In Anticipation Of The Deluge : A Moment At The River's Edge

The Sixth Revelatory Interview - part three
By Phil & Sarah Stokes, 1 / 12 July 2004

Revelations : "Can we put out another plea around the Rizzoli art book? Do you want to be a bit more specific about what you're looking for?"

Clive : "Absolutely. Rizzoli did David's book..."

that sketch for Tanja... Clive at work...

Revelations : "Clive, we must just mention, somebody from The Netherlands has sent us the sketch you did in her copy - and we sat and we looked at it and we thought, first of all, 'Can we put that on the website?' (which of course we will !) and secondly we thought, 'Why do we never ask you for illustrations when we see you?'"

Clive : "All you have to do is ask! Actually I did a bunch of them - it was really fun (was it the one with the long nose?)"

Revelations : "...and the anal intrusion..."

Clive : "...the penis-nose?"

Revelations : "Yeah - that's the one!"

Clive signing for Scream at Tucson. Photo by Conner/Potter.

Clive : "Yeah, that is fun - and what's even more fun is that David actually has on his camera film of me (you know he has this little digital that takes stills and film) so he films me drawing it, which is very, very fun. This is a weird association of ideas and I've never thought about it until this very moment, but I think the mechanism which allows me to paint pictures the way I now do has been honed by drawing in thousands of books and I've never thought of that before. But because I draw quickly and thoughtlessly (completely thoughtlessly - you've seen me do it, I'm having a conversation while I'm doing it) so really it's really, my hand is doing this thing and of course my subconscious is playing and again, of course, in an erotic book it's going to be phalluses and vaginas - yes of course - but beyond that, I'm just letting my hand do the walking. And I think that's helped immensely freeing me up, because I have, over the years, done thousands of those now and if you think of the hundreds of signings I've done in my time, in the last twenty years... The first drawing I did was in Susan Allison's copy of the books of Blood - that Scream edition, the red one - which I did in Tucson, Arizona in 1984, so it's twenty years ago."

Revelations : "Susan Allison?"

Clive : "Yeah, she was my editor at Berkeley."

Revelations : "It may be the first one you did in one of your books, but Les Dennis said you defaced one of his..."

Clive : "...oh, I've defaced books in my time - that probably goes back to childhood! So what did Les say? What did I deface for Les?"

Revelations : "It was a book about Greek mythology by one of your lecturers that you had writtten inside for his eighteenth birthday - ' 'Tis fairy gold, son. And will prove so.' - and drawn some kind of skull for him."

Clive : "Oh, that's nice, that's nice - that goes back that far? How cool!"

Revelations : "So - what are you looking for, for the book?"

Clive : "Firstly, Alicia - who designed the Abarat books - is designing this book."

Revelations : "Right - that's Alicia Mikles, is it?"

Clive : "Yes, exactly, and I went to Joanna Cotler and said, 'Is it OK, can I steal her away?' because there was nobody I wanted more than her. And so she came over from New York before I came away and we looked at every painting and every drawing that I had and then we talked about the pictures that I don't have - like The Arsonist - and things that I want to have in the book, that I don't have copies of. And there's a lot of such pictures. But you know, we've got hundreds and hundreds and in fact thousands of pictures to start with, so we're in pretty good shape. And we decided on a rough 200, I suppose mostly colour pictures - because it'll be an all-colour book. It'll be about 400 pages, large format, hardcover with a very limited amount of text, at my desire, my design - I don't want this to be a book of words, I want it to be a book of pictures. And probably most of those words will be words from my various books. I'm going to find ways to connect word and image, or to illuminate one with the other and it's going to be, I think, a beautiful thing. I think the great thing about Rizzoli, and you see this with David's book, they're gloriously produced; it's going to be a beautifully crafted book and reproduced book. So one of the things we are going to do is we're going to do some close-ups of the paintings so that the process we were talking about before, as my online dream for the paintings of an online gallery, as what I want to do eventually, will have its first incarnation in the pages of this book - which will be called Clive Barker's Heaven and Hell. And we'll choose a painting or two paintings and we'll just go in for close-ups of the way the paint's been layered and this stuff about the way the paintings are made, which Alicia is incredibly insightful about. I mean, she's dealt with illustrations and illustrators for years in her capacity as art director of Joanna Cotler, so she's very smart and insightful about the work and it was very nice to have somebody else coming in and saying, 'I think we should have this and not that. I think we should have this, but not that one - we've got to have this, we've got to have this, but not that.' It was useful to have another eye. I argue once in a while, but I basically go with - her take on things is very smart and I think we're going to have an amazing book. I mean, it's a kind of dream book for me, because nothing could be better than having a big, fat, beautiful reproduction book of my paintings. I mean, that's, to me, a very exciting thing and I think we're aiming for Christmas of next year and we're looking at it costing something like forty-five bucks - so it's a very exciting thing."

