Prevailing Against The Perfect Storm

The Twenty-Seventh Revelatory Interview
By Phil & Sarah Stokes, 7 August 2010

A change of venue this time... Not only were the two of us over in Los Angeles rather than on the end of a phone, Clive was speaking to us in his newly appointed painting room for the first time. In another first for us in these Revelations interviews, we were joined by Robb Humphreys who runs the good ship Seraphim so that we could get a flavour of the process behind the arduous and exhausting delivery of Abarat 3 last month.
While Abarat's 'middle book' is now safely in the hands of the Joanna Cotler imprint of HarperCollins, the previous day we'd learnt from Clive that HarperCollins' adult division - his publishing house since 1986 - has decided to part company with him, citing a delayed delivery to them of the final story in the Black is the Devil's Rainbow collection - notwithstanding that it was caused by his focus on Abarat for another part of the group...
Away from his writing desk, Clive's been subject to a great deal of trauma over the last two years and emotions were running high on all sides as we spoke... Clinging on in stormy weather...

Clive : "I wanted Robbie to join us today to add comment on the last two months of my life because we would not have the novel without him. Without Robbie or Mark Miller, is that right?"

Robb : "Yeah - "

Revelations : "How much do you want to say about the pressures and frustrations you've had in finalising Abarat 3, since handing over your first draft last year?"

Clive : "I think it's a question of the framing of the book... I was left in a sort of no-win situation. Robbie, I need your opinion on this: I do not know whether they knew consciously that they were painting me into a corner in terms of the timing - I've never really been able to work that out... I don't think they quite realised how badly it would affect a writer for them to be 'absent' for eight months..."

Robb : "Well, to me, looking back at the situation, I didn't realise how it was happening, but the silence it took from the time we delivered the first Abarat 3 manuscript to the time that we got notes back - how the silence affects... For instance, if I text Clive or email Clive and he doesn't write back in, like a day or two, I'm like, 'Oh my God, does he hate me? Did I do something wrong? Did I say something wrong?' I do that in a day, so I couldn't even imagine how Clive was like after over eight months of hearing nothing."

Clive : "'Did they really, really, really hate this manuscript that much?' That's all I could think."

Revelations : "You start second guessing - "

Clive : "Treble, quadruple, quintuple - "

Revelations : "So you delivered the manuscript last year, had eight months without notes or feedback and we can see now that you look absolutely exhausted. You wouldn't normally have turned around a final draft in the timescale you have since eventually getting the notes, so what happened to make it different to your normal process after getting them?"

Clive : "They gave me a deadline: we had four weeks to do this in - was it four weeks, Robb? Six weeks?"

Robb : "Six weeks, yeah"

Revelations : "To make edits, write a final draft, polish that draft and deliver a totally finished book? That's a brutal timetable... That doesn't allow the normal infrastructure of an editing and copy-editing process from a publisher as you redrafted."

Clive with Robb Humphreys

Clive : "It came down to three of us. I had this man, and I had Mark, but mostly I had this man, because Mark was a little bit more new to all of this. I invited Mark to come edit it for me, I paid him for it and said come and edit this book for me. We had a lot of discussions between us about 'is this word appropriate?' and narrative details and he did a fucking great job."

Robb : "Clive and Mark had been doing their mentorship for a while and Mark was the one who wrote the screenplay adaptation for Bacchus which got rave reviews off the bat, first draft. Mark came on to Abarat as a result of Clive saying to me at one point, 'Are you doing OK? Can I send you this? Do you want bits and pieces, or do you want to wait for a chapter?' And I said, 'Just send me everything and I'll let you know when I get overwhelmed.' and smartly, Thank God, Hallelujah, I will bow forever, he said, 'Let's just do it now, let's add Mark,' because I was a tick away from being overwhelmed to the point where I could not fall off a cliff."

