AHWA Chats With Clive Barker
[Felicity (Moderator)] Welcome to the AHWA's special Halloween chat with Clive Barker. Clive is the author of The Books of Blood, The Hellbound Heart, the Books of the Art, Imajica, the Abarat Quintet, and Mister B Gone, amongst many others. Clive has written, directed, and produced numerous movies including Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman, and Midnight Meat Train. Clive is also an accomplished visual artist and widely recognised as one of the legendary imaginers of our time. Clive, thank you for your time today.
[salient] Getting started a rumour on the internet claimed that Clive Barker would be writing and directing a fourth "Candyman" movie, is there any truth to this claim and if so how is work progressing on the project?
[Felicity (Moderator)] I'll kick the questions off: Clive, we know that one (amongst many) of your recent projects is Seduth. Could you tell us a little about Seduth, and perhaps fill us in on what else you're working on at the moment?
[Clive Barker]Hello everybody! Thank you very much for being here for this conversation. I hope it will be the first of many. Let me tell you a little about Seduth.
[Clive Barker] I have a real passion for comic books. In fact, last night I was calculating with my friends at Meltdown comics here in LA, & we figured out that I buy 120 titles a month!
[MArtyY]That's a lot of comics!
[Troy Barnes]An insane amount... but I'm jealous of the collection !!
[mattstait] Your library must be a work of Art itself ...
[Juliet Bathory]I bet you could charge admission to your library
[corvus]Any particular publisher you're most keen on at the moment? Any recommendations?
[Clive Barker] My tastes range from straight forward superhero comics (especially when handled by a genius like Grant Morrison) to more off-beat material. A recent favourite is The Dark Horse comics title called Beasts of Burden, which is about dogs & cats who save their town from supernatural enemies!
[Troy Barnes] Nice!!!
[corvus]Mmm ... sounds like something Dean Koontz would have a hand in :}
[Clive Barker] So I went to IDW with the idea of making a definitive 3D comic. The result is Seduth, which has just appeared. I am exceptionally proud of it. I hope it is available in Australia! Next Q?
[salient] Any chance there will be a new volume in the "Books of Blood" series in the future?
[Clive Barker]@ Salient...The next collection that I am publishing is called Black Is The Devil's Rainbow & suppose you could say that it has elements in common with the BOB. Black Is The Devil's Rainbow is a very large & complex collection of imaginative fiction, some of which goes back to the very intense tone of the BOB. But there are also other kinds of story in the collection which hopefully broaden its appeal. It has to be said, however, that even when I am at my most gentle the fiction is never very far from darkness!
[Tasmaniac]Have you ever been interested in a novel collaboration, and if so who would be your choice of author?
[Felicity (Moderator)] I am very much looking forward to Black Is The Devil's Rainbow, and I love that title.
[Kat] BOB were the first ones I read...still remember those hands :S
[salient] Felicity know what you mean, my local book seller is going to get sick of me asking if it's in yet :)
[mattstait] Do you find now after many years since the publication of SACRAMENT time has been kind to it? Are people over their intitial skepticsm? Do you find people have now embraced it?
[kylaw]Is there an ETA for this beautifully-titled collection?
[Clive Barker] No, I have never considered a collaboration. To be honest my obsessions are very particular to me & I think that artists who have a real intensity of vision tend to want the work to remain as undiluted as possible. For me, however wonderful the other writer was, their vision would be mismatched with mine. The one exception I suppose would be Herman Melville ( I'm joking! Even Herman's genius couldn't persuade me to collaborate).
[Mark McAuliffe] The Cenobites are one of the greatest creations of modern horror. Will they be up to much in the future?
[Felicity (Moderator)] Let's try to give Clive a chance to answer each question ;)
[DanielRussell] and speaking of cenobites...in Hellbound Hearts, which was your favourite story? Chatted to Barbie about her excellent piece and I found Orfeo the Damned and The Confessor very strong.
[Clive Barker]Felicity...thank you very much. Titles are a bitch! For a long time this collection was called Journeyman, which is a title referring to the kind of artistic apprentice who worked with the great masters of Fresco painting & alike. It was my way of saying that I was nowhere near being a master; that I still had a great deal to learn, which is how I feel. But the title always seemed a little dull & I awoke in the middle of the night a few months ago with that phrase Black Is The Devil's Rainbow in my head. So that seemed to be my subconscious giving me some advice. I took it!
[Talie Helene] Clive, hi. :-) I really enjoy the relationship between your literary symbols and characters, and your visual art - I have a copy of Visions Of Heaven and Hell in pride of place on my bookshelf, beside the illustrated Blake - I kind of think of you as a modern William Blake. I'm fascinated by that kind of interdisciplinary process, and visual art really seems to support a writing process. Does your painting and drawing help you shape your fiction, and vice versa? (Apologies if this question shoots through out-of-turn with another.)
