Transcribed by Kelly Shaw
Clive Barker: Let's get started. Who is with you?
Lost Souls: This is Kelly your #1 fan from Milwaukee.
Clive: Hello Kelly. How are you doing?
Kelly Shaw: Great, it's great to talk to you.
Clive: Great to talk to you. Okay, let's begin.
LS: We have a couple of questions from some fans. First Sarah and Phil from Revelations. Regarding the 'Bloody Mary' project: Comparisons will and have been made with 'Candyman.' In the wake of 'Urban Legends' and 'Blair Witch', perhaps you can give us some good reasons, beside your own involvement, why we should eagerly anticipate this project?
Clive: Well, I understand their concern. It does feel as though this area of Urban Legends has been looked at rather closely of late. And one of the things that I've been talking to people about is the possible change of titles because I think that 'Bloody Mary' signifies that this project is a little too like other Urban Legends projects. It isn't. Actually it is very remote from that. A lot closer in tone to something like 'The Sixth Sense' to something like 'Urban legend' or even 'Candyman 3.' There is a level of supernatural for sure, but really it is a psychological piece.
LS: What exactly is your involvement in this project?
Clive: It was brought to me by my team, by Joe and Renee. This year has been an incredibly busy year. I have been working on the paintings for the 'Abarat', and preparing to start writing the 'Abarat', which I will start in about 2 weeks time. And obviously writing and finishing 'Cold Heart Canyon.' And what Renee and Joe are doing is looking over the proposals we get, the ideas that people, agents, send to us. Unfortunately we can't deal with unsolicited materials cause it just would be crazy. We will only go through agents. A lot of agents come to us especially after our success--my executive producing in 'Candyman' or 'Gods and Monsters' and they will say, 'will you come and watch over "x" and "y"'. So Joe and Renee read through a lot of stuff and every once in a while they will come to me with a piece that they liked, and with 'Bloody Mary' I liked it also. There is a lot of stuff we have in our development file if you will. We are thinking of doing some stuff that is very very far from your typical Clive Barker material: we are looking at doing some cartoons, a bunch of other fun stuff, but this one is probably closest to regular 'Clive Barker' material.
LS: You mentioned 'Cold Heart Canyon.' How are you doing on that?
Clive: It's done. I have two typists working on the final polishes right now. It is humongous. It is 292,000 words, it's a 600-700 page book. But I always thought it was going to be big, but I didn't think it was going to be this big. I didn't realize how much I wanted to say about Hollywood. What's been interesting about writing it is...I've got a lot of feelings about this place; very complicated feelings, by no means straightforward feelings at all, a lot of love/hate relationship stuff in there. As I really feel that I will not write about Hollywood again, I wanted to make sure this book was my comprehensive, almost summary of all my feelings and experiences and beliefs wound into a story that has a lot of horrific dark elements in it, and I think a lot of emotional elements in it as well.
LS: Phil and Sarah also ask, "Do you think you'll have many friends left in Hollywood once 'Cold heart Canyon' comes out?"
Clive: It's a good question. I name names but I don't think anybody is going to be terribly surprised by the names that are named. And on occasion I've been obliged by people recommending me to change names. But, you know everybody can guess.
Kelly: Mr. Barker, continuing with the theme of 'Cold Heart Canyon.' I know you've mentioned in your past interviews your 'love/hate' relationship with Hollywood. Do you think your 'love' relationship, besides your 'hate' one, will come out in the novel?
Clive: It does. I think it very much does. There is something about this city and about the history of this city and about the way that we deal with the past in this city which I articulate for the first time in this book. And you know I love history and I love the history of movies. And one of the things the book does is confront modern Hollywood with an image of its past. And that's a kind of interesting area to be in with storytelling. Because so much has been lost in recent times as Hollywood has changed and Hollywood has become a function of 'the bean counter', the accountants. I think a lot of art has gone to be replaced with an awful lot of calculations. I talk about what's been lost fondly, I also talk about...I have a lot of fun. I'm smiling as I'm talking about this because I know that the book is really gonna get up some people's noses. It does say something about the way the writers and artist are treated. Which I believe is completely true because its my experience with this place. On the other hand there is times the novel evokes the magic of this place. The magic of California, the magic of the sky, a certain time of day, the smell in the air. The poetry of the book, if you will, lies in its description of landscape, and the bittersweet stuff is very much in the way human beings treat other human beings.
Kelly: You talk about the poetry of the book. It brings me to the next question. Your most recent works, 'Galilee' and 'Chiliad', seem to reveal a more palpable elegance compared to your early works.
