An interview with Edward Cox

Edward Cox had his first short story published in 2000 and then spent much of the next decade earning a BA 1st class with honours in creative writing, and a Master degree in the same subject. He then went on to teach creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire. Alongside David Gemmell, Edward's influences continue to range from past masters to current authors: Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe, George Orwell and Richard Matheson, Angela Carter, Kafka, Tad Williams, Michael Moorcock, Susanna Clarke and Chuck Palahniuk. He currently lives in Essex with his wife and daughter. The Relic Guild is his first completed novel.

Read our review of The Relic Guild.

Edward kindly spoke to Michelle Herbert in September 2014.

The Relic Guild has a really interesting narrative structure with two different stories happening in the past and the present. Did you always plan for this to happen?

Not initially. It sort of happened as a natural development. In the original version of the book, the history was never shown. There were a few brief flashback moments, but most of it came out in dialogue. In the end, the past became so relevant to the story that it made sense to rewrite the whole thing and crack it into two timelines.

With the two groups of characters, Clara, Van Bam and Samuel in the present, and the Relic Guild in the past, did you find it easier or harder to work out how the characters in the present may have changed from their younger selves?

Experience was a key factor in finding the difference between older and younger voices. Characters in the past could afford to be greener behind the ears than their future selves. Although, to a certain degree, I see Van Bam and Samuel, along with Hamir, as representing the stagnation of the Labyrinth. The character who has probably changed the most from her younger self is Marney, but she isn't seen much in the present timeline.

Without giving any spoilers The Relic Guild ends on a cliff-hanger in both timelines, did you always know that you would be writing a trilogy (check out @EdwardCox10 for updates) or did the story grow organically?

As soon as I made the decision to split the story into two timelines I knew that it wouldn't be finished in a single book. Not unless I wanted to hand in a 500,000 word tome. The tale of The Relic Guild was always going to be told in three books, and I'm working to the plan!

Would you ever write a prequel that would link into the creation myth of Labrys Town and the Labyrinth that surrounds it?

This is an interesting one. I do touch on the Labyrinth's creation in book two, but a whole novel linking to its creation? Well, I have an idea, but that's for way down the line. At present I'd be more interested in writing prequels set somewhere within the thousand years of history that happened before The Relic Guild.

In the Relic Guild there seems to be an analogy between Lord Spiral and his Genii and Lucifer and the Fallen Angels, was this an inspiration for your story?

Yes, absolutely. Lucifer and the Fallen Angels, the war in heaven, they were definitely models for Spiral and the Genii, and the war against the Timewatcher. But, of course, I created my own versions of them. I also used inspirations from a lot of other mythologies, though they're not as recognisable. I research these things until my imagination wants to take over, and that's when the story takes on a life of its own.

As someone who also teaches creative writing what is the most useful piece of advice that you could give to aspiring authors?

The only person who can teach you how to write is you. And the only way you'll do that is by writing. A lot. And then writing some more.

What book would you say inspired you to become a writer?

There are a lot of books I could mention here. But one that I remember grabbing me by the collar and shaking me about was Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell. That one really showed me what I wanted to do.

What one question would you like to answer that you are never asked?

Do I like The Relic Guild's cover art? Because when I first saw it, I was floored. It's by Christopher Gibbs, with design by Jamie Tanner. Everything about it – the fonts, the tagline, the art, the colours – I just fell in love with. And I'm not the only one. In fact, I've received so many compliments about the look of The Relic Guild, I actually started feeling guilty about taking credit for the artist's work!