Writing Style

Ravens of Dawn

For all you budding scribes, here it is - the nuts and bolts of it all, aka Clive's top ten tips for writing a top tale...

"I want to be popularist and profound, with a narrativeform working on a number of levels, and a dark, hugging subtext or a bright transcendental subtext... But I'm certainly not interested in making my appeal to a sub-sub-text."

It's Alive

By John Hind, Blitz, No 80, August 1989

"I think anything you make, almost anything you make, you look back and think, 'I could have done that better' - I think that's right. But the lesson I wish somebody had taught me, at school, really, was that whether you're writing or painting or making a play or whatever, that there comes a time when you walk, you have to walk away. You're not going to make it any better, you're just going to make it different. [You've]just got to let go. And for me, the interesting thing, as I've got older, is that I feel more comfortable with those early, y'know, those early things that maybe one would have wished to have done a different way. And they're part of who I am, they're part of who I am.
[Re. Humour] "Anthony Breer, wandering around, putting on more and more aftershave 'cause he doesn't realise he's dead... In the horror stuff, and indeed in the fantasy stuff, I think it's important to mingle the humour with - and humanity - with the horror and the fantasy, and I think my feeling is on a Clive Barker book, hopefully when you turn the next page you're not quite sure what you're going to get next and that's what I'm always aiming for."

Transcript of interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, 9 November 1998

By Brian Hayes

"The rhythm of writing short stories and the rhythm of writing novels is completely different, and of the eleven books I've produced, six have been collections of short stories. Writing short stories is a series of brief love affairs. Writing a novel is a marriage. That's not my analogy; I think it's Norman Mailer's. And it's true. You really have to fall significantly in love with your subject to spend eighteen months with it. Imajica preoccupied me to that extent. Weaveworld before it was the same. The fact is that I've been possessed with these things and my obsession makes the process very engaging, all-consuming and satisfying. So, if I do work fast and turn out a lot, it's because of spending thirteen hours a day at it and loving what I do. But I don't produce as much as King or Koontz by any manner of means. I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm not as fast as Steve King but I'm faster than Peter Straub.I don't feel confident to approach a narrative until I have a shape for it. I sort of see it as a plan, as if the plot was a city, and I need to rise above and look down. Once I do that I can start. With a long novel like Imajica I need to know where each road in the city is leading because they're going to intersect, move off and divide. The plan may not be down to the last slip road and lane, but it's certainly going to have a general sense of where the major highways are. I see in pictures. I studied philosophy among other things at university and I was a terrible logician because I turned everything into images. They would set you these problems to solve, thing like 'Twenty-three pigs go to a trough, but seventeen of them only like to eat cabbages. Eleven pigs are grey, three are black and white...' On and on, and by the time we got to 'How many piglets are left?' my head was full of pictures of pigs and I would get horribly distracted by them. I cannot abstract. Everything in my books is in pictures, every metaphor. I need the picture, otherwise I don't comprehend what I'm writing. If it's not working in pictures then I stop and wait until it is. That's a major part of what has to happen for me."

A Strange Kind Of Believer

By Stan Nicholls, Million, No 13, January - February 1993

"Most horror fiction is about throwing the monster out, about the rejection of the strange, the rejection of the marginal. The vampire gets stakes, the mummy returns to dust, the monster - the thing which is ab-human, sub-human, in-human - gets fucked over, right royally.
"I don't write that kind of fiction. I write the kind of fiction where the monster has to be made peace with, one way or the other. Within the metaphysical world which I create, it's not possible to throw the monster out and assume that one's house has been purged, because the monster is part of the texture of our internal workings. It's the antithesis, in lots of ways, of Stephen King's fiction in which the monster is purged and destroyed and the status quo - though it may have been changed, people may be dead - will nevertheless be re-established in some substantial way. Even in the short fiction, in the span of 30 pages, I will attempt to do something which will throw the world over on its ass, in such a way that it won't be able to pick itself up and re-establish itself in the way that it was on page one.Horror fiction is uniquely placed to do that, because many of the things that it can talk about, by its very nature, do that to us anyway: like death or the loss of loved ones. The whole panoply of stuff which gives us the sweats, the stuff that can never be exiled from our lives. At best you can hold death at bay, you can pretend it isn't there, but to deny it totally is a sickness. And I think that horror fiction is one of the ways to approach these problems and, perversely perhaps, to enjoy a vicarious confrontation with them. Simply scaring people isn't interesting.I think, in some ways, I'm writing a New Gothic. My characters tend to be a return to those marginals and outsiders and whackos and madmen and over-sexed visionaries that wander through the Gothic novels doing unspeakable things to each other. In fact, I think that the anti-Gothic - what I would call Bourgeois horror, is the kind of horror which is firmly rooted in the nuclear family, though it tends to show the nuclear family under threat... Creatures that appearin your kitchen and do unspeakable things to your steaks - the worst possible offence against the nuclear family... Interfere with your TV, or take your child away and threaten not to give her back, or invade your half dug swimming pool - this is all terribly bad news. Here you are trying desperately hard to be upwardly mobile and the living dead are visiting you in your own kitchen. The people in films like Poltergeist are Mr. and Mrs. Normal and their response to the monsters is, "Get the fuck out of here!" They don't want to understand them; they don't want to relate to them, they just want to kill them. Or if they can't kill them, at least exorcise them. The monsters represent forces which are subversive to their status quo.Now, the characters in my fiction are very often dreamers, lost people, people who aren't quite at ease with the bourgeois, the domestic. And there can be lots of reasons for that. That's one of the reasons why there are a lot of female protagonists in my fiction, because a lot of women are pissed off with the status quo in some way."