[MArtyY]I've got Visions of Heaven and Hell too, and there are some absolutely amazing visions in there.
[Clive Barker] Mattstait....What a great question!
[Felicity (Moderator)] It is an excellent question, mattstait, and I'm sure the answer will match!
[mattstait]The book is as important to me as it is to you, I feel. :)
[Troy Barnes]Go Matt !!
[DanielRussell] Sacrament was my accompanying book when I visited the States for the first time. Funny what you remember...
[Tasmaniac]Oh man, this is CLIVE BARKER we're talking to!
[Kat] *pokes Tas* shhhh ;)
[Scott Tyson] Ha-ha
[DanielRussell] Ste, careful, you might drool on the man!
[Clive Barker] Regrettably, the answer is no, the book has not been embraced. It is the least successful of my novels written for an adult audience, which is disappointing to me because there is so much of my heart in the book. Obviously the fact that it has a gay hero is a reflection of my own sexuality, & the preoccupation with animals & the survival of endangered species is an issue very close to my heart, but sometimes a book - or any work of art, I suppose - simply never finds a sympathetic audience. Sadly, Sacrament seems to be one such book.
[Troy Barnes]To throw another question into the chaos.... Clive, You have been involved with so many different types of creative projects since you first hit the scene... film..comics..novels..short stories..gaming..painting.. etc etc... is there anything left that you still really crave to be involved in? or is it hard to find new outlets for your creative passions to thrive?
[Kat] It's a shame that people have stereotyped you. I thought it showed a deeper side to not only the artist but also to a more spiritual, universal nature
[mattstait] Well, it's been embraced in my heart. You did reach someone.
[kylaw] Don't forget plays!
[Felicity (Moderator)] On the flipside, it's often those books that don't find that widespread "success", that mean so much to the people they truly do reach. That's so valuable.
[Troy Barnes] kylaw.. if I had list everything the question would have taken forver haha
[kylaw] Yes, yes, but those plays...
[Talie Helene]I have to agree with Kyla - the plays are gorgeous.
[Troy Barnes]I havent personally seen any so I can't comment :(
[DanielRussell] closest I've come to the plays is the extra bonus stuff on the anchor bay box set of HR 1-3
[kylaw]Have not seen: have read! But I've long had a hankering to stage "Frankenstein in Love".
[mattstait]Not really a question: Sorry if this is like butting in (More like a statement) I just wanted to heap a bit of praise for helping me get through my teenage years. Cabal was read at a time of unmitigated depression and worked on me like therapy. I viewed novels before this as substitutes for reality ... through your works I could see how they could be tools for change.
[DanielRussell] Every bookstore I go in over here has Cabal. Is this the Aussie hit?
[Clive Barker] cont... none of which is to say I regret the 18 months it took to write the book - I poured my soul into it; also it seemed at the time the scenes in Yorkshire are set in a place I know very well (though I changed the names), because once my beloved cousin Mark lived there. Mark died very young & Sacrament is a way by which I honour him. Furthermore the island of Tiree - which is the setting for the big battle at the end of the book - is a real island which lies off the west coast of Scotland. As a boy I went up there for many summers & my memories of the island are idyllic. There are only about 800 people living on Tiree; it has no streetlights, no traffic lights & no trees, because the wind blows so powerfully across it. It is a kind of fantasy made real & if anyone where to visit Tiree they could use Sacrament as a map to guide them around the islands' mysterious landscape. Everything I describe in the book is real: every road, every track, every hidden bay.
[MArtyY]Nicely said mattstait
[Kat] it sounded beautiful...untouched...that's the impression I got
[Troy Barnes] That's so surreal... yet VERY cool !!!
[DanielRussell] If anyone is well into the behind the scenes of Sacrament, the book Dark Fantastique (a Clive Biography) goes to great lengths. Worth getting your mitts on a copy.
[Troy Barnes]Thanks Daniel
[Tasmaniac]Question: On a day-to-day basis, does your artwork give you more satisfaction than writing?
[KMSteel] Hi Clive, death, spirituality and sex are the staples of horror and gothic - do you find your attitude toward these subjects has shifted since you first started writing?
[Clive Barker] You know, Felicity, you're absolutely right! A book like Imajica, which has never really been a great success, is very much loved by those readers who have been willing to enter its bizarre & provocative landscape. One of my favourite characters (at least amongst those that I have conjured up) appears in the pages of Imajica.
[DanielRussell] most writers' books are the room, the door the table. Imajica is the wind, the mountains, the ocean. That's what it says to me. A great, great work.
