Clive Barker: I just designed a cover for a new collection by Mick Garris called A LIFE IN THE CINEMA, which Gauntlet Press is publishing and they just brought in the proofs and they look amazing. I don't know when it comes out but it's a really great collection and I think it looks wonderful.
Lost Souls: We've heard you have finally got yourself a computer. Are you online as well now?
CB: I don't have an email address or any of that clever stuff. But yes, I am online and actually using it.
I'm feeling my way through the technology a little bit. Visiting sites, trying really not to overwhelmed by the amount of information which is available. It's very interesting when I research books, what I usually do is I read all my research books and then I sort of forget about them. I get on with writing. Because there is such a thing as too much research, you just get overwhelmed by stuff. So I'm trying to find that sort of relationship with the internet, trying to find a way not to be overwhelmed with all the information, use the information that I need for my books, but not drown in it. As anybody who knows my novels knows that I love digression, a book like Imajica for instance is filled with little digressions of this and that. Cold Heart Canyon, the new book which is about Hollywood, has a lot of stuff about old Hollywood in it. Really part of it is me making sure I don't overstuff the book with information. I could imagine it becoming possible to become obsessed with being online and just playing there in the sandbox of the internet and never getting anything written.
LS: Have you been exploring Clivebarker.com much?
CB: Absolutely, our site works gangbusters. I get compliments from people that I see.
I was in conversation with Chris Rice. Anne's son Chris has just written this book and they asked me to do a sort of in conversation with him. I'll send you a copy of that conversation, when I get it, so you can put on the site.
A couple people came up and said how much they enjoy the site. It was just real nice. I think people like what you guys do in a huge amount.
LS: Is there anything new you are working on that you can talk about?
CB: Oh god yeah.
Cold Heart Canyon, the novel is about two months from delivery, now delivery does not mean publication. Publication is late spring early summer. It's not a short novel. It's a 400 - 500 page book, 400 pages probably. So it's not a short thing and I'm proud of it. I think it's a really strange dark book. In some ways it returns in a way to an earlier Clive Barker. Its darkness and it's strangeness will remind people I think even of the Damnation Game. It's not a horror book but it certainly has its dark portions. And it's about I town I love to hate.
The Undying, the game I am doing with DreamWorks. Comes out on February 14th, Clive Barker's Valentine. They are making a trailer. It runs about a minute to a minute and a half. It's pretty cool and they are just doing a cut of it now. I will try to get you a copy of it for the site. It really looks great. That comes out in February.
This October we have the 3rd annual Clive Barker Hell Haunted attraction at the Universal Park. And this year it's a science fiction horror maze. Called Harvest which is pretty damn weird and they've given us a great space they've given us the best of the spaces this huge theatre in which to do the maze. We always have a great time with this, but this has been particularly gratifying because they really have realized how successful these things are. We had 7000 people per night last year putting 2000 people through per hour through the maze. There was a two and a half hour wait to go through. It was a very successful thing and they want to build on it.
LS: Is there a narrative for Harvest?
CB: There is a narrative. It's about the harvesting of our bodies by inter-dimensional monsters. It's a good old-fashioned monster maze. And it's pretty gross. Very good fun!
The Disney project Abarat, the HarperCollins Disney project. We are at the very beginning of a journey here. It will be 5 years before the theme park is up and running, for instance, at lest. I have 250 paintings done. And we will start to move on that slowly as the months go by. I will start to write the first of the four Abarat books as soon as I have delivered cold heart canyon. And they will put that out at the end of next year. So I'm doing a lot of painting for that, finishing up Cold Heart, and doing the designs for Harvest, that's pretty much where we are.
LS: Will you be doing any art shows this year?
CB: I've declined to do an art show this year because most of the paintings are related to Abarat, and although the actual objects belong to me, nevertheless, Disney is going to keep them in their vaults until the movie comes out, just because I want to protect them. Disney has an amazing vaulting system. Disney has been very protective of their artwork over the years. They are going to protect them and when the movie comes out I think I am going to exhibit the paintings around the country and probably sell them at the same time. But my first priority is not the sale but the exhibition of them. I want to hold all the paintings together. I don't want to sell them off in bits and pieces and then find that when we get the movie out there, and all four Abarat books are delivered, and I want to have a huge exhibition, that I can't recover all the paintings because they are in private hands. I prefer to wait and get all the pictures out there at the same time.
And then it's going to be quite an exhibition. I don't know quite where we are going to do it yet.
LS: You said there were 250 paintings?
