...With Abarat II - Days of Magic, Nights of War safely in the hands of his publishers, 2004 was an easier year for Barker as
he was freed to reconsider the projects he had necessarily sidelined. A draft screenplay for Tortured Souls was turned in to
Universal with the hope that Barker might be able to direct in early 2005 and Thief of Always was ushered into the hands of
Kelly Asbury. With the first two Abarat books written, they could be delivered to Disney for John Harrison to craft a screenplay
for the first of a planned trilogy of movies.
In the meantime, the job at hand was to rekindle excitement for Abarat ahead of publication of the second volume and the decision was made to focus strongly on Barker's artwork. Live painting sessions and displays of the Abarat pieces were arranged, together with the filming of Barker painting in his studio for a promotional CD ROM. A pre-publication mini-tour of Europe was arranged, with Barker signing in the UK for the first time since his Essential tour in 1999. On his return to LA, McFarlane released The Infernal Parade models - co-designed with Barker and including his back-stories for each circus character. A full US tour was arranged through the autumn, elevating Abarat II into the New York Times' bestseller lists and encouraging Abarat I (in paperback) back into the charts as well. By the end of the year Tortured Souls was looking less likely, but Luna7 were producing fabulous Abarat prints on canvas and that Pinhead 'novella' was still freakishly growing...
By Jeffrey Schwarz, documentary on Candyman DVD release, 2004
"I feel as though there's always going to be a body of people who are going to like what I do and there's always going to be a - probably larger - body of people who don't. And, as long as I am loved with passion, I can bear to be hated with passion too."
By [ ], Fangoria.com, 29 January 2004 (note - full text online at www.fangoria.com)
"I'm turning in the [Tortured Souls] script in four weeks, and if Universal likes it, they're prepared to go into production right away. I've taken the Tortured Souls toys and really expanded their universe, so it'll be different than what fans are expecting."
By Sean Kennedy, HX, 30 January 2004
"David [Armstrong, in Rare Flesh] made people play out dramas. Some of the pictures are of an actor, a beautiful guy, with horns on his
head, and he's screaming at the camera. There's another with a man sitting in the corner with black tears down his face. David cannily
called forth these moods from them, not demanding anything, but actually really asking them, 'What do you want to express? What do you feel..?'
"Originally I thought I would put in a few simple words, but that didn't seem to work. It was really hard getting a balance, because you don't want to say something that's already in the photograph, because then the words are a redundancy. Equally, you don't want to be taking the thought process too far away from the photograph, because then why are the words there?"
By Brein Lopez, LA Festival of Books, 25 April 2004
"I forget who said this: 'Everything evil in the world comes from a lack of love.' I believe that. I believe that men who are cruel, and it
is mostly men who are cruel, are cruel because somewhere along the line nobody taught them to be anything else. And so, if I can
put into my book that simple lesson, if I can put into my book the idea that you can reach beyond that, you can heal yourself
beyond that, and Candy has not been a loved child - she has an alcoholic, abusive father... Actually I had somebody slide up to me
about four minutes before we started and said, 'I want you to kill Bill Quackenbush.' Sweaty dollars were pressed into my hand..! I
said I would do it - I was going to anyway..!
"There's the other thing that I sort of want to do - and this is the big ambition - you know, again, it's Blake who says 'everything is holy' - I would like to find a way by the end of this series of books to have found a way where Candy can have understood that everything in this invented world has its place... I thought, I want to be able to do this with my invented world, I want to make my invented world... I want to be tender with everything - even the villainous things. Nothing should be so evil that it should be beyond our comprehension. The moment we say, 'Oh, I just don't understand that thing, that man,' is the moment we've given up on stopping it happening again."
By Jen Vuckovic, Rue Morgue, No 39, May/June 2004
"I see a lot of horror movies that I like, no question, but I don't see a lot of movies that have the kind of mythology behind
them that I like. Hellboy is the exception because Mignola spent so much time over the years building the mythology,
but a lot of movies don't reach into that mythological cauldron, and for me, the place that I'm always reaching deepest is Hell...
"There's an obsession that I have, it's a sadomasochistic obsession, which has run through not just the Hellraiser stuff, but even through Lord of Illusions - there's all this bondage and sword-dropping, etcetera. Wherever I can find places to put things that have that kind of undertow, I'm going to do it!"