Revelations : "So the call for artwork is open-ended at this time?"

Clive : "Yes, it's everything."

Revelations : "Clive, we'd like to talk a bit more about the short story collection, if we may?"

Clive : "As I'm sitting here presently, I have no reason to believe the short story collection will not precede Abarat III. I have one story left to do, which is the Hellraiser / D'Amour story which I'm writing right now - or actually stopped writing to go and do the final pass on the Tortured Souls script, but then will go back to. And my hope is that in the time between Universal receiving the Tortured Souls script and either saying yea or nay to it, I will finish the D'Amour / Pinhead story and it can go its merry way with the rest of the stories and the collection will be complete."

Revelations : "And when you say 'finish it', have you plotted it, or done a first pass...?"

Clive : "I've plotted it, I'm actually writing it, I've actually written probably 200 pages of it, of handwritten draft. So, it's going to be a long, sort of a novella, I suppose. I forget where the numbers begin - I think a novella begins at sort of 17,000 words, I'm not sure, it's a very strange number."

Revelations : "I might have known there was actually a definition."

Clive : "Yeah, well, there has to be, otherwise people would be claiming things were novellas when they weren't."

The Scarlet Gospels - Rael's Confession

Revelations : "I'd always thought it was more of a feeling."

Clive : "Well, I think in one sense it is a feeling, but I also think in literary terms I do remember somebody saying it was 17,000 - in which case this will definitely be a novella, not a short story, because I think I'm probably edging towards 17,000 words already!"

Revelations : "I'm surprised you'll be allowed to bury it in amongst a collection of short stories. I can see all the commercial possibilities of putting The Hellbound Heart together with this one."

Clive : "Well, yes - and yet at the same time it's important to me that it is, if you will, 'buried'! I don't want to make a separate book of it, I don't believe it justifies a separate book. I think it's perfect that it goes with a collection of fiction that either hasn't seen print yet (and including some of the stories that I had created for the Scarlet Gospels) or a few pieces which have never been put between covers before, but have been anthologised - loosely - like Lost Souls, the short story that I did all that time ago for Time Out, and things that need to be under a cover with Clive Barker's name on the front, for completeness' sake.."

Revelations : "And is it intended to be definitive? Is it intended to sweep up all of those..."

Clive : "Trying to - yeah. I'm trying to get Pidgin and Theresa in there and, there's a bunch of little things. I'm even going to take a couple of the pieces from David's book, from Rare Flesh - not the poetry, but the things which have more narrative cohesion and I'm just going to put a couple of those in there too. So it will be a pretty authoritative collection, I think. Not super-long, but definitely interesting and diverse: some erotic stuff in there, some fantastical stuff in there, some horrific stuff in there. Just in case anybody thought I'd lost my nerve where the horror stuff is concerned during all this Abaratian stuff, the Hellraiser story is blood-curdlingly horrible! I kind of surprised myself with the gusto with which I went back to it!"

First publication of Lost Souls: Subtitled 'A Christmas Horror Story' in Time Out magazine, December/January 
1985/6. First publication of Pidgin and Theresa: in Time Out Book of London Short Stories, 1993.

Revelations : "You've been saving it up..."

Clive : "I have - absolutely right - I've been saving it up and it got loose in this story in a major way. And of course I want to pay my respects to all that's been done with the character in my absence, as it were. I've got to pay some homage to the fact that the character has been moved on in those other movies and certainly - and this is the most important point of homage, I think - to Doug, who has been the thread through all these stories and whose character I am now bringing to what I'm sure he thinks is a premature end! Now, whether this means it will be a premature end as far as the movies are concerned - who can say? But as far as I'm concerned, I am writing the death of Pinhead."

Revelations : "In your own mind's eye, as you're writing these characters, do you hear them talking as Doug Bradley and Scott Bakula?"