CB: At least. One of the things is obviously we can't exhibit everything, but I want to put up as many pictures as possible. And we are talking big pictures. I mean the biggest of them is 13 ft by 9 ft. A lot of them are 4 ft. by 5 ft. I mean they're big guys. I want to make sure this is done properly. And the great thing about Disney is that they are really enthusiastic about doing this properly. So I think this is going to be a good marriage of minds.
So no exhibition, certainly not this year or next year. I might do a small exhibition the year after, but that's a little to far away to think about.
LS: How is the Thief of always movie coming along?
CB: Really well.
LS: Is it in production yet?
CB: No a polish of the script is being done by Ed Solomon, who did most recently Men In Black as the writer. And he is just doing a polish of the script while ILM finish the design work, and then we will start the story boards for the whole thing, and move from there. I think we are probably four weeks from the starting the proper production process.
I like immensely what Ed is doing, he is being very true to the book. I think that the designs that ILM are coming up with are amazing. The house is exactly as I dreamed it would be. And you know the amazing thing about the whole CGI process is that it's going to allow a lot of creative freedom. It's going to give this a chance to really make this come to life in front of people. I think this going to be an amazing movie. It's going to take a long time to make, but finally it's going to be worth it. The technology is advancing all the time. I don't know if you've seen Hollow Man.
LS: Actually I haven't. I've seen the previews and the effects look great, but the reviews I've heard of it weren't very good.
CB: The effects are extraordinary. And I went frankly just to see what CGI was up to. And it's awesome. It's actually a pretty good movie too. Don't be put off with the reviews.
LS: How is Weaveworld coming along?
CB: Also in good shape. We have a script. I think what we are waiting for is to attach a director to it. That's one I should come back to you on. Because I'm not sure where we are. But I know the script is done. And I know there is huge enthusiasm over at Showtime.
LS: I know I'm really looking forward to this one.
CB: It's an expensive one, but it's also one where I think the technology has caught up I think with being able to do this. I think five years ago you would not have been able to make Weaveworld properly. And I think CGI can give us all kinds of things that we could never have before.
LS: Have there been any films you have seen recently you would recommend to your fans?
CB: Well I did like Hollow Man, I thought it was a better movie than the reviews. I have a love/hate relationship with VERHOEVEN pictures. He's a very excessive film maker, but some of VERHOEVEN's early movies, are you familiar with the 4th man? I must recommend it to you it's a really tremendous early VERHOEVEN picture. There's also another early VERHOEVEN picture called Spetters, which is pretty amazing which he made in his native Holland. Even a picture like Starship Troopers has some good things in. So I think if you were to go along to Hollow Man thinking well this somewhat between Starship Troopers and Robocop, which was a brilliant movie, you won't be disappointed.
I liked parts of The Cell I thought it had some pretty amazing visuals.
I did not like X-Men at all.
LS: You didn't?
CB: I was really disappointed in it. Did you see it?
LS: Yes, I did, and I enjoyed it.
CB: You did?
LS: Yeah but I did fall asleep in part of it.
CB: See that's bad in a movie. I mean when you spend 19 million dollars on a movie and you send your audience to sleep that's bad. My problem, to be perfectly honest was, I felt like it was a warm-up for a movie, but it wasn't the movie itself. I felt like it was a prelude to a movie. And that sort of annoyed me I thought OK your setting us up for the movie but this is not the real thing, and that kinda got on my nerves a little bit.
LS: Well that will be taken care of in X-Men 2, I'm sure.
CB: And 3 and 4.
My great point of pride however was Famke Janssen who played Gene Gray in X-Men first came to prominence as an actress in Lord of Illusions and even though I think she's had a couple of small roles previous to that it was Lord of Illusions that broke her out. Before the movie came out, the executives from MGM came out and they cast her in Golden Eye where she played the villainess, the Russian villainess and her career has gone on from there. So every time I see Framke I'm very proud because I feel like I had some small part in helping her get noticed. I think that aside from being an amazing looking lady, she is also, I think, an amazingly talented actress. And one of the great thing is she likes horror movies. She had a really wonderful over the top performance in House on Haunted Hill last year. Did you see that?
LS: Yes, I did.
CB: Do you remember she played the bitchy wife?
LS: That was her?
CB: That was her. It's sort of fun. I feel very, not very, but a little pleasantly proprietorial. I feel like this is my Framke, look a how she is doing. It's always great when people that you have worked with at the beginning of their careers just blossom. And she is, she has a great career now. It's wonderful.
