyager Books in 1995.

Who are your favourite authors? Which writers or books most inspire you?

I’m one of Stephen King’s ‘constant readers’. I’ve long been a fan of Robert Holdstock’s luscious English mythology and Stephen Baxter’s hard-but-human science fiction. There are special slots on my bookshelves for John Crowley and Jonathan Carroll. I worship Neal Stephenson. Adam Christopher’s new on the block and rather good. Oh, and there are so many more …

What does Graham do in his spare time?

I have a day job working as a graphic designer so if you catch me with any spare time I’ll usually be writing. Or writing. Or, just possibly, writing.

You write both short stories and novels, which do you prefer?

I guess the answer is novels. My short stories frequently end up as beginnings of books rather than complete pieces. My instinct is always to add characters, motivating circumstances, sub-plots, ravening monsters, you know.

Most of my so-called short stories weigh in at around 10,000 words, which drops them firmly into the novelette category. Having said that, when I get a good idea, I love the self-discipline it takes to keep a short story smart and tight and, well, short.

In Italy Sci-Fi and Fantasy are considered just “books for children”, is it different in the UK?  Would you like to say something to aid our cause  “dreams and nightmares are important”?

I think it is different in the UK. If you stopped the average person in the street and asked them who reads SF/F, I don’t believe the first answer would be ‘children’. (Actually the first answer is more likely to be ‘geeks and nerds’ – the UK’s ghetto is just a different shape to the Italian one.)

There’s still an underlying perception that SF/F isn’t serious literature – and yes, that it’s childish. But things may be improving. Writers like China Miéville are helping to elevate critical perception of the genre. And it seems to me that book covers are reflecting a move towards a more adult presentation, rejecting pulp genre cliches for more subtle designs.

It’s always puzzled me why SF/F is so dominant in cinema and TV and yet so ignored in literature. There’s no doubt that many of the traditional SF/F tropes appeal to a young adult audience – exactly the same demographic that excites Hollywood investors. It’s a problem that most fans of the genre complain about sooner or later. I don’t worry about it. I know what I like, and I know there are plenty of incredibly talented writers able to deliver it to me.

As for your assertion that ‘dreams and nightmares are important’, I absolutely agree. Storytelling has it roots in prehistory, when our ancestors sat around their fires telling each other tales in the dark. Stories allow us to face the monsters, both those inside us and those that prowl the world around us. Story is fantasy – it’s as simple as that.

Let’s talk about the The String City Mysteries series. It is a particular collection of hard boiled stories, set in a world where people passes through different universes. When did the idea come from?

Having watched a lot of film noir as a youth – The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep and so on – I suddenly realised I’d never read the classic literature. I immediately started reading. It was a Dashiell Hammett anthology that really fired me up. I loved the atmosphere, the dialogue and, of course, the stories. I loved them so much I had to give it a try. It turned out to be a lot harder than I’d thought. It’s easy to create a pale imitation or a parody of the hardboiled style. It’s a lot harder to do it well. I’ve no idea if I managed it or not, but I had a lot of fun trying.

The big difference with my stories is that they’re fantasies. The central mystery of The Wooden Baby revolves around fairies and changelings, and later stories in the series concern themselves with everything from werewolves to syrens and zombies to angels. I’m not the first person to mash up the two genres of fantasy and crime, but I doubt there’s anybody out there who’s enjoyed it quite so much.

What would you like to find in another universe if you could go there?


The Wooden Baby is the first story of  The String City Mysteries, did you know when you were writing it that it was going to be the first in a series?

No. I wrote The Wooden Baby simply so I could fool around with some of the hard-boiled archetypes. I deliberately placed my private investigator hero in a nebulous, rain-drenched space that was neither in this world nor any other. I didn’t even give him a name. He wasn’t so much a fantasy detective as an existential one.

After I’d finished The Wooden Baby, something about the character stuck in my head. The next thing I knew, I was imagining what might happen if a wolf-man came crashing through his office door on the end of a bullet, which led me to write the second story in the series: Dead Wolf in a Hat. This time I knew I needed a little background material, and so I started sketching in a fantastic city that, even though it’s populated by the strangest of beings, nevertheless seems terribly familiar. Since then, the whole thing’s just grown and grown.

The Dame Don’t Whimper, the sixth story of  The String City Mysteries series, has just been published.  Have you already thought about the next one?

Yes – in fact, it’s already written. It’s called Lifestrings of the Loving Couple and it should be available from 40k Books soon. The story follows our detective hero as he tries to locate a woman’s missing soul and does battle with a gigantic magpie.

How many stories there will be?

Lifestrings is the seventh and final story in this particular sequence. I’ve recently finished the first draft of a novel called String City Apocalypse, which takes up the narrative more or less where Lifestrings ends. The novel is the culmination of everything I’ve written about this strange world so far. As well as giving my detective a pile of new cases to solve, it also reintroduces some of the characters from the stories and ties up most of the plot threads I’ve left hanging loose. It’s a kind of grand finale, I suppose.

I have outlines for other stories as well. I’m not sure what form they’ll take ultimately. But I can assure you the underlying mystery of String City is not yet solved!

Which is your favourite story of  The String City Mysteries?

I love them all, for different reasons. Girl in Pieces has the tightest narrative and is probably technically the best story. I have a soft spot for Still Point, perhaps because it contains some of the key plot points that drive through into the novel. And because my hero gets to kiss an angel.

Let’s play a little game. Choose a song or a piece of music – a kind of soundtrack – for each of your stories.

Unlike some writers I prefer to write in silence, so I don’t always associate music with specific stories. But if I had to assemble a short playlist for String City as a whole, it would probably include the Blade Runner soundtrack, a little Duke Ellington, Iggy Pop’s The Passenger and an old track by Godley and Creme called An Englishman in New York.

Last question, then you will be free, we promise, what about the future? What are your plans?

The simple answer is to keep writing. I’m quite excited about a murder mystery I just finished called The Frozen King. I also have this crazy idea for a fantasy epic that, for various structural reasons, would take seven books to tell. The idea’s been in my head for years and I haven’t yet had the courage to start putting down the words. Maybe soon …

Well, thank you for your time.

It’s my pleasure!

GRAHAM EDWARDS: he was born in England near Glastonbury Tor and now lives in Nottingham. Graham’s love of drawing took him to art college in London, which led in turn to a career as a graphic designer and animator. He’s also worked as a script writer and multimedia producer for theme parks and visitor centres. Graham Edwards’s first novel Dragoncharm was directly inspired by Watership Down. Graham thought if Richard Adams could write an epic adventure about rabbits, maybe he could do the same for dragons. Dragoncharm and its sequels all received nominations for Best Novel in the British Fantasy Awards. In later fantasy novels, Graham travelled through time to explore the dizzying heights of a world-sized wall called Stone. Graham’s short fiction has been published in US magazines and collected for anthologies. One of these – Girl in Pieces – made the longlist for the Nebula Awards. The String City Mysteries, a series of novelettes about a hard-boiled detective who just happens to work in a parallel dimension, is currently available as a set of ebooks. Graham has also written a number of novels, both crime and fantasy, in collaboration with book packagers Working Partners Two. These are under pseudonym, so there’s a chance you’ve read one of his books without even realising it.

Visit Graham Edwards’ website

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