Clive on Weaveworld

He tried to sit up, but he was so heavy, so laden with the dirt of his journey he couldn't move. He wanted to slough the weight off like a snake its tired skin, but he lay there unable to move a finger joint, while the voice called him and called him, fading as it went searching for him in higher regions.
He so wanted to follow it; and without warning he felt that yearning realised, as his clothes fell away from him and he began to travel over the grass, his belly to the earth's belly. How he was transported he wasn't certain, for he felt no movement in his limbs, and his breath was not quickened by the effort. Indeed he felt so removed from sensation it was as if he'd left body and breath behind him with his clothes...
...He knew in that moment how moons made love. By bewitching the nights of planets; by stirring their oceans; by blessing the hunter and the harvester. A hundred ways that needed only the unbound anatomies of light and space.

"I'm working on a big fantasy book called Weaveworld. It's an invented world book of a kind, but it spends two-thirds of its time in this world. It has some horrific elements, some metaphysical elements and some very black jokes. I'm looking forward to it immensely."

Clive Barker

By Kim Newman, Interzone, No 14, Winter 1985/86

"The story originates with a particular carpet, which was a gift to me from my ex-art teacher. I stared at it for many weeks, certain there was something waiting in its weave. There was. A novel."

Horror In Books And Movies: Clive Barker

By [ ], USA Today Online Chat, The Nation Talks : Live, 31 October 2000 (Note - full text at

"I don't want to give too much away; there's a kind of ambiguity [with the Seerkind]. I mean, the Fugue is by no means all good: one of the things I wanted to do in Weaveworld was make it a visionary world, not a mawkish or sickly world. Scenes like the thing that happens in Lemuel Lo's orchard, scenes of great delicacy and hopefully of beauty, where Cal reads his poetry. And there are scenes of great depravity and darkness, and it's also a sexual world: a lot of fantasy is de-sexualised. It maybe part and parcel of the origins of fantasy, I don't know: there's a lot of romance but remarkably little sex. People tend to do things for the sake of the vows rather than for the sake of the fuck that comes afterwards. I always find that a curious, even perplexing way to go about things. And obviously the horror fiction is very sexual: I write highly eroticised horror fiction. I wanted to make sure that when I transferred to fantasy fiction, that wasn't lost. I thought that was very important. For one thing, the fan mail seems to suggest that the readership enjoys that and I also think that here we are in the latter part of the twentieth century, literature is finally liberated from the yoke of censorship in the same way that movies aren't, and I'd like to exploit that freedom. Not in a particularly calculating way, simply that my imagination has a large sexual component as, I believe, does everybody's. And why not put it into the books?... I think that stories have their own natural lengths: I hope when you get to the end of 'Weaveworld' you'll realise that that was the size it should be. I planned a large novel - I didn't plan a novel quite as large as it ended up being, but that was the size it needed to be... It's not a splatter book, it's not visceral. What it is is disturbing in places: I think Immacolata, the Magdalene and the Hag are very disturbing creatures. And let's also remember that fantasy fiction has its share of monsters - there are lots of monsters slavering and slobbering their way through 'The Lord of the Rings', for instance: the Shelob, the giant spiders, the orcs and Sauron. When you set up battles between good and evil, monsters are bound to rear their heads. I don't think 'Weaveworld' is in the same territory as 'Rings' - from page 1 the latter is obviously set in another world; 'Weaveworld' intends something which is closer to the kind of collision of the real and the fantastical which occurs in the pages of J.M.Barrie's 'Peter Pan' or in the prophetic pages of William Blake. Tolkein is completely uninspirational to me, which isn't to say that I don't enjoy his books. I didn't pick up 'Lord of the Rings' and say, well I'd like to do a fantasy. In my work there 's a really strong reality base even in the fantastical stuff. You do get the impression in 'Weaveworld' that the Seerkind fornicate, fart - they're very far from pure. That makes them more entertaining and obscures the artificial division between the morally pure and the heroic on one side, and the completely damned, blasphemous and unholy on the other. You've got to write a horror or fantasy scene the way that it touches you - if you're writing erotic scenes you're going to get a hard-on, if you're writing a joke it's going to make you laugh. One of the things I've tried to do in 'Weaveworld' is suggest that in fact the problem is one of forgetting, that our lives are full of miraculous little things that happen, and because, as Wordsworth said, 'the world is too much with us,' because we are sitting here in a real solid world with the traffic roaring outside, it's difficult to remember the miraculous moment when you first realise that you're in love, or the miraculous moment when you hear a piece of music for the first time which moves you in an extraordinary way."

