Clive on Mister B Gone

Go on. Quickly, while there's still time. Burn it. Don't look at another word.
Did you hear me? Not. One. More. Word.

"As I moved into writing the final 4,000 pages (handwritten) [of Scarlet Gospels], I realised I wanted to take a little break before I plunged into the final draft. Then I called my editors and I said, I talked to them about a project called Mister B. Gone - as I talked about to you before. This is a short novel, which I almost have finished, which I've been writing as a sort of release from the tensions of the darkness of Scarlet Gospels. I'm not writing Scarlet Gospels right now, I'm writing the final draft of Mister B. Gone...
"It's also about a demon, it's just a very different kind of book. It's in the first person; I'm writing in the voice of Jakabok. Jakabok is 'a minor divil' he calls himself, but he's actually a vicious little bastard and he's talking to us and giving us the inside skinny on what it is to be a demon. But he is also threatening us... I don't want to give too much away, but that's where we are... It'll be slightly longer, I think, than Thief of Always. It obviously has no illustrations; to illustrate that book would be terrifying! It has some very dark stuff in it, it's set in the Middle Ages, in part, and let's leave it at that - we'll talk more about it when it's a little nearer...
"And that's a Halloween release, yeah. I'm actually quite excited because in seven weeks I have to deliver it because it has to be out in October - I'd better have an ending, hadn't I..?"

A Spiritual Retreat

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 26 March 2007 (note - full text here)

"This Halloween I'm putting out a novel, a horror novel, called Mister B. Gone. That's me returning to horror which I haven't done as a writer for a long time. It's a very special book. I don't want to give too much away but I think it will be... it's unlike anything I've ever gone after before. It's a different kind of scare, very brutal and very intimate..."

Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors

By Madeline Puckett, Creation TV, recorded at Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, Burbank, 20 May 2007

"The book works: it scares the bejesus out of people but it also entertains people and, I mean, you're in the company of this individual who is really the dark half of me and, you know, it's not a coincidence that I chose 'B' for his second name...
"This guy Botch is an egotist, all he wants to say is 'I suffer and now I'm going to tell you how I suffer and you're going to get me out of my suffering or pay the price'...
"This guy is horribly, physically disfigured, I won't give you the circumstances of how. There isn't much of his conventional devilry left because, well, he's been in a very bad fire and I won't go any further than that, but it does leave him, you know, we're not talking about a sleek, slick demon here, we're talking about someone who could pass among human beings though he would pass shunned: the way we would cross the road (I'm not saying we would... well, we might...) if he came towards us and his face had been burned off and he looked like he might have once been human, we'd certainly be a little anxious around him. And Botch passes for human because he's burned...
"The point is, I didn't want this to be a tale of a demon in Hell, I wanted this to be a tale of a demon amongst men and women, observing their ways, observing evil, observing human evil. I suppose I want to show as many ways that the demonic side of us manifests itself and so, towards the end he says, 'I'm giving you a treatise on evil here, I'm showing you all the ways that you use your powers against one another, in threats and seduction, physical threats sometimes, sometimes mental manipulation. I hope it's a very powerful narrative as a consequence because you can read it as being a story of the devil you don't want to know or you can actually decode it and find all kinds of other levels way below. I guess that's something that a lot of my books have, that sort of layering - you can read it one way or another, but this is particularly strong because he is a son of a bitch and you want to hate him, but I think it's hard to do so because so many of the things he feels we all feel or have felt - you know, rejected love..., so many of the things that make Carrion interesting to people... I never ever lose fascination with villains and the idea of speaking an entire novel with the voice of a villain has been, I suppose, just a pleasure, a holiday!"

Mister B.

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 18 June 2007 (note - full text here)

"Enter Jakabok, a vicious, demented and blood-thirsty demon. He was an occupant of hell for many years, and he knows how to cause every kind of mischief; grief, anguish and agony are his food and drink. But Mister B., as Jakabok likes to be called, is no longer an occupant of the underworld. He's in this book.
"Let me be clear: Mister B. is not in this book as Scarlett O'Hara is in Gone with the Wind. The terrifying Mister B. will be possessing this book, watching you from its words. He can feel the pressure of your fingers on the pages, he can hear your breath and your mutterings, he can also hear your heart quicken. That's what he loves most: the quickening heart, the clammy hands. Any proof that the terrifying tales which he tells are working their dark magic.
"You see, Mister B. has ambitions, and he'll use every trick he knows to get what he wants from you. He'll entertain you with his stories of the war between heaven and hell that is going on around us all the time; he'll threaten you with horrors only those who've seen the depths of the underworld could possibly know. He'll even throw in some gallows humor when he's in the mood.
"But what does he really want? And what is he prepared to do to you to achieve his ends? The book has plenty of answers. But to get to them, you'll need to read, and with every page you turn Jakabok comes closer to you. Closer, ever closer. Tasting the sweat in your fingertips as it sinks into the page where he waits."

