Questions and Answers

Lost souls: This question from Juliana.  Throughout interviews I have heard you mention your love for comic books and how they are an influence.  I wanted to know what your all time favorite series is and what current titles you are reading?

Clive Barker: I have a sentimental attachment, as I think most of us do, to some of the comic titles we read as children.  The great Jack Kirby and Stan Lee period of when The Fantastic-Four, The Inhumans, The Silver Surfer and Galactus were appearing.  In the sixties not the year but the number of the issues of The Fantastic Four.  I guess somewhere between fifty-five and sixty-five of The Fantastic Four are probably my all time sentimental favorites.  What do I read now?  I read a lot of stuff.  I read Dark Horse comics, Vertigo, a few of the Marvel comics. I read anything by Neil Gaiman.  I have a fairly eclectic taste.

Lost: this also from Juliana. Do you watch the Simpsons?

Clive: No I don't.  Anna Miller, my associate, is a huge Simpsons fan. So I am slowly being turned on to it. I gather that Pinhead made a little appearance on the Halloween program, or at least the character had pins in his head.  I'm not a big television watcher for one thing, so I never really caught up with it.

Lost: Can you comment on Sacrament?

Clive: It is set in Yorkshire in England, in San Francisco, and in Hudson Bay in Canada.  It is about a wildlife photographer who devotes his photographs to making accounts of species that are moving towards extinction.  We discover as we follow his very troubled life that the reason for his obsession with animals and extinction can be traced back to his childhood in Yorkshire.  It's a story about how we become who we are and how we must deal with what we are by facing up to including the things that happened to us in childhood, good and bad. It's also about what's happening to our planet.

Lost: Are you doing a book tour?

Clive: At least fifteen cities.  It will be another five or six months before the tour.  We are looking at June-July release. 

Lost: This question from Russ.  Who's books do you read? 

Clive: Because I'm in the middle of writing the novel, I'm really only reading research books.  When I'm actually writing it is really tough for me to go and read a novel.  While we are on this conversation, what I will do is I will go over and read you off what I am reading.  'Folktales from the North Yorkshire Shores; a new biography of William Blake by Peter Ackroyd, which is splendid; a book about the Holy Grail; a book about the Mediaeval Theory of Memory.  Most of these are research books in some way or another.  I'm also reading a book about American Erotica; and the only thing I have read recently while I was writing was A Stranger in a the Strange land which I've gone back to not having read it for a long while.

Lost: who is your favorite poet?

Clive: Blake, but may I have a few.  Yeats, Whitman, John Donne, and T. S. Eliot.

Lost: are there any new authors you enjoy?

Clive: I came off the movie and went straight into the book.  I haven't had time to sit and read new authors or go to the bookstore and pick up a bunch of fiction in a while.  I have been reading a new biography of Tennessee Williams called "Tom" which is tremendous.

Lost: Does music inspire you?

Clive: Yeah. I never play it when I'm writing but I play it when I'm musing.  Tonight for instance, I will work until maybe ten-thirty.  The last hour I won't be writing, just looking over what I did today and preparing for tomorrow.  I'll probably be playing some Stephen Sondheim, some movie music, and some Cranberries maybe.

Lost: Have you ever heard of Bauhaus?

Clive: I'm not familiar enough to be able to make an intelligent comment.  I tend to use music as a kind of backdrop to things rather than sitting and concentrating on it.  I never actually sit and say 'now I'm going to listen to music'.  It's always a part of some other endeavor such as reading, writing, or making love to it.

Lost: Which of your books would you, if forced to, live out and what character would you be?

Clive: It would be Imajica absolutely. I would be Gentle.  That's the journey, isn't it?

Lost: Is the Great and Secret Show and Everville going to finish?

Clive: Yes.  One more book.  I know what it's going to be, and I think good narratives often happen in threes.  Three acts in a play, in a movie, and the trilogy structure certainly works in something like the Lord of the Rings. Both the Great and Secret Show and Everville are preparations for one final massive novel.

Lost: A fan has asked if there would be a sequel to The Thief of Always?

Clive: I have played around with taking Harvey on another adventure, yes.  I don't know weather I will yet, but I haven't discounted the possibility.  I like Harvey and I like being in his company.  One of the things you do when you're writing is to seek out characters that you want to write about because you have to spend a lot of time in their company.  Will Rabjohns, the hero of Sacrament, is a guy whose company I have enjoyed being in and Harvey is the same.  I don't discount the possibility that at one point he'll figuratively tug on my sleeve and say "How 'bout it?Ē

Lost: Do you like being compared to other authors?

Clive: Sometimes it can be very flattering.  Sometimes I think it can be misleading.  An author tries to write out of his or her heart, out of his or her personal truth.  While there may be structural similarities in books or concerns in common between authors, what I do and what Stephen King, Anne Rice, or Edgar Alan Poe are in more ways different than they are the same.  I just chose those people, and they are all three extraordinary writers, but they are people that I seem to be put together with.  While I'm very happy to keep the company of fellow writers of the fantastic, I also know that I do a series of things that are very different from most of those writers as they do things, which are different from me.

Lost: A fan asked if there was going to be a sequel to Nightbreed?

Clive: There will certainly be a book at some point, and I would love thereto be a movie. There is just so much going on right now but don't discount the possibility.

Lost: Russ wanted to know what you think of Edward Gorey's work?

Clive: I'm a huge fan.  I have most of his books here.  His dry, sadistic wit.  It's wonderful work; funny, cruel, and sardonic.

Lost: Any book related projects in the works right now?

Clive: There is a game of Imajica in the works.  Hans has a much better sense of what the game is actually going to be, and I would hate to describe it.  These are very cool guys who understand the mythology of Imajica in the greater detail.  I think they are going to turn this into a game without violating any of the spirit of the book.  In fact I think they are celebrating the spirit of the book.  I am awestruck by the detail and the care they are applying to the project by their love of the material.  I think it's going to be a tremendous piece of work.

Clive: Let me tell you something.  Lord of Illusions is going out on video and laser in huge numbers. The pick-up on the video has been really very gratifying. Nine to one percentage of the videos will be the director's edition, which is tremendous because it's twelve and a half minutes longer.  So that is very good news, and I just wanted to emphasize to people to make sure you get the director's cut. Robb has created an amazingly good half hour making of the film, which is on the laser, as well as some excised scenes, which we didnít include in the cut, and a lot of the story boards.  So the laser is quite a special thing.