Clive Barker

By Nigel Floyd, Samhain, No 4, July 1987

"I believe in what I write - not literally in that I believe with the right incantations I could step through into the Imajica, but I believe in the philosophies that underpin my work. Obviously in the case of Weaveworld, because it was set in Liverpool, it had large autobiographical slices in it. I mean, I know all those places very well. I stayed in the hotels that are mentioned in Imajica... I've kept company with the same kinds of people as Gentle and Judith. Obviously, when you step into the worlds of the imagination - the Imajica and the Fugue - you become even more autobiographical, curiously because when it is all invention, it really is yourself that you are putting down in writing. All this material is pouring out of you subconscious and onto the page."


By Jon Gregory, Hellraiser, No 2, 1991

"In order to get through a big novel like Imajica, both as a reader and as a writer, you need mystery - and you can't have one mystery, you need to have many. There's a pulling away of the veils constantly. What I've tried to do to the reader is say, "There isn't the solid moral clarity of Lord of the Rings". I do the reverse of that. Imajica's characters are human beings like you and I who, of course, discover a larger purpose for themselves. But in discovering a larger purpose, rather than becoming more themselves - like the hobbits out there in the wilderness becoming more Hobbity - my characters skin themselves. The lives they have fall away.
"In my fiction I am trying to reflect the fact that we are living in a world full of ambiguities, questions and paradoxes. Perhaps the same was true for Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the rest of the Inklings as they sat discussing fantasy in the 1940's. They'd recently lived through a just war against a great evil, so maybe they also occupied a morally ambiguous world, but I don't think it was anything like as ambiguous as the world is now. Whether that's good news or bad, I don't know."

A Strange Kind Of Believer

By Stan Nicholls, Million, No 13, January - February 1993

"I don't find myself terribly interesting and that's one of the reasons why I write in the mode of trying to escape from the coral that is me. The removal of the limitation that is the self into the place that is the image are things that are boundless, this is the mystical heartbeat of what I do. It's always been that. Over and over, characters in my fiction seek after an experience in which they are released from themselves in some way or another - released from the idea of self or an experience which is limited and the consequences are quite terrible, very often than not. The forgetting of self and remembering; two examples are Cal Mooney and Gentle. Both of them are very screwed up heroes who have experiences in other worlds which are resolved by their remembering in some way or another. Cal is brought back from a no-man's-land or almost being physically erased by remembering himself, by seeing his own reflection. Gentle goes to the Imajica to realize that the villain of the Imajica is himself. The rememberings are in a sense about the self but more importantly about being taken out into the landscape of the imaginative world. For me, who I am, I am only a vehicle for that journey. What's being seen on that journey is more important than who I am. I'm not being self-effacing about that, it's just that I don't find the view, when I look at myself, very interesting. It's very familiar to me until I start to look at the places where I think that some of the things that have happened to me might be useful to other people in the way that I tell the story. Talking about being gay in Sacrament through the character - talking about depression in Chiliad and talking about middle-age in Chiliad as well. Talking about getting to the place where the certainties that take you through your thirties and drive you on. You think if only I had this or if I only do that, everything would be all right and then discovering that I've already got all these things and it still shows. I wanted to express these things truthfully about myself because I only become interesting to myself when I disappoint myself. If everything is just chugging along just fine, why write about it? There is nothing remotely interesting about that. What is interesting is to be troubled and screwed up and to be dealing with being troubled and screwed up. Out of that period, that rush through the first ten years of my career, everything was actually falling into place with an uncanny accuracy. I'm in a place now and I'm looking at who I am and saying I don't get it. How can I express that I don't get it in a way that is useful to other people and helps me get it? Fiction for me can only be a means to say how can I understand what is going on in my life better? It's the only thing that I can say, without question, helps me get to the page - this puzzle that is unsolved; why the fuck am I alive? I don't find myself any more ready to answer that question now than ten years ago."

