Clive on The Books of Blood

Volume 1 - The Book of Blood; The Midnight Meat Train; The Yattering and Jack; Pig Blood Blues; Sex, Death and Starshine; In the Hills, the Cities

'In Popolac a kind of peace reigned. Instead of a frenzy of panic there was a numbness, a sheep-like acceptance of the world as it was. Locked in their positions, strapped, roped and harnessed to each other in a living system that allowed for no single voice to be louder than any other, nor any back to labour less than its neighbour's, they let an insane consensus replace the tranquil voice of reason. They were convulsed into one mind, one thought, one ambition. They became, in the space of a few moments, the single-minded giant whose image they had so brilliantly re-created. The illusion of petty individuality was swept away in an irresistible tide of collective feeling - not a mob's passion, but a telepathic surge that dissolved the voices of thousands into one irresistible command.
And the voice said: Go!'
'In the Hills, the Cities'

Volume 2 - Dread; Hell's Event; Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament; The Skins Of The Fathers; New Murders in the Rue Morgue

'Aaron ran towards the creature on the threshold.
It scooped him up like a father meeting a child out of school, and its head was thrown back in a wave of ecstasy. A long, indescribable noise of joy was uttered out of its length and breadth. The hymn was taken up by the other creatures, mounting in celebration. Eugene covered his ears and fell to his knees. His nose had begun to bleed at the first notes of the monster's music, and his eyes were full of stinging tears. He wasn't frightened. He knew they were not capable of doing him harm. He cried because he had ignored this eventuality for six years, and now, with their mystery and their glory in front of him, he sobbed not to have the courage to face them and know them. Now it was too late. They'd taken the boy by force and reduced his house, and his life, to ruins. Indifferent to his agonies, they were leaving, singing their jubilation, his boy in their arms forever.'
'The Skins of the Fathers'

Volume 3 - Son of Celluloid; Rawhead Rex; Confessions of a (Pornographer's) Shroud; Scapegoats; Human Remains

'I let it happen. I opened my mouth and felt it fill with cold water. Salt burned my sinuses, the cold stabbed behind my eyes. I felt the brine burning down my throat, a rush of eager water where water shouldn't go - flushing air from my tubes and cavities, 'til my system was overwhelmed.
Below me, two corpses, their hair swaying loosely in the current, hugged my legs. Their heads lolled and danced on rotted ropes of neck muscle, and though I pawed at their hands, and the flesh came off the bone in grey, lace-edged pieces, their loving grip didn't falter. They wanted me, oh how dearly they wanted me.'

"I just wrote some stories which I hoped my friends would enjoy, and in some ways it wasn't dissimilar to the nine-year-old boy retelling stories to his friends. I still feel that is primarily what I do - I tell stories - and if I can do other things as well, that's great."

Clive Barker : Raising Hell In London

By Stephen Jones, Monsterland, No 17, Fall 1987

"There's a story called 'Jacqueline Ess', about a woman who only discovers she has extraordinary powers when her drives her to the verge of suicide. What interests Jacqueline Ess me is the idea of characters who confront the ordinary, and find new meaning in the extraordinary, rather than simply finding some creatures or some forces that they must eradicate or exorcise in order to return to the norm that they had on page one. I think of my stories as having happy endings, perversely enough, because they very often end with scenes of revelation of one kind or another: characters understanding themselves and realising why they need fresh meaning in their lives. Even if that meaning is called Rawhead Rex, is nine feet tall and is likely to tear off their head, which occasionally happens. Even so, there is meaning and there are new ways of looking at themselves in relation to their own subconscious... [in The Midnight Meat Train] Kaufman's a real marginal, a disenfranchised accountant whose life doesn't mean anything until he realises that there are greater forces at work than he had ever thought. And there, I think, is a story with a perfect happy ending - he goes through hell and he comes through on the other side, utterly changed, utterly transformed.... At the end of 'In The Hills, The Cities', both protagonists die, but they gain meaning, extraordinary meaning. Perhaps not a meaning that one would want to celebrate... It's ambiguous. But when they see the beasts in the hills, some new vision is presented to them which hitherto they wouldn't even have been capable of imagining.... I very much like the ambiguity or the ambivalence of a moment which can be terrible and significant simultaneously, the way that many of the pivotal moments in our lives are very often rites of passage moments in which things are lost which can never be claimed again. Yet the territory ahead is, by virtue of the fact that it is new, also exciting and extraordinary."

