Une interview de 2012
|Morlock Ambrosius is quite an unusual protagonist. Could you tell us a little bit more about him, and also how you came up with the idea of him? |
James Enge : He’s the son of Merlin and Nimue; he’s a gifted maker of things (magical and mundane) with some personal issues (e.g. alcoholism and carrying a torch for his ex-wife); he’s a dangerous person who’s attended by an even darker halo of legends or slanders. As Blood of Ambrose opens he’s several centuries old, which is incredibly ancient by one standard. On the other hand, his father was a thousand years old when Morlock was born, so maybe he’s just hitting his stride.
As a character, Morlock had his genesis in irritation, I guess. I was reading (or rereading) Wells’ The Time Machine and I was annoyed at the way he stacked the deck against the Morlocks. Sure: maybe they’re not so pretty; they live underground; they have a meat tooth. But the case can be made that they are human whereas the pretty, vacant and empty Eloi are clearly not. This merged with a parallel irritation I’d long had with Tolkien: that he tries to bias the reader against Dwarves and toward Elves. I mean, here are the Dwarves, travelling on their own business through Mirkwood, and the Elf King locks them up. What does he want from them? Money. Tolkien’s view? “Still, Elves they are and remain, and that is Good People.” I hated the Elves in The Hobbit, and hated still more that Tolkien tried to get us to like them. I’d already read The Lord of the Rings, as it happens, so I knew JRRT could be less ham-handed when he was on his game, but this still bugs me whenever I reread The Hobbit. And the Arthurian stuff I was reading around the same time was full of names that sounded an awful lot like Morlock: there was Morgan, Mordred, Morholt, Morgause. These ideas clumped together in my subconscious until this Morlock Ambrosius guy emerged from the depths, who was somehow connected to the Dwarves and to the Arthur legends.
Shakespeare fans will see a lot of Richard III in Morlock’s literary DNA too – both the historical Richard (a pretty sober and reliable person, as kinslayers go) and the monstrous Tudor legend.
Morlock was originally supposed to be to Merlin something like what Mordred was to Arthur. But there really wasn’t any place for him in the already-overcrowded Arthurian mythos. So I ended up throwing all that junk out and spinning tales of Morlock in this other world where (my version of) Merlin came from, and where he was dragged back after he disappeared from Arthur’s story. Around the same time, I made him less of a Byronic Mary Sue sort of character. The stories worked better then, though it was still a long time before any of them made it into print.