Confessions - An Artistic Escape

By Stephen Dressler, transcript of a interview by Douglas E. Winter at DragonCon, Atlanta, 29 June 1997, Lost Souls, Issue 8, July 1997

"Do I still have the buzz? Now more than ever! It's what I do. I love the art of storytelling. When I've finished with the European promotion for Illusions, I'm off to see my publisher to plan out the next five years of my life."

Lord Of Illusion

By [ ], Home Cinema Choice, September 1996

"I also think that there are a lot of images that you should leave people to make up their own minds about, and so one of the reasons why in the horror fiction I describe things so graphically is that I don't want to make a judgement about it, I say, 'Here is the image.' I tend not to say, 'The thing was revolting, putrescent, filthy,' I tend to say, 'This is what it looked like, this is what colour it was, now you make up your mind whether you think that is disgusting or putrescent or filthy.'"

Clive Barker In The Flesh

By Dave Hughes, Skeleton Crew, III/IV, 1988

"What's important, I think, is to be fresh, and also I think to feel as though you're breaking personal ground,because I do very strongly believe that the best sort of fiction is written from personal concern. Those concerns have to be fresh in your head, and if they're not fresh in your head, then they're dead. I write out of anxiety and obsession, I write out of hope and passion. I don't write out of stale marketing ideas because someone paid me a million bucks.
"Finally, all I can do, I believe, is hopefully deliver material which is not only fresh to my audience, but fresh to myself. I mean 'Weaveworld' was a very distinct change of pace from 'The Books of Blood' and 'The Damnation Game' and indeed 'Hellraiser'. My new novel [Great and Secret Show] will also be a fantasy novel, but it will be again a distinct change of pace, and I think it's a course one continues to surprise oneself, because there's nothing I hate more than formulaic writing of various kinds - you know, the kind of thing where you feel the author has just basically put his brain on hold and has just filled the spaces."

Weaving Words With Clive Barker

By Leigh Blackmore, Terror Australis, No1, Autumn 1988

"I like to keep things in flux for as long as possible, and one should always strive, particularly with horror fiction, toward the limits of a particular story. I don't want to send people to bed happy, or out of a cinema feeling they have only been entertained. I want them to be on their guard. I hate 'safe' horror fiction that leaves the reader content. I want to get inside the reader's head and make some trouble! Keeping in flux allows one the chance of using last-minute inspiration. And I do that rather a lot."

Meet Clive Barker

By Philip Nutman & Stefan Jaworzyn, Fangoria, No 51, January 1986

"The underpinning of a lot of fantastic fiction - horror, science fiction, fantasy - is metaphysical. They're the tales of the collective psyche, the fundamental metaphors of confrontation with things that may devour us or may offer us transcendence, and may be offering both in the same moment. At its best, fantastic fiction creates an immensely sophisticated, metaphorical language about very basic human issues. I'm not denigrating entertainment, but I hope that good horror fiction can be more than that. For me, it's only going to make sense if it somehow liberates you into a new truth of some kind. A lot of horror fiction is about individualism and the loss of individuality. That has a great deal to do with how much each of us possesses our own body, and how much it's outside of our possession."

Barker's Searching For A Higher Plane

By Bob Strauss, The Fresno Bee, 25 October 1987

"I couldn't be a neo-realist, however hard I tried. It's very important to me to make the motivations accessible, not to have people just succumbing to uncontrollable urges. However fantastic the story may be, the horror is still rooted in human desires. I'm just not interested in the kind of horror film where virgin girls are pursued by men in ski masks. There are no virgins in my movie [Hellraiser]. And no ski masks either, come to that."


By Tom Pulleine, Films and Filming, February 1987

"His [King's] stories are healing stories in a way mine aren't. All horror heals; it opens some wounds and shows you how to close them again. But King heals to a great extent by dealing with monsters as though they were alien. I heal by having characters realise that the monsters are part of themselves. My characters comprehend, 'Oh I understand now why that works, how those creatures operate, and they are part of my instinct, my desire, my heat, my sadness, my loneliness, my fear of old age, my madness. They're part of me.'"

