Clive on The Thief of Always

Harvey wished he had some weapon to keep the beast from returning to safety, but he had to be content with the sight of its defeat. If it had not wanted their flesh so badly, he thought, it wouldn't have come after them at such a speed, and brought this pain and humiliation upon itself. There was a lesson there if only he could remember it. Evil, however powerful it seemed, could be undone by its own appetite.

"I'm doing a short fable for children which was just Clive Barker - Thief Of Always sold to Harper Collins for half a sovereign - a strange deal, but one I'm rather pleased about. The other one is called Everville which has three young people as protagonists which will appeal as strongly, I think, to adults as it will to children. Hopefully it will be a crossover book."


By Jon Gregory, Hellraiser, No 2, 1991

"My passion is for imaginative work of one kind or another. I've written epic horror, I've written epic fantasy, I've written sexual stuff. Now this book offers another area I want to explore. I've never defined myself as a horror author. I see myself as an imaginer. And The Thief Of Always is another piece of imagining.
"The Thief Of Always is a lighter experience, both in the experiencing by the reader and in the writing. But it also has its resonances, like in fairy-tales. There are worlds within worlds, things hidden away. I think that's satisfying when you discover that you can find simple forms of stories that have richness that you don't at first anticipate.
"It is short, with nice pictures, 'drawn by the man himself,' and moves along at a fair clip. And I'm hoping that there will be readers who come to this book and open it and enter its worlds more readily than maybe they would have done with Weaveworld or Imajica; and then in turn they'll be led on to those books."

Satanic Writes

By Craig McLean, Scotland On Sunday, 29 November 1992

"In creating 'The Thief of Always', the vocabulary of it had to be simple. The structure of the sentences also had to be of a plainer style because I wanted ten-year- olds to be able to read it, but I also wanted to appeal to 40-year-olds in the same way that C.S.Lewis still appeals to me today."

The Thief of Always

By Michael Beeler, Cinefantastique, Vol 26 No 3, April 1995

"It felt like exactly the right time to cast back to the fantasies and ambitions that touched me as a child. There was a purity of evil and a purity of good in those books which is very much a part of the fiction I write as an adult. For the 8-year-olds, 'The Thief of Always' is an adventure about a kid who goes to a house that seems to promise everything but has a dark, terrible secret. And to an adult, it's a story about the problems of time and childhood, and what you give away in the moments of your youth that you can never get back again. I was striving for the same kind of layered effect you get with 'Alice In Wonderland' or 'The Halloween Tree' - books that are wonderful tales, where even as a child you sense that there's something going on beneath the surface which you can't quite grasp, and once you go back as an adult, you find it to still be fresh."

Barker Looks Back

By Anthony C Ferrante, Bloody Best of Fangoria, No 12, September 1993

"For the 10-year-old who reads Thief of Always, it is, I think, an adventure primarily. It is about a child who has time stolen from him and revenges himself royally upon the power that steals from him...
"I would defend to the death the moral care with which Thief of Always has been written. This is not a casually anarchic book. It's a book... the author of which believes totally in the underlying morality of the fiction... I mean, Dorothy is nothing like the Wicked Witch of the West. That's why she is the victor. I think that's actually a misrepresentation of the way that power works in the world.
"The point that [Harvey] realizes he is, in a sense, the spiritual child of Mr. Hood is the point at which he realizes he can destroy Mr. Hood."

Lock Up The Kids Horror Titan Clive Barker Unleashes A Children's Fable

By Sean Piccoli, The Washington Times, 16 December 1992

"Comics remain a relatively small scale endeavor in terms of the number of people that read a comic. It would probably take about three months of my time to do a comic, which is the time it took to write Thief of Always. Which do I think I should be doing; writing another book for kids or doing a comic? I would always choose the book for kids. That's just about trying to get my stories out to the largest number of people."


By [Stephen Dressler and Cheryl Bentzen], Lost Souls, Issue 4, [July] 1996 (note : full text online at the Lost Souls site - see links)

"In the case of The Thief of Always, what I wanted to do was make something with a classical feel of a fairy tale, but at the same time with modern resonance. Harvey Swick, in some respects, is a very modern little kid. Yes, he is the classical child in extremis - how is he going to get out of this, and will he survive? Still, the time loop business of the book is, I think, a modern application. It was interesting that when I showed the book to eight-year-olds and asked them if they knew what was going on in the final chapter of the book, all of them, trained as they are now on countless Star Trek episodes, Terminator and Back To The Future movies, said, 'Sure, come on. What's the big deal?' I'm not absolutely sure that I would have got it when I was at the age of eight. I think that it puts a modern twist on the plot.
"The other thing, which I think is different from the classical tale, is that which empowers Harvey when he finally confronts Hood. Harvey sees the darkness in himself. I had a very interesting interview, about three or four weeks ago, where somebody said to me, 'When I first read the book I thought you'd gone all Spielberg on me - the book had become this celebration of childhood wonder.' In the second reading the interviewer said he realized what the book's subtext was about. In fact, unlike some of the cruder, critical readings of the book, that suggested that what Harvey does is Indiana Jones-esque, what Harvey does is far from that. He applies to Hood the teachings which Hood, in his ignorance, taught Harvey. He attempts to turn Harvey into a vampire like himself, and Harvey uses those skills right back at the creature. That is a very dark element of the story, because Harvey is empowered by realising that he has this desire to 'bleed' the enemy dry.
"Hood is a vampire lord, but he is so different from the blood-sucking form. He is desexualised, obviously because of the context of the book. He is essentially a soul-stealer, who uses his will and seduction to steal souls from children. It is a very different thing from Nina and Dracula writhing on a bed in various werewolf and bat forms."