Clive : "Oh Christ, yes - it's impossible not to, it's absolutely impossible not to. I mean, I did those movies, I was on the set for a lot of Hellraiser II and III ('though I haven't seen all of the latter Hellraiser movies I've certainly seen a number of them and I've seen the models and the comic books - all of which pretty much take Doug's likeness) so I think as far as I'm concerned, yes, that character is stamped with Doug's look and his voice, just as D'Amour is pleasantly stamped with Scott's look and the simple grace of his masculinity."

Revelations : "You talked in the past about a few of the stories that were going into the original Scarlet Gospels: the Mercy and The Jackal stories - two or three of those - which we knew nothing about except that they were about somebody called Mercy and The Jackal! And you've also talked about Jehovah's Bitch at one stage - is that too hot for HarperCollins?"

Clive : "Neither of those things, I think, are finished enough to go into the collection, but at some point, will I publish Jehovah's Bitch through HarperCollins? I suspect so. I don't know if I was asked if I was going to be given, if I was giving HarperCollins a title and telling them I want to call this book Jehovah's Bitch whether they would accept that - it's an interesting question."

Revelations : "Book Three of The Abarat!"

Clive : "Yeah right! Abarat III: Jehovah's Bitch! That might be more problematic!"

Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker

Revelations : "I can see Disney reaching for the 'phone"

Clive : "Right, right, right, umm, no! I love the title Jehovah's Bitch - I love the text of it, it's written in a kind of pseudo-na´ve style, the way that Russell Hoban's novel is - Riddley Walker. And in a way, Clockwork Orange is written in the same kind of of style - they're sort of invented languages, almost, taken, derived from English."

Revelations : "So is the general balance then, between the old, published stories and the new relatively weighted fifty/fifty?"

Clive : "I think in favour, probably, of the new - there aren't that many stories that I haven't [published]... the new stuff is the strongest material in the collection."

Tortured Souls Volume V - The Haunter Of Primordium

Revelations : "I think they mentioned in one of the Q&As in Amsterdam that you were considering putting the Tortured Souls novelettes in there."

Clive : "Yes - I'm backing and forthing about that, because... I'm not sure I like them sufficiently, to be perfectly honest. I have mixed feelings about them, partly, I suppose, because they served another purpose - that they weren't there strictly as literature, if you will. So I suppose I have some questions about whether I like them sufficiently to put them in there, in a collection like this."

Revelations : "OK - we're just scrolling down the list of things that haven't been put together..."

Clive : "What else?"

Revelations : "Lost Souls, Coming To Grief..."

Clive : "Lost Souls and Coming To Grief will both definitely be in the collection. Amen's Shore will definitely be in the collection, The Departed will definitely be there, Pidgin and Theresa we spoke of, yes."

First publication of On Amen's Shore: in Demons and Deviants, 1992. First publication of Chiliad: in Millenium, 1997.

Revelations : "...Animal Life?"

Clive : "Animal Life - definitely. You see, what I like about all these is that they really were intended as short stories, whereas to me, somewhere at the back of my head is the feeling that, however hard I try, the fiction from Tortured Souls is, you know, stuff that was written to go with some toys - and I'm not sure it really belongs in a collection, I really don't."

Revelations : "...and Chiliad?"

Clive : "Oh Chiliad will be there - both parts. If you put all of those together, you actually find you've got a shitload of stuff - there's a lot of stuff there."

First publication of On Amen's Shore: in USA Today Weekend Supplement, 24-26 June 1994.

Revelations : "It's going to be some fat book you're planning here."

Clive : "Yeah - because once you add the very considerable size of the Hellraiser story, plus, obviously, the stuff from Scarlet Gospels - that's a lot of material. And I'm excited to be able to put all this stuff together."

Revelations : "Well, we obviously can't wait! Actually, the Scarlet Gospel teaser that's in Rare Flesh, just Rael's Confession, is that part of something much more substantial?"

Clive : "Yes - so I think there's a very fun collection here, and a very diverse collection and, as I say, with the addition of the Hellraiser story, Hellraiser novella, it's going to be quite a piece!"

Revelations : "Right, so we'll slot that in between now and Abarat III."

Clive : "Exactly."