Clive : "And this is the thing about him: I knew nothing about this, nothing. I didn't even know - and it's a good thing that I didn't because I'd be somewhere at the bottom of the pool - you might have found me by now - because, you know, he's the captain of the ship, and I'm a landlubber. I wave from the cliff, 'Bye-bye, Captain! You go have your adventures in the world.' I trust that all's going well and if I had known that we were a tick from going under, I would have panicked."

Robb : "But what I've never experienced before, working with Clive, either in let's call it 'round one' - or coming back for 'round two' - round one we always had David Dodds, and if it wasn't David Dodds it was somebody else who was doing the typing and taking care of all that stuff, well coming back now, when I came back initially Chris Kohlhof had been doing the typing so I was still keeping my focus on Seraphim. But I knew this time around Clive had appointed me Captain and goddamn, if I'm not going to make this ship sail like it's the most beautiful thing on the ocean! At one point I realised I had to step away from Seraphim and focus solely on the book with Clive and Mark, otherwise there was no chance of us delivering by the deadline. So the meetings were in the good hands of APA and Joe Daley, etc... "

Clive : "And there were a lot of them - "

Robb : "There were a shit-ton of them, and I emailed APA and I said, I'm off the books - you guys keep moving forward, but our main focus for the next while has to be getting this manuscript done. It was the best thing because Clive, myself, and then Mark, buckled down."

Mark Miller's alter ego, photographed by Clive in April 2008

Clive : "And bonded - "

Robb : "And bonded."

Clive : "So then Mark came in and then there were two people, it was a fucking madhouse, right?"

Robb : "One of the funnest times I had on this, we were coming down to the wire, it was a Monday, and we had to have the manuscript in the following Thursday. Mark was working on the manuscript overnights here and I came to work on Monday and it hit me, 'OK, I know what I need to do.' So, Tuesday morning I came to work at 9 o'clock with a suitcase because I knew that was what it was going to take and that's when all this just clicked because these two will stay up until five in the morning - if I make it to like midnight I feel like a rockstar! But the three of us sharing the same general physical space made all the difference... We were clicking."

Clive : "I was sleeping under the desk - "

Robb : "Yeah, I was sleeping in the screening room; Mark would catch some sleep in the guesthouse. He would stop typing at five in the morning and leave me a note of what was accomplished and I'd be here by nine, so there was only four hours a day when at least one computer wasn't churning - churning, churning, churning... "

Revelations : "But that's suggesting, Clive, you're writing a lot faster than they can type..!"

Clive : "Ah, no - no, no, no!"

Revelations : "So how did this work?"

Clive : "Robbie - will you go get the manuscript and bring it over for them? I want to put it in front of them right now as an object of discussion. You need to know how comprehensive this was. We can't move forward rationally without you knowing what a huge job this was. Because this was the real thing: back in August of last year, I said to Joanna Cotler, 'This is my first pass, this is my first pass. I've never done this for anybody before. You're not getting the fifth draft, you're getting the first draft - so be quick about this, give me your notes, if they're rough and ready that's fine, I'm not expecting this to be sophisticated, it's just a first draft.' She comes back to me and says, 'It's done. I have tiny, tiny notes. I mean tiny' (this is her to me) and I just thought on the telephone, 'I actually want to pass out, I feel lightheaded.'"

Revelations : "I remember; we were here, you'd just had the call, you were, 'This is brilliant - I gave it to her early because I wanted to know I was in the right direction because this is such a pivotal book, it's really important that this closes off what needs to be closed off but sets up what needs to come, so I've given it to her early because I want to be able to work on it' - and you're right, she said, very light - "

Clive : "And then I went to the bathroom, took a crap, always a good place to think, and I realised it was utter bullshit."

Revelations : "You realised then? At that moment?"

Clive : "Yes. Utter, utter bullshit. Because I knew what the book was, I knew what I'd given in; there were passages that simply didn't exist! There were places in the narrative where characters changed names, where there was no way anyone could have pursued the lines through it, none of which she mentioned, none of which she made any notes about - "

Revelations : "So it didn't actually take an intellectual reading from A to B?"