Barker vs The King

By Matt Roush, USA Today, 22 August 1986

"I like to work. I don't like bars; I don't like clubs, I like to be at home working. I love my housemates, I love my dog, I'm pretty dull. And I do think that the writing of a large imaginative work takes a kind of obsession, an immersion in its reality to the point where the life lived outside its pages seems duller."

Lord Of Illusion

By Charles Isherwood, The Advocate, 21 February 1995

"The idea is clearly to introduce into the culture some ideas which really come from the trust deep-seated mythological places. So, yes, I value that more and more highly, the more we become an MTV culture, the more we are trivialised by the culture we feed upon, the more important it seems to me to value doing that, and, at the same time, seeking a populism which is the only democratic expression of that. That's the tough thing. I mean, Shelley was actually a popular poet. I mean, everybody knew who Shelley was; he was a figure of his age. Blake wasn't, of course. Wordsworth certainly was. The thing which infects our culture is the idea that populism, the desire to make democratic statements in fictional or poetic form, is somehow or other a receding from genius, which is so much to do with a kind of nineteenth century attitude to art.
"On 'The Great and Secret Show,' 'The New York Times Review of Books' said if you don't like the new Thomas Pynchon try the new Clive Barker, which was one of the nicest things anybody's ever said. And it was kind of interesting, they were talking about the new Pynchon and saying, you know, if this doesn't suit you, here's a guy who's doing something similar but doing it in a different area, which I found kind of interesting. Pynchon doesn't have popular appeal, truly. We're talking about a literary writer who is extremely difficult, in truth. I don't know, I didn't see the 'I-D' piece you're making reference to, so it's very difficult to make any informed judgement on that. But on the observation you make, it seems to me that what Pynchon does, as a cultural magpie, which is very interesting, is, nevertheless, unrelated, in truth, to the real democracy of writing. I am much more interested in getting to the parts Pynchon doesn't reach you know, and there's a lot of 'em. I think you've got to have an ambition for your work, and part of my ambition is that I mingle the popular form and the high-art tradition, but bury the high-art ambition so deeply that it never bothers the reader. The reader doesn't think, "Oh God, this is hard work!"

The Edge Interview

By David Alexander, The Edge, 1991

"Whether 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 a long 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 whether 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.
"You have to go after, seek after the things 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 cliches 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. "


By [ ],Lost Souls, Issue 2, [September] 1995

"One of horror cinema's great lines: it's from Videodrome. 'Long live the New Flesh!' It's so perfect. The New Flesh will transform. A new evolutionary step is taking place. But David [Cronenberg] sees the transformation as a repulsive thing... revolting. In my written fiction, they enjoy or come to enjoy the transformations that happen to them. They see it as a good thing... I obviously do drafts. But I seldom come to the end of a piece and decide that it's wretched. Probably 97 percent [of what I write] gets out there. [I write] 2,000 to 2,500 words before I'm allowed to get up from my table. Every day, that much at least."

The Clive Barker Interview

By Mike Lackey, Marvel Age, No 107, December 1991

"Almost everything in my fiction, believe it or not, has a root in something I've experienced. I really believe writers are a kind of journalist. That is to say, I need to feel something deeply - something that moves me profoundly - before I can communicate it to my audience. Now, on occasion, the root idea can be very remote from the finished article, but however outrageous the final, fantasticated tale may be, somewhere in my history lies the real inspirations for it...
"I've never read any books about the writing process which I have foundparticularly useful. That isn't to say that such books don't exist; I've simply never encountered any of them. One of the reasons why I'm talking to you today is because I'm presenting a lecture about the unleashing of the creative process next Saturday (Aug. 23) in San Francisco. I think that the chance to speak one-on-one with writers is probably more useful than anything that can be put down in a book. Certainly when I've done such lectures previously, those who have come along, whether they are just beginning their careers or already have something published, seem to find the exchange of views very useful."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance, 18 August 1997

"Even today I keep a Dream Journal. It's whatever's going on in my subconscious, or things from dreams or even interesting items that pop into my head. I have thousands of pages of notes which I hope someday will turn into stories, or movies...Being on the road gives me breathing time and the opportunity to think about what to do next. In fact right before I came down for lunch today, I was writing down notes about my feelings. Things that I need to do to keep motivated. I need to be motivated if I am to going to devote fifteen months to writing another book. And I couldn't write a book just because it's a commercial idea. I need to have a compelling reason."

