When did your interest in daikaiju and other giant monsters begin? What inspired it?
Hah! That’s easy -- you [Rob] did! But probably following on from a couple of my favourite stories in my favourite comic as a kid -- an all-text no-visuals comic called Wizard, I think. There was one great story about a dinosaur egg, discovered in the ice, which woke up, grew full-size and started trampling around on cites -- and another about a giant octopus, so big it could swallow a lighthouse.
Perhaps you can tell us something of your career to date.
I wrote poetry and literary short stories for a long while -- and even got them published. While I was a uni lecturer, I wrote three very theoretical books on the philosophy of language, which came out overseas. I was always into speculative fiction more than anything, only I could never manage to finish the novels I started writing -- not until The Vicar of Morbing Vyle, which was published 12 years ago. Then the three "Eddon and Vail" SF thrillers from Pan Macmillan; the "Ferren" fantasy trilogy from Penguin; some shorter kids' stories and novels -- and now back to where I started with the prequel to The Vicar of Morbing Vyle. Even more gothic and bizarre, The Black Crusade won the Golden Aurealis Award for Best Novel of 2004 in any category of SF, fantasy or horror.
How many giant monsters stories have you written/had published?
Ulp! None. I did write a giant ant story that was read out in class when I was about fifteen.
What would you consider your major work to be?
The most recent -- always the most recent! Meaning The Black Crusade. But I wish I could assemble the three Ferren novels into a single novel -- I reckon that would be kind of major too.
Where does your fascination for giant monsters come from (if you have one)?
Don’t know, but probably the same as everyone else -- I was once very small and could've got trampled on by the big people.
Different people have different ideas as to why the giant monster genre holds such power? What is your take on it?
Size matters! And when you think of it, the Earth has been inhabited by giant versions of almost every kind of creature at one time or another. Giant birds, giant rhinos, giant sloths -- I mean, evolution allows for vast changes in size much more easily than growing an extra bone in your foot.
What is your favourite giant monster film? Why that one?
I’d like to be original and different, but I can’t go past the first King Kong.
Are there any written stories or novels featuring giant monsters that you would particularly recommend?
No! You’ve got so many experts gathered in this anthology -- compared to them, my recommendations would be a waste of space.
What lies ahead for you?
Next project is Juggernaut, sort of Dickensian/Mervyn Peake-ish fantasy. I’ve already started twice and been interrupted. The ideas for the world and story go back over fifteen years -- they’ve been coming to the boil for so long, this time I have to get them out!
Can you tell us how you came to write your story for the DAIKAIJU! anthology? What thoughts lay behind it?
I wanted to do something different and came up with the notion of telling a very Japanese story. I’m no expert on Japanese culture, but I did read the Tale of Genji (a monster of a novel in itself!), which gave me strong impressions about the workings of shame and honour in medieval Japanese culture. Later on, the monster developed a few distinctive features too.
The daikaiju genre (such as it is) has been very film-focussed to date. Did this prove a problem when you came to writing your story?
No -- not given the slant of my story.
What would you say to those new to the idea of daikaiju films and stories?
What would I say? Read the Agog! Daikaiju! anthology, and you’ll never look back! (You’ll be too busy looking up -- for dirty great big feet coming down …)