Exclusive interview between D.M. Cornish, and Thomas Morgan-Witts of BookBrowse
What made you decide to write this book?
Strange as it may sound, my publisher asked me to write the first few thousand words that became MBT: Foundling after seeing one of my notebooks fall out onto the floor from my bag. This notebook - one of 23 at the time (I'm currently in 28) - is full of ideas for the Half-Continent, it got her interest and all things went from there. How is it I even had a publisher, you might ask? Well because I'm an illustrator by training and trade, and was working on a picture book with them. Before this though, in the early years of invention, I harbored a secret, barely-expressed hope I might write a book or more some day of one or more of the inhabitants of the Half-Continent. It's been profound and wonderful to have that wish realized. There is a God, it seems.
I really enjoyed reading about all of the monster fighters, but how did you think up the Lahzar's?
Hmmm. They are a coagulation, a final percolation, a boiling down to essentials of an older concept I had, set in our own world, in modern times, of a dark counter-culture of people with strange abilities (for example: growing spines, spitting acid, teleporting, hanging of walls and so much more) a grim and gritty super-hero type thing that I eventually canned as a bit silly (I still have some notes remaining but most is binned). From its wreck I kept the essential idea of grim and gritty 'super-hero' types, but with down sides, with flaws, strong but weak too, a little more real-seeming - hence such ideas as their need to drink their treacle twice a day for the rest of their lives, the risk of spasming if they do not and more yet to be revealed. I kept the most plausible-seeming, things actually occurring in nature: fulgars = electric eels, wits = theories of how sharks use their lateral-line organs to find and stun fish. My thinking went something like, "what if you took organs from these creatures and put them in people?" I hope this does not spoil the idea.
What adjectives would you use to describe Monster Blood Tattoo?
Grim and gritty perhaps. This is always a hard kind of question to answer - I have never been able to sum MBT up into any simple formula. Strangely real-seeming and plausible (my hope, perhaps, rather than actually achieved).
Were the battles of the Gates and the Mole based on real battles?
Not on anything from this current world's history directly, but rather from the grand impression left from my reading of military history, the feeling of what is possible in a real battle, in real history, and attempting to convey some of that plausibility in my own invented conflicts. My ideas for the Half-Continent in general never blossom so quickly as when I am reading a good history book. I even have a bibliography, in case it is ever needed.
Who is your favorite monster?
That's like asking a parent 'Who is your favorite child?' - well not quite, but approaching this. Having said that, you know my answer is going to be 'I have no favorites!' - yet having Europe whip the Nimbleschrewds was fun (so I mustn't like them much) and I actually worked with misty eyes when I wrote of the poor Misbegotten Schrewd (so I conclude I must like him). Freckle is fun, and would enjoy showing more of him. Then there's the glimpsed bogles, the swamp-nicker, the bogle on the road, the sparrow-headed nuglung, the reverman. How can I choose!? Then there are the monsters we have yet to meet, old friends from the earliest ideas of the Half-Continent, whom I look forward very much to put into a story.
Have you started working on your next book? Can you give us a sneak peak?
I most certainly have and I hope this picture of one of the monsters that appears in book 2 (called MBT: Lamplighter) is sufficient preview for now.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell readers?
Just thank them for reading, that I hope they enjoy it if they do, that MBT might become an old friend and, as someone of the Half-Continent might say, 'Beluae Nunquam Superarum' - "May the Monsters never get You!"
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