A man of protean sensibilities

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The Independent Culture
I WANT my money. There's money out there with my name on it - or, at the very least, the words "To Whom It May Concern" - and I want it. Other people get their money. George Lucas has got his money, and Stephen King has got his money, and Thomas Harris has got lots and lots of money and hardly ever writes anything at all. Ten years between The Silence of the Lambs and the new one, Hannibal. Ten years. Do you know how much I write in the average 10 years? Between four and five million words. If Thomas Harris wrote that much, he'd be ... he'd be like me. Skint. I want my money.

Novels are the thing. "But," you say (cowering down behind the sofa like the craven you are, scared I'll rip your lungs out), "but what about your hero?" As a matter of fact, my hero is the great marketing ploy of the whole exercise: me.

Genre is another big thing in books that make money. Horror, Gothic, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, you name it. But why stick to one genre? As befits a man like me, a man of protean sensibilities and handmade crocodile shoes (bet you've never even seen a handmade crocodile), my novels will be cross-genre. Something for everybody. Would you like to read the opening paragraphs? Well shut up and read them anyway.

The radio erupted into life, crackling static across the focused calm of the mighty cockpit. "It's a weather warning," said First Officer de Botton; "I can't quite make out..." Crash! The mighty aircraft lurched sickeningly. Torn apart by the mighty forces of the worst hurricane in history, the atmosphere simply... disintegrated. "We're doomed!" cried First Officer de Botton. But Captain Bywater was unmoved. "Don't worry," he said; "I have control."

He stroked his sun-bronzed hand across a dusky temptress's palpitating thighs. Outside, the sky was black as night. No birds sang. A heavy fragrance of fine jasmine hung upon the air. "Who are you?" she purred. "Bywater's the name," he murmured; "Michael Bywater. But you can call me Derek." "Derek?" she whispered, her lips moist and parted. "Yes," said Bywater, his steely jaw set implacably. "He was someone I was ... fond of. Once. Long ago. It doesn't matter now. All that matters is ... why this total eclipse has lasted three hours already, and no sign of the sun."

With an eldritch squeal the hideous vampire flapped low of the parched and stupefied crowd. From its ragged-pinioned wings droplets of corruption spattered their upturned faces. The vile creature came to rest in a miasma of unspeakable decay, perched blasphemously upon the immemorial Gothic spire of St Wilegfortis's Cathedral. "Hahahahah!" cried the monster. "Now you know me for what I am! I am Bywaterula! And you - hahahahah! - are my subjects for all eternity."

"But what can we do?" cried First Officer de Botton. "Keep calm," said Captain Bywater. "All we can try is reversing the Abrawang transducers, causing a temporary inversion of the Goedel cloud and a suspension of spacetime causality sufficient for us to warp free of the Al-aq'qqu'qaa'ala warships." "But..." said First Officer de Botton. "Never mind 'but'," said Captain Bywater, lighting up the gnarled pipe jutting from his mighty jaw. "Just press the red knob there."

With a cataclysmic explosion, the orchestra brought Bywater's mighty ninth symphony to its cataclysmically explosive conclusion. The audience rose to its feet, calling for the composer. But Bywater was characteristically elusive. The sharp-eyed might have seen a slight, gnarled figure in immaculately cut tweeds slinking elusively through the pass-door. Beyond the green door, five moistly palpitating young women waited, expectantly. "Darlinks," said Bywater, "You are now each to go into a separate room und remove your cloze. Tsen I vill komm und make mine tchoice." Obediently, their eyes cast modestly down, the girls filed away.

At his great oak desk, a stooped, ascetic figure sat sunk deep in the profundities of thought. The Prime Minister - curiously insubstantial, as though made of cheap plastic in some Far-East sweatshop - sat quietly, intimidated, hardly daring to speak. Was this not the greatest thinker of his day? A man whose sentences could shape the destiny of nations, and destroy an individual with one stroke of his gnarled and mighty pen? Presently, the Prime Minister spoke. "Lord Bywater?" he murmured in his silky and unmistakeably insincere tones. Bywater gazed at him with the icy control of a man who had got his money. "I have considered your request," he said, in gnarled and mighty tones, "and my answer is no. Bugger off, Blair. You're finished."

Enjoy it? More where that came from, and no need to wait 10 years either. Just give me my money