Clive Barker In The Flesh

By Dave Hughes, Skeleton Crew, III/IV, 1988

The Performance in Le's Orchard

"I would hope that I'm a better writer by the time it comes to Imajica than I am six years previous when I'm writing Weaveworld. I would be tempted to agree with you that Imajica is a superior book, on the other hand, there's a fairy tale quality to Weaveworld which I like."

Transcript of interview on BBC Radio 5 Live

By Brian Hayes, 9 November 1998

"I enjoy the emotional commitment that you get with the characters [writing a novel], which 'Weaveworld' was. A nine-month commitment to characters. I enjoy that. I laugh with them, I cry with them. It's much more difficult to have that kind of commitment over the shorter period of even a novella. I think there will be more novels, at least for the foreseeable future."

Interview : Meet Clive Barker

By Sheryl Weilgosh, Castle Rock, Vol 4, No 2, February 1988

Shadwell unmasks himself

"We live, it seems to me, in a society in which meaning is being drained away, in which metaphysical significance is under siege... 150 years ago, our sense that the world was a watch and God was the watchmaker would have been very strong. Now, we are both of us born into a world in which the atom bomb which AIDS is rampant. We live in a world in which fear and anxiety are commonplace. On one curious level, one of the ways that people have responded to this high level anxiety is not to search. I don't see a massive explosion of genuine metaphysical enquiry, I see Jonestown kind of things; I see cults and eruptions of California-ese... Relating that to the fears that I have and the hope that I have, my fears are finely related to the death of meaning... One of the things that 'Weaveworld' is about is meaning being frail in the world, a frail thing subject to forgetfulness. The major theme of Weaveworld above all is memory. It's about how you hold on to something that you had when you were a child, the knowledge you had as a child, how we as a species hold on to a kind of optimism which we remember. How we have a memory of Eden, a 'race' memory, a subconscious memory of Eden. The word 'fantasy' has now become pejorative... In fact, fantasy fiction has repeatedly through the ages addressed very serious subjects; Moby Dick is a fantasy, Midsummer Night's Dream is a fantasy, The Tempest, Paradise Lost, and they contain great moral complexity and depth. So fantasy should not be maligned. Fantasy as a form can contain great depth. Not claiming that 'Weaveworld' is the definitive - it isn't, but it's certainly an attempt on my part to address the possibilities of fantasy, rather than simply its superfice. It can be about life and death, it can be about eroticism transformed to magic, it can be about mystery 'held onto'... it's important to address these subjects. And I think fantasy can do it better, because finally, we live a quarter of our lives, a third of our lives, perhaps... in dreamland. And in our dreams, we explore and deal with our lives in metaphorical terms... which are parallels to, analogous to the conditions and the fears and the hopes that we have in our waking lives... I would say that in the same way, fantasy is a confrontation with our waking lives, at its best. The problem is, in a genre which is full of phallic swords and that kind of thing, it's important to establish female power and female potency, and the eroticism which comes with that. And it needn't all be 'goody-goody' stuff, I mean Immacolata particularly; she's kind of sexy, yet dangerous at the same time. And yet a virgin, which makes her all the more sexier of course. One of my favourite scenes in Weaveworld is when Jerichau makes love with Suzanna, in which his words become poems, which is a kind of image of eroticism which is potent I hope in part because it is anti-chauvinist. Because here is a man who is very vulnerable and very much in love. And of course Cal is very much in love with Suzanna, but it's a non-sexual love, under those circumstances... She has so much power in the book. She's the one who makes the plot turn 90 degrees in places... I love the Venus Mountain sequences because they are very sexual, and yet they are very erotic in a curious kind of way. But also they're absolutely such strange sequences."


By Ste Dillon, Adventurer, 1987

for Weaveworld

[Weaveworld embodying the point of fantasy]"The longing for the other place. Yes, obviously that intention was there from the beginning... the feeling is that there is a home which is even more fundamental than the home where you were born, that maybe we have, prenatally, an image of Eden, or of a perfect place, or a place where we may be perfectible."

Every Fear Is A Desire

In London, September 1988 by Lisa Tuttle, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"Nobody in any of my pieces of fiction runs to a crucifix, thrusts it in the face of this thing and expects to come out alive! The same is true of the upbeat, the positive images, if you like, which are in Weaveworld. Weaveworld has a lot of very positive visions in it, and those are visions which are susceptible to analysis and susceptible to confrontation , and the characters look at them and ask them questions . They don't stand slack-jawed in the face of some gushing Victorian vision which is all about light and hope and redemption but not actually about the practicality of what you do tomorrow."

