High Five Interview With Tom Pollock

Tom Pollock needs no introduction, but I’m going to give him one anyway: London lover, ferocious dancer, urban fantasy maestro. His wonderful novel The City’s Son is among the best urban fantasy novels of the last few years, and will be followed by the upcoming The Glass Republic.

We spoke to Tom about published life, his infamous dance moves and why Berlin is full of win.


Obligatory serious question alert! So, it’s coming on for a year since The City’s Son was published – how’s published life treating you? And how’s The Glass Republic shaping up?¬†

Published life is *splendid* thank you for asking. So far, I’ve had 43 emails (at last count) accusing me of giving them a phobia of cranes. WINNING. Glass Republic is fine and dandy thank you for asking. Out at the start August. ¬†Different lead character (Pen) to the last one, set mostly in a different world (London-Under-Glass, the city of the Mirrorstocracy), but with the same crazy obsession with monster creation.

You’re known to be a bit of a demon on the dancefloor and famously claimed victory in a dance-off with Lord Grimdark himself, Joe Abercrombie. Give us your top five tracks you like to rip some moves to, and why.


Okay (will totally show my age on this). In no particular order:

Jump Around, House of Pain – Undisputed floor. Filler. Pretty much all my friends from uni can do the rap, all though none of us can make sense of it.

Slam, Pendulum – Especially the live version from the Brixton Academy album where it follows on from their Drum n Bass Master of Puppets. HELL TO THE YES. For when you really want to work up a sweat on the floor.

Killing in the Name, Rage against the Machine/Apples – Cheating here, this is two tracks. The RATM one has the best bass line in new metal, plus you can’t beat being part of the crowd swearing defiantly in the bridge. The Apples version is an instrumental funk mix. You heard me. It’s amazing. Craig Charles always drops it at the SF weekender and it brings the house down.

Get Ur Freak On, Missy Elliot – Slightly slower, still funky. Tricky’s Ponderosa was also a candidate for this spot, but you get a better reaction from the crowd on the Elliot because more people know it.

No Diggity, Blackstreet. – If you have to ask, you haven’t heard it.

You’re a bit of a dab hand in the kitchen. If you had to invite four fictional characters around for dinner, who would you invite and what would happen?

Ok, George Smiley (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Ashraf-al-Mansur (Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s Arabesk sequence), Mosca Mye (Fly By Night) and Pratchett’s Nanny Ogg.


Smiley and Raf would have dead cool spy chat, but then Smiley would say something that would get Mosca interested, and she’d start asking questions. And Smiley would try to evade, but have no idea how to fend off the direct, no BS style of a 12 year old with a weaponized goose. And then the goose would get involved directly, and the fox inside Raf’s mind would be like ‘KILL IT AND STEAL ITS EGGS (identifying the sex of geese not being Raf’s Fox’s strong point) but it would all be fine because Nanny Ogg would deploy her tactical bootleg applejack and get everyone too drunk to move before violence could ensue.

Well you did ask.

You’re well known on Twitter for your distinctive yellow bear avatar. Tell us about the yellow bear, Tom. We feel there’s a story there that needs to be told. And while you’re at it, tell us why Berlin is your favourite city aside from London.

I saw the bear. You see a bear, you gotta hug the bear. Necessities of life being what they are.

Berlin’s amazing. Obviously it was flattened at the end of WW2, and in the wake of that, it became this amazing playground for architects. And that tradition’s still going. The new central train station looks like a grounded Capital Ship from the coolest Space Opera that was never made. Also, there’s a bakery in the station at the Zoologischer Garten that sells Johannisbeerstreusel. Basically a danish whirl, covered in apple pie topping and cranberries, covered in crumble topping, and then iced. It is a worthy adversary.

Finally, we say “J for Jetpack,” you say “J for . . . ?”

John C. McGinley. I’m just watching Scrubs for the first time, and Dr Cox just leapfrogged into my all time top-ten fave TV characters. He’s hilarious, wise, loveable, infuriating and so exquisitely self-aware. He can also be a massive tool, which also I love in a character.

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