Audio interview by Anthony DiBlasi (i) Abarat 2 promotional CD ROM sampler, Joanna Cotler Books, June 2004 (ii) online at
www.harpercollins.com (iii) online at www.thebooksofabarat.com
"It's very interesting this series - the problem of the series, the challenges of the series - I've done it before: The Art books; the first book, The Great and Secret Show was a 700 page book; the second book, Everville was another 700ish length book and I have a third book to write - a third and final book to write for that, which is itching to be written. One of the challenges is you have not only to keep an audience up to speed with what's happened but you also have to lay plans for what's going to happen. One of the things I like to be able to do is really give readers a chance to be able to make their own suppositions about the way the plots going to go; I try not to cheat readers. If readers were to look very closely at Books One and Two of The Abarat Quartet there would be all kinds of clues they would be able to find as to how Books Three and Four will develop. So part of the challenge, really, is being true to your audience's expectation and, of course, in the end you want each book that you do in the series to be a little better than the one before, so, Book Two of the Abarat series is 100 pages longer than Book One and we I think have something like 25 or 26 oil paintings more than we had in the first book - so we have 125 oil paintings which is a massive number of oil paintings for a single book.So it's really been quite an interesting challenge to put together this enormous book."
By Dan Halperin, (i) Fangoria Blood Drive, June 2004, (ii) (edited) Abarat 2 promotional CD ROM sampler, Joanna Cotler Books, June 2004
"Normally, when I'm painting I feel like it's just flowing through me; I'm a conduit for it, from some other place or... yeah, I'm channelling it, if you will. I would like to take some credit, but I think in a way the credit is for getting out of my own way. One of the things I've learned as a painter is not to be forever judging myself. What liberated me into painting was just letting go, just not worrying too much about, 'Well, was that a perfect line? Is that a perfect stroke?' Everything is imperfect, gloriously imperfect and imperfection is part of what gives it its energy."
By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 1 and 12 July 2004 (note - full text here)
"[John Harrison] spent several parts of days with me, going around the paintings, talking through not only what was on the walls but also what I thought was going to happen to these characters as time went by - to cast my imagination forward from the two books that we do, into whatever the third and the fourth might bring. And I can only do that in a very limited way because of the way I'm working - I haven't painted those books yet! So I don't know that much, but there are some things I know and I was able to offer him some insights. And I was certainly able to give him the feel for what excited me about this whole project in the first place - what had brought me to islands and time and a time out of time and the Fantomaya and all the various elements that plugged into my experiences as a child going to Tiree and Guernsey - two islands which featured hugely in my childhood imaginings.The whole idea of being able to jump through time and then go to a place where time doesn't even exist is something that's very acute right now, being in a state of jet lag! That's the way you feel! You're not plugged into the way the hours work and I made a note to myself two years ago, saying, 'Candy should feel something like jet lag,' and I think that when she gets to move through the islands at a really fast rate (as she'll be required to do in the third and fourth books) that's got to affect her. I mean, jumping from hour to hour, you're getting very strong feelings of what each hour will bring, but they're not in the right order! And it's that weird thing of when you have, for some reason, disturbed sleep, or when you sleep in the middle of the day - you know, when you're really tired and you sleep for a couple of hours in the middle of the day and you lose two hours, you know? This strange sense of being dislocated - I shared a lot of that stuff with John and I think he was excited to have whatever I could give him."
By Brett Alexander Savory, IROSF.com, Vol I No 8, 21 August 2004 (note - full text at www.irosf.com)
"I think most writers - most honest writers -have a view of themselves which is much
more modest than the people who are marketing the book. I come to the desk
where I'm sitting now every morning with the same blank page to write on,
and the same trepidation about whether I'll be able to do it, like every
other writer. I don't know an honest writer on the planet who does not say
there is a little fear that today will be the day when... [it stops coming].
"Of course, there are days when you feel a little more confident and up, but there are days when I'm showering, thinking about the work ahead, and having strong doubts about it. It's not that I don't like doing it - I do like doing it - but I want to do it at the top of my game. One of the reasons why I have moved consistently from one area of the fantastic -the world of horror - to the creation of fantastic worlds, Weaveworld, Imajica, etc., and then into illustration and fantasy for children, and a few more things that have come down the pipe, and which have gone superbly. One of the reasons I've done that is to keep that challenge going, to always have that doubt in myself in the morning, because that's part of what makes the work good. I don't want the blood to dry through repetition.
