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ESL Teaching and Ultraviolent Fantasy Life: An Interview With Richard Morgan

Richard Morgan is an SF writer who works with extremely violent plotlines and vicious, tough characters. But when I listened to this interview with him that I learned something very interesting about him: he used to be an ESL (EFL) teacher in Britain. In fact, he attributes the extreme violence in his writing to his work as an ESL teacher.

He talks about the kind of necessarily suppressed rage that one feels when one is confronted with bigotry, celebration of evil crap like Hitler and the Holocaust, and all kinds of other disturbing things that, well, frankly, are all too familiar to an ESL teacher. His comments about a desire to make the classroom a warm, friendly place, while stifling rage at particular students—or groups of them—who are assholes, bigots, and racists? He even recounts a brief example of a Korean student declaring, after only a few weeks in Britain, that Brits are much more lazy than Koreans, and Koreans are much more hardworking.

And you can’t strangle these people, you know, because it’s your job not to. So I’m conviced that over the years, a kind of compacted form of rage settled inside me.

For some reason, I found this whole notion of ESL work and compacted rage as a really interesting connection, and perhaps a minor defense for some of the less savoury people I’ve met here.

Anyway, I haven’t found myself writing ultraviolent fiction yet, but I’ll have a good excuse if I ever do come to it.

UPDATE: Morgan actually discusses this directly here.

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