Clive on Coldheart Canyon

And then, as he stood there, waiting for Sandru to return, his gaze moved beyond the objects that filled the chamber, and came to rest instead on the walls beyond. The chamber was not, he saw, made of bare stone. It was covered with tile. In every sense, this was an understatement, for these were no ordinary tiles. Even by so ungenerous a light as the bare bulbs threw upon them, and viewed by Zeffer's weary eyes, it was clear they were of incredible sophistication and beauty.
He didn't wait for Father Sandru to return; rather, he began to push through the piles of furniture toward the designs that covered the walls. They covered the floor, too, he saw, and ceiling. In fact, the chamber was a single masterpiece of tile; every single inch of it decorated.
In all his years of traveling and collecting he'd never seen anything quite like this. Careless of the dirt and dust-laden webs which covered every surface, he pushed on through until he reached the nearest wall. It was filthy, of course, but he pulled a large silk handkerchief out of his pocket and used it to scrub away some of the filth on the tile. It had been plain even from a distance that the tiles were elaborately designed, but now, as he cleared a swath across four or five, he realized that this was not an abstract pattern but a representation. There was part of a tree there, on one of the tiles, and on another, adjacent to it, a man on a white horse. The detail was astonishing. The horse was so finely painted, it looked about ready to prance off around the room.
"It's a hunt."

"I will turn [the short story collection in] in Spring of 1999. They have pencilled in, I emphasise pencilled in, late fall of next year for release. I would always like more time. I would like time to play and whatever. I'm always saying give me another month or so. I've done five of the Mercy and the Jackal stories [about a little girl, Mercy and a wrestler] and I have done a draft of a story called Coldheart Canyon, based in Los Angeles and is a very dark, very black movie star story. I have a draft of The Lazarus Requiem and a lot of shorter pieces which are autobiographical, so I have done quite a lot of the stuff...This book is going to be much, much bigger than any collection of short stories I have ever done before. We should have about seventeen or eighteen stories, plus the introductions for each, all under one cover. Now all I have to do is find a fucking title!"


By Stephen Dressler, Lost Souls, Issue 12, January 1999

"I have a novel under wraps right now, which is about Hollywood - both contemporary Hollywood and the Hollywood of the Golden Age. I don't want to give too much away, but I'm delighted to be able to say that the book is going to contain a very strong lesbian monster and a range of sexual tastes that will be startling even to those already familiar with the eroticism in my work."

Online Appearance at Barnes & Noble

Transcript of an online appearance at Barnes & Noble's site, 15 December 1999

"I'm writing a short novel right now. It's a book about Hollywood. It's my attempt to sort of summarize, I suppose, my feelings, good and bad, about this town. In a book, which is primarily reality-based, that is to say that it doesn't go off to any alternative world or anything, but has a touch of the supernatural about it, but just a touch. You know I've been here almost 10 years now. I have extremely mixed feelings about the film business. And yet I stay in it because I like movies. I enjoy movies. I enjoy the making of them, I enjoy watching them. I just don't enjoy many of the, oh, the politics. Much of the politics that comes along with the business of making movies is frankly a pain in the ass. And I wanted to be able to talk about some of that stuff in a fictional form, so that's what I'm doing with this book.
"It does [have a title], but I'm not 100% certain of it, so I'm not gonna offer it up. Titles stay in my head and I play with them and play with them and eventually I'm certain of them. So until I'm certain, I probably shouldn't offer it up. I'll tell you what I will say is that it will be out a year from now. It comes out, I think, November, 2000."

Interview: Clive Barker

By Spence D, IGN Movies, 16 December 1999

"I've been here almost ten years, and I thought it was time to write about the things I've discovered about this place. I wanted to write about it in a way that wouldn't get me sued, but I also wanted to write about it in a way that was relatively honest. I don't like this town very much. I'm here because I believe in movies and I think fantasy and horror have always had their place in movies and always will have. I want to be involved in making those kinds of pictures, and it's really hard to make those pictures any place but here. But having said that, there are a whole bunch of things about this city I despise, about the working methods of the city, the lack of loyalty, the lack of honesty, the lack of joy. Every now and then, you need an outlet. You need to have a rant. It was time to have a rant. This story popped into my head, and I thought, 'This is a great way to talk about Hollywood and to talk about it from the inside.' It's going to be fun, and it's going to make me a lot of enemies. The feeling of it is closest to Sacrament, perhaps, in the sense that it happens in the here and now and there's an element of dark, dark fantasy in it, but there are no other worlds. It doesn't go into other dimensions or anything like that. It's very much based in the moment. This time next year it should be hitting the shelves."