Transcript of talk at UCLA

25 February 1987, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

for Weaveworld

"It's not fantasy, exactly... It's also not sword and sorcery - there are no elves or magicians in forests. There's sex in forests, but no magicians! I decided to bring sex into Wonderland - I thought that would be a nice idea because Wonderland is a kind of sexless place. It always surprises me that when fantasy writers decide to return to a place of true magic... they remove one of the few things that is magical in everybody's lives: sex... So I decided to make an erotic Wonderland."

A Little Bit Of Hamlet

Barker at UCLA 25 February 1987, by Dennis Etchison, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"I don't believe some abstract evil is screwing our lives up, we screw up our own lives. Other human beings screw our lives up for us and we sometimes aid them by voting for them. I don't believe there's some great malfeasance that means us nothing but harm. Chance, circumstance, accident, but mainly human malice are what bring us down.
"I wanted the reader to begin with Shadwell as a human being and watch him evolve into this kind of grand evil. He begins as this shoddy little man, the way Hitler and Mussolini did. We are prey, not to any abstract evil, but to the shoddy little men of the world...
"Weaveworld is the only one of my books that has a character - Cal Mooney - who, in some ways, resembles me. Cal has a great-grandfather who was an Irish poet. I have a great-grandfather who was an Irish poet. Actually, I have a lot of things in common with Cal - that ludicrous dreaminess, the capacity to be easily distracted that made my school life so irritating to my tutors because I was always looking out the window instead of concentrating on what was on the blackboard."

Prince Of Horror

By Vern Perry, The Orange County Register, 18 October 1987

"I've evolved towards this idea that's been in my head, that I've wanted to do for a long time. It's a very long book - about 600 pages - very long for me, as long as I want to get. But I would like to do a lot more fantasy. But I use the word 'fantasy' in the widest possible context."

Weird Tales Talks With Clive Barker

By Robert Morris, Weird Tales, No 292, Fall 1988

"Weaveworld follows the visionary strand in the Books of Blood stories like In the Hills, the Cities , stories that try to present images that are wildly outlandish and unusual, where I'm trying to push my imagination - and the reader's imagination - to the limit. The book is extremely dark; in fact, some parts are darker than any of my stuff that is marketed as horror. Some of it is aimed in all sorts of extraordinary directions. But I didn't set pen to paper thinking that I would write a fantasy novel, because I think those definitions suck."

Talking Terror With Clive Barker

Barker during Hellraiser SFX, by Douglas E. Winter, (i) Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Vol 7, No 2, June 1987 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"This [Weaveworld] could not be further from unicorns and goblins. What I'm trying to do in this book is make a fantasy about why we want fantasy."

Clive Barker: Renaissance Hellraiser

Barker at 1986 World Fantasy Convention, by Leanne C. Harper, (i) The Bloomsbury Review, September/October 1987 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"Weaveworld was my version of what the English fantasy tradition has done so well: the imagined world - Tolkein, C.S.Lewis, Lewis Carroll - a British tradition that's notable for the way in which it deals with the notion of mythic worlds."

If You Knew Clive Like We Know Clive

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 78, October 1988

"I wanted to write a novel in which the world of magic and the world of the real collided. The world of visions, the world of transformations, the world of William Blake colliding with the gritty, brutal reality of living in the later part of the twentieth century in a de-humanised, de-deified, de-mythologised world... I wanted to see what would survive.
"I also wanted to do something that hadn't been done often, and hadn't been done very well when it had been done, and that was to write a novel which was both very realistic in its dealings with the fantastical and very mythological in its dealings with the real. So, Liverpool was a world I had enough experience of to attempt something like that.
"Liverpool has gone through some very bad economic times, and yet it retains a flavour and a poetry. I tried to get that across...
"I wanted the main character, Cal, to have such an extraordinary experience on his entry into the world that we, through that experience, would understand for the rest of the book that this was a world worth saving, you know? Now, had he gone into that world, picked up an enchanted sword and chopped goblins to pieces, I would have thought, 'Fuck it... Who the fuck cares? What's the use of preserving that?'"

Ripping Yarns: Clive And Dangerous

By Graham Linehan, Hot Press, Vol 12 No 20, 20 October 1998

"Some ideas have short attention spans, they have a place to go and they finish when 30 pages are over. Weaveworld was an idea which was rewarded with a further extended creative effort on my part. But an idea like Rawhead Rex or The Age Of Desire, these are stories which have a natural length of 25 pages. They are not ideas which philosophically or narratively would particularly merit or reward extended play."

Babel's Child

By Mark Salisbury, Fear, No 2, Sept/Oct 1988

"[re: film version] "I've turned down any overtures, simply because if and when it gets made I want to be at the helm. It's a large-scale, expensive project and if and when it gets made it'll get made when I've got another three movies under my belt, at least."