Clive : "No. No, there was no way you could understand the book. And yet she made no note whatsoever and that made me very frightened - because here was me saying I genuinely need this book to be - it couldn't just be good, it couldn't just be good because I thought number one was good. Book two was better than good. Number three had to be better than better than good! Otherwise, it was just not going to fly. And now we were being told we were being given six weeks, to do what had taken a year to give me the notes on - you see how anger-making that is? This my reputation, my years of, I've been at this, what, ten years now? Well you know how long I've been at this. You know how much love and sweat and ache... "

Revelations : "That's right, it's not just professional work, it's not just intellectual work, it's personal, it's emotional, it's physical, it's your life."

Clive : "It's my life. It's my reputation."

Revelations : "And when you did finally get the notes, was that because you had been constantly badgering for them, saying, 'Where are they?' or did they arrive unexpectedly?"

Clive : "No, I'd been badgering... I don't know how it works - frankly, it's been a - I can't open this door too widely, Phil, or - "

Revelations : "No, OK...
"At which point you cleared the decks of everything, because you'd been working on other things, waiting for the notes... "

Clive : "Right, but never with the kind of authoritative, 'I can really get this going' because how can you ever get going, how can you ever commit to something, to a big book like The Art 3 or Galilee 2, when I knew that I had, in my estimation, a mammoth amount of work to do? I mean, if I let go of that narrative to go and concentrate on something else, how could I pick it up again?"

Clive Barker - John Mischief poster for Abarat

Revelations : "No, you can't serve two masters, so if you're committed to one thing, you can't seriously commit to something else. And that's an interesting point, I mean, we were talking about polymaths yesterday for the Abarat Companion book, and you said that John Mischief is you and that there are seven voices going on in your head at the same time - "

Clive : "Yeah, yeah - "

Revelations : "But clearly Abarat has been the dominant voice in there for a long time and it's difficult actually moving Abarat aside... Something as large and important as The Art 3 is always there but you keep it at the back, because to bring it to the front at the moment would be all-encompassing - and that's where Abarat needed to be."

Clive : "Yes, I think that's absolutely right. Remembering that I had the photograph project too. I've done a lot more black and white and more than I've been necessarily showing people. There are 300,000 photographs."

Revelations : "300,000?"

Clive : "Yeah - and the way that I work, particularly with the big books, is you've got to massage them in strange ways - you're absolutely right, you can't put it on at the number one screen at the Cineplex, but you don't put it on the smallest screen either! Sometimes there are things that float into focus - Galilee, for instance - something just recently brought Galilee back into focus. Robbie's wife, Heather, her mother and father were here and Heather's father doesn't read fiction at all. He doesn't read fiction but he picked up Galilee and just was swept up in it for reasons that even he never really understood, and in three days was filled with questions! He didn't have much of an interest in the Civil War, you know, which is something I've realised is fairly common amongst people - it may just be anecdotal, picking at people, but I've been surprised - certainly it would be true in England if you ask people about the Second World War they'd yawn - would that be true of your friends, would they say well, talking about the Civil War?"

Revelations : "Well the American Civil War has never been a really big deal but it would be the same thing for me as the Roundheads and the Cavaliers in England, whereas the Second World War I think is very interesting because it's still recent, there are still people around who were involved in it and can give the flavour... "

Clive : "Did you see the Burns film on the Second World War? Ghastly, just ghastly. It's very interesting to watch - I have both of the Burns films if you want to borrow them? The Civil War one is one of the best documentaries ever made, in my opinion, and if you sit dry-eyed through it, well... it is just amazing... and the other one's just called The War and I'll happily lend it to you - I find it's a bit of a trudge. He makes a big structural error in this one, he chooses four small American towns and it doesn't really work, he's stuck with what he's got there. Here we are, take these away with you. Here are two more on the Second World War that I actually favour more - this is the one which we all remember, The World at War, which is still magnificent, narrated by Olivier. It's broken down into nice bite-size chunks. Wonderful. And this is the recent BBC one."

