• ALAN MOORE: LORD OF CHAOS | 01 January 2003 | Jose Carlos Neves

    This is an interview for an Alan Moore web site. Moore is one my favourite writers. He works mainly in the comics medium and has written "Watchmen", "V For Vendetta", "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and a whole lot more. Most of the interview centres on comics and Moore's work.

    Darren O'Shaughnessy is the real name of this enigmatic Irish writer who has worked for a cable TV company in Limerick for a couple of years, before setting up as a full-time writer. Although Darren always wanted to be a writer, it was only in his teenage years that he began writing just for fun, mainly short-stories and comic scripts. The first "success"comes at age of 15, as a runner-up in a TV script-writing competition for RTE in Ireland, with a dark comedy script entitled "A Day in the Morgue". Over the next several years, he wrote an average of one
    book a year, experimenting with different ideas, genres, lengths and styles - one of them, published also in Brazil. He is also one of the contributors to upcoming homage-book, Alan Moore:Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman.

    -First of all, please let's begin with some background. Your age, marital status, sons? Where did you born, grew up and lives today? Academic graduation and profession?
    30 (31 in July). Single, but with girlfriend. No kids. I was born in London - and still have a Cockney accent - but moved to Limerick in Ireland when I was six, where I've lived ever since. Earned a BSc in Sociology and English. Have been a full-time writer for 8 or 9 years -- and have even been
    making money for the last 3 or 4 years!!!

    -How did you get started?

    As a child who loved to write. I've always enjoyed telling stories, as far back as I can remember.

    -What is it that attracted you to writing? What were your influences?

    I loved being able to impress my friends -- and girls!! Horror was my main influence from a very young age. Since then I've gone through all sorts -- sci-fi, fantasy, crime thrillers, and more mainstream and off-beat stuff. I tend to pull in ideas from everywhere.

    -How you first become interested in morbid, terrorific and dark stories? What are your earliest memories as far as that go?

    I just always enjoyed horror. It was fun. I liked watching scary movies, then thinking about them in bed and giving myself delicious nightmares!!!

    -As a child, did you spend a lot of time indoors reading?

    Yes, especially when I moved to Ireland -- since I lived in the countryside, and had very few neighbours my own age, no VCR, and a TV which only received 2 channels, there wasn't much else to so except read!

    -Why the interest for comics, also?

    Comics seem to have always been part of my life. Up until my teens it was British comics --starting with kid's comics like the Beano and Dandy. I began reading the re-launched Eagle comic in the early 1980s, and it was the first comic I collected religiously, every week. My next step up was 2000AD, which I started collecting back around the time before the third Halo Jones story arc (written by a certain Alan Moore!). I didn't read that many American or European comics until my late teens, when I began on Frank Miller, Cerebus, Moebius, Love & Rockets, Sandman, and loads more.

    -What was the first comic by Alan Moore did you read?

    The first story of his I read was in 2000AD, a year or two (maybe more) before I began to collect it. My younger brother picked a copy up somewhere, and I read it. I wasn't that interested - I was too young - but one story caught me and stuck in my mind: it was about people living on the sun, and a man who commits a murder there. I later found out this was one of Alan Moore's Future Shocks. So that was my first exposure. The first continued story of his that I read was, I think, Halo Jones (or it might have been one of the D.R. & Quinch story arcs) -- if memory serves me right, I read the collected editions of the first 2 Halo Jones books together, then book 3 when it came out in 2000AD. And I've been reading him ever since! (Oh -- and when the Halo Jones books were released, it was around the time that that year's 2000AD annual was released, so Alan did a signing with several other writers and artists. I went along and got book graphic novels signed by him -- the only time our paths have crossed, to date. I remember him looking at me strangely as I was walking away -- I think he was thinking, "What the hell am I doing here signing comics for kids?" Or maybe he had a psychic flash and realized that I'd be writing a story about him nearly 20 years later!!!!!!!)

    -Did it had a special impact on you? Why?

    All of his comics have had an impact on me. His 2000AD stories were unlike anything else I was reading at the time, full of ideas and wickedly sharp humour.

    -What do you think is his best work to date? Why?

    Hard to choose. Watchmen blows me away every time I read it, and ideas-wise is probably his best. From Hell is a magnificent beast, and research-wise is unbeatable. It would probably be one of those two.

    -What do you think about Big Numbers, if you read the two published issues?

    I read them when they first came out and was fascinated -- I thought they held the promise of something great. I've actually bought several pages of the artwork to the unpublished issue 3 -- but there's no word balloons with them! Aaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!! I'd love to see it concluded. I've spent a long, fragmented decade and a half waiting for Alan Moore stories to finish -- Marvelman, From Hell and Lost Girls (which I began to read when they first appeared in Taboo), and while most have progressed and finished - albeit very slowly - Big Numbers seems to have been discarded. I think that's a real shame, especially since it appears to have been because of a fall-out between Alan and Bill Sienkiewicz , not because he lost faith in it. I've been hoping he'd find a new artist to take over (maybe even start from the beginning again) -- but so far, no luck.

    -What do you think Alan would have intended to convey with this very promising story?

    To be honest, I haven't read it since it came out, so I can't recall all that much about what happened in the first 2 issues, never mind speculate on the others to follow!!! :-)

    -Do you agree with Chaos theory that our world (and the Universe as a whole by extension) is ruled by fractals, strange attractors and so on, where a little alteration on initial conditions could cause big and unexpected alterations on the final ones?

    Every action provokes a reaction, and you can trace the smallest of any action through the series of reactions which follow, all the way to just about any subsequent major event. But can a major event be entirely broken down and reduced all the way to it millions and billions and causal starts? I don't think so. But it's fun to play with the notion!!!