Dream Catcher

By Gina McIntyre, Wicked, Vol 2 No 1, February 2000 {Note: interview took place in Autumn 1999}

"The gay man in Coldheart Canyon is a part of old Hollywood. He's my friendly nod to a man I knew very well, Roddy MacDowell, who I loved and, as you know, passed away recently. There's a little of Roddy in this character of Jerry Brahms. He's seen the inside of Hollywood, as Roddy has. He was a child actor, as Roddy was...
"The gay character has a very different function in this piece. [The lesbian] in Galilee was really the rebel character, she was the character who was going to throw everything into chaos every time she arrived on the scene, which is why I loved writing her. Jerry is actually the cultural historian of Coldheart Canyon. He's the character who carries the weight of history...
"I want to make sure that the gay characters I write aren't limited simply to 'oh, that's the gay character,' and the issues of the character be gay issues, why should they be? Why should heterosexual characters carry around heterosexual issues? Jerry's humanity is rooted in this moment he had in his childhood of being a star. And then having that snatched away from him. That's the difference, of course, between him and Roddy. Roddy continued to be a very well known actor right to the end of his life."

Q & A With Clive Barker

By Laurie Kay, Pride isp, interview at the LA Times Festival of Books, 29 April 2000

"The new book, Coldheart Canyon, has some of the most erotic scenes I've ever written. It has some of the most sentimental scenes. And it has some of the most violent scenes. It is absolutely the most radically disparate of my books. My model is Dickens, who shamelessly moved from pieces of satire to pieces of warm and cheery sentiment, and so Coldheart Canyon is my attempt to go after that. "

Crossing Over

By Eric Twelker,, January 2001 (N.B. full text available at

"Coldheart Canyon, my new novel, is action packed, and it's filled with strangeness and violence and love affairs and romance and bizarre sex, and ghosts and all that. Did I mention the bizarre sex? But all this happens to characters that I think you believe in, you care for. You may even be surprised that you care for them. Some of them are real pigs, but you end up caring for them because I've taken a lot of time to build up their back-stories and their lives, the texture of their lives."

Clive Barker's Undying Interview

By Jason Bergman,, 21 February 2001

"It's based around the canyon where I live and it's filled with Hollywood lore. The type of stories that you hear if you live here long enough. Who did what to who, and why. I don't much love this city, so what I try to do is blow the surface off the publicity and say, 'Okay, this is what you have pretensions to be like, but this is the way you really are.' It's been fun revealing the corruption and the sexual perversities of people whose public faces are so pristine, so holier than thou.
"I think this is conceivably one of the most commercial books I have ever written. It's a broad audience because everybody wants to know what happens in Hollywood. And I've been here long enough to put it in the book. I may have changed the names to protect the innocent, but it won't be difficult to guess who I'm talking about. So I've gotta be very careful, but on the other hand, it's hard to be sued on the issue of truth. And the things I'm going to be saying I have very significant documentary evidence for. What I promise you is that it will give you an insider's glimpse into how Hollwood works.
"I don't feel like the city belongs to me. And I don't belong to this city. I belong to myself and to my art. Why get edgy now? There's going to be an awful lot of people who are going to be tracking this book and saying, 'Oh fuck, I hope I'm not in here!'"

Lord Of Illusions

By [ ], SFX Magazine, Issue No.65, June 2000

"Coldheart 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."


By [Craig Fohr], Lost Souls Newsletter, September / December 2000 (note - interview took place 25 August 2000)

"It's very unpredictable, the things that set your heart on fire, that you want to write about. Right now, I'm writing about Hollywood and thoroughly enjoying myself. I'll be turning in this book in two months' time, and it will contain an awful lot of anger, and it's been real fun to write with that anger."

The Essential Obsessions

By Cody Goodfellow, Lost Souls Newsletter, May 2000

"I am sitting in front of Coldheart Canyon, the Hollywood novel which I am proofreading. It's my Hollywood gothic novel.
"It's a book about the dark side of Hollywood. It feels a little bit like a roller coaster ride here in my office just to get it to delivery - the final 'kick bollock and scramble' before it's given over to the press. It's a big book... it's got a lot of stuff about Hollywood that I've wanted to put on paper for a long time.
"I hope every book is, in some measure, a surprise. When I did The Thief of Always, which is a kids' book, that was a surprise. When I did Sacrament, which was a gay book, that was a surprise. When I did Galilee, which had a black hero, that was a surprise. People know I live in Hollywood, so perhaps it won't be a surprise that I've chosen to devote one of my novels to that subject, but I think my take on it may surprise people a little bit. I hope it does. I've tried to find a bitter-sweet point of view rather than simply being vitriolic, which is too easy. There are many things about Hollywood I love, and I want to make sure the book expresses my love-hate relationship"