Clive Barker

By Timothy Nasson, In Step Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 14, 25 July - 6 August 1996

"I think that, in a way, ['to thine own self be true'] is the only certainty I have as a creative person, because I'm definitely not going to trust the reviews - one person likes the book, another person hates it, so what am I going to do with that? All I can do is sit at my desk and be as clear headed about what I want to express as I can be. Of course, when you look back at your books you always wish you had been more clear headed, but what matters is doing it in the moment of writing. What am I trying to express her? Can I express it clearly and economically and evoke a response from the reader? And having done that, you want to take it through the editorial system and use those notes from the editor that make sense and ignore those that don't and hopefully you will end up with something which communicates strongly and clearly with the reader.
"I don't think that the despiritualised, dehumanised culture in which we live, the McDonalds and Disney culture, does our internal lives, our mythological lives, any favours at all. In other words, to be an Outsider in this culture now is to be looking inside at a plastic world, and I think it's easier to critique that world if I don't belong to it... In Hollywood where I live now, there's a lot of having lunches, a lot of going to parties... and I will have no part of that. I'm certainly not very good at it, I don't like it and I feel a little weird about it. I don't want to be part of the problem, I want to be a part of the solution, and the only way I can help solve the problem of the plasticity of our world is by writing, by painting and by making my work, so I stay where I can do that, which is at my desk, in my studio. I will venture out when I need to sell a book or exhibit my paintings, but the rest of the time my job is to be here and imagine."

Addicted To Creativity (Part 1)

By Bill Babouris, Samhain, No 70, November 1998

"People often ask me what advice I have for writers, and I reply that the most important responsibility I believe a writer has is to his or her personal truth. Don't be misled by the best seller lists. Just do what feels true to you. Speak your heart, however strange or revelatory it is. Don't be ashamed of how your imagination works. What a reader wants to discover in a book is what you hold uniquely in your head.
"I keep a dream journal, which is a repository of images and ideas that spring to mind in sleep. I jot down any and every stray notion that pops into my head during the working day, however irrelevant they may seem. I am always waiting for the connections to occur to me. The threads of narrative which tie these disparate and unconnected notions and images together.
"I think making stories which touch people deeply is always hard. I've been writing plays and books for 20 years and I still go to my desk every morning with a mixture of excitement and dread."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance 16 July 1996

"I map the story out, and then I change it. By the end of writing a book I have many dozens of changes. I am respectful of the fact that narratives change and should change. The period to write a novel is quite a long period, a year, year and a half. You have experiences, which change your point of view. Even though I am writing fantasy, I'm trying to write my own kind of truth. I'm trying to say something. I'm trying to express metaphor in heightened language, sometimes in a form of visual images or poetry, things which I believe about the world. Things, which we believe, change and so it's necessary that the story remains fluid.
"I can't imagine ever starting a story with everything completely mapped out and just following that mechanically through for a year to a year and a half. On the other hand starting out with nothing, I've never done that. I've always started out with at least something to begin the journey."


By [Craig Fohr], Lost Souls Newsletter, September / December 2000

"I always do huge amounts of rewriting, but in Coldheart Canyon there was lots and lots and lots. For one thing, I lost my dad a week after I started the book. I'm a good Boy Scout in the sense of wanting to deliver a book when I've promised I will. But it was a stupid thing to do, because I was carrying, and am still carrying, a lot of completely unfelt-through feelings about my dad. So I kind of went and hid in the narrative, and you can't hide from those feelings. They come and get you wherever you are. So what happened was the first draft was this clotted, stupid pass where I wasn't dealing with anything about my dad. So I took a few weeks off and had some long conversations with myself and my husband, David, and then started the novel over using rather than avoiding my unresolved feelings.
"I think it's an indulgence to [write] the other [non-linear] way. I think it's a kind of cowardice. There are places in anyone's books that are going to be easier than other parts. And if when you come to a part that's difficult and think, 'Hm, I'll skip that,' all you're doing is lining up these problems that are going to wait for you and kick you in the ass. So I'm very rigorous with myself. I won't allow myself to go on to a fun bit, like the sex. I think if you write big books like I do, and don't write in a linear fashion, something inevitably gets screwed up in the emotional flow. In Coldheart Canyon there are many characters, and each character has its own arc. The arcs start at divergent points, but they converge at roughly the same point. So what you try to do is induce in the reader an incredible feeling of excitement, because everybody's arcs are resolving because they're encountering one another, right? It's not that they're resolving in an abstraction. They're resolving because A meets B meets C and so on."

