Self Destruction: interview, May 1997: Chris Mitchell talks to WS about Great Apes and the aftermath of the Prime Minister heroin airplane incident:

“”People understood intuitively at that point that to have an animal that was close to human but not human threw into turmoil a whole set of categories about cosmology and the Chain of Being,” he explains. “Swift was the first of a long line of satirists in the eighteenth century to have ape fantasies and construct ape worlds; there’s a Dutch version of it, a German version – it became a very enduring theme. So I’m not so much writing in the tradition of Swift as standing this long tradition of ape fantasies on its head.”

Self’s self-awareness of his own intellectual history and the writers to who have shaped his own work has been intensified by his dual role as both novelist and journalist, putting him in the strange position of regularly coming face to face with his own literary heroes. But he’s ambivalent about the value of such encounters: “Without being blasé it’s not something that appeals to me particularly. I went to interview Ballard for a 1000 word piece for the Standard and wound up talking to him for 4 hours. I really admire his work and had the fantastic, incredible bonus of finding out that he really liked my work too. But that was that. I don’t think we felt the need to meet each other ever again for the rest of our lives, although Ballard said, ‘If people like you had been around in the 60s, I would have got out more, but now it’s too late!’ which I thought was sweet. ”

Read the full interview