Dreaming Of A Nightmare

By James Bohling, Frontiers, 27 October 2000

"Even though I was sort of mourning my Dad, finding it difficult to write, I was at the same time finding the thing I needed to write really if I was going to pay respect to it as a subject, as an idea, I was going to need to tell it more fully than I had originally planned. I mean the original thing had been, I don't know, 50,000, 60,000 words I suppose and it had been originally told entirely from Todd's point of view. And it was really going to be a very simple book about a rather narcissistic actor in Hollywood who encounters some ghosts and we're not sure at the end of the short story or the novella, whatever it was going to be - novella, I suppose - whether he's really seen them or whether he hasn't. That was the book...
"And as I got into it I realised these ghosts are sort of really interesting and I want to write about them because they represent old Hollywood and here I have a chance not only to talk about new Hollywood but also to talk about old Hollywood and to contrast their methodologies and to talk about Hollywood in a much more rounded way than I had originally anticipated. So it was a judgement call made out of ambition, I think, just to tell a better story."

Nips And Tucks, Tits And Fucks

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 10 July 2001 (note - full text here)

"It is humongous. It is 292,000 words, it's a 600-700 page book. But I always thought it was going to be big, but I didn't think it was going to be this big. I didn't realize how much I wanted to say about Hollywood. What's been interesting about writing it is... I've got a lot of feelings about this place; very complicated feelings, by no means straightforward feelings at all, a lot of love/hate relationship stuff in there. As I really feel that I will not write about Hollywood again, I wanted to make sure this book was my comprehensive, almost a summary of all my feelings and experiences and beliefs wound into a story that has a lot of horrific dark elements in it, and I think a lot of emotional elements in it as well...
"I name names but I don't think anybody is going to be terribly surprised by the names that are named. And on occasion I've been obliged by people recommending me to change names. But, you know everybody can guess...
"There is something about this city and about the history of this city and about the way that we deal with the past in this city which I articulate for the first time in this book. And you know I love history and I love the history of movies. And one of the things the book does is confront modern Hollywood with an image of its past. And that's a kind of interesting area to be in with storytelling. Because so much has been lost in recent times as Hollywood has changed and Hollywood has become a function of 'the bean counter', the accountants. I think a lot of art has gone to be replaced with an awful lot of calculations. I talk about what's been lost fondly, I also talk about...I have a lot of fun. I'm smiling as I'm talking about this because I know that the book is really gonna get up some people's noses. It does say something about the way the writers and artists are treated. Which I believe is completely true because it's my experience with this place. On the other hand there are times the novel evokes the magic of this place. The magic of California, the magic of the sky, a certain time of day, the smell in the air. The poetry of the book, if you will, lies in its description of landscape, and the bittersweet stuff is very much in the way human beings treat other human beings."


By Craig Fohr and Kelly Shaw, Lost Souls, March 2001 (note - interview took place 14 December 2000)

"Coldheart Canyon, which is the Hollywood book, is 800 pages of gossip, sex, ghosts and Hollywood, and is pushing at the limits. I mean really pushing at the limits. Shocked a lot of people. My agents and authors were really startled that I had pushed so far. And that's good...
"The lawyers are looking at it just in case there's anything I have to do. In fact, I know there are... But, um, I'll just change the names and you'll know anyway. The only thing I changed I changed because I... There are two sex scenes very close to each other, and there was a little too much similarity between them. One is a very heavy S&M scene, then there was a gap, then there was another lesbian S&M scene. I thought, 'You can do better than this, Barker.' So what I've replaced it with startled the shit out of me. I thought, 'Oh my God, what have I done!' It's great. It's really cool. I'm not going to say anything about it. It just involves, you know, two guys and a girl...
"I'm excited by the prospect of writing some fantasy, having been writing very dark, reality-based supernatural horror in Coldheart Canyon. I mean, it's been very fun writing about stuff which I could literally see out of my window. And, on occasion, which I could read on the pages of The National Enquirer. What's interesting of course is that, where Hollywood is concerned, I have to be careful. I'm part of the community. On the other hand, it constantly surprises me the number of things that people do, the things that people say, the things people get away with. It's very fun."

The Fabulous Barker Boy

By Tom Mayo, SFX, No 78, May 2001

"I did hugely more research than I ended up using in the book. I consulted dozens of volumes, essays, pamphlets and internet entries on Golden Age Hollywood and the people who occupied it...
"It was a difficult book to write, in part because I began writing it after my father's death and as I wrote I was still working through a lot of complex feelings of loss, but writing is a very healing occupation. As I moved in to Coldheart Canyon in the second draft and its characters sprang into real life before me I found myself enjoying the process hugely. In this book, as in no other I have written, I move back and forth between a world of wild fantasy and the world I live in. When I look out my bedroom window I see Coldheart Canyon; at night, when the coyotes start to howl on the other side of the hill, I feel a pleasurable shudder of recognition."