Revelations : "Excellent. Thank you!"

Clive : "The speech, the letter which is quoted, at the beginning of the Burns, just don't have either of your two boys in the room when it's read because it's powerful: it's not that there's anything wrong, it's just a husband writing to a wife saying I may never see you again... "

Revelations : "But we got to that because Heather's father came and something triggered Galilee for you?"

Clive : "Yeah, well he had zero interest in the Civil War, and he obviously didn't have anything in the way of gay interest and Galilee's and my sexuality wasn't of any relevance to him - he said so, because I asked him specifically. The interracial thing didn't interest him terribly. It was pure storytelling, it was just causality, as I always say, that sort of caught his interest and his response to Galilee. "

Robb : "But first, before they came up to see all the paintings, I showed them a copy of the Bacchus book because it is dedicated to River, and he was, 'Oh my God, can I get a copy of this?' he was just so touched and by the next Clive Barker - Bacchus, for River Clive Humphreys day he'd read the whole thing, he came in, 'Magical! Unbelievable! Oh my God. Please, if it's not asking too much could I have one for myself?' - 'No problem, Dad, no problem' - and we were talking and I told him about the Thief of Always and he said, 'Oh, interesting, interesting' and I showed him the one with all the illustrations, and this and that, and so the next day he rang back and said, 'This is really interesting stuff, here.'"

Clive : "I didn't know this individual at all but Robb, you said he didn't read much fiction, if any fiction, right?"

Robb : "He didn't read any fiction - but in two or three days he'd read two of Clive's books and wanted a recommendation for the next."

Clive : "Can you say anything about that? He said very little to me about why he -"

Robb : "When I first met Ben, who we call Popeye - or at least that's the name the grandkids have given him - we bonded over books; but the books he read were always like, Shipwrecks of The Great Lakes, biographies, etc. He's a school teacher and he will never live anywhere other than Michigan; he thinks Michigan is the greatest state, 'we have 80% of the nation's water, we've got scenery... ' He's an outdoors man. But when he asked for 'the next one,' I instantly thought of Galilee because of the historical elements, bits of the Civil War, the nod to the Kennedy family. He devoured it, devoured it. Spent his entire vacation - both he and Chris who was well into the Abarat books herself - with his nose in a book.
"He said, 'I kept thinking, how is he going to pull this together? How are all these strands going to come together? With a book that's that thick - and then they did and I wanted to weep. So, when's number two coming out?'! It was a magical experience with them being here and Clive came down and sat by the pool with them and talked. It was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful week and it validated to me what we do. Some weeks later Popeye wrote Clive a letter which basically said, 'I've never been a fan of fiction, and I am now.' "

Clive : "It prompted some thoughts for me on Galilee 2 but in my process it's always, 'This movie's not ready yet to come out of the oven, this book's not ready yet,' so that I keep focus. Now, Abarat 3, let's get the text out..."

Clive Barker - Abarat 3 (the annotated version)

Robb : "So, this is it... It was all over the place, this is pretty much in order now but Clive would be like, 'I've finished chapter 5, do you mind if I move on to chapter 47?' And I'm like, 'No - just keep 'em coming.' "

Revelations : "That mark-up looks a lot heavier and more complex than usual, as a writing process."

Clive : "And the reason we get back to, there should have been three other drafts between this... and this..."

Robb : "There's chapter 5 - and I would get these notes, 'Robbie, I'm so sorry. I apologise. Do this as fast as you can and we'll figure it out later.'"

Revelations : "On this one you can't actually see the original typescript - "

Clive : "Or the page number! We were saving and processing, saving and editing them, then I'd over-write the fresh pages again. It was draft upon draft upon draft, all squashed into six weeks, and four hours of sleep a night - that's why I was under the desk, because it was the shortest possible distance between me and the work."

