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Written By:

Ed Fortune
james lovegrove

New York Times Bestselling Author James Lovegrove has written over fifty novels, including the highly regarded Pantheon series, the Dev Harmer novels and various tie-in works, including Firefly and Sherlock Holmes. His latest book Doctor Strange: Dimension War, sees Marvel’s infamous mage takes on challenges in a way the fans will have never encountered before. We caught up with James to find out more.

STARBURST: How would you pitch Doctor Strange: Dimension War to a reality-bending space wizard?

James Lovegrove: I’d suggest they buy copies for all their friends and family so that they can then say, “See? I told you I’d travelled to far-flung other-realms where there are dragon mouths floating in the sky and these pathways that bend in all directions and weird spiky spheres, and there’s this big flamey-head man who wants to rule the Multiverse and has a really cool niece who’s taken a shine to me. And oh, there’s also a lord of a dream dimension who keeps trying to destroy my astral form, and… Look, I know it sounds strange, no pun intended, but I’m sober, honestly, I swear.”

What was the toughest part of writing this book?

The original comics that I’ve adapted for Dimension War are wonderful stuff, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in their prime. But they’re also scrappy and episodic, and while there is an overall narrative arc across the twenty or so issues I’ve focused on, it’s not always readily evident. I had to bend their plots in places and add and remove bits in order to produce a story with a consistent throughline. That was challenging but also fun. I then had to figure out how to convey Ditko’s artwork in prose form, that extraordinary surreality of his that’s somehow both trippy and earthy. I had a go at this by playing with typographic formatting in places, using text the way Ditko did pictures, but mainly by rendering his imagery into words as carefully as I could.

Why is Doctor Strange so popular as a character?

On the surface, he’s not very relatable, not in the way that, say, Spider-Man is with his youthful neuroticism. Strange is a former surgeon who had wealth and renown, but was also arrogant and self-serving. How are you supposed to root for a guy like that? As Lee and Ditko showed, the answer was to humble him, strip away all his worldly success, and force him to start over from the bottom up. By learning to become a powerful Master of the Mystic Arts and eventually Sorcerer Supreme, Strange travels the road to redemption. Who doesn’t love a character who learns from his mistakes and becomes a better person for it? And also has white sideburns and a cool goatee?

Why have stories about wizards endured for so long?

Reality is fixed, prosaic and not always your friend. But what if you had the power to alter it, bend it to your will and make it work for you? And what if you could step outside the mundane and perceive the cosmic patterns that underpin the universe? And what if you could zap your enemies with spells and maybe have a cloak that can make you fly? Perhaps it’s a childish thing, this idea that with a wave of your hand or a wrinkle of your nose, you can make objects appear or disappear or turn a dog into a cat or a cat into a human or a human into a dog, or give yourself an endless supply of Lindt Mini Eggs, or whatever. There’s still something very appealing about that, even to an adult. Reality is stifling. Magic, and the wizardly ability to use it, is a wish-fulfilling kind of transcendence.

What other projects would you like to work on?

I’m very much hoping that there’s another Marvel novel in my near future, an adaptation of perhaps the greatest Silver Age storyline of them all. I’d gladly do even more Marvel work because I’ve been a confirmed Marvelite pretty much since I learned to read. The Marvel Universe is my happy place.

What’s next for you?

I’ve just written a novel that’s a childhood dream come true, working on an IP I’ve been a massive fan of from the age of 11 onwards, namely Conan of Cimmeria. Thanks to Titan and also the licence holders Heroic Signatures, I’ve been allowed to romp around in the Hyborian Age, and I’ve been having a ball. I’m hoping this book will be the first of several.

Loki or Thor?

I’m an attention-seeking nuisance, so Loki, obviously. Also, I don’t have the physique for Thor. Or the long hair.

Cyborgs or Dinosaurs?

Cyborgs definitely. I’ve always loved The Six Million Dollar Man and also the Marvel character Deathlok the Demolisher. In fact, I’d do anything to write a Deathlok story, even have a cherished body part replaced by the mechanical equivalent. Not that dinosaurs aren’t cool, but they’re not half-robot cool.

Kittens or Puppies?

I used to be a confirmed cat person, but then we got a Yorkshire terrier, and she drew me to the canine side of the Force. Mind you, I’m not into kittens or puppies as such because they’re all just mess, disinfectant, rolls of kitchen paper, and getting your hand gnawed.

Truth or Beauty?

According to Keats, there’s no difference.

DOCTOR STRANGE: DIMENSION WAR is available via Titan Book. It is out now.

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