Mister B. Gone

By Clive Barker, HarperCollins promotional notes, written as a 'Dear Reader' letter, 2007

"I think, I hope, that Mister B. Gone is something that will have a strange place to play in people's imaginations. Because they've never been addressed that way by a book before...
"I see it as a novel about a character who happens to be a demon, you know, and I think it invites a take on that wonderful sense that Machen had of playing with delicate issues lightly. Take a book, take a few hours to read a book which would be about a war between Heaven and Hell, you know, there's something provocative about saying that, OK, this is a little book but...
"It's the reverse of what very often I've done - Imajica, if you will, puts in everything; this time I'm playing lightly but I think if one's open to it, or if one follows the track that the sentences lead you off on, it's very near to the scale of the issue which is being addressed in that book. I hope that this book is more acceptable for readers who can't face a 900 page book like Imajica! A lot of people would never pick up a book like Imajica. But I think people will pick up Mister B. Gone and I hope will find some provocation in it. I mean, as the fundamentalists in the world become ever more fundamental, I don't think it's a bad time to play with people's ideas as to what's right and what's wrong."

Hellfire And The Demonation

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 7 September 2007 (note - full text here)

"It was important that everything [in Mister B. Gone] be contained within the words. In fact at one point somebody suggested I do some illustrations, and I said, 'Christ, no. Absolutely not!' This is about characters who live in our imaginations, conjured through these words. I don't want to do anything that could compromise that conjuring...
"[It's] exactly the opposite of Abarat. This is a book about 'The Word'. Where 'The Word' comes from; where 'The Word' goes; what 'The Word' can achieve; and what 'The Word' can fail to do."

Mind Probe: Clive Barker

By Paul Kane, SFX, No 158, July 2007

"I've had this idea squirreled away in the back of my head for the longest time... Written in the first-person. Purportedly published by Guttenberg in 1340-ish... It starts with one three-word paragraph: 'Burn this book.' And that order comes from the demon who is literally telling you to burn the book. Don't! Stop! What are you doing still reading it? Burn the fucking book! The reasons why Jakabok - the demon at the centre of the tale - gets to be in Gutenberg's first book, I won't give away. But I felt like I could write this story within a relatively modest timeframe and have another book out for this Halloween which would be very solid and equally dark. It's 72,000 words long. 252 pages. It's published on yellowed paper with water-stains, which really does look pretty amazing. It has no chapter breaks, no part breaks...
"I wanted Mister B. Gone to be a celebration of the word and what the word can do. And, indeed, what it can't do. It's all about the playing back and forth of what I can get out of this, and what I can get out of that - what happens if I mix a little of this with a little of that. In a way, at the ripe old age of 55, I'm still playing in a sand-pit - albeit of my own, peculiar concoction - which contains words and colours and ideas."

Mega-Interview With Clive Barker

By Christopher Monfette,, 11 October 2007

"I'd finished the penultimate draft [of The Scarlet Gospels] and had one more to go. I gave myself a week between finishing that draft and starting the final one, and in that week, I thought, 'You know, there's something in here that I want to spit out before I begin anything else big,' because the Scarlet Gospels drafts are enormous and incredibly dark - even by my somewhat dark standards. It just felt to me like there was something else cooking. I keep a journal of ideas that come along, and I went through that and found the word 'Jakabok,' which I kind of liked. It was something I'd written down - something I'd come up with in a period of name inventing. I have nights when Ijust decide to fill a few pages with invented names - most of which will be shit, but every 25th one will be worth something, and Jakabok had a nice rhythm to it. Then I'd written 'Not Book' and then the phrase 'Burn this book.' It sort of went from there...
"I'd already decided I was going to write it in the first person. If I've already invented the character's voice and have it in my head, then it flows, almost like the guy's speaking in my mind.
"It's a completely different kind of writing from third-person, because when you're constructing a narrative that way, it's a different kind of language you're using. Botch's language is particular to himself. He's not one for highfalutin terms. He speaks in basic, short sentences. The kind of language I used in Imajica, for instance, which was long sentences with many clauses in them and lengthy, dense paragraphs, was totally unwanted here. What I needed was Botch's simple, demonic voice. And once I had that, it flowed pretty well. I had a little research to do on the Gutenberg stuff. Then I went to it."

Gone And Back Again

By Carnell, Fangoria, No 268, November 2007

"[It took] five months. Including different drafts. I wrote it in a sort of madness. Once I started, I couldn't stop. It was strange, it was very strange. I even suspended painting for a while, which I haven't done for a long time and was not good for me physically. I actually keep fit by painting four hours a day. And it wasn't good to suspend that. But Jakabok, dammit, called me back to the page. Even when I was weary, I couldn't shut him up; he was there in my head. I knew what the next sentence was, always, always...
"There was another version of this book that I absolutely didn't want to write, which was the one which was filled with over the top Grand Guignol scenes and very ripe, salty language - all that stuff. And I'd done that kind of demon before. I'd also done the elegant demon, in Pinhead. I wanted this to be a man with two tails, but the burn marks he receives erase so much of what would have made him demonic. But now his past is making him hopefully a much more accessible character. Because I think if you were to meet him you might feel the kind of pity you would feel for Quasimodo."

