Issues One and Two
1.Were there any direct or indirect influences, personal or spiritual, that persuaded you to delve into the children\young adult fiction writing?
Clive: Yeah, I mean it's a huge question and it could go in any direction, but yes of course. Let's ask ourselves what we're doing when we read books. When we read books, we're really entering the world which the author has created for us in order that we share a series of feeling that the author has had. Feelings of mind's eye characters that the author had seen in his or hers mind's eye. I think you get to share the beliefs about the world that the author, if he or she is worth a salt, also believes. But it's to say; we're not likely to trust an author who isn't giving us all their personal truths. What I've always tried to do, what's drawn me to storytelling from the beginning is to say things that are in my heart, somewhere. Now, the fact that I choose to say these things in such fantastical forms is often a confusion to people, not by and large to the readers but very often to critics and reviewers. They don't understand that some of the things that you want to say are actually best said in a form, which stimulates the imagination rather than echoes what's going on in the outside world. If the kind of things that I like to talk about are best said that way, and from my earliest childhood the things that have drawn me, have been the stories that have drawn me, the images that have drawn me to them, They have been stories and the images which seem to be getting beneath the surface of what we loosely call the real world, beneath the surface of life as it is lived by most people, which is very often a compromise and which is very often a kind of half life. Getting beneath that surface in order to find deeper meaning, deeper sense, and deeper significance.
2. The supernatural plays an important role in most of your creations. Does this signify that you have a strong belief in the ides such as: ghosts, spells, zombies, monsters, etc...?
Clive: That's a two-part question in a sense. Definitely better than a two-part question, but I have two separate answers to it:One is the kind of very fantastical manifestations that I put in my books you know, the cenobites, or doors opening up to where other realities with Quiddity on the other side, or worlds in carpets, or to the dominions, are not things that I think are literally true, but it's to say I don't believe that the opening of boxes raises demons. I don't believe that even with the elaborate magical paraphernalia that I could open a door into another dimension and step through it disappearing from this world completely. I do however believe that those are very potent metaphors for things, which do goon in our consciences constantly. Our imaginations and our minds are sensitive to all kind of other realities which lye outside our own. We don't have to, Literally as it were, unlock a door and step through it and disappear from this one in order to be in another dimension. All we have to do is open our imagination. All we have to do is open our spirits. There are thing waiting for us, there are realities waiting for us, and it's really a question of breathing deeply and saying, okay I'm now going to take that journey.
Now, that's part one. Part two is: I do believe that after death we take journeys', and I do think that the life that we are living now in the flesh with this particular name attached is just one part of a much larger experience. So to that extent I completely believe, in the sense that I've written about life after death, I certainly believe that that's part of what this being business is all about and that there are journeys' to take, after we've left the body, which will be startling and extraordinary and ovulatory. I think we have hints of that, I think in our lives before death we have hints of the great panorama's which await us. I think in moments of epiphany, we sense our spirits seem to open up. They seem to unfurl like the sails of some wonderful sailing ship. Suddenly we have possibilities in our grasp that we didn't have a moment before. All kinds of things can do that to us, the sight of a certain kind of sky, a certain kind of smell in the air, the presence of a certain animal, the presence of a certain person, the wind, gulls; any number of things can be triggers for this opening of our perception. What we see when we enter those brief moments of epiphany, what we feel, is possibility. What we feel is fearlessness. What we feel is that all the anxieties and apprehensions which cluster around us because we live in a fearful world are actually things that we will have to work through but they're finally redundant. There will come a time in our lives, maybe at the very end of our lives, when those fears will no longer be important. When they will drop off like the dead skin off a snake and something new and beautiful and bright will emerge.
So that's the second part of the question, and the second part of the answer. The third part of the answer is: I want to say the clichés' almost of the genre; the door, the zombies, the brain and so on. They are part of a tradition of story telling which I find myself involved in and I love and value. There are tools, things which represent other things, where a demon is raised in the narrative; it's a representation of a certain kind of human being less certain facet of our nature, which has to be dealt with by another facet of our nature, which would be the good guy. I'm giving a very crude example of good verses evil. Plainly, one of the reasons why we enjoy this kind of fiction is because it allows all the many people who are inside us to speak. Some of those people are very bad people, because all of us have secret self's, all of us have dark secret self's, and it's important to allow those dark self's to speak if not as loudly, at least to be given their day. So, it feels to me as though the zombies, the walking dead, the demons, the things that are faintly reptilian; all these images which are so much a part of fantastic fiction, are not things that I believe that are out there in the real world but they are, I think, in a much realer place than the world and that is the space in our head.