The Auden Interviews - Clive Barker

By Sandy Auden,, January 2002

"The feedback has been great, the reviews have been...either loved it or hated it. I've been surprised with people who liked it, Maslin for The New York Times liked it, which was a little surprising. Movie reviewers have tended to have fun with it because it's about the movies, and not very pleasant things about the movies. People who liked it have tended to be people who liked the older Clive actually: the Clive of The Books of Blood and The Damnation Game, when the sex was very graphic and the violence was very graphic. The people who haven't liked it have been people who perhaps have gotten used to the gentler Clive. They're used to the fantasy Clive or the romance Clive. They've found this book too strong and too violent and too thoroughly disgusting."


By Craig Fohr, Lost Souls, 22 February 2002 (note - online at

...other comments

"Most of the time I'm just being me, I guess."
"That's a performance," Katya said. "People think it's easy. But it's not. Being yourself ... that's hard."
It was strange to hear it put that way, but she was right. It wasn't easy, playing yourself If you let your attention drop for a moment, there was nothing there for the camera to look at. Nothing behind the eyes. He'd seen it, in his own performances and in those of others: moments when the concentration lapsed for a few seconds and the unforgiving lens revealed a vast vapidity.
"I know how it hurts," she said, "not to be appreciated."
"I get a lot of other stuff you know."
"The other stuff being money."
"Yes. And celebrity."
"And half the time you think: it doesn't matter, anyway. They're all ignoramuses at the Academy, voting for their friends. What do you want from them? But you're not really convinced. In your heart you want their worthless little statues. You want them to tell you they know how much you work to be perfect."
He was astonished at this. She had articulated what he'd felt on a decade of Oscar Nights; an absurd mixture of contempt and envy. It was as though she was reading his mind.
"How did you figure all that out?"
"Because I've felt the same things. You want them to love you, but you hate yourself for wanting it. Their love isn't worth anything, and you know it."
"But you still want it."
"You still want it."

Michael Harris (Los Angeles Times) : "The first two-thirds of Coldheart Canyon are entertaining, sometimes more. Barker's vision of Hell - as the intersection of the sexy and the sinister - is original in conception, painterly in detail. But with about 250 pages to go, he loses control of the narrative. So many subplots converge that the characters, forced to react to one gruesome or miraculous event after another, lose coherence. They cease to inhabit their own story and become more like the audience at one of Todd's action flicks, manipulated into shuddering and yelling and weeping on cue.
"Barker has produced and directed films, and recently signed an $8-million contract with Disney to 'create movies and theme attraction based on his new children's book series,' according to his publicist. In short, he must know a lot about how Hollywood works, but you can't tell from this novel: a put-down of venal agents and heartless studio chiefs and one-upmanship at parties that could have been written by any envious outsider.
"Barker's real gift is for the spooky stuff, but even here, if we pause a moment, we wonder: Are the sins of Hollywood, old or new, really so great? Or is identifying it with the Devil's Country just a backhanded compliment?"

Ghost-Ridden Tale Brings Horror to Hollywood's Venal Ways

By Michael Harris, Los Angeles Times, 6 November 2001

Jeff Zaleski (Publishers Weekly) : "Coldheart Canyon is Barker's most accessible book and will prove his most popular to date. Certainly the Hollywood setting carries vast popular appeal... yet Barker hasn't dulled. Violent sexual imagery abounds, horrific yet beautiful, echoing the extremities of Books of Blood. Coldheart distills nearly all of Barker's work. The novel's sophisticated merging of the fantastic and the real, as well as its incredible central device - a room of painted tiles that come alive, luring mortals into the hell they depict - sound themes explored by Barker in his magnificent fantasy epics of the late '80s and early '90s... And Coldheart's strong emotional currents flow from Barker's more personal later novels, Sacrament and Galilee... consider issues close to Barker's life - gay sexuality, love, the purpose of art - just as Coldheart presents his feelings about the town where he lives and works.
"The novel pours acid on the Hollywood scene and many of its players, thinly disguised. Its aging action hero, Todd Pickett, could look in a mirror and see Tom Cruise, at least until Pickett undergoes plastic surgery that destroys his looks. But on whom did Barker base his rapacious and deliriously beautiful villainness, screen vamp Katya Lupi?"

The Relaunch of Clive Barker

By Jeff Zaleski, Publishers Weekly, 24 September 2001

Alison Callahan (Assistant Editor, HarperCollins) : "We went through a lot of covers. [Clive] wanted to see what we would come up with, but nothing was hitting home. We were trying to get the canyon, we were trying to get the house, we were trying to get the lights of L.A.
"So we put [the portrait] on the ARC, because we didn't have a cover yet. Everyone we sent it to loved it, and we thought, 'What are we doing? This is the cover of the book.'"

The Relaunch of Clive Barker

By Jeff Zaleski, Publishers Weekly, 24 September 2001

Coldheart Canyon bibliography...

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