[Clive Barker]We only have 20 mins left so I am going to do my best to keep my answers down to a sentence. Let's GO!
[blondofborg] Clive, you've discussed elsewhere that when you turned in Sacrament there was some resistance to the gay protagonist. do you think there's much of a market for queer themes or protagonists in horror/fantasy fiction, and how has that changed since Sacrament was published?
[mark farrugia]Question: Clive your characters are some of the most interesting & abstract; how do you go about creating them so completely?
[Kat] Daniel, each time I read Imajica, I get something different out of it...it is just one of those books :)
[Troy Barnes] What's one of the strangest things that one of your fans has done?
[DanielRussell] Unfortunately, all Clive's books I own are still in a box in the attic in Liverpool! I can't afford to get all my beloved books sent over!
[Clive Barker] Tasmaniac...like most artists I feel everything I do is a disappointment. I am driven by a need to do better. To succeed where I have repeatedly failed in my own judgement. I am very harsh on myself, I suppose but I don't think it's very attractive when artists are smug & self-satisfied. So I enjoy the process of writing & painting immensely but I don't kid myself that I have yet created anything that achieves the intensity of the images in my head.
[Felicity (Moderator)] It is a lush and unique book, isn't it, Kat? Then again, that sums up all of Clive's work!
[gschapman] Question: Clive, some critics claim that horror is too much about trying to sicken the reader and too little about character. Given that you are considered the pioneer in creating grotesque characters, realms, tortures and deaths in your writings should future horror writers meet critics' needs and do you believe that is what the reader really wants?
[mattstait] Just a statement here, no question. I read Imajica about once a year; it's like my Bible. Fav character is Taylor living in Clem's head. :)
[DanielRussell]Sorry to repeat myself, Clive...but fave Hellbound Hearts story? A quick, one word answer for me! lol
[Tasmaniac] Question: Has there been any progress made on the movie project, THE DAMNATION GAME?
[kylaw] Question: Clive, did you ever forgive Kim Newman for "The Man Who Collected Barker"?
[DanielRussell] or the Tortured Souls movie?
[Kat] lol...feels like a press conference
[DanielRussell] doesn't it. Hopefully Clive can do another ;)
[Felicity (Moderator)] 17 minutes left so if you've had your question answered, try to let someone else have their piece of Clive ;)
[Clive Barker] Mark.. I don't think of myself as a creator. I think of myself as a witness. Perhaps even as a journalist, recording something that is happening in my mind's eye. I am dreaming with open eyes, reporting to my readers & the audiences for my films & paintings the strange & often inexplicable acts of love & violence that appear unbidden in my waking head.
[Troy Barnes] Nice answer!!
[mattstait] That statement's like art itself.
[mark farrugia] yeah very nice answer, thanks Clive
[MArtyY] And on something a little different... one of the reasons the AHWA was set up was to help writers (of horror/dark fiction). Is there any advice you would give aspiring writers from what you have learned along the way?
[Clive Barker] Tas...we have a marvellous screenplay for the Damnation Game written by Anthony Di Blasi, who wrote & directed the brilliant Dread. We have yet to find someone who will fund the picture.
[Mark McAuliffe] Any more Cenobites in the near future?
[Kat] this may be a weird Q... perhaps you've answered it...not sure... but do you get frustrated because of the difference in what you 'see' and what is capable of being produced on paper/ canvas? If so, how do you cope with it?
[Troy Barnes] Why doesn't the last hour of the day at work go this quickly hmmmm
[Kat] difference 'tween pleasure n pain ;)
[Tasmaniac] Question: As it's Halloween over here, what's your perfect Halloween evening?
[Clive Barker] Marty Y....I can certainly throw out some observation about the process of creating which may be of use. Firstly, it's the best & the worst of worlds, because the only fuel you have to make the fire blaze on the page / screen is the stuff of your own being. An artist consumes his or herself in the act of making art. I can feel that consumption even now, sitting here at my desk at the end of a working day. In order to generate the ideas that I have set on the page for the last 10 or 11 hours I have burned the fuel of my own history. This is, obviously a double-edged sword. In order to give, the artist must take from himself. That's the deal. And it's very important to me that the work I do is the best I can make it, because I know what is being burned up to create. As the villain of Sacrament says: "living & dying, we feed the fire."
[Felicity (Moderator)] Great question, Marty
[Tasmaniac]You got that right Troy, damn, only 10 minutes left - 76 questions to go!
[MArtyY]And great answer, thanks Clive
[Troy Barnes] lmao Tas
[DanielRussell ] can we keep questions in a yes and no format? hehe
[salient]Have you ever written something so extreme that you have never submitted it for publication? (Yes/No fine)
[mattstait] And you are a man. And men are animals who tell stories ...
