Simon Morden explains why he’s taking the tube in Down Station...
“One of my favourite plot devices is the portal to another world,” says Simon Morden, author of the Metrozone series. “Ordinary people find their knowledge, culture and sensibilities tested by their newly- alien surroundings. I love stories like that, but I’ve never tried to write one.”
Down Station, Morden’s latest, rectifies that. The first of a trilogy, it’s the tale of a group of people who flee into the London Underground to escape a fiery apocalypse and find themselves transported to a magical world “that owes more to Solaris than Narnia”.
But why the Underground? “It’s a fantastic resource, but you have to acknowledge it’s a weird- ass thing to go down some steps, be transported in a metal tube hundreds of feet below pavement level, only to walk up some steps a few minutes later and find yourself in a different place. That’s what I was channelling.
“Down Street is one of the disused stations on the Piccadilly line,” Morden continues. And Down, the magical realm his heroes enter, transforms people in unexpected ways. “They have to come to terms with wild, untameable magic where the person you choose to be is the person you ultimately become: for good or ill.”
Volume two, The White City, is already coming on apace despite being written in difficult circumstances. “I wrote the first draft under the shadow of my father’s death,” Morden says. “I was concerned that the story would be too dark. However, the truth seemed to be that, just as Down gives gifts of unwanted magic to its inhabitants, I benefited from that too. There are extremes of light and dark, joy and pain, bravery and cowardice. Down lets you be the person you are, magnified.”
Down Station is published on 18 February.
Mind the gap… Philip K Dick Awardwinner Simon Morden.