You've said The White Wolf's Son is your "retirement" from writing heroic fantasy. Why, after more than 40 years, did you feel this time had come?
I began as a writer challenging literary conventions, including the conventions of fantasy fiction. Most of my career was devoted to that challenge in one way another, with my work on New Worlds, the Jerry Cornelius stories, more recent books like Blood and The War Amongst the Angels. I did the same with my literary fiction, including Mother London, the Pyat novels and so on. Having completed the last of my "holocaust" sequence, featuring Colonel Pyat, I feel that I want to devote myself to shorter, more autobiographical books and any short fantasy I write will only be if I have an idea I feel strongly about and if it's commissioned, say, by an anthology or magazine.
Both you and your series hero, Elric, have matured over the years. How did writing the last Elric novel differ from writing the first?
Well, I always said that Elric c'est moi. As I have matured, so has he. I conceived him in my late teens and the first story was published when I was 21. By the time I was 23, I had killed him. Therefore it hasn't been possible in sequential time to show him maturing and therefore reflecting my own maturity. As a result, I have had to employ different devices to demonstrate this increased maturity.
You're well known for championing Mervyn Peake as "the greatest imaginative writer of his age" and disdaining Tolkien as boring escapism.
Peake's Gormenghast is a "haunted palace of the mind" and as such has interested me far more than the demons and dragons of Tolkien. I don't have any quarrel with Tolkien as an entertaining and sentimental fantast reflecting the tastes and needs of his age, if a bit of a pedant, but Peake's creativity is of an entirely more substantial nature.
What's next for Michael Moorcock?
Maybe a movie I'm working on. A memoir of Mervyn and Maeve Peake, whom I knew well from the mid-1950s. The text for a book of Peake drawings being done in France next year. Maybe a comic book. A novel called Pete's Rules which began as an examination of an old friend and has turned into a rather uncomfortable self-examination. Some short stories. The last Pyat book, bringing us up to the actual Nazi holocaust, comes out in England from Cape early next year and the previous three will be reprinted by Vintage. And possibly a new comic novel called London, My Life! or: The Sedentary Jew. After spending so long with Nazis and the Holocaust I feel like relaxing with a comedy or two. A fairly busy retirement, all in all.