Clive: Thank you for that. I look back and I think that what I was doing in the 'Books of Blood' was an awful lot more grim and crude, and in a way it was appropriate that it was that way. If you do a story called 'The Midnight Meat Train' your not going to spend too much time dealing with the poetry of that. You want something that is very aggressive. But I do feel where 'Chiliad' is concerned, where I was really wanting to evoke a poetic life for the piece. And certainly in 'Galilee' where I was talking; you know I called the book a romance, and for me a romance requires poetry. So in both cases I was trying for a different quality to the language. I think what you'll find in 'Cold Heart Canyon' is a mixture of the old and the new. I think you'll find that when I talk about the landscape, the environments, you'll find very much the poetic coming through.
Kelly: Have you seen the movie the 'Mirror' by Andrei Tarkovsky?
Clive: Of course.
Kelly: 'Chiliad' reminds me a lot of that film.
Clive: Yeah, that's a good analogy actually. I'm a huge Tarkovsky fan. 'Andrei Rublev' is another one, have you seen that movie?
Kelly: It's fabulous.
Clive: Amazing picture.
Kelly: When I read your literature, I always wondered, not to say that you limit yourself with horror films because I love them, but I was wondering if you ever have the desire to make a film in the same vein as Tarkovsky, bringing your own poetic, personal vision to the screen?
Clive: Yes, though I tend to feel my painting and my writing are the places where I think I can be most personal. I think though I've said this year that I won't direct anymore movies, if I direct anymore movies it would be very personal. And Tarkovsky or Fellini, any filmmaker, they tend to be European filmmakers who make very personal pictures would be much more likely to be my model for the kind of movie I would make if I were to go back into the director's chair. But right now the schedule for the next 2 or 3 years is dominated by painting or writing which allows me to say all that I want to say.
Kelly: I know you are planning on killing off Pinhead in the future published 'The Last Resrequiem.' A couple questions I have about that. One: is the story finished or do you see a possibility of a novel in it, transforming the way 'Cold Heart Canyon?' did?
Clive: No I think it will be relatively short. Just because I feel as though the fiction I have in mind of Harry D'amour meets Pinhead--the story is not going to be super short its not gonna be 25 pages nor is it going to be 700. It's going to be a novella. And I want to give time to the Pinhead story to finish him off graciously.
Kelly: Would you ever consider adapting this story for the screen so he is finally put to death on celluloid as well?
Clive: Well, it would be a fond hope of mine actually, that somebody would actually see, that somebody from Dimension would read the thing and go, 'wait a second, maybe we can do something a little bit more graceful with this character than what we've been doing recently.'
Kelly: Maybe have Bill Condon direct?
Clive: Exactly, why not, great idea.
Kelly: Can you speculate when we will see 'The Last Resrequiem' in print along with the other short stories?
Clive: 'Cold Heart' comes out in the summer. This is a very busy year we have coming up because we have Doug Winter's biography and we have 'Cold Heart Canyon'--which are both huge books. We also have re-packaging, beautiful re-packaging of 'In The Flesh', 'Cabal', 'Weaveworld', 'The Inhuman Condition', and 'The Thief of Always'--all which are getting new editions. And so this year is going to be a year which is gonna have two new books and five substantial re-issues, so its a big publishing year. Next year will be the first volume of 'Abarat' and very possibly the collection of short stories.
Kelly: You mentioned Douglas Winter's biography, which I read, claims to have an unpublished short story by you?
Clive: Well, I think the only question we have right now is the length of the manuscript and if we'll be able to run the entire story. But if the publishers don't mind putting this story in, which I wrote when I was 16, I think it'd be great to have it in there. Doug has the permission to use it and all, I think it is just a question whether this books turns out to be 900 pages and the publishers go, 'wait a second.' But Doug certainly has the story.
Kelly: How is your creative process been affected by the full household of family and pets?
Clive: Well, it is demanding. It's not just a full house of people and pets its also a full house of work because this year I painted 100 pictures for Abarat, created the maze for Universal again, done a lot of proprietary work for movies which I hope we see coming down the pipe in the next couple of years and also TV work. It has been a very busy year and add to that the fact that Nikki is a very loud 13 year old; she likes to turn on every TV in the house if she possibly can. She's great though, because in one sense I'm getting to sound like my father and everyone should have that experience at one point in their lives. You know that thing where everything comes around full circle and you sound like your parents? Do any of you have kids?
Kelly: I'm only 21.
LS: I don't plan on having any.
Clive: I don't plan on having any, well there you go. I didn't either.