Clive Barker

By Nigel Floyd, Samhain, No 4, July 1987

"Well that gets strange! [Jacqueline Ess] is a perfect example. I generally do start where someone else would finish. It would almost finish with Jacqueline telling her husband to shut up, that would almost be the punchline of the story, only like the second or third paragraph of the story. And we've still got another twenty pages of adventures to be had. I'm much more interested in that than I am in the simple little revelation and we're out. My thing's always pushing stuff to the limit and that's one of the reasons that the stories are so long, many of them are novella length, and one of the reasons is to push the subject matter all the time, further and further and further. And when I can push it no further, I stop. I can push the thing quite a distance!"

Running With The Monsters

By Gerald Houghton, Grim Humour, No 14, [Autumn] 1989

"I'll do short stories again, but I won't do any more horror short stories. Not because I feel I've moved beyond that, merely because if you do six books of short stories on the trot you begin to think that you've had enough of it... for a while. I also became aware that I was reaching the limits of what I felt I could do with it. I know the selling thing has proved that you can make big bucks doing the same things many times over. Nevertheless, that's not something I'm tempted to do at all. Doing the second three, I was aware that I was doing the last three, and that I was going to go out through it. At the very end, in the last story, which was the last story I wrote, it gets autobiographical when I say 'It was a great relief to tell the story. Not because he wanted to be remembered, but because the telling relieved him of the tale. It no longer belonged to him, that life, that death. He had better business, as did they all. Roads to travel; splendours to drink down.'"

Clive Barker

By Kim Newman, Interzone, No 14, Winter 1985/86

"I don't think there is 'body disgust' in my fiction. I find there's a kind of eroticism that comes with my stuff. In the 'Books of Blood', for instance, the rearrangement of the flesh is kind of celebrated. After all, here we are sitting together, growing old, our flesh minutely changing outside our control; our bodies responding to the alcohol we're taking in; our organs, for all we know, growing tumorous. The flesh can decide to get sick, to get upset, to make us desire."

Clive Barker : The Horror !

By Morgan Gerard, Graffiti, Vol 4, No1, January 1988

"We are capable of extraordinary self-transmutation - internal self-transformation - which is manifested very often in the stories as external transmutation... 'Madonna' , for instance..two men 'suffer' this transformation... both of them wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly they discover that they are not men any more. The gangster mutilates himself and flings himself into the river and our hero... what does he do? How does he deal with that transformation? Now there's the metaphor, there's the problem. But he does have a solution. So those metaphors are about sexuality, they're about old age, they're about loneliness, they're about disease. They're about all the things which have always haunted Invitation to launch party horror stories, but whereas some horror writers choose simply to goose us with the thrill, there are some who try to present us with physical metaphors or internal conditions which can pertain to our lives."

