M The one after that would be ... Armageddon. You can do the Armageddon trilogy as one if you want to. Was it conceived as a trilogy?
R No. They don’t – well, they do join together, don’t they? You could make one fat book. That was from the stage play, and I didn’t have a publisher. My first publisher had gone on to somewhere else, and it was finally somewhere where he might publish me, which I think was Abacus. He said ‘What have you got in mind’?’ and I said ‘Come down and see this play.’ I said ‘That play was crap, wasn’t it?’ He said ‘Well, it wasn’t very good.’ I said ‘As a book it’d be brilliant.’ I never liked Elvis ‘til he was dead. When Elvis was dead I liked him a lot, when he started appearing at supermarkets. I thought ‘This is great. I like this Elvis.’ So really it was homage to the dead Elvis. Elvis as an icon. ‘What a wonderful idea for a book,’ I thought. It’s since been ripped off, hasn’t it? Have you ever seen that book, Elvissey? We couldn’t sue. He nicked the whole plot of Armageddon, but I couldn’t sue, because he didn’t nick any dialogue, he only lifted the plot.
M And the character of Elvis isn’t actually copyright to you?
R No, but a time-travelling Elvis is.
M He didn’t put a sprout in it, though. How’s that for subtlety, eh? What about number two, They Came And Ate Us?
R I think I was very ill when I wrote that, I think I had pleurisy when I wrote that. Actually, I can’t even remember the plot. What is it?
M (Reads) ‘Shock horror ... Elvis pulls his face off ... Gaspode the talking xxxxxx(?) ... xxxxxxx(?) the Dog doing Frankie Howard impressions.’ It came out about the same time that Frankie Howard died, as I recall.
R Oh god, no! Well who shall I write about now then? Who don’t we like?
M ‘Rex Mundi ... Rambo Bloodaxe ... Deathblade Eric ... Hugo Rune...’
R I can’t think. I honestly can’t think. God, I wish you’d told me about this in advance.
M What about number three? Can you remember anything about number three?
R Ah, no, it was number three where I had pleurisy. Because what happened was: they put me on valium, and I knew I was really ill but I didn’t care. I didn’t realise what this thing did to you, and I was really out of my head. And so as I started writing this book I thought ‘Hey, let’s do sort of The Prisoner. Let’s make a book that’s full of gags, full of this, full of that – but it doesn’t actually make any sense. And let’s see if we can get away with it.’ That one was quite popular, wasn’t it? There was a lot of drugs involved in writing that book.
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