Revelations : "So, to give a sense of your hours during that day - "

Clive : "There weren't any hours - "

Revelations : "You were getting up - "

Clive : " - that was three hours after I went to bed, or four hours - "This is the same text that I got back with pencil notes on - see there? This is a typical one when Gazza first appears: 'Sounds like an Arab'..? This is just so fucking arbitrary! Very often he's 'Gaz'. It's Gaz or Gazza - they know this is from my nephew Gareth... "

Revelations : "Not Paul Gascoigne - "

Clive : "No, but it's the same roots, exactly the same roots, and that was a nudge, it was a joke. "

Revelations : "And that Barker family influence explains something of Gazza's impact on one particular character in his very first appearance in the book."

Clive : "It does - and there's going to be another reason why what happens is so instant: as I grow older I've come to believe that our lives are in some sense or other self-achievable by our will. Whether we choose our parents by will, or whatever. There are lots of variations on this, you know? But I genuinely believe now that there are uncanny connections between certain people in my life. Gareth and I for instance, he and I are like the black sheep of the family; we resemble nobody but each other! I see the same artistic things playing out in him that I felt, you know, in working class Liverpool, feeling like I'm a snotty guy who shouldn't be calling myself an artist - you know all that crap?
"Liverpool's rough as a city; you don't hug each other, guys don't hug each other, even in the Italian community, you just don't do that. My father never once hugged me, ever, through all my life. When I first saw Oliver Parker walking in, he went across the room and hugged his father and kissed him, I started to cry; I had to leave the room, because it was something I hadn't seen before and I realised how badly I'd wanted that all my life, to be hugged by my father and that Olly had just casually, you know, gone across and done it."

Clive Barker - filming for The Forbidden

Robb : "But looking at Phil and Sarah's book, remember that picture I pulled out, and said this is my favourite ever - you with a Bolex in your hand. The amazing thing to me was that, just to look back at you as a 27 year old, and know that you were doing this when you were twenty seven with, you know, a can of beans in your fridge and Pete Atkins and just 'take your clothes off and let me paint you' - "

Clive : " - in all the beans!"

Robb : "You were making movies, painting, all that stuff... "

Clive : "Yes, I went away and left home - and, importantly, I went with a community - "

Revelations : "You generated a group, a new family if you like, so all around you, you had people you trusted completely and who trusted you completely - creatively and emotionally."

Clive : "There's a thing which hasn't been said yet - the book is amazing, your book is amazing. I sobbed my heart out because there were so many things in there that I hadn't thought of before. And you have captured, or quoted, or found things I just would not have remembered in my life, you know? I think in some ways I was crying for a life that I'd forgotten. You know, my thoughts, and meanings: you are the keepers of those... "

Dog Tales

Robb : "I couldn't stop thinking about that, since you guys showed it to me, because I have so much love for this guy, and I know like the tip of the iceberg, you know? I met him right out of film school... And to fall into something like this... It's amazing. We were joking a few months ago about how the fuck did this four-eyed, fat kid from Liverpool get hooked up with this desert rat from Quartz Hill?..."

Clive : "In return, I really don't think this would have worked without you to help, Robbie. I was so close to giving up and you came along just at the right time and I wouldn't have had the courage to deal with things here over the last two years. We make our art out of our lives and very seldom do you get in the same room two people who've lived their art though their lives. We're here talking, and weeping, in this house, in this room which was what I always wanted to be my painting room; but was never allowed to be my painting room because Malcolm wanted it to be the receiving room, but now it's what I wanted it to be - and this conversation, for the first time we're having the conversation in my house, in my art room, and that's a big difference - if you think about that for a minute - we're in the main house now, talking about art, throwing shit around and it's all good! And that is a massive, emotional difference for me because it means that there's nothing to stop me doing art which is what I had... "

Revelations : "You just talked about how the six weeks finalising Abarat 3 drained you, but we saw how tired you already were when you delivered the first draft this time last year, coming out of a previous year of desperately trying to get this written and failing because you weren't getting your privacy or uninterrupted time at your desk."