What else have I seen.
I think that's all I've seen that really jumps out right now. I'm told the movie about Tammy Faye Baker is amazing.
LS: There's a movie about Tammy Fay Baker???
CB: Yes, It's a documentary. So I think I'll check that out this weekend. And she is an American success story. That was irony. (laughs)
LS: Fan questions:
Lisa Jenkins, Member#728 and also Randall Wilson, Member # 299 have questions about comics.
Lisa asks will you be doing any more comics
And Randall along the same lines says, Mr. Barker, I used to look forward to my monthly trip to my local comic book store. I loved the multiple different Clive Barker comics that were coming out a couple of years of ago. Do you see yourself being involved in any new comic ventures? Or, maybe do you know of anyone adapting any more of your comics to the comic genre?
CB: I'm doing a series of toys with Todd McFarlane. I think that if I do get into comics again it will be with Todd. Marvel seems so limited right now. So preoccupied with the super hero stuff. I'm not at all against the idea I'd actually like to get back into comics. It probably wouldn't be until next year if I were to do, but I think that it's a good chance that I will.
LS: What about Disney putting out some of the Abarat as comics?
CB: I think that we will definitely do them. There'd probably be no question about that. But that's probably 3 or 4 years away. No question, they will appear in comic form.
My love of comics has gone nowhere. I'm sitting in a room full of books, CD's and comic books. I love comic books every bit as much as I used to. Like Randall I'm somebody who went to the comic store regularly and picked up stuff. I still go regularly to Golden Apple here in LA and buy a lot of comics. There are less comics out there that I like than there used to be. That may be more of reflection of my taste more than the comics, I don't know.
Phil and Sarah Stokes at Revelations in London, Member #309
"Given the way that the animated characters in Nelvana's proposed version of Thief Of Always threatened to lose the (necessary) darker edge of characters portrayed in that novel, what level of control have you been promised over the visual development of characters in The Abarat movie - or will a Disney style or mentality somehow now influence the narrative that you write to accompany the oil paintings?"
CB: I know Phil and Sarah. It's a great question. And a very complicated answer, so let's go for it piece by piece. I've always believed that a different medium means a different creation. The Hellbound Heart and Hellraiser are essentially the same story but they are completely different experiences. Abarat on the page as illustrated by me in book form will be completely different from the movie. Will it be the same mythology? Yes. Will it have the same mixture of darkness and light, I hope it will. But it's going to be a hundred million dollar movie as opposed to piece of writing and an oil painting. One of the things that I feel is interesting about the venture which lies ahead with Disney is that my approach to the imaginative and Disney's is in many ways is very different, but at certain points in my life I have been very influenced by Disney. There are portions of Fantasia, if you go back over my interviews over the last ten years you always find Fantasia mentioned as my first or second favorite movie, with Pinochio somewhere in there too. In other words Disney has produced movies which have been hugely influential on me. Their visual styles, their glamour, their imaginative density at their best is extraordinary. Anybody who has seen Lion King on stage will testify to the fact that now they have taken a new direction in the ways that they are dealing with creators. Julie Taymor who directed that production had all kinds of freedoms to create something I think is an extraordinary piece of theatre.
So what I'm hoping for is that it will be a marriage of the best of Barker and the best of Disney. That's what I hope. Do I think we will both have to both make compromises? Sure. But what I am looking for is a kind of marriage in a way of creative minds. Some of the people that I've met at Disney since we've started have been extraordinary, I mean just in terms of their imaginative grasp and the way they understood what I've been putting into my oil paintings and their enthusiasm for my world and my worlds and their knowledge of my worlds.
Now when I created the Abarat I always said I wanted this a kind of place where everybody could play. I would write books and make paintings, but other people would come along and make comic books, and other people would come along and make movies and TV shows, and so on. I would be involved in those things, but I can't be involved in everything. My first duty is to the things that I can make my strongest personal mark upon. And that is the books and the paintings. And that's what I will continue to do. So I'm putting a lot of faith in Disney. And I'm looking forward to the creative process with them immensely. I miss collaboration. I enjoy collaboration immensely. It's one of the great things about the best parts of my life are those parts in which in a given day I can do something collaborative, maybe work on the maze for instance, but then also have some time in my studio painting and some time in my writing space writing. Those are my best days. Days when I get to do something very personal an inward looking at some point. But there are other points to get to. You know dance with other people, as it were, and share their ideas and their enthusiasm. There is something very enriching about having an exchange like that. So that's my hope that we will end up with a marriage of minds.
