Miskatonic University Press

Will Self Q&A


Yesterday’s Will Self Q&A at the Guardian is worth a look:

ID4946815 asks:

Please can you be my life mentor?

Will Self:

I am your life mentor already - I am the still and silent voice you hear muttering evil things at 3.00 am; I am the hortatory, steroid-pumped personal trainer who driives you from under the duvet at the very crack of dawn; I am the motivational speaker who drives you into a coma during the afternoon meeting; I am the fitness instructor who kicks and punches you into the raft that then disappears into a maelstrom of white water… Be careful what you wish for…

He doesn’t shrink from castigating himself or the questioners:

Rachel Griffin says:

As a teenager who a couple of years ago read Paradise Lost for free on iBooks and has never personally seen anything to suggest that digital media discourage people my age from reading novels or anything else, I find the statements you’ve made to the effect that we can’t stay away from Facebook for long enough to read a book unconvincing and quite patronising. Could you explain a bit more about why you think digital media are so much more fatal to the novel than any of the other millions of things people can do instead of reading if they feel like it?

Will Self:

You should be patronised: you’re a teenager. I’m unimpressed by your empirical sample of one, and equally unimpressed by the lack of attention you bestowed on my original Guardian essay - if you read it at all - because your question is answered in full by it. Carry on fulminating.

The essay he mentions is The Novel Is Dead (This Time It’s For Real), published in May 2014.

I put this with Neal Stephenson’s Slashdot Q&A as one of the best such sessions I’ve read.

4) Who would win? (Score:5, Funny) - by Call Me Black Cloud

In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?


You don’t have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson’s Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson’s arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.