Kelly: I know you have some unpublished screenplays and plays that we haven't seen yet. Your fans would be grateful to see those, and were you ever planning on putting them in print?
Clive: Yes. One of them is called 'Dog', which is a huge huge piece. A piece that I very much want to see out there. One of the pieces, screenplays, 'American Horror', I also have plans to publish. So yes I would certainly put those out. Really it is only a question of finding the time, where 'Dog' is concerned to get an editorial polish on it.
Kelly: It's obvious that prominent American families are the inspiration for the Gearys in 'Galilee.' What was your major inspiration for the Barbarossas?
Clive: David's family. And my family. The connections will become even stronger in the sequel, which will be the next large book I do after the 'Abarat' text is written. These are the times that I wish that I could clone myself because I can feel the sequel to 'Galilee' in my fingertips. But you know, there is only one of me so I got to wait. But it is a book that I'm really looking forward to writing because I loved writing the first book so much. There is so much more to say about the Barbarossas. There is so much more to say about the magic of their world and the second book will go much more into the mysterious past of that family and particularly into the connection of the Barbarossas and the political life of America, because obviously Cesaria's great love was Jefferson. Actually they are finding more and more things about Jefferson. I don't know if you guys have been watching any of this, but in the past year Jefferson has been getting a makeover but not a particularly attractive one. And it is quite interesting to see that happening and I want to get some of that into the new book but its gonna have to wait a little time. Now that I've got the big Hollywood book done the next two big books, in this order, will be the sequel to 'Galilee', and a big big book: the last book of the 'Art.'
LS: I've got a question here from Andrea Winchester.
Clive: The fabulous Andrea Winchester!
LS: She says to tell you she loves you too, she read your last interview.
Clive: She is an amazing lady. Do you have any chance to talk to this lady at all?
LS: Not on the phone we just email each other back and forth. We've been doing that for about five years.
Clive: She is just one of the great all time, incredibly insightful ladies: send her my love.
LS: She asks, "Do you have any inclinations to writing non-fiction, and on the occasion when you do is your creative process different and if so how?
Clive: Well, the only piece of extended non-fiction I supposed you could say I've written was the 'Private Legends' sequence in 'The Essential Clive Barker.' And that was bloody difficult. It was very different, I was writing about myself and I found that kind of hard. I just finished reading Stephen King's 'On Writing', which I thoroughly recommend, I think it's a tremendous book and I sat back after I had read it and said to myself or asked myself some questions. The first is: if I were to write a book about writing would it resemble this book? The answer was no it would not. Practically everything he said about writing I disagree with, which isn't to say that I don't love what he does, it's just the way he gets there that is very different to the way I get there. Secondly I thought: could I or would I be interested in writing a book like that? The answer is no. I think where I could write a book or would want to write a book is about the philosophy of creativity. I think if I do a piece of non-fiction it would be about why human beings create; what it is about us as a species which makes us make image, make stories. I think I won't do that until I have got the two big books that we just talked about out of my system and probably a huge book, 'Imajica' size, which is also in the works which I would also want to write before I would turn my attention to that kind of book. So, I think it is the kind of book you want to write towards the end of your career. And I think of myself as sort of being in the middle of my career right now.
LS: Put that off for a while then.
Clive: Yeah exactly.
Kelly: I guess this has been asked of you before, but I'm always disturbed by your group of 'fans' who plead for you to return to your horror roots, when it is obvious that you are creating something that is beyond genre or beyond anything created before. How do you respond to that personally?
Clive: I get disappointed by that too. That isn't saying that I don't look forward to spilling some literary blood when I do my Pinhead story and there are some damn scary portions of 'Cold Heart Canyon' but, there is no part of me that wants to go back and be a horror author. What I'm trying to do is a kind of literature which doesn't really have a name: it's Barker. You read a Barker book. And, I feel as though I'm working really hard to jump out of the box which booksellers like to put you in. A number of times I go in a bookstore and say, "please don't put 'The Thief of Always' and 'Imajica' in the horror section. And I say this to my fans generally: if you have a relationship with a manager of a book store and you see the Barker books in horror, go up to him or her and say, "I don't know if you read this guy but he doesn't write horror." And to which the manager will say, "well where do you think he should go?" And: "Fiction, just put him under fiction. He writes fiction, he writes fantasy, he writes for kids, yeah some horror, but any one place you put him will be misrepresenting him." And that's the argument that I make when I go from place to place. It's not that I'm antipathical of the horror, it's just that it is only one part of what I do. You know it's just not terribly interesting to me to get up in the morning and scare people.
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