Clive : "No, and when I was at my desk I was always looking over my shoulder. People say these things are sent to test you, I don't know that I'm tougher or smarter as a result, all I know is that coming back from this stuff really does make you stronger, that I do believe. "

Revelations : "We should, of course, say that the text of Abarat 3 has ultimately delivered on its promise, as far as we're concerned - the book's a tangible piece of proof that you've dealt with everything that's come your way. And you've had similar periods of intensity across what, a working of life of - take it from University - thirty-five years?"

Clive : "Yes"

Robb : "From my point of view of Clive, and looking at Dog Tales, it just amazes me - and it's why we've had these conversations through and through and through - it's, if you're an artist and you have a passion for what you do it doesn't fucking matter what you're getting paid. And for that, he's the man. The difference this time, because I saw him going through an intense period before - the first day I met him he was next door storyboarding for Lord of Illusions, we made Lord of Illusions, we did the publicity tour, he came straight back and started into Sacrament and locked himself away for, I don't know, a year and a half or whatever, 'I need research on this, Robbie, or that... ' The difference is, coming back during the process of Abarat 3, I saw something that I'd never seen before and that was a very beaten-down and weary Clive Barker and that's what we're going to recover from."

Clive : "And we are recovering from. This was the perfect storm. This was publishers conspiring with the Fates to make Hell. I think the one thing, the lesson here is, I mustn't ever take it for granted that this can ever be done again; I think this is a once in a lifetime gift, from the Fates, or whatever. Because I think the level of commitment from Robbie and from Mark - I wish I'd had more time on it, I wish I'd had the time earlier on Abarat 3 but I'm glad that it drove these two gentlemen closer. And almost everything in this Abarat text, I don't recognise, it's almost as though it's been channelled, it's very, very powerful...
"And what the two of you have done with these books, what you are doing, is going to be - when all of us are dead, unfortunately! Certainly when I'm dead! - is going to be a matrix, a model for a way that people won't do things in the future. Just as people don't do things the way Cocteau did things - back in the Fifties there just weren't the models - people don't make art that way anymore and I think the models will have changed again. What you're Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau doing is, doing for me, is what nobody ever did for Cocteau which is to preserve everything. We know almost nothing about his early drivers. We know them only as echoes of what Picasso was doing, we know what Picasso was painting and we know Cocteau's there because he's in a drawing but quite what he was doing there at the age of twenty... ? You know, he obviously was doing something of significance because he's in all the drawings and all the photographs, but nobody knows. And you've done that for me. You've filled in all the blanks."

Revelations : "Well, you know the original reason we did it was because we could see you evolving as an artist and we wanted to know where you'd come from."

Clive : "Right."

Revelations : "And actually what we found was that it's almost like your quote: nothing ever begins. The influences that you take - "

Clive : "Right, right - "

Revelations : " - from generations before into what you're doing now, but adding your own particular blend of experience on top of it. I think that's a fascinating journey for us to be researching."

Robb : "Which is why I think my favourite part of the trip to Liverpool, and seeing Joan - who's my favourite girl in the whole world - was going to Oakdale Road and him showing me, that's the gate and that's the patio, where Weaveworld came from, and I'm like, are you kidding me? That's like the size of a bathroom! What are you talking about, Clive, come on! That's your inspiration for Weaveworld? I'm thinking like you came from this grand, Ansel Adams-like landscape... "

Revelations : "Yes - you Americans, with your big, open spaces..!"

Clive : "Yeah, you're right, it's a tiny little space and it's only when you actually leave England, I think - 'this' view here doesn't happen in England unless you're in a park or like you two, you've got that glorious view across the road to the park, which is very, very unusual - "

Revelations : "And which we fought hard to get - "

Clive : "I bet you did! You know, I was thinking overnight, the artwork that you chose yesterday for The Painter, the non-fiction collection, it all seems to fit together as an exhibition and this is what tripped me about the book - you know the context."

