Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Charles Tan Interviews Conrad Williams

What made you decide to write The Scalding Rooms?

I had written a novella set in that universe in 2001 and had always intended to return to write a sequel. I wanted to write more about the Mowers, and felt they could have a more prominent role. I also wanted to write about a father and his relationship with his child. I had become a father in 2002 and this was pretty much the first thing I wrote about that father/son axis.

Butchery and the slaughter house seems to be a recurring theme. What made you cling to this idea and did you have to do a lot of research?

I read a book by Eric Schlosser called 'Fast Food Nation'. There's a jaw-dropping sequence in that about abattoir accidents. I thought it would make for a great setting, a slaughterhouse that was filled with broken tools and broken men. The Schlosser book and a number of articles and documentaries on abattoirs really stoked my imagination. It's a pretty grim subject. I take much more care to find out the provenance of the meat I eat these days...

Did you determine early on that The Scalding Rooms would be a novella or did you simply write until it was finished? How do you determine the length your fiction will be?

I set out to write a novella, and to this end I had a main idea for the story, and one or two sub-strands. For a novel I usually find I come up with three central elements and any number of offshoots. That said, I would happily have written a novel if the story had demanded to be taken into that sort of territory. But I think, generally, ideas suggest themselves to you in the form they end up as. I'm working on some ideas now that I hope will go towards a novel set in Howling Mile. I've had some very good reaction for the two books so far. I think it's time to go large.

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