3. The whole religious undertone to Imajica was completely captivating. I found myself, helpless, cheering when the so-called just "God" was devoured in his own flame sent out to sear the beings that were attempting the reconciliation. Is this symbolic for the parsimony and iniquity of mankind, or do you believe that "God" is a corrupt being?
Clive: I think that God that we have created and allowed to shape our culture through, essentially Christian theology is a pretty villainous creature. I think that one of the things that male patriarchal figure has done is, allowed under it's, his church, his wing, all kinds of corruptions and villainies to grow and fester. In the name of that God terrible wars have been waged, in the name of that God terrible sexism has been allowed to spread. There are children being born all across this world that don't have enough food to eat because that God, at least his church, tells the mothers and fathers that they must procreate at all costs, and to prevent procreation with a condom is in contravention with his laws. Now, I don't believe that God exists. I think that God is creation of men, by men, and for men. What has happened over the many centuries now, the better part of two thousand in fact, is that that God has been slowly and steadily accruing power. His church has been accruing power, and the men who run that church, and they are all men, are not about to give it up. If they give it up, they give up luxury, they give up comfort. I'm not saying that it's true of all of them, some of them are working leper colonies and doing extraordinary works in the name of that God. That's a paradox which we probably shouldn't be discussing now, but I'm aware of that. But I'm also aware that there area lot of very powerful, corrupt men enjoying the power that this tradition, patriarchal tradition, has conferred upon them. That's one this that Hapexamendios, the villain of Imajica, is the personification of that God. He is the personification of the joyless, loveless, corrupt thing, which has over eons created his own city of his own flesh. It happens to be, when you look at it, an extraordinary city, a glorious city. But when you look really closely at it, you see that it a completely empty city. There's nobody there, there's no love there, there's no joy there, there's compassion there because there are no people there. It's just a self-serving system of self-glorification. Hapexamendios is, in a curious way, it's prisoner. He's finally dispatched simply because he wanted to destroy Goddesses. So the second part of the problem of the patriarchal God is that he's been so successful, that he's basically beaten out all the women, beaten out the matriarchs, and beaten out the Goddesses. While I'm I not saying that every Goddesses that was out there was a good Goddesses, because clearly there were some real villains among them. I'm sure really terrible things were done in the name of Goddesses, human sacrifice, castration, and all kinds of other things. I do believe that a certain balance is healthy. And the balancing off of images of divinity in both sexes is what's important here. The balancing off of the Goddess against the God, the image of procreation as against the image of the fertilizer. Enup, the sky goddess of Egyptian mythology, overetching the God who lies below. A wonderful, frightening image of sexual compatibility and geographical compatibility of nature, of light and dark. What we've got in our system is one but not the other. We've got this incredibly one-sided vision of what the divine is. What Imajica does is create a mythology in which we go about trying to understand why Hapexamendios has done this. What terror it is in men that makes them control and engage in all kinds of villainies against women. What a mingling of desire and envy will do. You look at most of the males in Imajica, they have one of the other where women are concerned, and in some cases they have both. So that is where that mythology is based. As far as what God in the world is... I see divinity working; I see spirit working, and extraordinary capabilities and richness of life, spiritual life, moving in people all the time. I believe that is a sign of something, which is moving in the planet, and I think probably moving in all matter. The great desire to evolve into something new and better. The movement towards something revelatory is a part of who we are at our best. The devil, the forces of evil, are best represented as forces of limitation. Forces that say no, forces that say close your eyes, turn away, limit yourself, live only in the moment and not in the grander scheme of things, live in your desires, live in your pleasures, live only in what you can get by whatever means that you can get it, and never think of something that lies outside yourself. That always seems to me to be a working definition of evil. That's the yin and the yang in a way. The image of the good and the divine in us are the reverse effect. It's about caring for other people, and realizing you have a part in a huge system and that you owe it to the larger system to be aware of what influence you have upon it. That you try and service what is best in you, and what is worst in you that you try and look constantly about the effect your having on other people to see weather your actually doing them injustice. All of those things and of course countless others are working definitions of what's best in us, and therefore what is potentially divine in us.
