Paul Barnett Interview (cont')
GG: You have said in the past the you hated the title for The Secret of Kazan-Oud. What would you have preferred to call it?
PAUL: In the book there is the punishment block, as it were, called the Maze, as in the gamebook. I was unhappy about that name, because I felt it was pretty insensitive toward readers in Northern Ireland, where the Maze prison was at the time notorious (as it still is). So I wanted to rename it the Labyrinth, and I also wanted to call the book The Labyrinth, because a lot of its subtext is about the labyrinthine rite-of-passage process that LW goes through during his partial self-discovery. It's in this book that he becomes a full adult, really (in fact, a couple of pages after it ends, but the conclusion is implicit). However, I was howled down on both counts.
Because of internal politics at Random, any other title I proposed was automatically given the raspberry even before I finished saying it, so I was stuck with this real stinker. I was within a hairsbreadth of demanding that my name be taken off the book, and nowadays would do so; but I was mellower then. . .GG: What other changes, if any, would you have made to the series if you had a free rein?
PAUL: I'd make them fully fledged fantasies. I should qualify that remark and explain what I mean, but it'd take me several thousand words to do so. Essentially, to me a fantasy, if it's doing its job properly, should make you think differently from the way you did before you read it; moreover--and at the same time largely for that reason--it should live on a long time in your mind. Except for The Birthplace--and there were more rows between me and Random over that book than you can imagine (I think I only won the argument because they'd begun to realize how much they'd butchered The Sacrifice of Ruanon)--I didn't have the freedom to produce that sort of fantasy.
I also wanted to spin off an entire series about Qinefer, bearing little relation to the gamebooks except for the setting in Magnamund. I may still do this one day--although without the Magnamund setting, of course.
As far as lesser things go, I'd have liked to have worked more with Viveka, who would have been very prominent in the next novel. Unfortunately, she was a joint creation (Joe created her originally as a minor, ancillary figure, hardly a character at all--although he may have had plans for her--and I took her from there), so this is something I'll just have not to do.
GG: I guess the question that is on everyone's lips, is Legends dead and buried? Will it live again, perhaps even in another medium?
PAUL: If some publisher came to me with a really good offer--I don't mean financially (although that'd be nice) but in terms of creative freedom--I might be interested in reviving them, but not otherwise. As no publisher seems remotely tantalized by the prospect, and I don't think Joe is either, I guess the answer is that yes, they're dead and buried.
Other media? Two of the novels were recorded as audiocassettes,although I think only one was released. As I never saw a penny piece from this deal, I lost interest in it. Similarly, I've never seen a penny piece out of the figurine of Alyss that was marketed at £120 a throw; I was very pissed off about this, because it seemed to me a flagrant breach of my copyright. There was talk of a movie or tv series at one point, and I lined up Brian Sibley, who was keen to script it, but that all fizzled out--I'm not sure why.
GG: Thanks for your time Paul!
Lone Wolf © TM Joe Dever 1984-1999.