Diane Fowler, Member #422
I'm looking forward to reading the Pinhead/Harry D'Amour short story - is there any chance that we will get to see Harry again, either on TV or in another movie?
CB: I very much hope so. I think certainly in short story form. The third Book of the Art, when I get to it, has a major pivotal role for Harry. I don't discount the possibility of getting him on television. I don't discount the possibility I will do more short stories after the Pinhead/Harry story which is a very important story for me in my mythology because it will be the last thing that I will ever write about Pinhead. Because after this there will be no more Pinhead stories. Because this story is the end of Pinhead. This story will mark his death.
I saw Hellraiser 5…
LS: And?? And??
CB: Shit! Shit! It is terrible. It pains me to say things like that because nobody sets out in the morning to make a bad movie but you know these guys sent me a script and I said if you want me involved ask me let's do a deal and get into business, but I really don't think this works right now (talking about the script). They said we really don't want your opinion on it we are going to make the movie. So they went and made the movie, and it is just an abomination. I want to actively go on record as saying I warn people away from the movie. It's really terrible and it's shockingly bad, and should never have been made. So I want to give Pinhead a good sendoff. I want to do it right. If we are going to get rid of the old guy, let's do it with some style. So my whole idea was if I do it with Harry I can bring in two characters at the same time and sort of weave their stories together.
LS: So would it be eliminating Pinhead from all time or just killing him off?
CB: Very good, very smart question. I think the answer is you can never kill a monster off completely. What it will do for me is kill him in my mythological range. Others may wish to pick the story up and do something else with him, but as far as I'm concerned once I've told the story, it's the last of the guy.
What I'm trying to do is give the guy a decent dignified sendoff. It's really important to me, and I think he's a great monster. I really hate the way he's been treated in this film. I depressed me. It upset me on behalf of Doug, on behalf of myself, on behalf of the people who love these movies. I thought it was disrespectful and I felt as though he'd been tagged on just because they wanted to call it a Hellraiser movie. But it didn't feel like a Hellraiser movie. It felt opportunistic to me. And I want to do something respectful to a character who has been very good to me. And this will be the way to do it.
Kelly Shaw, Member #190
What is the probability of Galilee 2 and the Third Book of the Art getting written?
CB: Oh they'll get written,. A bus would have to drop on me to stop me writing those books. Both are big books. Frankly, I would have been writing Galilee 2 starting in October where it not for the Abarat. The Abarat books have grown a bit because of the Disney deal and they've become a huge project. Both books are very important to me. Both will be written.
Andrea Winchester, Member #582
When you are working, you establish a certain momentum in terms of the project you are working on. If this momentum is seriously interrupted, can you go back and reconnect with the work or is there ever a time when you have lost the momentum and can't retrieve it?
CB: I love Andrea. Send her my love. She's extremely smart.
And there's a very smart question. When my dad had passed away, I had just begun Cold Heart Canyon, and the beginning of a book is a time when you need that momentum because that's where all the doubts crowd in. They crowd in at the beginning and they crowd in at the end. At the beginning of a book, that's when I am thinking because I've got a lot of writing ahead of me, is this a good idea? Is this a bad idea? That's when I'm just a mass of doubts. My dad passed away and there was a month of organizing the funeral and then I came back to America for a week and then I flew out and went on tour for the Essential Clive Barker for three weeks in England, Scotland, and Ireland, which was an error. It was an error because I was emotionally exhausted with all that had happened and then I went on tour, which is also emotionally exhausting in different ways. Going on tour three weeks after your dad dies and being public is a dumb thing to do. I've always been a good boy scout about those things and I didn't want to disappoint anybody. I didn't want people thinking that "I was looking forward to seeing Clive and now he doesn't come out on tour." I just didn't think it was right that I should make my personal problems, as it were, other people's issues. I thought it was my responsibility as a writer and as somebody who has readers who love me and readers who I in turn love, that I should be there for them.
It was a dumb thing to do because what happened was that when I got back I collapsed and there was nothing left. I lost the book for 5 or 6 weeks. I couldn't get back into it; it was associated with grief for me. It was associated with being exhausted from being with Dad in the end and very emotional things like Andrea and I have talked a little bit about. So I went and I wrote the first draft of the first Abarat book. Which was a completely different thing to do and was a wonderful escape. I went to a world which I was inventing, It was a world with some dark and tragic elements but actually a pretty up place to be. And then came back to Cold Heart Canyon in the early part of this year and now I'm about a month away from finishing.