Revelations : "You talked last week about if Tortured Souls gets the go-ahead you'll go and make that. If it doesn't get the go-ahead, you'll get to Abarat III, which I'm guessing you'd find out about early 2005 if that's a go or not?"

Clive : "That's exactly right. I think probably that's exactly the timing. the truth is I'm on tour for Abarat II anyway through some portions of October / November, so I couldn't even begin prepping a movie even if they said so. They wouldn't begin in December because nobody starts prepping a movie in December - you go into hiatus December 14th anyway. So the earliest we could possibly start something would be January. And by that time, yes, I would hope I would have an answer - absolutely."

Revelations : "And if you do go ahead with Tortured Souls, how well plotted and set in your head is Abarat III that you'd be able to fit that in and still meet the September 2006 deadline for that?"

Clive : "Oh - I think it's hard, I think it will be hard. But I'm trying not to fret too much about it because I think the point is that if you fret too much, you're fretting unnecessarily, because these things find their way out eventually anyway. I need to get out of my own head a little bit and out into the world and working with other people for a while - I think that would be a useful thing to do. I have spent a long time, seven days a week, writing and painting and when I have been out in the world it tends to have been because I was pitching something. And a pitch lasts an hour and it's not really like meeting somebody in the way we meet and we talk, because we talk as friends and you're not doing that when you're pitching something - it's a selling atmosphere; you're doing your damndest to be a good salesperson and it's slightly artificial. So I feel as though it would be useful for me to just, as a psychological exercise, to just be up and out and away from my books and the insularity of my library and my painting just for a little while. Probably for a year, probably less than a year shooting a movie - prep and shooting would be half a year, then editing, well, now the way everything is you can practically do editing next door; I mean I haven't even thought about the possibility of doing that - doing what Robert Rodriguez does. He has his editing suite right in his house and he just goes straight to it, you know, gets up in the morning and goes to edit the same way other people would go paint, or me go write. So there are possibilities where editing is concerned - I could actually get back into the flow of writing and painting while that was going on. I'm just not getting too sweated up about it right now because no decisions have been made. Things are so unpredictable in the movie world, that I could give the script to them and the people that I did the deal with at Universal could have gone. And the people that liked horror movies over there could be replaced by people who want to make westerns - that's happened to me so many times now and the truth of the matter is that the horror fanatics in the movie system - and thank the Lord there are two right now over at Universal who happen to be my executives who are so enthusiastic about horror that you can reference movies and you can talk that kind of shorthand, kind of how we talk actually."

Revelations : "You don't have to explain everything."

Clive : "Yeah, exactly - you sort of say, 'This is that scene in Aliens when...' and they go, 'I know, yeah, yeah.' But it's really hard work to do that with someone who hates horror movies - even if they want to do it for commercial reasons."

Revelations : "I'll bet they ask questions like, 'So why does she go into the cellar?' , 'Why doesn't she get out of the house...?'"

Clive : "Yeah exactly - '...check the batteries in her torch first...' Right - 'She doesn't otherwise you wouldn't have a scene!'
"I'm just not sweating about it - my experience of movies now is that so many things can change, in a heartbeat, that it's better not to sweat about it until it's right in front of you. The other thing is that I will have other movies to produce - Thief of Always, which Kelly Asbury will be directing, hopefully Dread, which is over at Fox and then of course the series of Books of Blood movies which Seraphim's doing. So it's not as though we wouldn't have lots of movies in the absence of Tortured Souls happening. I don't want to send any bad vibes out to the Tortured Souls project; I actually have got faith in the project and feel very passionate about doing it."

Revelations : "But it's not in your hands, so..."

Clive : "Not in my hands - right - none of this is. Whereas writing and painting is in my hands. It's one of the comforts I've gone back to over the last few years in a Hollywood atmosphere which is increasingly about huge-budgeted movies, the like of which I don't really have a great interest in as a director. I like watching them, within limits, but I'm not a great... I wouldn't, I couldn't go on and do what Sam Raimi has done and take on a massive franchise like the Spiderman stuff and make it a huge hit; it's not in my nature to do that sort of thing. I'm a little too... I suppose, self-obsessed - too obsessed with my own mythologies."

Revelations : "Well, we still wonder what your Alien III would have looked like!"

Clive : "Yeah - well, actually I do too! One of these days I'll let it out on the world! Oh boy!"

Click here for Part Four...

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