I think I caught a kind of last wave of hype that the blogosphere could generate itself – now, of course, it’s back to the publishers hyping novels (which is what they’re meant to do). I was lucky because I caught that wave, but I was impressed – personally – at the number of review venues that liked it. That felt good. To get coverage in the Times and Guardian meant the most (that’s the kind of shit you can show your parents). Though I felt there was a bit of a backlash to that hype which I’ll probably never shake off – people approach it expecting loads, and it might not deliver for a lot of them. The worst thing, I think, is when big review venues compare you to Big Authors; because fans of Big Authors come out of the woodwork to denounce you.
When it came to City of Ruin, I had my foot in the door and could do what I wanted. So I wrote what I wanted to read, not what anyone else might want to read. I just let go. If I wanted to mention porno golems, I was going to write about them. If I wanted a confrontational gay or a domestic abuse scene or a serial killer, I was going to do that. If I wanted half-vampyr gang lords, a huge monster made from the body-parts of the recently killed, or a giant spider, or whatever, I was going to do that. Plus I thought there were areas I wanted to improve – my depiction of females for one: I wanted them to – you know – not be walking, talking vaginas.
(That last phrase wasn’t my own; I borrowed it from the Book Smugglers.)
The end of the world is still on the horizon but it’s a lot closer for the people of Villiren (than it is for those in Villjamur) and it’s interesting to see the scene that Newton sets as a result. Whereas Villjamur enjoys a contemplative view of oblivion, Villiren is right in the middle of it and fuel is added to this fire by the treatment of the local population by an Empire seeking the best for itself at the expense of the outlying regions. When hardship is this immediate and in your face, all you can do is look out for yourself and make the best of this. Newton captures this air of ‘aggressive resignation’ in a city where if you’re not looking to expand your power then you’re partying until it all comes crashing down. I wouldn’t want to live in Villiren but I couldn’t help but be drawn into it by the manic energy that’s in everything going on.