Well the last fictional character interview I did was really fun to write… I actually want to do more. MORE! Let’s do a whole load of them… The Coffee House Interviews! I’ll do them for as long as they’re fun to write and I have characters to interview. So let’s continue with my current biggest hitter and twin brother of previous interviewee Marco.
‘FAME & MONSTERS’
‘How much can I say?’ Will asks, sounding bored, two seconds after sitting down. He hasn’t even taken his coat off. I shrug at his question and answer that he can say as much as he wants. ‘This is ridiculous, you know that, right?’ he accuses me. ‘I mean, this would have been a better idea after everything is out.’ He’s referring to his own story, immortalised as a six part (it was originally four, as Marco is so keen to remind me) epic. ‘How far have you got now? Half way through? Or just over…’ At the time of the interview and I’m almost ready to release the fourth book and the fifth is well underway. ‘So we go halfway then,’ Will smirks, taking charge. ‘Where did you end the third book? After Runcorn wasn’t it? Humanity reunited and NIRA exposed…’ He leans back. ‘You and I though, we both know where things are going and it’s not sunshine and rainbows. It’s going to be tough not talking about those things… Certain deaths, for instance?’ He goes quiet and I can tell he’s thinking about them, all of them.
‘How many friends did I lose?’ he ponders. He mentions a few. ‘You’re going to lose friends in your life… You lose touch with them or move on or whatever but that’s a natural process. It doesn’t hurt like it does when you see them killed right in front of you. It hurts even more when it’s the love of your life… Stabbed right through the damn chest!’ He looks angry and I’m worried about where this is taking us so I ask if he’d like to change the subject. He shakes his head. ‘No… You wanted to do this so let’s get down to the tough stuff. What else would we talk about anyway?’ Will is showing his true colours here. He’s arrogant, argumentative, stroppy and when you get him onto a subject it’s difficult to get him off it again, especially if its working him up like this one is.
I wonder… If he could, would he go back? Would he go back to when he spent every day fighting swarms of monsters and mad scientists and…
‘Harris?’ Yes… Back when he was in a life or death struggle with the man the papers once called his nemesis, Jonathon Harris. ‘I’d take the friendships back… Doug, Dan, Dast… Barnes can fuck off though. He caused way too much trouble and I’d rather not deal with his lack of social skills again. As for all the shit that went down… No. In hindsight I remember some of it as being really fun but at the time it was all damn scary. I spent about six years with my heart half way up my throat. I spent a small fortune on new underwear.’ He never showed any fear though, I point out. ‘I couldn’t. If you let your fear show then it’ll take you over and you’ll panic. Other people will panic. Someone had to look like they had things under control otherwise we’d have been screwed.’
All of it started when Will was just a child, six or seven. It was all thanks to what was, at the time, thought of as a minor accident in a laboratory.
‘Jackanapes! Scientists trying to play God! I would really love to know which gumpert thought it would be a good idea to synthesise a parasite. That thing was always going to get loose and cause chaos, always. It’s like that last bit of Smallpox they have stored somewhere. They say it’s all safe and not going to get out but we all know it’s only a matter of time.’ The consequence of that parasite getting loose was a plague of mutants, panic and the slow collapse of civilisation. And when he was twelve years old Will, along with Marco and their friend Zac, decided that enough was enough. ‘Youthful impetuousness,’ Will smiles. ‘We thought that we could make a difference and save the world. We were just three kids from a scummy part of town and we had no idea what we were doing. There wasn’t a chance we could ever do we set out to do… So we lost, as we were always going to.’ Thank God then that Will was given a second chance. ‘Mention how and you’ll look weird,’ he teases. ‘Even hinting might make you look crazy. You only get away with it in the books because you start things off after it happens. But I agree… Thank God for it.’
‘I thought at first that it was all over, that it would never happen again. Then I go on holiday for a week and what happens? They bloody come back don’t they! I wasn’t going to let it all happen again so I just did what I did before… And there were consequences.’ There were big consequences. ‘I might have gotten a little bit famous,’ he shies guiltily.’ The newspapers got hold of what I was doing and blew it out of all proportion. People started thinking of me as some kind of saviour, some kind of hero… I wasn’t. I was just a kid trying to do what nobody else would do.’ And the next few years are what forms the basis of that six book epic- A kid trying to do the right thing, juggling the perils of fame, love, friendship and trying to keep hold of his sanity. ‘Trying to keep hold of my sanity?’ Will is unimpressed. ‘The trouble with the end of the world is that you can’t keep your sanity. You’ve got to adapt it, constantly. What was insane before becomes the new normal. The best you can do is hold on by your fingertips and hope you don’t fall too far down the rabbit hole.’
What, in all those years, did Will learn about fame? What advice would he give to any budding celebrities?
‘Fame is horrible. Nobody should want it and I can’t understand anybody who does, all those X Factor wannabes and that lot. When you become famous your whole life is suddenly public. You can’t have a shit without some tabloid hack sneaking in and sniffing the bog afterwards. You can’t have a relationship without the whole world knowing about it… I got away with that one actually… You know what I mean though. Fame is bad enough when people like you but put one toe out of line and you had better hope that someone has put something soft beneath that pedestal you’re on otherwise the fall is going to hurt.’ Will survived the fame game by keeping quiet. He let the media do their thing, mostly, and tried to do his own thing. ‘I tried ignoring it but that led to them making shit up about me,’ he despairs. ‘The most annoying was when they reckoned Doug and I were in a relationship based on no more than the fact that we lived together. I put the editor of the local paper in a headlock for that one… It made things worse.’
