JD Sharpe interviews Charles Dickens, or is that the other way round?
JD: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Charles. May I call you Charles? I know you’re really busy with it being your 200th birthday tomorrow. Plus, you’re a ghost, which must make things a little bit more difficult.
CD: Mere details, my dear lady. I was intrigued to meet you. I prefer Mr Dickens. Oliver Twisted publishes today, no?
JD: That’s right.
CD: Do you want to tell me why you decided my story needed tampering with?
CD: Tell me - did you feel that Oliver Twist needed improvement? Is that why you added vampires, werewolves and zombies? I cannot hide it, I am feeling somewhat aggrieved.
JD: Wait a second, Oliver Twisted is not a replacement of Oliver Twist, Mr Dickens– it is an addition to all of the retellings and reinterpretations of your work that have been created over the years. I loved the idea of taking a classic book, and a character that everyone feels like they know and love and doing something surprising with it. I wanted to twist it so that readers were in unfamiliar territory, maybe even a little scared at times, but not at the expense of the original. I wanted to see how far I could push the world you described and the characters you had created. I hope people will read both books. They should read both.
CD: Then we have no quarrel, call me Charles. I mean it is rather extraordinary that people are still reading my novels after all this time and I want that to continue. If reading Oliver Twisted means that more will read Oliver Twist then I am very pleased indeed. Now tell me do you believe in ghosts?
CD: Incorporeal presences, immaterial beings
JD: Well, you’re a ghost, so I guess I do.
CD: Forget about me – I could just be a projection of your tired, overwrought mind. For argument’s sake let’s say I had not materialized beside you a minute go. Would you still say you believe in ghosts? They do make an appearance in Oliver Twisted, after all.
JD: I enjoy writing about werewolves, vampires, zombies and demons but that doesn’t mean I believe in them. Although, it would be cool to meet one but maybe at a distance or behind glass, very thick glass.
CD: And ghosts?
JD: I don’t believe in ghosts either but then I do think places can have an energy that feels really heavy and filled with memories - almost as if the place has kept a record of what has gone before. That’s a bit ghostly, I guess.
CD Hmm, interesting. When I was alive, I had such a hankering to believe. To be convinced that the stooped figure you spot out of the corner of your eye was a ghost and not just a shadow. I would look for the supernatural in every corner, in every parlour, and I would also search for proof of the supernatural as well. The two never seemed to mix very well and some thought me a fool for looking. But here I am, a real ghost. I guess I was right for wanting to believe.
JD: But you said you were a projection of my tired, overwrought mind.
CD: I lied. I am in fact a ghost.
JD: I don’t want to be rude but I’m keen to start this interview.
CD: Yes, in one moment. I’m curious. Who is you favourite character in Oliver Twist and who is your favourite character in Oliver Twisted?
JD: Fine, I’ll answer this last question and then it’s your turn to be interviewed. In Oliver Twist I’d say Jack Dawkins [The Artful Dodger]. I think he is a fascinating character and really rather funny – I would have liked even more of him actually in the original. In Oliver Twisted, I think my favourite character is Oliver. I got to know him really well, what he’s thinking and feeling. I think readers will have a really good sense of who he is as well.
CD: And you don’t get to know Oliver in my book?
JD: You do, but Oliver is more symbolic in your book. He stands for pure goodness even if he is mired in a world of darkness and skullduggery. Oliver Twisted, on the other hand, is torn between the attractions of good and evil and that struggle was really interesting to write.
CD: I really must go and read this book of yours. It sounds fascinating.
JD: Hang on, why are you fading out, I’ve still got questions to ask.
CD: Next time my dear, next time.