So the answer is yes I did lose momentum and it was retrieved finally, but it was a long period of removal, it was really hard to do and it was the first time it has ever happened to me, but the circumstances were very particular. I'm very protective of the rhythms of my writing. I disappear for long periods when I'm writing, particularly towards the end of a book. It's very rare for me for instance to be talking to somebody as we are talking now, but we haven't talked and I owed this conversation and I wanted to do it but it's very rare for me to do that. Normally I would have head buried and nobody would even know where I was. I'm very nervous about losing momentum. I'm not nervous about this book because I enjoyed writing it. Once I got back into it I enjoyed writing this book immensely. It's coming to an end with a great feeling of satisfaction. So it's been very pleasurable.
Andrea is right there is a genuine danger and at the age of 47 going on 48 I am still learning about writing, I'm still learning about how to do it properly, not just writing, but all the creative processes. I'm still learning. And one of the things I'm trying to get my head around is that every project you work on brings a different set of challenges. There is never a time that enter a project thinking, "Oh this painting is going to be great," or "Oh this book is going to be great." I'm very excited to finish a painting and stand back from it and go "Fuck, I love that!" I usually go away thinking "Damn," and maybe three or four weeks later come back thinking, "well it's not so bad." But you are dealing constantly with the momentum thing.
Eric Donoghue, Member #688
When you write your novels, do you map out the story or do you just go with what spills out of your pen?
CB: It's a little bit of both, I map the story out, and then I change it. By the end of writing a book I have many dozens of changes.
I am respectful of the fact that narratives change and should change. The period to write a novel is quite a long period, a year, year and a half. You have experiences, which change your point of view. Even though I am writing fantasy, I'm trying to write my own kind of truth. I'm trying to say something. I'm trying to express metaphor in heightened language, sometimes in a form of visual images or poetry, things which I believe about the world. Things, which we believe, change and so it's necessary that the story remains fluid.
I can't imagine ever starting a story with everything completely mapped out and just following that mechanically through for a year to a year and a half. On the other hand starting out with nothing, I've never done that. I've always started out with at least something to begin the journey.
Andrea Winchester, Member #582
CB: How is writing for children different for you? Do you think of specific children you know or work more from your own childhood frame of mind as you recall it?
I was just reading about Tolkein on this very subject. Tolkein writing about writing the Hobbit. And saying he never even thought about writing for children. He just wrote. And I was comparing that with my writing of Thief. For one thing, there's a lot of things that appear in my adult novels that do not appear in my work for children. There is a lot of sexuality a lot of violence and violent language and profanity that are not appropriate for children's books. So right of the bat there a whole bunch of things which you are not going to do. So that changes completely your approach.
Secondly there's the language thing. You try to keep descriptions to a minimum. I remember as a little child I did not enjoy long descriptive passages in a novel. I liked reading a lot of action. And so when I write for children I try to keep in mind the memory of what the 10-year-old Clive Barker liked. I think the 10-year-old Clive Barker would have liked the Thief of Always. I think the 10-year-old Clive Barker would love Abarat.
I don't miss the profanity and the violence and the eroticism in each of these books because the narratives have their own rewards. There are things in the Thief of Always that have a simple beauty to them which take me back to Ray Bradbury, who is one of the great masters of writing. If you read Something Wicked This Way Comes when you are 10, it means something very different to you than if you read it in your 30's or 40's. And I hope Thief of Always is the same. I know that the children who read Thief of Always love the adventure, and love Harvey getting turned into a vampire, and they love the fight at the end, and all that stuff. And they tend to find other things in the book.
The face of publishing is being changed right now by a series of children's books, for example Harry Potter. And what's interesting about the Harry Potter books is that very plainly a lot of adults are reading these books. I mean you can't stay number one on the bestseller's list for that long if you are only being read by kids. The Harry Potter books have printed the way for a lot of publishers to the fact that adults love fairy tales. They love fantasy. I think it's wonderful and encouraging for all of us because there is this huge market out there. I've been telling HarperCollins for years, "Don't worry about it. If it's written for children, just put it out there. Don't be so absorbed with that. Thief of always will be enjoyed by all kinds of people. Just let it be enjoyed." And they are getting the message now, it took Harry Potter for them to get the message, but they are getting it. Slowly I am seeing the landscape of the publishing industry changing around me. Some of it good, some of it bad. Maybe in another conversation we will talk about that. I feel what I gotta do is write out of the truthful place in myself, and if it appeals to children, that's great, and if it doesn't there's not much I can do about it.
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