China Mieville interview at Readercon 2006

On China Mieville’s influences and early writing

China Mieville. In my mid-teens I came to a decision that I wanted to do this (i. e. writing — E.) professionally, if I could. In terms of teachers, I wasn’t particularly conscious about the craft of writing for a very long time, and instead I tried to mimic the stuff I liked. Later I consciously tried to learn from other writers. Within the last 10 years. Before that I was an idiot savant, or maybe just idiot.

China Mieville (left) being interviewed by Adam Golaski at Readercon 2006
CIMG3503 China Mieville (left) being interviewed by Adam Golaski at Readercon 2006

On writing short stories versus novels

Adam Golaski. You consider yourself to be a novelist. You talk about a great satisfaction you get from short stories, because they are so difficult for you to write. For you novel is a genre you fall into most comfortably. Why is that?

China Mieville. Because discipline doesn’t come naturally to me. I loved Perdido Street Station, but it is not a disciplined book. As I get more disciplined, my books get shorter and shorter. Not to say that i don’t like huge sprawling books; I love that. I find writing short stories very difficult. I write very few of them. The reason why they were not published professionally [before] was because I didn’t want to.

You get approached to write short stories for anthologies, and I was stunned that some people would say yes. I am in awe of them, of their ability to do it. What if the story sucks?

China Mieville (left) being interviewed by Adam Golaski at Readercon 2006
CIMG3505 China Mieville (left) being interviewed by Adam Golaski at Readercon 2006

On China Mieville’s political views and activities

Adam Golanski. I’m also interested in the other hat that you wear, which is a socialist. I heard you ran for parliament as socialist alliance. Can you explain to American audience what that means? To us, Americans, running for an office is enormously expensive. A 30-year-old guy?

China Mieville. I’ve been an activist in various left wing groups and local action groups for a long time, and socialist alliance was at the time an umbrella for several different organizations.

Apparently, from what I understood, his party or organization is further to the left than the “usual” left, and wants to show people that another politics is possible.

China Mieville. What distresses me and angers me about modern politics is insistence that there’s no alternative, no other way to view the world.

The disenfranchisement of huge sections of the world by mainstream politics simply has to be challenged. What socialist alliance was trying to do is what the Green party is trying to do in the US.

We are even smaller than the Greens. I am not here to diss members of the democratic party, to diss the activists. They are good people, people I love. But when we talk about the democratic leadership, when I hear democrats turning around and saying to people who voted for Nader “Thanks for Bush”, [I will tell them, f… you].

The audience applauds.

China Mieville. If all you’re being offered by the supposedly left wing alternative is “we’re not as bad as them”, it means we are all being taken for absolute idiots. It means “you don’t have a right to question”. If we cozy up to the anti-choice activists, I understand that many people will still vote democrat because of the catastrophe of Bush. But I will not take the idea that democrats own the progressive vote in the US.