Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Lowdown with... Michael Carroll

Today's Lowdown shines a light on Michael Carroll, one of my fellow contributors to GAME
OVER.  Michael is the author of twenty-five(ish) novels, including the acclaimed New Heroes/ Super Human series of superhero novels for the Young Adult market. He currently writes Judge Dredd and DeMarco, P.I. for 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine. Other works include Jennifer Blood for Dynamite Entertainment, contributions to the Titan Books 294 edition of John Higgins’ Razorjack graphic novel and the e-novellas Judge Dredd Year One: The Cold Light of Day and Rico Dredd: The Third Law for Abaddon Books. A former Herald of Galactus, Mike lives in Dublin, Ireland with his wife Leonia and their twin imaginary children Tesseract and Pineapple. He is almost half-a-hundred years old and some days it really shows.

1.                   Tell us three things about yourself.
Thing one: I’m married to Leonia, my best friend, which is kind of awesome. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I’d be a writer now. She has supported my career emotionally, financially and typographically (she checks my writing for errors) for sixteen years and says she thinks of it as an investment: “One day, it’ll pay off and I’ll be rich! Er... I mean we’ll be rich.)”

Thing two: I have reached the age where there is now more hair on my back than there is on my head. You’d expect that there was some sort of welfare-based monetary compensation heading my way, but no, the government would rather spend their money on dumb things like industrial tribunals and road signs (even for places that I’ve no intention of visiting, for crying out loud!).

Thing three: I discovered a few years ago that my mutant power is the ability to listen to an audiobook and read a different book at the same time. This is a strange and unique gift that, I’ve learned the hard way, turns out to be utterly useless when it come to fighting crime.

2.                   What was the first thing you had published?

My first ever published piece was a short story called “The Hummingbirds”, which appeared in FTL, a small-press fiction magazine published by the Irish Science Fiction Association, in (I think) 1990. It’s not a great story, but what it lacks in execution it certainly makes up in lack of originality.

3.                   Which piece of writing are you proudest of?

Hard to choose... Not because they’re all so good, but because my favourites differ from one day to the next. I’m rather pleased with some of my Judge Dredd scripts (“Rising Angel”, “The Forsaken” and “Caterpillars” are pretty good), and there’s a couple of issues of Jennifer Blood that came together very nicely. Speaking of Dredd, I’m happy with how my Judge Dredd novellas The Cold Light of Day and The Third Law turned out – they were a huge amount of fun to write (plus I was allowed to create my own cover for The Third Law, which was very cool - I’ve written an article about that which can be found here.

I’m also very pleased with Hunter, the most recent novel in my Young Adult superhero series: that
book wasn’t part of the original plan, but it slots in very neatly with the rest of the books and allowed me to flesh out some of the series’ secondary characters.

Right now, though, I’m probably most proud of my science fiction / horror novel Razorjack: Double-Crossing. That one is based on / inspired by John Higgins’ Razorjack graphic novel, but it was designed to stand alone: readers unfamiliar with John’s book won’t feel that they’re missing out by not having read it. Originally Double-Crossing was supposed to be published in 2011 (and there was a very small print-run done for the launch) but for lots of reasons the publisher never went for a full print-run. I re-read it earlier this year and found myself thoroughly enjoying it – normally when I re-read my older stuff all I can see are the things that I should have done better – so this past June I decided to self-publish an e-book edition. So far, everyone who’s read it has said they really liked it and they’re probably not lying!

It is good, I promise!

4.                   …and which makes you cringe?

Anything I’ve written that’s more than about five years old. When I look back at my first novels I’m astonished that I somehow managed to convince the publishers (and myself) that they were worthy of being released into the world.

The problem with this situation is that eventually the stuff I’m proud of now will be over five years old, and I’ll be forced to hate it.

Still I guess that’s better than looking back at my earlier work and thinking, “I’ll never be that good again.”

5.                   What’s a normal writing day like?

Get up at about 9am, and write until 6pm when Leonia gets home from work. Then I start again at 11pm, and write until about 4am. On weekends, I take it easy: generally get up at about 10am, write until 6pm, start again at about midnight and write until 4am.

Note that there are times when the writing has to be put on hold because it’s necessary to do ordinary human things like walk the lawn or mow the dog... There is something quite odd about spending the morning making up an action-packed, world-shattering story about superheroes or zombies or Lawmen of the Future and then having to put the story on hold because I have to change the duvet cover.

6.                   Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?
I would say that Razorjack: Double-Crossing is a good place to start... But with the caveat that it is very much an adult novel; it’s certainly not teen-friendly like most of my books. As I mentioned before, it’s a science fiction / horror story and it’s packed with action and would make an awesome movie! You know when a movie becomes mega-popular and you always have that one friend who says, “Actually, the book is better. I read it when it first came out, before everyone jumped on the bandwagon.”? Well, there’s no movie of Razorjack: Double-Crossing yet, so this is the ideal time to buy it!

7.                   What are you working on now? 

Right now I’m putting the finishing touches to Crossfire, which is the eighth novel in my series of YA superhero novels. All going well, it’ll be published Before Too Long and then I can get cracking on the next one. After that, I’ll move on to book ten, the final novel in the series... And – hooray! – I’ll finally get to write that closing chapter, the one that’s been sitting in my brain ever since I began developing this series back in 2002!

In the meantime, there are some more Judge Dredd and DeMarco, P.I., tales on the way for 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, as well as the standard collection of bits and pieces that I’m not yet allowed to talk about.


Alexandra said...

So in awe that I am included in an anthology with this guy!!!!
Mr Carroll, your level of self-discipline is quite astounding, can you bottle some and mail it to me please?
Pretty please?!

Unknown said...

Ah, if only I could... My current self-discipline chiefly came about through (a) losing my "proper" job in 1999 and being far too lazy to look for another one, and (b) the staggeringly low quality of daytime television that otherwise would distract me from work. Throw in great big heaps of panic and guilt, and somehow it all seems to come together neatly. Why, after only sixteen years as a full-time writer, I'm almost a thousandaire already!

Unknown said...

Hmm... Weird that my reply came up as "Unknown." I should have signed it! Like this:
-- Mike

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