    -Could a graphic-novel comprise all the complexity of human existence, common life, the whole Universe and so on, as an unique, united system, as AM intended to do with Big Numbers?

    I wouldn't think so, especially as the universe is forever changing. I would think, if you quizzed Alan about it, you'd find that his view of life, the universe and everything has changed substantially since he started Big Numbers, so even if he thought he could sum it all up then, he wouldn't believe so now. Of course, I could be wrong ...

    -What are your ideas about Watchmen's innovations?

    As I said above, an amazing work. I've read it more than any of his other comics, and still find new things in it after all these years.

    -And for From Hell, do you think it could be considered a history of the cradle to the 20th Century, with all its paranoia, conspirations and corruption?

    Well, yes ... but those aren't new or unique to the 20th Century! I think Alan's novel, Voice Of The Fire, shows just how far back 20th Century views and ways stretch.

    -What are your impressions on Brought to Light and its references to the CIA's covert operations around the world?


    Although I read it, I wasn't that taken by it, and it doesn't stand out as one of the more memorable Alan Moore comics for me. But I've read a lot more about political intrigue since then, so I do hope to return to it some day soon, and maybe it'll mean more to me this time.

    -Do you think that comics can be a political instrument , that they can reach and appeal to a large audience?

    Quite frankly, in the Western world, no. Where they're a major part of a nation's culture - as in Japan - then maybe yes. But comics in the States and most of Europe are the pleasure and realm of the minority. I think it would be unbridled idealism to believe that they can affect the political structure of society at large. Unless, of course, the Big Bang comes and the world's reduced to rubble, and those who crawl out of the ashes are the literate few who realize the true worth of comics, and build a new society based on them ... :-)

    -And AM´s debuting in mainstream literature with Voice of the Fire, do you think it accomplished it´s intention, to tell the history of magic, wichtcraft, shamanism and so on, through the history of Northampton?

    Absolutely! It's a captivating read, a series of linked stories which work on many different levels. I think Alan's not only a great comics writer, but a great WRITER who's just as accomplished with prose and novels as he is with comics (a rarity among writers in the comics field, although I know not all comics writers see it that way!!!)

    -Tell us how you become involved in this new, upcoming tribute book about him? (see www.alanmooresenhordocaos.hpg.ig.com.br/artigos14.htm as well as my Bibliography, Wants List and Article 14 )

    Through Gary Spencer Millidge. I'm a big fan of Strangehaven, and bought the original art to several of the covers. He guessed I was an Alan Moore fan and asked if I'd like to contribute. For me it was a huge honour -- I glowed for weeks afterwards! To share page space with Alan Moore and the host of writers and artists who are paying homage to him ... to me that's almost more special than seeing my own books in print!!!!!!

    -Any other projects related to Alan?

    Nope.

    -What do you think about Magic and about Alan's lyrics, CDs, The Birth Caul and Snakes and Ladders?

    Interesting. I try to follow most of it, and I think I succeed -- mostly!! The Birth Caul was, for me, the best of the Magical, vocal stuff he's done (of those that I'm familiar with). I also love his exploration of magic in Promethea -- I think that's the most significant of his ABC comics. (Though Top 10 is the most fun!)

    -Movies and mainly music, can affect us deeply, rousing imprevisible emotions. So it is Poetry. They all can transcend its limitations as a genre. What about comics? Could it have this quality also?Examples?

    Absolutely. The great thing about comics is that they can cover so many areas -- they can be filmic (like most of the American mainstream super-hero comics), poetic (The Birth Caul), even musical (Cages by Dave McKean). It's a hugely wide-reaching art form.

    - Returning to your writing and books, tell us more about them, their's motivation, generation, objectives and so on . What do you think is your best one till now and why?

    I've written a lot of adult books which covered all sorts of genres. Two (Ayuamarca and Hell's Horizon) were published in the U.K. but weren't really promoted by the publishers, and pretty much died an anonymous death. Then I wrote a book for younger readers - 10 or 11 up - called Cirque Du Freak - published in Brazil as Circo dos Horrores, by Rocco .That and its sequels have been worldwide hits. They're all part of a single storyline, a dark coming-of-age tale about a boy who becomes a vampire's assistant. They're mostly just fast-paced reads, and an attempt to re-write the vampire myths, and the emphasis is very much on plot twists and familiar characters. I do explore a variety of issues in the books, but I keep the momentum kicked up to 11 whenever possible -- I save my slower scenes and ideas for other novels!! There isn't really a "best" one, since they're all one story arc -- I look on each book as a chapter in The Saga Of Darren Shan.

    -What about the publication of your book in Brazil? Any news about this? How it occurred? Have you seen a proof of translation?


    My agent sold the book to Rocco. I don't have much to do with the sales -- I focus on the writing and leave the selling to my agent! Yes, I have a few copies of the translation -- it's very nice. I'm not sure how the books have been selling in Brazil -- you might be able to learn more about that than me!

    -What is it that death, darkness, horror and so, attracts us and has this strange appeal?

    We're all going to die. The darkness waits. That's a pretty horrific thought. So I think it's only natural that mankind focuses on it. Whether you explore it through horror fiction, or try to make light of it with religion, it all boils down to the same thing: our lives are a pause before the vast darkness of death, and it's fairly impossible not to think about what comes at the end of the pause.

    -Any chance that you send us a short-story for publication (in English and translated to Portuguese,also?) Of course we are just fans, and could not afford to pay for it...

    Sorry -- I don't write very many short stories -- I prefer novels.

    Well, Darren, that is it for now. Great success to your new books and all projects, and many thanks to share your very precious time with us.

    Cheers! It's been a lot of fun talking about one of the great influences in my imaginative life!! 

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