Transcript of talk at UCLA 25 February 1987

Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"I did a story called 'Son of Celluloid', I guess in the Volume 3 of 'The Books of Blood' which is about a cancer which does movie star impersonations in an old cinema. And it turned on the possibilities, of one point at which this cancer which walks and talks and does Dumbo, Astaire and a great Monroe and a wonderful John Wayne, says I am a dreaming disease, no wonder I love the movies. So I guess that would be the cinematic equivalent [of the quote, 'Everyone's a book of blood; whenever we're opened we're red.'] I guess going to the movies is a dreaming disease, right? [re. Bataille's Story of the Eye being inspirational] Absolutely, of course! And isn't that a great book? Extraordinary. Now I don't think many people in America know about Bataille 's work. I mean I assume he's as obscure in America as he is here in England. Most of his stuff isn't even translated. [re. ideas of the combination of love and death, love and evil] I think they're carried to a greater extreme in my fiction than I can ever get on the screen. Not that I could ever put on the screen but that I could ever get distributed on the screen. There are certainly stories of mine, the story called 'The Age of Desire' for instance, which is about an aphrodisiac which gets out of control and ends up kind of fucking everything. I mean he starts with his landlady, then he goes through some cops. Then he ends up screwing walls in subways, sidewalks and shit. There are things you can do on page that you absolutely can't do on screen, or if you can do it on screen you just can't get distributed. So I mean, I think they can push that stuff further on the page. But clearly, in the movies, I really do intend to push it as far as I possibly can, and I think in 'Hellraiser', we get away with a lot of stuff which I was kind of surprised by frankly. I was surprised that the MPAA was as accepting of some of that imagery, which is very seriously taken necrophiliac imagery, as it was. Maybe they didn't get it, I don't know."

Clive Barker : What Makes Him Tick

By Tim Caldwell, Film Threat, No 19, 1989

"A long time ago I'd had the idea that it would be great if there were a bunch of old guys who had once ruled the world and were still ruling it. They were old and still had to give their judgements to the people who were apparently running the world - the Ronald Reagans, the Margaret Thatchers... but who were, in actual fact, just front persons. Our heroine comes along this group of old people who are hidden away. This is the great conclave which is offering information about the way that wars should be run and so on. Originally, these people were all put together around the time of the Bay of Pigs because the world was falling apart, and the Good and the Great decided it would be a good idea to get together a select band of people who would make judgements on behalf of world leaders, so there would be no major crises any more. But after a few years of running the world, these guys get bored and they don't want to do it any more. They get old, they get bad cases of flatulence, they've got more important stuff to do. Invitation to second launch party So they start racing frogs and making their judgements on the results... Sometimes they play dice, but basically they race frogs. That was a bit of an idea, and I have a friend who went off to a Greek island and she gave me some information I rather liked about that, and the thing came together."

Transcript of talk at UCLA 25 February 1987

Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"The danger comes from the merely human who define life too narrowly, who seek a kind of deathly purity by destroying whatever they do not recognise. And acceptance begins with self-acceptance - with forgiveness... Forgiving, yes, that's the key thing. The plainest statement I ever made of this was in a story that seemed to irritate a lot of readers, called 'The Madonna'... He doesn't know where they're going, but follows, not knowing if he-she will drown, or come out in some other place where this new mythology will be understandable, and the last line is; 'He opened his mouth and shouted into the whirlpool, as the light grew and grew, an anthem in praise of paradox'."

Every Fear is a Desire

In London, September 1988 by Lisa Tuttle, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"The inspiration for Rawhead Rex came from a tale from English folklore about Rawhead and Bloody Bones. I didn't know any more about them but their names, but they evoked quite a lot of ideas. Rawhead is the mindless thing unleashed. I wanted to create a monster who had no niceties; he's relentless, hungry, there's no appeal for mercy, all you can do when you're with him is run. The image I had was a figure with the body of a human being and the mind of a hungry animal."

Rawhead Rex

By [ ], Fangoria Poster Magazine, No 2, [Summer] 1988

"I contacted him [Ramsey Campbell] afresh, needing some advice on the contracts for my 'Books Of Blood' and hoping he - who'd been this route before me - might offer some guidelines. He was unfailingly generous with his time and advice, offering enthusiasm for the stories I nervously showed him, and later putting his name to that enthusiasm by penning an introduction to the first of the volumes."

Ramsey Campbell : An Appreciation

Essay by Clive Barker, (i) 1986 World Fantasy Convention Programme (ii) Skeleton Crew, No 5 [ ] (iii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

More from Clive on The Books of Blood...

home search contact Books