The mention of Doug brings a faraway look in his eyes… Not that kind of faraway look but one that suggests he really misses his old friends, the people who, by various means, ended up fighting alongside him.
‘I think about them every day. At random times too… I’ll be on the shitter or watching Postman Pat or cooking breakfast and suddenly Doug or Joe or someone will wander into my head.’ Who does he miss most of all? The answer does not surprise me. ‘Dan,’ he states clearly. ‘I miss Dan the most. I don’t know what it was… I wanted to tear his throat out at first… He was more than a friend to me.’ A lot of people ask if Will and Dan had romantic feeling for each other. I put this to him. ‘FUCK NO!’ He appears offended. ‘Alright… I was in love with him but it wasn’t romantic love. It wasn’t physical. It wasn’t attraction. It was totally platonic. We went through a lot together and he stuck by me, even though I was a total dick at times. He had every right to kill me but he didn’t.’ Dan must have felt the same, I suggest. ‘Maybe… You know, he never held Amsterdam against me? He had to accompany my drug addled, naked carcass through the city and he never once complained.’ There is a silence as he thinks. ‘I never set out to make friends. Joe and Greg latched onto me and then Dan came along and Doug… For two years they were the only family I had.’
Ahhh yes. Family. Unlike Marco, who was always aware of who his real family were, there was a period where Will wasn’t aware.
‘It was a bloody shock that one was… I’m in the middle of trying to save the world, dealing with a lot of shit, and then suddenly I find out I have this whopping great big family which can be traced back a thousand years and potentially another thousand on top of that if you include all the semi-mythical people. I knew that Marco was my brother, I denied it of course, but this was a whole new level of weird.’ He’d found out a long time before this but thanks to an accident… ‘Accident? I got concussion during a fight with the twat who killed my girlfriend… Then a certain adopted brother of mine decided it was for the best if my memory was allowed to come back on its own. Of course, that meant that for about two years I didn’t even know my own name.’ What does Will make of his family? What did he make of it all when he found out about them? ‘I didn’t really know who they were. I knew a little bit but thanks to that bloody concussion everything else was all screwed up. After working it out I spent about six hours surfing the internet looking up all these stories and urban legends and I thought… I thought ‘Jeez… I’m nothing compared to these guys.” Is he just being modest? ‘No. I’m not… My great grandfather… He had a hell of a time in India during the First World War and then he spent the next forty years of his life duelling with fascists. My dad went up against slum landlords in the US before he was twenty one, and those were some proper hard-core shit bags. One of my ancestors was an assassin. I had another who went off and hunted pirates up the west coast of Scotland. What did I do? Bash a few heads in?’
All you need do is take a look at the epic to see what Will did, and like his dad it was all before he was twenty one. He started, I remind him, when he was twelve.
‘Still nothing compared to what everybody else did,’ he shrugs. His reaction is proof that he has never let fame go to his head. He doesn’t see what he did as anything more than was necessary, anything special. ‘It’s not like I was the only one. Yeah, I might have started it but once they saw me other people joined in as well. There are a lot of people I never even met who did incredible things. Because everyone was so focused on me and what I was doing they never got the recognition they deserved.’ Does he not think that, without him, things would have been a lot different? ‘Maybe… But if it hadn’t been me it would have been somebody else. Somebody else would have tried to do what I did. They might not have had the same results but they’d have tried.’
Would the media have jumped on somebody else as they did him? Anybody else might have taken the glory and ran away with it. But Will… Nah. He’s all for the quiet life.
‘There’s something to be said for normality. Being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When you’re a hero, off saving the world, the little things can get left behind… As you said, I’m all for the quiet life and always have been. I didn’t have a normal adolescence so I like to get my normality where I can.’ What does he mean by that I wonder? ‘A teenager should be out trying life. If you don’t fall over and scrape your knee as a child you aren’t doing it right. When you’re a teenager if you don’t try all the silly things teenagers do, like getting wasted in the park or getting up to mischief or doing stupid things that you’ll regret in ten years time, it’s the same thing.’ I have to point out that despite everything he still managed to do a lot of the things that teenagers do- He got wasted, took drugs, got himself into trouble with the police… ‘True. But with what else I was doing I wasn’t exactly a normal teenager, was I?’
Will can sometimes come across as unlikeable. He can be alarmingly cold with strangers. At his very worst he can be an absolute arsehole. Somewhere in there though, as his friends will tell you, is a heart of solid gold. He’ll stick up for the people he cares about, his friends and his family. He’ll be the first to leap to their rescue or defence.
‘There are some real monsters in this world… I’ve fought physical monstrosities but humans were always worse. An animal will attack you, maybe kill you, but that’s all. A human? They can be devious, corrupt. They do things far worse than just attack you and kill you. So when you find a bunch of humans who aren’t bad… Keep them close. Look after them. Don’t lose them because there is every chance that you might never find them again.’
(Image courtesy of the BBC.)