"When we put the first Abarat book out a couple of years ago, I was absolutely as anxious as I was when I first put out a book twenty years before, because it's a new area for me, and my inspiration might be misled, and who knows what people would say? I think, for me, and I can only speak for myself, the elements of the subgenres have a way in which they keep me on my toes."
By Laura Davis, The Liverpool Daily Post, 6 September 2004 (note - full text online at www.icliverpool.co.uk)
[re changes in genre] "It's been to some extent a product of the time in which I was being published. When I was first published,
almost twenty years ago, Stephen King was coming out and he made some very nice comments about my early fiction which
helped sell the books - no question. The first half of that twenty years were very confident times in publishing and I was able to
pretty much have support for whatever book came along, as long as I didn't write children's books. But when I wrote Weaveworld,
when I changed from writing horror to writing fantasy, I got tremendous support for that change. I'm not sure that an author these
days, in these heightened times, would get the same amount of support...
"I have a theory about [adults reading children's fiction] - I think they always have, but it's only recently we've owned up to it. I've always read and enjoyed children's books even as an adult. The times have changed, it's now perfectly cool for adults to be seen on the train reading a Harry Potter or a Clive Barker children's book."
By Jen Vuckovic (i) Rue Morgue, Issue 41, September/October 2004 (ii) SuicideGirls.com (full text online at www.suicidegirls.com)
"I'm a very restless kind of guy so it's important to me that all the stories, or as many of the stories that I've got in my head, or as many of the images I've got in my head can be on paper or on canvas, or on film before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I'm here at 51, don't think I'm even halfway through the stuff that's in my head, there's so much stuff. I made two paintings yesterday and it was great because I was able to sit back at twelve o'clock at night and go, cool, there are two pictures that did not exist this morning. That's the major reason why I'm scared of death, I don't want to be taken away from the work which I've got to do until it's done. I hope when it's done, I'll be a lot more comfortable and I'll say, yay, okay let me go sit down with the ghosts of my dogs and birds and the ghosts of the loved ones that went before and rest awhile."
By Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column, 21 September 2004 (note - full audio interview available at www.trashotron.com/agony)
"One of the things that I try and do in the books I write is set the mystery, the curiosity of villainy into the audience's head,
particularly in the younger readers' heads so that you see sometimes - for instance Mr Hood in Thief of Always is a lonely
old bastard, he's a lonely, cold, frigid, empty-hearted thing... No - that's not right, not thing, there you see I'm doing it, I'm
not allowing him his humanity, I'm objectifying him - an empty-hearted man. And I think we're tussling right now as a
culture with how we deal with villainy because part of us, and I completely understand this, wants to say, you know
somebody who kills children, somebody who feeds people to the lions for God's sake, why should I bother with even trying
to understand who that person was? There's a part of me which completely goes along with that and says, you're right,
why bother? And there's another part of me that thinks well, unless we bother, we'll never fix it...
"There's a short poem in Weaveworld: 'The agony of families is not congenital disease, but feet that follow where the foot that has preceded them was put.' In other words, the real horror is when one foot just goes exactly where Dad's foot just went, particularly if Dad's foot went in a bad place. You've got to learn to break the cycles and the only way that you break the cycles, I think, is by understanding the cycles. So, in my little ways, I am saying, you know, Christopher Carrion, this villain, is a bad, screwed up man and let's see if we can understand how he comes to be who he is before he has too many detrimental effects upon the world."
Transcript of a Q&A, Seattle, 24 September 2004
"I have a 16-year-old daughter and she is a lot of the inspiration for Candy: she's an adventurer like Candy; she's a troublemaker like Candy. I got her name - I live in Los Angeles and if any of you go to Los Angeles you should check this out - at the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica, there's a big sign for a lawyers company called Quackenbush, and I thought, 'That is such a great name...'"
By Parker Ray, Instinct, Volume 7 No.10, October 2004
"I loved fantasy books as a kid. Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, they could easily be considered for younger people, but they've influenced adult writers too. So has Harry Potter. It all comes down to how well they're written. And I think kids these days are a little more receptive to more mature stories. There can be some forms of sexuality and struggles for life and death, as long as they're put in a context that a younger mind can understand."