Chains Of Love

By Mark Salisbury Fear, No 3, December 1988

"So many magic worlds are about the liberation to the foulest kinds of wish fulfillment. Men go into enchanted worlds and manage finally to be able to slaughter, like barbarians... Women go into enchanted worlds and become queens and princesses and are worshiped like goddesses, but in actual fact become wholly passive in the same process.
"What I wanted to do was create a pacifist paradise. Could I create a moment for Cal in the book Weaveworld that was magical to the reader and yet didn't require him to, you know, like kick major alien ass?...
"You have to write something that makes some kind of metaphysical sense as well as narrative sense. This isn't a fiction of escapism; it's a fiction of confrontation... At its best, I do believe it confronts genuine anxieties and genuine hopes. In Weaveworld, I wanted to talk about where the magic could survive in the 20th century, and what we meant by magic."

Welcome To The Magic Show

By Cate Terwilliger, Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, 4 November 1988

Clive Barker - Susanna Becomes A Dragon, 1987

"In the case of Weaveworld, I wrote a lost tribe story. It's something that preoccupies me."

Clive Barker - Lord Of The Breed

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 91, April 1990 {Note : interview took place in June 1989}

"Tales of Paradise Lost are central to our culture, of course; we are all exiles from some place of bliss.
"What is that place? A memory of a pre-conscious state of perfect contentment, where we believe ourselves whole because we have not yet comprehended the fact of our physical separation from our mothers? Or a religious conviction, too deep in our cells to be subjected to the rigours of intellectual enquiry, that knows our connection to the planet, to animal life, to the stars? A faith, is it? Or a glorious certainty?
"It isn't necessary for a storyteller to have answers to the questions they pose, of course; only to he interested enough to ask them. Weaveworld is full of unrequited enquiries. Why does Immacolata's hatred of the Seerkind burn so intensely? Is the creature in the Empty Quarter an angel or not? And if the garden of sand in which it has kept its psychotic vigil is not the Eden of Genesis, then where did the Seerkind arise from? There are certainly answers to these mysteries to be wrought and written, but they would, I am certain, only beg further questions, which if answered would beg yet more. For all its length and elaboration, the novel does not attempt to fill in every gap in its invented history. 'Nothing ever begins', its first line announces; there are innumerable stories from which this fragment of narrative springs, and there will be plenty to tell when it's done. Though I have had requests aplenty for a sequel, I will never write one. The tale isn't finished; but I've told all I can."


By Clive Barker, foreword to the 10th anniversary edition of Weaveworld, 1996

"My editor is doing a special edition of 20th century masters of fantastic fiction. She's also doing a C.S. Lewis, she's doing a Tolkien, and she's doing me. Fucking great. There's Lord of the Rings going with my Weaveworld and Imajica - I mean, it's as good as it gets."

The Candyman Can

By Sean T. Collins, Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly, Summer 2001

"I think there's a part of me that thinks the books wait in me until they really, really, really need to be written. There are lots of false starts in my bottom drawer, lots of false starts. And, very often, they're false starts that have later been taken to full completion very happily. Lots of false starts for Weaveworld, for instance, which were written before the Books of Blood - not necessarily about a carpet, but about that mixture of Tolkien and Blake and Lewis Carroll, you know, that invented world which eventually ended up as being Weaveworld was attempted many times before finally it found its voice."

Open Roads... What Price Wonderland?

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 3 April 2002 (note - full text here)

...other comments

Lisa Tuttle: "When I read 'Weaveworld' I was immediately struck by what a classic, even archetypal, fantasy it was... and yet it was also recognisably of a piece with Clive's earlier work, all of which had been horror. I next read 'Cabal', and found it was, in essence, the same story as 'Weaveworld'. What I had thought of as archetypal fantasy, the motivating urge behind the reading (and writing) of fantasy when I found it in 'Weaveworld', reappeared in 'Cabal', now in the tropes and trappings of the horror story. What is this archetypal fantasy? There are probably others, but the one I recognised in 'Weaveworld' is that of the longed-for Other Place. It may be called Faeryland or Narnia or by any number of other names, but it is always somewhere other than here, unseen (and usually unsuspected) by most, yet accessible to those who believe and long to go there. This longing - desire - is the engine which drives fantasy, just as in the horror story the engine is fear. But that desire and fear might be inextricably linked is something not usually commentated on or explored by writers in either genre."

Every Fear Is A Desire

In London, September 1988 by Lisa Tuttle, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"When you pick it up, don't expect lords mounted on steeds or furry creatures and you won't be disappointed."


By [ ], Fear, No 2, September/October 1988

Weaveworld bibliography...

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