4. Are there any of your character(s) that have been created in the image of Clive Barker? If so, would you be so kind as to enlighten us to who they might be?
Clive: There's always elements of who I am in things. There is no single character that I could point to and say, well that absolutely, unequivocally is me. But, there is a lot of the young Clive Barker in little Harvey. There is a lot of the early twenties Clive Barker in Cal Mooney. There's a lot of the older Clive Barker in Gentle. Some of that is about, simply a reflection of geography. I'm a Liverpool boy, and Cal is a Liverpool boy. The house that are described, the house that I've been in, and the locations are locations that I know very well. I use a lot of details of my life in Liverpool to contact Cal. But there is a whole bunch of other stuff that is necessary for the narrative; I mean I've never worked in an insurance firm. I don't think I would be so prone to forgetting wonderland as Cal is. I think I'm less brave than Cal is, so there's a whole bunch of differences there. Little Harvey is the kid who's boredom with the world, and irritation with things and how things move along. Why does there have to be really boring days, and why can't there just be good bits in life? That's a mingling of something I felt when I was a kid, and something I'm very aware of myself still doing. The Thief of Always is me telling myself off to some extent and reminding myself that what we have, right now, is very important to us and the people who we have around us right now will not be with us forever. We have to remember to take each moment and find the best of it. That's very much apart of the young Clive Barker, and at the same even the man I am now. Gentle, who is an incredibly contradictory and complex character, with huge ambition always gets waylaid in some way or another. He keeps going after possibilities and stumbling upon things and then loosing his way again, all of that feels very much like me. I don't think that it's a particularly pretty portrait, but there you go. Certainly the Gentle in the third part of the book is drawn upon things that I felt and feel. I would not go as far as saying that it was a portrait, I wouldn't say that of any of these characters, but the old reference of things that I thought of place I've been are there.
5. Clive, you've been such a vast influence on many of your readers lives. Would there be any advise you'd be willing to offer to those people that are currently pursuing careers in the arts?
Clive: I think that there are a couple of things. It's probably the single most asked question in terms of people coming to signings and so on. I want to write this kind of fiction, how do I go about it? There's a bunch of things to say, many of them have been said as well or better by other people, but I'll summarize them anyway. The first thing is that there is no such thing as a potential writers, there's only writers. You are a writer from the moment you begin to write. Weather you are a good or bad writer is an irrelevancy when you first begin. What's important is that you write, you get up in the morning and you say, "I'm going to treat this like a job and I'm not going to just do this when I feel like it. I'm going to really get to work on making this the best I can make it, and work hard to achieve something". You can't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike like lightning, cause you'll wait around for along time. Maybe once every blue moon a piece of lightning will strike, but most of the time you'll wait around twiddling your thumbs. What you have to do is just get on with it, and write whatever comes out and not worry over much about weather the punctuation is right or the spelling is right or even if the order of the words is right, but just get on with it. Second, it's not important to be anybody but yourself. To want to be another Clive Barker, Stephen King, or Ursula Lagwinn, or whatever. It's very flattering for Clive Barker, Stephen King, or Ursula Lagwinn, but actually it's not very useful to you as to who you are. A writer brings to his or her work a very personal and very particular insight of their mingling of who you are as a human being with their ambitions, their imagination, their biography and so on. If I say here's a piece of paper and a pencil to a hundred people and say, describe the room you're sitting in and we are all sitting in the same room, we are all going to look for different things, we are all going to find different things. There will be some things in common of course, but there a lot of things that deal with the way our eyes work, the way our head work, and the way our hand works putting the words on the page. Out of that particularity, your particularity comes your potential for making a mark on somebody else. You have to, if you want to be able to put your ideas into somebody else's head, not somebody else's ideas, your ideas. That means you have to go after, seek after the thing, which are truthful to you. And I mean truthful. If you don't believe in Christ, then don't have a hero whipping out holy water when it suits him, because you're not telling the truth about what you believe about the world. If you don't believe that the image of Christ is ethicasy in the world, then don't have your hero use it in such a way. All you doing is accessing a series of clichés from somebody else's work. If you're gay, write about gay characters. If you're straight, write about straight characters. If you're straight and confused, write about straight and confused characters. If your passion is about painting and football, write about painting and football. Write about your mother, write about your father, write about things you know, and then let your imagination lurk on those things and develop them into something new and fresh even for you. Surprise yourself, astonish yourself, and tell the truth.