No.19: Hellraiser, Bravo, [first broadcast, October] 2004
"I went to my local library to find a book on film directing and they had two but they were both checked out and I thought, 'Oh, I'm so fucked, I don't even have a book!'"
By Robert Masello, Los Angeles Times, 28 October 2004
"[Writing about Hollywood is both] easy because people already have a received image of the city from movies and TV, and hard because you don't want that imagery to be at the centre of your narrative. I find it's both a test, and a goad, to my imagination. The cliches beloved of most horror writers - dark and stormy nights, cold and snow - they're simply not to be seen here."
By Jason Arnopp, SFX, No 123, November 2004 (note: interview took place on 12 June 2004)
"The making of secondary worlds, as Tolkien described them in his writing, is absolutely what I love most. Whether those
worlds are like the city of Primordium in Tortured Souls, the fugue in Weaveworld or the Dominions in Imajica, nothing
pleases me more than going to my desk in the morning and knowing that I'm going to take a journey in words to a place
where nobody has been before, because I haven't gone there yet...
"Forget about people losing track - what about me losing track? I kind of love the idea that one day there'll be a note found on my desk reading, 'Hey guys, gone to Abarat, see ya!' No sign of Clive Barker. Maybe some wet footsteps leading away from his desk..."
By Kimberly Pauley,Young Adult (And Kids!) Books Central, November 2004 (note: full text at: www.yabookscentral.com)
"[The Abarat logo] was designed by one of the fellows from Disney. It had never occurred to me in a thousand years that you would be able to make a
configuration of the letters of Abarat that would read both right ways up and upside down. And when Disney took the project I was still painting
and hadn't written anything and so through that year when I was writing I met with a number of their artists, which was great. And they would
come up and talk about what they could contribute to the whole creation process because if Disney does indeed wind up making the movies,
not that I'm sure they will, we want the logo to be the same as it reads on the books. So we were trying to find something which would look the
same universally so it would look the same in Italy and in Japan. And we're in 26 languages with these books and we wanted to find something
that would be immediately recognizable.
"We had a lot of really cool people come up to see the paintings and talk about the project and after about two months this guy came in, very quiet, one of the quietest in the bunch - there were maybe nine designers with me that day - and he said 'I've done something,' and he handed it, very anxiously, just pushed it onto the table. And it was the rendering that you see on the book and I was blown away by that. I thought this is so neat because the book is filled with inversions of various kinds, or yin and yang, if you will...complimentaries. Night and Day, for instance. The two parts of who Candy is. A bunch of things still to come, in fact, which I don't want to give too much away about but it seems the title treatment just worked beautifully. So, we said, 'That's what we're going to do.' We'll keep it that way and sure enough, it's on the Japanese cover and it's on the Italian cover and hopefully it will be on the movie when it comes out."
By Sandy Auden, The Third Alternative, Issue 40, Winter 2004/2005
"I think as any writer will tell you, simplicity is the toughest thing of the lot. I didn't have any difficulty dropping the sex and violence but it was tough at first to figure out a style I wanted. I didn't want C.S. Lewis's style - very simple, two clauses at most, with very straightforward language - but I looked at everything and ended up feeling as though an older style of writing would be best, like Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. And I didn't want the text to be straightforward either. I wanted there to be room for more elegance of language, maybe some words that would make a young reader go to a dictionary. I didn't have problems with that and I think it's turned out all to the good. The more complicated language certainly doesn't seem to have turned off younger readers at all. But Abarat is still much simpler than the adult books and I enjoyed forging that style. It was a question of finding it in the first book and, once I'd got it, I was off to the races."
By Sandy Auden,
(i) The Alien Online, 16 November, 2004 (note: full text at: www.thealienonline.net) (ii) Prism: The Newsletter of The British Fantasy Society, January / February 2005
"[A Young Adult book] needs to be plot driven. I don't spend time being very descriptive, I don't have big chunks of description
ever, because as a young reader myself I'd think, 'Aah, this is a description bit here, let's get on to the action.' I preferred it when
description became a function of action - that way the action would be going on while you were learning something about the
"It's always fun when you have plenty of plot and the action's bubbling along and then a character - that you have very clearly in your head - drives the narrative a little off course because he or she simply isn't going to play by the plot. A writer who has invested in character the way I do tries to listen to those changes of direction. 'You wouldn't do this, would you?' I'll ask them. And they say, 'No, I wouldn't. Don't make me do it!' It can be something too violent or too loving or too complicated and it's certainly made me change things. You can fall in love [with] the characters too, and that also makes a difference. Malingo was so much more fun to write than I thought he would be and so was John Mischief. I also love writing Mater Motley, the whole bitch of her. So in a way, you end up playing things favourably for some of them, you know."