Clive Barker

By J.B.Macabre, World of Fandom, Spring 1993, Volume 2 No.18

"I always knew that Thief was basically a paperback book. It is a book that will be bought at least as much by young people as older people and it needs to be a cheap book. Roald Dahl does no business whatsoever in hardcover. Roald Dahl is a paperback guy because kids buy them. Twenty bucks is a lot of money for a book. It is one of the reasons why I did the illustrations the way I did them. Black and white reduce really nicely. It is virtually impossible to screw up the printing because it is so simple, there's so little fine tuning in it. I was always conscious that The Thief of Always really needed to be a paperback book, that was its final life"

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

By Michael Brown, Dread, No 11

"The Thief of Always is a perfect example of my trying to remind people of how wonderful the cycle of the seasons is. It is a book that asks: What happens if you do this in one day? Look at this. Just look at this ! Look at what the year does to us. Look at all these wonderful things...At the heart of the book there is a very simple idea; Live in the moment and understand that the moment is miraculous. Don't live for the next moment, or the moment after that, because while you're waiting for the next thing to come along your life is slipping away. And it's interesting that the kids get it!"

Addicted To Creativity (Part 2)

By Bill Babouris, Samhain, No 71, January 1999

"I was just reading about Tolkein...writing about writing The Hobbit. And saying he never even thought about writing for children. He just wrote. And I was comparing that with my writing of Thief. For one thing, there's a lot of things that appear in my adult novels that do not appear in my work for children. There is a lot of sexuality a lot of violence and violent language and profanity that are not appropriate for children's books. So right off the bat there're a whole bunch of things which you are not going to do. So that changes completely your approach.
Thief Of Always advert "Secondly there's the language thing. You try to keep descriptions to a minimum. I remember as a little child I did not enjoy long descriptive passages in a novel. I liked reading a lot of action. And so when I write for children I try to keep in mind the memory of what the 10-year-old Clive Barker liked. I think the 10-year-old Clive Barker would have liked the Thief of Always. I think the 10-year-old Clive Barker would love Abarat.
"I don't miss the profanity and the violence and the eroticism in each of these books because the narratives have their own rewards. There are things in the Thief of Always that have a simple beauty to them which take me back to Ray Bradbury, who is one of the great masters of writing. If you read Something Wicked This Way Comes when you are 10, it means something very different to you than if you read it in your 30's or 40's. And I hope Thief of Always is the same. I know that the children who read Thief of Always love the adventure, and love Harvey getting turned into a vampire, and they love the fight at the end, and all that stuff. And they tend to find other things in the book.
"The face of publishing is being changed right now by a series of children's books, for example Harry Potter. And what's interesting about the Harry Potter books is that very plainly a lot of adults are reading these books. I mean you can't stay number one on the bestseller's list for that long if you are only being read by kids. The Harry Potter books have printed the way for a lot of publishers to the fact that adults love fairy tales. They love fantasy. I think it's wonderful and encouraging for all of us because there is this huge market out there. I've been telling HarperCollins for years, 'Don't worry about it. If it's written for children, just put it out there. Don't be so absorbed with that. Thief of Always will be enjoyed by all kinds of people. Just let it be enjoyed.' And they are getting the message now, it took Harry Potter for them to get the message, but they are getting it. Slowly I am seeing the landscape of the publishing industry changing around me. Some of it good, some of it bad... I feel what I gotta do is write out of the truthful place in myself, and if it appeals to children, that's great, and if it doesn't there's not much I can do about it."


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

"Over and over, it's the confrontations with the great villains in books like 'Treasure Island', 'Pinocchio' and 'The Wizard Of Oz' that, when you're a kid, give you a delicious combination of fear and pleasure. I'm not the only child I know who liked the 'Night On Bald Mountain' sequence in Fantasia. It's no accident there are as many dark passages as there are bright in Disney films, and it's no accident that those dark passages are the ones you remember.
"The Thief is intended for my fans, but it's also a book that will be accessible to 10 year-olds, particularly if they're little 10 year-olds like I was. Twisted."

From The Mind Of Clive Barker

By Nicole Peradotto, Buffalo News, 11 September, 1992

"The story had occurred to me a while ago and I'd written it down in short form called The Holiday House and I showed it to my agent who wasn't particularly eager about it, so I went into a corner and just did it, Clive Barker - Hungry Waters because it was a story I wanted to write. Sometimes you've just got to do what you've got to do! It took about three months to write, probably another couple of months to do fixes on, and then I gave it to HarperCollins and said, 'I realise you're taking a huge risk with this, because here's a children's book coming from Clive Barker, and maybe nobody will buy it! So I'll sell it to you for a dollar.' Actually, they ended up giving me a silver dollar for it. And I did the illustrations and the thing went from there. It has since turned out to be a very successful book. It's in a lot of languages around the world and it's being taught in a lot of schools now, which is fun. I think we're at 1.5 million copies in print in America, so it wasn't bad for a book that cost them a dollar...
"It was a neat writing experience, in the sense that I really knew what the narrative was going to be. I laid it out in chapters before writing it, I laid out what I thought the action was going to be. I had a really clear sense of it. I wish novels were always this easy, but they're not. But of all the things I've written, this was probably the simplest process."

An Interview With Clive Barker

By [ ], The Thief Of Always graphic novel, Book 3, May 2005

The Thief of Always bibliography...

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