At the beginning of April 2016 Peter Verdi's Magnetic Scrolls Chronicles website went offline. So far all my attempts to contact Peter failed. His site carried some invaluable interviews with former Magnetic Scrolls people. To preserve the work I temporarily uploaded a dump of his site taken in summer of 2015. All you can see below is 100% Peter's work! Hopefully his site will reappear soon! Peter, if you read this, can you contact me?

Remember how it's like to ride on a cloud? How it feels to be squashed by a bus, or how to get that damned gold disc from Micky? Well, here's your chance to relive all these situations.

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(Inaccurate) Memories Of Memories - A Conversation With Michael Bywater (page 4)


Let us talk about the Guardians then. What's the story behind creating those?
That was, as I recall, a satire on the magical ultrahuman sort of thing you'd expect a Guardian to be. It was in a sense inspired by a cartoon Raymond Lowry did for us at Punch which showed a reclining Venus looking up at a bunch of putti flying around but instead of being cherubic little children the putti were middle-aged men in moustaches and thick spectacles and Venus is saying to her friend "Ooh, they do grow up so fast, don't they?"

Anything to do with fantasy always seemed to me to be annoyingly fucking noble and grandiose, and that's before you get to the silly names so superbly satirised by my old and now dead friend Douglas Adams. So I thought, let's have them like rather seedy Graham Greene private detectives in herringbone overcoats with really ordinary names, and Len was the name of the caretaker at my school so that was it.

At some point I decided they'd all be called Len because that was funnier, and there it was. It was around the same time that I wrote a thing in Punch about ... do you know, I can't actually remember what it was about in the sense of what the hell kicked it off, but it was a couple of government officials turning up to have a word with God. I think it was after the Archbishop of York was misquoted as saying that the resurrection was "just a conjuring trick with bones" and God responded by striking Durham Cathedral with lightning, thus proving the swiftness of divine retribution and its tendency to miss its target (as Kingsley Amis wrote in Lucky Jim). And I wondered what sort of God this would be and in the end I wrote this piece in a very high 17th-century rhetorical register but God turned out to be this faintly incompetent, rather discommoded but affable old chap in corduroy trousers tinkering around behind the Throne of Thrones and asking people to call him Keith. And I suppose that's the sort of God who'd give rise to supernatural beings called Len with moustaches and herringbone overcoats. And they'd also of course eat cheese sandwiches.


"I was just the words guy. The others did the hard work."

- Michael Bywater

To me the world of "Jinxter" always seemed to be a version of post-World-War-2-Britain with a dash of fantasy thrown in the mix. Kind of like "Ladykillers" meets Mervyn Peake meets "Terry Gilliam's Brazil" … am I making a total fool out of myself with a complete and utter misinterpretation?
I wouldn't have though so, no. You're probably pretty close. The general air of threadbare dampness, sensual deprivation, lousy food, drizzle, bureaucracy -- yes. Later on I got to know Terry Gilliam who is of course a genius; Peake was at the time one of my favourites though I find the Gormenghast trilogy doesn't really stand re-reading now (except for the schoolmasters in Gormenghast) and The Ladykillers is one of my favourite films ever. That sort of dodgy incompetence is a classically self-deprecating myth the British -- the English, at least -- like to tell about themselves.

My next book, which is set in a sort of south-eastern Germany which never really existed, at a time which could be anything from two hundred years hence to 1565, is a similar sort of milieu though I hope in >20 years I've come on a bit. We'll see.

Sounds interesting - you wouldn't want to elaborate a bit on that?
The south-east Germany book is a weird one and I am only about 40% of the way into it. It's set in a theoretical Freiburg but not the F'burg you or anyone else knows of. Partly Heidelberg, partly Fès, partly Bruges, partly completely-made-up. I suppose it's an odd cross of urban-fantasy-meets-detective-fiction; imagine an unholy cross between Umberto Eco and China Miéville and you'll be about halfway there. The story involves a brothel, a missing girl, a Jesuit from Hamburg, a man who believes he's a dwarf, the illegality of professional musicians, the sexual habits of Sebastian "Fat Patsy" Bach, and much else besides, as they say.

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