By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 30 November 2004 (note - full text here)
"It was great: it was what I had wanted the first Abarat tour to be and wasn't. It was
the audience, it was the new audience, it was the children, it was the young people - I shouldn't say 'children' because that sounds
weird - they're not children, they're not even kids they're just young fans, you know? And the first time we went out, when we went
out with the first Abarat book, there was a lot of ambiguity in people's responses. I don't know if they hadn't figured whether this
was something I was going to stick with, whether I really meant to make a bunch of books like this; because it was a
very elaborate piece of work and was I going to have a second one any time soon? And there was also a sense that I thought
Abarat might prove disappointing to some of, let us say, my harder core readers - though I've been
contradicted in the pages of Rue Morgue since saying this, so maybe it isn't true; I opened it and there was this really
cool letter saying, you know, 'Don't worry about that, I'm having a great time with Abarat.'
"But the second tour brought out the younger readers and it brought out the first audience with a big old smile on their faces because there was a second book and many of them who'd read it already were coming to the signings already having finished it - because they'd got a readers' copy or because they'd bought it earlier - were grinning from ear to ear because the story had, if not finished, had given them what the first book had not, which was a character arc, or a series of character arcs which concluded. They could put the second book down and say, 'Oh, OK, now I know what this reading experience is going to be like; there's going to be more of it but it's going to be fulfilling on a character level, not just in terms of how many monsters can Clive cram into one page.' "
By David Sutton, Fortean Times, No 190, December 2004
"I'm always looking for that threshold, that place you can jump off from - in the Abarat books it's a great wave that carries you off into a new world. They're all devices, ways to get the characters from Kansas to Oz. What really moves me is knowing that the world - the cogent world, in which we go back to our houses, eat dinner, see our families - is a mental construct, an agreed construct. We all know that, and we all know that it doesn't take much to pull the rug from under us."
By Joe Nazzaro, www.fangoria.com, 2 December 2004
"[Five years from now] I'd like the Abarat books to be done, and I'd also like to feel that we're making movies on a regular basis. Pretty much every day of the year, I would love to feel that I'm putting pen to paper or paint on canvas, and the visions and the voices are still there to be heard and seen. That's the way I've tried to live my life: by the pleasure of following whatever is in my head."
By Hans Rueffert, www.luna7.com, 7 December 2004
"It has always been my ambition that I would be able to make fine museum-quality prints of my Abarat paintings available to audiences around the world. Working with Hans at Luna 7, I think that ambition is now going to be realized. I'm excited by the quality of these giclees; they are as close to my oil paintings as any print could ever be. The colors are wonderfully fine, and the prints have captured every brush stroke and knife scratch I put on the canvas. I am very excited at the prospect of now offering these beautiful prints for enthusiasts around the world."
By Dirk Lang, Alien Contact, No 63, 7 December 2004 (German magazine - full text in the Alien Contact section at www.epilog.de)
"The English are very good at concealing things. We conceal our feelings a lot. But that's the way we were brought up. When we
are angry we don't show it, when we are sad we don't show it. David does show things. One of the things that's been amazing
about the beginning of a life-long journey of my relationship with David is that we've been discovering that we complement
each other. One of the things I needed was being brave about my own feelings. I am really brave about other people's feelings
in my books but I'm not brave about my own feelings. I tend to conceal them more. One of the things that happens as I'm getting
older is that I have far less desire to have a public persona . When I first started doing interviews and started having a public life I
created almost automatically another self. What it does is protect the real self from the arrows which are inevitably going to be
fired at you because you are in any way public...
"Envy, jealousy, anger makes people irrational. How do you protect yourself against that? Well, my way to protect myself was to have this kind of public persona which wasn't really me. I would do interviews and throw out my answers very quickly. I'll be fifty next year and I've run out of the energy with that persona."