LA Public Library: Interview with an Author: Simon R. Green

Simon R. Green is the New York Times bestselling author of over sixty science fiction, fantasy and mystery novels. Simon sold his first book in 1988 and the following year was commissioned to write the bestseller novelization of Kevin costner movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. From there he wrote many other series of books including Death stalker, Night side, Secret History, Forest kingdom, and the Ishmael Jones mysteries among others. His books have sold over 3.8 million copies worldwide and have been translated into over a dozen different languages. His latest novel is Jekyll & Hyde, Inc. and he recently spoke about it with Daryl Maxwell for the LAPL Blog.

I started to think; What happened to all the old monsters? I grew up watching the old Universal monster movies on TV, and while I continued to enjoy the newer monsters, Freddy and Jason and Pinhead and all, I still had affection for the monsters of my youth. And it occurred to me that at one point people took these monsters very seriously. They believed in vampires and werewolves etc. But with the birth of the twentieth century, everything changed and they all disappeared. Where did they go? And then I thought, what if the only way to stop them was to put something even worse against them; Edward hyde… And I was running away.

I always say of any of my characters, I take a little here and a little there. In this case, I was stuck with; what kind of person would take the Hyde Elixir by choice? And would that automatically make them bad? There is no doubt that there is me in Daniel because there is always something of me in all of my tracks. And Tina… I knew someone like her, a long time ago, an unrestrained wild child. And I thought if there was ever a Hyde Elixir, she would take it!

Almost everything I could think of ended up in the book. A late addition was the rat. Because we always test our new drugs on animals first, right? How about you give the Elixir to a rat? This one was fun. And as always, there was a character who was only meant to have an extra role, and she just didn’t want to leave the stage. The old lady from the Armory and Edward’s ex-girlfriend… The most difficult scene to write was the sex scene between Daniel and Tina. I don’t normally do them because they get in the way of the story, but this time it was important. It is very realistic; it does not last long. Because I kept working on the scene, cutting and cutting, to get it to do the job but not to spoil the pace.

It depends if Tony in Baen wants another one; which will probably depend on how this one sells. I would like to do more, because I love the characters so much; and I have a great idea for a follow-up.

My favorite of the Universal movies has to be Bride of Frankenstein, with Karloff like the monster and Elsa Lanchester like the Bride. But if the going gets tough, the best monster ever is King Kong; from the original 1933 film. I don’t know how many times I watched this.

None of the remakes of King Kong worked great because they continue to make it likable. In the original, there was no love between King and Anne Darrow. Kong was his stalker. He killed innocent people and destroyed lives. Yes, we are sympathetic at the end; but he’s a monster! The worst version of all time; Queen Kong from the 70s. Must be seen to be incredulous. But I can still hum the theme song; “Liberated lady“.

The monsters are ourselves, written in bulk. Frankenstein concerns children and parents. Vampires are all about the appetite. Werewolves talk about the changes our bodies go through during adolescence. Stephen king talked a lot of common sense about it, in his wonderful book Dance of Death.

I read Jack Cady‘s McDowell’s Ghost. Cady was the best American ghost story writer of all time. The best British writer was of course MR James .

Stephen king, Avram davidson, Howard waldrop, Leslie Charteris; the Holy books, and Thorne Smith; a writer of humorous fantasies that seems largely forgotten these days. But there is no one funnier. But… My favorite book of all time is Jean Bellair; The face in the frost. Funny, scary, wildly imaginative.

Just about anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs. My dad had a whole bunch of them, and he got me started. I have read them all; Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, the Venus, Pellucid, Land that time has forgotten books… Wonderful.

Again, a writer who is now forgotten; Adam diment. In the 1970s he wrote three books on The Dolly Dolly Spy; and it was sex drugs and rock & roll, written in big letters and out loud. I liked them. Do again.

OK; I love some parts of this book; House of Leaves through Mark Z. Danielewski. It’s a book within a book within a book. The central story, about a modern house that turns out to be much bigger on the inside than on the outside, is simply one of the scariest things I’ve ever read. But the surrounding material… I just can’t get into it. And I have a masters degree in modern English and American literature. (I wrote my thesis on Gormenghast books.)

I like Frazettaart. And there were two artists, Tim Kirk and George Barr, who produced some amazing covers. But the cover that grabbed me was for the original paperback from Stephen king‘s Lot of Salem. Black, no art, no title or author’s name, just a bas-relief of a woman’s face, with a single drop of blood in her mouth. How not to buy this?

Lot of Salem. I just read it and thought; that’s how we do horror.

San Diego Lightfoot Sue by Tom Reamy. The best written horror and fantasy stories of all time.

Must be Face in the frost; the sheer joy of reading it and thinking… where the hell is he going with that?

A film titled Don’t blink in the United States and Last stop UK. An absolutely breathtaking film, with incredible performances, a great script, tons of atmosphere and what has to be the most unexpected ending of all time.

It must be a convention, with all my friends and favorite authors, where the bar never closes.

Question; All the weird stuff you put in your books, is that real? Reply; More than you might think. I have always been quite open to the fact that my Night side The books were inspired by my time in Soho, London in the 1970s. The legendary Soho of the 1960s was over, but there was still a lot of trouble to navigate. And I did.

I just handed in my last Ishmael Jones mystery to Baen. These are Agatha christie Murder mysteries style, with SF&F elements. Which is sometimes true and sometimes not. I am currently working on my last Gideon Sand mystery to my UK publisher. These are stories about a thief who steals the stuff that no one else can; like the clothes of a ghost, or a photo of a town that never existed, or a radio that lets you listen to what the dead are saying. He sets up a team with their own special talents, to pursue truly impossible goals. Some kind of supernatural ocean 11.

Jekyll & Hyde Inc. Vert, Simon R. See on OverDrive Show in catalog


This press release was produced by the Los Angeles Public Library. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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