First time I heard of Mick Farren was when I opened a box of review copies from Tor in 1996 to find his novel The Time of Feasting, a dark fantasy concerning a hidden colony of vampires living underground in New York City. I flipped to the bio, where I read that Mick was the writer and singer for the punk band The Deviants, and that he also had several solo hits.
This was pretty cool. Here was a successful rock musician making a mid-career transition to dark fantasy writer. This just re-affirmed what I already knew: there were plenty of glamorous professions out there, but nothing as awesome as being a fantasy novelist.
I half-suspected that Mick Farren would write a few goth-tinged vampire novels, then quietly return to rock music.
He did in fact release four more albums between 1999 and 2005, but he never abandoned writing — producing no less than 23 novels, most of them paperback originals, including the Phaid the Gambler books, the DNA Cowboyssequence, and four novels in the vampire saga that came to be know as The Renquist Quartet.
He also produced 18 non-fiction books, including four biographies of Elvis Presley; a rock memoir, Give The Anarchist A Cigarette (2002); and Who’s Watching You?: The Chilling Truth about the State, Surveillance and Personal Freedom (2007).
Lest that sound a little too much like a typical rock-n-roll journalist (is there such a thing as a typical rock-n-roll journalist?), his books also include a 70-year history of The Black Leather Jacket (2007); and Speed-Speed-Speedfreak – A Fast History of Amphetamine (2010), released in a compact format to look like a giant Dextroampethamine capsule.
While he wrote some pretty gonzo science fiction, his fantasy novels were where Mick Farren really got daring and experimental, with titles like the dimension-hopping Cthulhu mythos crossover Necrom (1991), and Jim Morrison’s Adventures in the Afterlife (1999), whose cast includes Moses, Jesus Christ, Dylan Thomas and Doc Holliday.
His last book was Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine: A Lifetime’s Collected Writing (May 6, 2013), a thick collection of his columns for The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times and other publications, which author Richard Metzger called “rock’n'roll polemics… The hidden history of the 20th century and beyond.”
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