M How much of Aleister Crowley is in Hugo Rune?
R Well he’s a cross between him and my dad, you see’? My dad being this great tall story teller and all-out loon, and Crowley being this...Have you ever read him? If you read the confessions, the Autohagiography, it’s wonderful. The entire book is this pompous oaf telling everyone about himself. He could write so well, and he just slags down everybody on the face of the earth because they’re not so intelligent as he is, and he knows everything about everything. Wonderful, wonderful man! His lifestyle may have been slightly unpleasant but he was an extremely interesting man.
M How did The Antipope come about?
R I had written a book of short stories. Well, it wasn’t a book. I was working in a place called Molem’s, and basically didn’t have a job. I had one of those jobs where you get papers in the morning and you move them to that tray and then somebody else takes them in the evening. So I had the day to myself basically, so I used to write short stories and poems and things. I’d go out drinking with a mate of mine called Nick, on Wednesdays. If he laughed, we’d keep them, if he didn’t laugh, we’d throw them away. Christ knows whatever got thrown away, but lots! He persuaded me to type them up, see if I could sell them. I met Alan Aldrige, the ‘60s illustrator who did things like The Butterfly Ball, The Peacock Party, and he was quite famous at the time. He interviewed the Beatles and he took Beatles pictures. He was setting up a thing which was going to be like Apple, called Aurelia Enterprises, and he was looking for writers. So he looked at the short stories, took them round a couple of publishers, and they said ‘We’ve never heard of this bloke. If you can get him to write a novel, then we’ll be interested.’ He came back to me and said ‘If you can write a novel, I’ll sell it for you, I promise.’ I said ‘Great!’, so I sat down for about four or five months and wrote The Antipope. At that time it was 120,000 words. I didn’t realise that a novel is 80,000 words. Pan liked it, and said they’d publish it, then chopped 40,000 words out of it – with an axe – and it’s got some interesting continuity errors, that book.
M Are we ever going to see the expanded version, like The Stand?
R Well, it’s up in the loft. I’d have to become very famous.
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