Barker Gets Darker With Mister B. Gone

By Paul Kane, Dreamwatch Presents Total Sci-Fi, 1 November 2007

"I made a huge mistake [with Mister B. Gone]. I should never have made the creature a demon. I should have done something that didn't lay that expectation into the text. I was horribly disappointed by reader reactions. It was a book that means a lot to me. It was a comedic book; a dark one, certainly, but essentially a comedy. A comedy of how we come to be human, or fail to. And I certainly enjoyed writing it, it was just a lovely experience. And to find so many readers saying, 'Why can't he just give us the Books of Blood again?'... that was the cri du coeur, you know, it really was the essence of the complaint of people who didn't like it. Their objection was that I was writing horror again but I wasn't writing it the way I used to. Well, of course I wasn't writing it the way I used to! The Books of Blood were 25 years ago. I'm a different human being now, you know? I don't want to write it the way I used to write. I have no interest in doing that. That would be tiresome and boring, and I think it would be boring for them too...
"So you can't please all the people all the time. All you can do is what pleases you, and hope that it pleases other people. I love my readers, and I respect my readers, but I'm not going to simplify or echo myself, copy myself, just so the sales will be better."


By Lucy A. Snyder, It's All Part Of The Fun, Writers Workshop Of Horror, edited by Michael Knost, 2009.

...other comments

"HarperCollins will bring out Clive Barker's latest fraught thriller novel 'Mr. B. Gone' and just to make things better, they'll publish it on Halloween. This short work tells of the discovery of a demonic 'memoir' penned in the year 1438. It consists of one copy only that has been buried by an assistant who worked for Johannes Gutenberg of printing press fame."

Streep Warms Up For 'Mamma'

By Liz Smith,, 18 April 2007 (note - full text at

Doug Bradley : "I've been contacted by Harper Audio to record the audio book of Mr Barker's new oeuvre Mr B. Gone. The timetabling has moved around a lot due to late arrival and longer-than-expectedness of manuscript, but theoretically it will be with me on Wednesday and I'll be recording it Friday and the early part of next week."

Doug Records New Clive Barker Audiobook!

By Hellboy69, Doug, 30 August 2007 (note - full text at

"A propulsive frightfest layered with psychological nuances, textured characterizations, philosophical reflections and theological meditations, Mister B. Gone is the Clive Barker original his millions of fans worldwide have been awaiting, one packed with subtle scares and heart-stopping terrors from cover to cover."

Press Release

By [ ], HarperCollins, September 2007

"This offbeat novel in the form of a minor demon's diary may satisfy devoted Barker fans eager for his return to adult fiction after several years writing the Abarat series, but others, especially first-time readers, are likely to find this fable about good and evil less than rewarding... The book's format - simultaneously Botch's first-person narrative and his break-the-fourth-wall address to the reader pleading for him or her to burn the book - may puzzle readers unused to Barker's quirks."


By [ ], Publishers Weekly, 24 September 2007

"The subject of this short novel is a demon. But if you're expecting the kind of demon Barker has dealt with in the past, however, such as the graceful, eloquent yet sadistic Pinhead or the mischievous Yattering, think again. Jakabok Botch is an altogether different kind of creature.
"The novel is written from the first person point of view of Jakabok, who is inside the book and relentlessly pleads with the reader to burn it because of the danger the words present. As with many of Barker's texts, the forbidden nature of those words only makes them more tantalising and as we read on we are granted flashbacks of Jakabok's life - starting with his turbulent upbringing as one of the Demonation."


By Paul Kane, Shadow, September 2007 (note - full text at

"Mister B. Gone presents us with a more playful Barker, a man who likes to toy with his characters before, of course, eviscerating them. In no way does this mean Barker is becoming a softy. He connects with stinging jabs at social, religious and political dilemmas. In 'B. Gone,' he skewers religion - especially hypocritical Catholic leaders - along with the power of the press and man's predilection for savagery and war. That adds some meat to the blood, but that's not what will keep fans flipping through these pages. 'Gone' has an intriguing set-up, one that's too enticing to resist...
"Even with a strong novel such as 'Mister B. Gone,' it's safe to say Barker won't approach the popularity of a Stephen King or Dean Koontz... But Barker is arguably more of a stylist, willing to take more chances than either. King and Koontz often stumble when it comes to satisfying tie-ups. Not so Barker. 'Mr. B. Gone' is one ingenious work, with a twist that proves that a devil of a good book lies in its writing and its details."


By Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News, 21 October 2007 (note - full text at

Mister B. Gone bibliography...

home search contact Books