Revelations : In picking those pieces we don't go by dates, we look thematically at what bits work together. That's something we reflect on quite a lot: we can't think about your artwork in isolation because we've always worked with the text and the illustration as a sort of holistic continuum of your ideas. Actually, just before we came to visit, we put up on Facebook a page from Dog - you think this Abarat 3 text is heavily annotated! You tell me that we haven't typed up a few like this for Liverpool Lives and Dog Tales - and pulled together from fifteen different dusty boxes!"

Draft page from Dog, 1979

Clive : "Sorry, sorry, sorry..!"

Revelations : "We put up a page with a very simple, but very articulately animated sketch of a man's head turning into a dog's head, with kind of three stages of transformation, and the reaction to it has been, wow, isn't it amazing to see how the interaction of the words and the picture works."

Clive : "It's the Blakean thing. I always promised myself that I would one day do something - I wouldn't do an entire book this way, but a few pages where the words did become plants or animals and the closest I've ever really come to it were these kind of sketches. Very often those would be doodles being done as I was rehearsing something or in some cases thinking about what the idea would want to be if you were to do it as a movie! You know, 'What would happen if you could actually turn him into a dog in a movie?' Did you see Wolfman, by the way? The design of the werewolf is rather too classical for my taste, but it's a movie which values the way movies used to be made: it's beautiful. It's beautiful to look at, its sense of Englishness is beautiful, its score is beautiful. It has many of the values that Twilight does, in terms of its visual grandeur, but it's very English. Hopkins is very good and the sets are just glorious. It's very bloody - oh God! And there's a couple of really take-your-breath-away gross-out moments. All of which I was totally shocked at - I had no expectation of the movie at all, I thought I was going to hate it! "

Revelations : "But given that transformation was such an important part of your very early work, are you pre-disposed to liking something in that area?"

Hopkins and Del Toro in Joe Johnston's The Wolfman

Clive : "Well, you see, I think Landis still did the best version and I think it's very hard for anybody now to actually re-invent something, and I think what Joe Johnston did very smartly was walk away from all that and just say, no, I'm not going to try any of those things, that's not what the movie's about. It's about a man and his father. I'm still thinking, the black and white pictures for The Painter... there's an exhibition right there... "

Revelations : "In closing, your overall thoughts on Abarat 3?"

Clive : "You know, look at this text in front of us. By comparison with the naked text with the few pencil marks on it that Joanna gave me, it took three guys six weeks to turn a first draft manuscript of a 110,000-word book into a book."

Revelations : "Abarat being, in your own words, good, and Abarat 2 being better than good, have you had time to reflect on what you think about this yet?"

Clive : "No, and I don't think I could, or even would be able to have in any way a valuable opinion yet. It is what it is... But if I thought I had failed, I would not be going on with such gusto - that's as much as I'm going to be able to give you! I'm treating Books 4 and 5 as a single narrative. It's what I spent the morning doing and what I'll go and do now. "

Revelations : "Book 4 is next?"

Clive : "Yes, although I may have a little palate cleanser first. I've been holding my feet to the fire now for so long, through no fault of my own, as it were, I mean, I've been a victim of all sorts of circumstances that have required me to do things in a way that wasn't right, wasn't professional and I just need a little breather, you know? And as you can tell from both Robbie and myself, we're both very emotional right now and Mark is, if you can believe it, even more emotional. It's been a big test of our friendship and it's been a test of our sense of decency and those things mean a lot to me and, I think, less and less in the culture at large. Robbie is a completely decent man and Mark is a completely decent man and that means the world to me, you know? It means I don't mind sleeping under the fucking desk with a blanket if, when I get up in the morning I know that the person I'm dealing with is telling the truth, you know? I can deal with just about anything actually if the person that I'm dealing with is someone I love and want to be with, you know? Which is the case with both Robbie and Mark; I would take them as brothers in a heartbeat - what's not to love? No, what's not to be grateful for, right?"


Abarat - Book 3
Abarat - Books 4 and 5
Galilee, and Galilee II
Dog Tales and our ongoing Memory, Prophecy and Fantasy series
The Painter, the Creature and the Father of Lies non-fiction collection
Revelations on Facebook

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