Thursday, May 16, 2013

Paul Morgan: The IAN Interview

Paul was born 1954 in Pontypridd, South Wales, which is also the home town of Sir Tom Jones. He currently lives in (the original) Washington in North East England. He read law at Jesus College, Oxford and after a spell in private practice in London spent most of his career in Industry.

He has written for most of his adult life and published works include poems and short stories. He has also written a stage play and a screenplay (which received development funding from Northern Film & Media and was long listed for an Orange prize in 2000).

He is opposed to the death penalty except in the case of users of the word ‘awesome’.

IAN. Please tell us about your latest book.
P.M. The Slipkin Papers. Eric Slipkin is not a superhero or master criminal. He is an ordinary young man living in London who generally prefers to just go with the flow. He does however have a job which is rather unusual. He works for an organisation called the Animal Rescue Service, run by a Mr Greenberg. His work involves rounding up exotic animals that have arrived mysteriously at the homes of clergymen and taking them to his contact Mr Redhead at London Zoo. Occasionally, in the middle of his animal collection duties, he gets an overwhelming compulsion to deliver cakes of all sorts to distant locations, including on one memorable occasion a cheesecake to the lower slopes of the Matterhorn. 

Other than that nothing much has ever happened to Slipkin, except for the time he was run over and the other occasion on which Mr Holyoak, his
adoptive father, blew himself to pieces in his garden shed.

One day Slipkin has just retrieved a strangely cooperative penguin from the home of a vicar in Pimlico when he is compelled to head to Northern England, his little white Citroen car laden with seventy-five boxes of chocolate ├ęclairs. He does not know exactly where he is going or who the cakes are for; he just drives. He will know the right place and the right person when he gets there. On a high and dark Cumbrian moorland road Slipkin has an unfortunate accident: his car skids and leaves the road.

What happens from that point on demonstrates to Slipkin why it is that, when asked to explain the nature of reality, Nobel Laureate physicists laugh and shake their heads. He takes a very surprising journey in his little white Citroen into a world where the living and the dead mingle together. There he meets not only present and deceased members of the British Royal Family but also such fellow dinner guests as John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra and V. I. Lenin. This would be a disturbing enough turn events even if Adolf Hitler was not the butler.

Soon Slipkin, who has acquired a heart-bursting girlfriend, a huge fortune and some unexpected allies, including Winston Churchill and Laurel and Hardy, has to go on a hazardous journey through time and space in an effort to prevent Hitler from leaving domestic service and returning to the real world, even though Slipkin is no longer sure that there is a real world to return to. 

IAN. What inspired you to write The Slipkin Papers?
P.M. I wanted to write a full length work and as challenge I took the oddest premise I could come up with at the time. Slipkin’s animal collection job and his cake-delivery obsession were the starting points I chose.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
P.M. I winged it. I originally published the first draft a chapter at a time weekly on the website so I could get some initial reaction.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading The Slipkin Papers?
P.M. The realisation that maybe reality is a little more complicated than it may appear to the naked eye. As Mr Heisenberg said “Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”

IAN. How is The Slipkin Papers different from others in your genre?
P.M. It fits into the very broad category of comic fantasy but is set firmly on Earth and is a bit lacking in vampires, spaceships and zombie babes.

IAN. What was the hardest part of writing The Slipkin Papers?
P.M. The re-writes and the abandoning of cherished episodes and ideas that in the end didn’t fit in to what passes for the plot. The re-writes took longer than the original draft.

IAN. What books have most influenced your life most?
P.M. Like most folks I guess, a strange mixture, ranging from Orwell’s 1984 and Kafka’s The Trial to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and most books by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett

IAN. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
P.M. Douglas Adams. His Hitchhikers books are the funniest I’ve ever read. I would dearly love to be a quarter as funny as him.

IAN. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
P.M. I’ve been a constant reader since childhood and eventually I realised that writing was the only medium through which I could be creative.

IAN. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
P.M. It’s a close call, but it has to be Terry Pratchett. He has invented a completely off the wall fantasy world which makes you think almost as much as you laugh.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone? 
P.M. I am currently working on a short parody of the Janet & John books so beloved of generations of British children learning to read. Following that I think Mr Slipkin wants to take me on the next stage of his adventures.

IAN. Is The Slipkin Papers published in print, e-book or both?
P.M. It is available in all e-formats but not in print.

IAN. Where can we go to The Slipkin Papers
P.M. It can be found on Amazon at   
and on Smashwords at