[Troy Barnes] Telling everyone at work that I have a virus has been worth it to be here though !!!
[MArtyY] And you're spot on; writing is exhausting because you're always striving to make it as good as possible. You leave nothing of yourself behind.
[Kat] Marty Y ....search for perfection....?
[Clive Barker] Kat...I don't think that Q is weird at all. I think it's very pertinent to any artist's life. & the answer is yes, I guess. Very frustrated. There is such an agonising gap between the desire & the achievement. But there's always tomorrow...lol
[Clive Barker] Salient....NO
[MArtyY] Kat... the endless search... if you reached perfection you'd have no more challenges left for yourself
[Troy Barnes] Would you prefer not to be so famous?
[JFischer] Man....this writing gig is hard. I would love to be able to steal the life-force of others to fuel my writing instead of draining my own soul. Working on the device as we speak :-)
[corvus] Clive, any new up-and-comers on the novel scene you've read and would recommend?
[Kat] Clive...thank you ;)
[salient] JFischer I believe it involves sparkling during the day ... quality goes as a result ;)
[Clive Barker] Marty & Kat...I'm not sure I even understand the idea of perfection anymore. Beauty is after all in the eye of the beholder.
[Clive Barker] We have 5 left any last thoughts??
[Martin Livings] I was interested in your answer about collaboration earlier. Writing and art are probably the perfect playgrounds for those of us who don't play well with others, as it's just you and the keyboard or canvas. But conversely, film-making must be about the MOST collaborative thing you can do. Do you find the process of making movies frustrating? And is this why you haven't been as involved in film as you once were? Perhaps tell us a little about the upcoming "Tortured Soul" movie, your first directorial outing in fifteen years?
[Felicity (Moderator)] Great question, Martin
[salient] Cliver Barker rocks! Oops went into fan boy mode, street cred blown :D
[DanielRussell] Abarat 3 and scarlet gospels. Anything moving there?
[KMSteele] Are beauty and perfection the same thing?
[Clive Barker] Corvus...when I am writing fiction, which I have been doing consistently for the last couple of years without really taking a break, I don't read other fiction. I read only research books.
[Kat] KM....that's why it's beautiful...because in its imperfection/ perfection, it creates beauty
[corvus] Any particular reference books you've found yourself coming back to over the years?
[mattstait] My last thoughts: To every hour, its mystery ... and this has been a grand hour.
[Tasmaniac] This has been wonderful Clive, thank you so much for your time - a real AHWA highlight for me. Long live your imagination!
[Charles ] Thanks Clive.
[kylaw] Thank you.
[mark farrugia] Thanks Clive, this has been great. Thanks to Felicity too for putting it together.
[corvus] I'll second that
[ JFischer] yes well done dowks :-)
[ Juliet Bathory] thirded
[Tasmaniac ] Yes, outstanding Felicity!
[MArtyY ] Clive, it's been a real honour to chat with you. You are certainly welcome back anytime :) And yes, thanks to Felicity for organising it.
[Scott Tyson ] Thanks for your valuable time, Clive.
[Troy Barnes]Couldn't think of a better way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon!!
[Clive Barker] Dan Russ....My brain is a battlefield upon which the armies fighting for the Art 3 & Galilee 2, along with a lot of other legions struggle to be the next ones to claim my pen. If God is good & lets me work another 3 or 4 decades I've got 20 more novels in me. I think our time is up for tonight so let me thank you for all your passionate responses to the work. I hope we get to talk again very soon. My Love to you, Clive
[Felicity (Moderator)] Thank you to everyone for taking part, there were so many excellent questions and comments. Clive, thank you so much for chatting with us today. You've been an absolutely fantastic guest, and we hope to have you back again very soon. Happy Halloween, everyone! Please feel free to stick around in the chatroom to "debrief" amongst yourselves if you'd like.
[MArtyY] 20 more novels... cool :)
[DanielRussell] thanks Clive.
[corvus] Thank you, Clive
[Talie Helene] Thank you. Ciao!
[Martin Livings] Thanks, Clive.
[Juliet Bathory] thank you Clive, it's been a pleasure :)
[mattstait] Love you, my friend.
[Mark McAuliffe] Thanks
[salient] Thanks Felicity, wow we got to talk to Clive Barker. So many more questions to ask :( Thanks Clive.
[Clive Barker] Felicity this was indeed a pleasure & the Q's were without exception tremendous. I would very happily return on another evening to pick up where we left off. Again, my Love & thanks.
[Troy Barnes] Would be great to see you again Clive :) Thanks mate!!
[Kat ] look forward to it...Journey Safe :)
[Clive Barker] Good night all!