Fuck the Canon

By Dennis Cooper, LA Weekly, Literary Supplement, 31 August - 6 September 2001

"I've tried through my writing career to keep ringing the changes. (It's actually an English bell-ringers's phrase.) By which I mean that for me the pleasure of writing is in exploration of new territory. When I first began writing books, I made several volumes of short stories, and these were the Books of Blood. They were violent, visceral and erotic stuff. I then went on to write a Faustian novel, and then on to write the fantasy book Weaveworld. In other words, I've tried to surprise myself from book to book and hopefully kept my readers appetites sharp. Galilee is definitely a departure from previous books, both stylistically -- it's written in the first person -- and in terms of its content.
"I, as you may know, love the short story form, but it's very difficult to sell short stories in the present marketplace. My short story collections usually sell about half as many books as my novels.
"If you're writing fantasy novels I guess my only piece of advice would be to trust your imaginative instincts and not concern yourself with being like anybody else. I really believe that there is an enormous appetite amongst readers for an originality of vision. In other words, be true to your own dreams and they'll always be people who want to hear them.
"I confess it: I'm a workaholic. I get very bored with my own company if I'm not travelling somewhere in my imagination. So the day after I've delivered a book, I'll start on something. [Re. writing longhand] I enjoy the act of writing, the motion of the hand across the page. It's very simple -- it requires nothing by way of preparation. It's also the way I've worked since I first put pen to paper. And it's been a perfectly acceptable working method through almost twenty books. I guess it's a case of: if it's not broken, why fix it?"

People Online Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance, 30 July 1998

"I don't want to simply drive a viewer to nausea or repulsion, because at that point you've lost them. What I want to be able to do is drive them back in a completely contrary direction, then push them even further in the direction that they first went, and then further in the other direction. I mean, basically, I want to make squashballs of the audience. Rather than than simply active aggression against them, because my sense is that, uh, this is an old argument, but that particularly under present circumstances we have to do it from within. "

Clive Barker : What Makes Him Tick

By Tim Caldwell, Film Threat, No 19, 1989

"Short fiction is tough in a couple of regards... I think that one of the things you've got to confront when you do a piece of really outlandish fiction, like 'In The Hills, The Cities', is, okay, how long can I make this work for? I know that this is a dangerous idea, I know that this is a trapeze act. You just couldn't [suspend disbelief] for 300 [pages].
"I... think that horror fiction - at least good horror fiction - deals with adult anxieties and adult fears. I try real hard to marry up adult anxieties with this kind of fiction, rather than simply making it be about the monster in the closet. There's no reason why one can't write about these kind of fears and obsessions in an adult context. There's no reason why the freedom that literature has to address adult feelings in an adult way should not be exploited by the genre."

Weird Tales Talks With Clive Barker

By Robert Morris, Weird Tales, No 292, Fall 1988

"I don't like trick-ending stories. I've never liked them. They have the structure of jokes and I don't like joke-tellers. I never like stand-up comedians, I always like situational stuff. Or people who are a little off the wall. I think my trouble with the punchline story is that you spend half the time wondering what the punchline's going to be. You start the story in the full and certain knowledge that the last two lines or the last paragraph will contain a twist, and it becomes a guessing game. And I'm not very interested in that. I much prefer to give away everything at the beginning and then start to go to some new place. And then get strange!"

Running With The Monsters

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

"I think one of the things I try to do is constantly try to do something different. If I constantly do something different I have succeeded. I don't like to repeat myself because I feel once I've got the trick of doing something, I'm certain that the second time I try to do the same type of material it would not be as good. Now that may not be true but I feel that the impetus that takes me to the page or the canvas in the first place, the sense of how can I shape this and solve it's technical problems, that passion and energy would be reduced if I was going through the writing or painting already knowing what the solution was. That means to me that I have to be doing something fresh. That's why I went and wrote a kid's book, that's why I wrote a novel with a gay hero; to see if I would be able to write that for a straight audience."


By [Stephen Dressler and Cheryl Bentzen],Lost Souls, Issue 7, April 1997

"I don't [get writer's block]. I'm very lucky in that I do a number of things, make movies, paint pictures, and write. So, if something is troubling to me, rather than sit and continue to labor fruitlessly, I move on and paint or trouble a director who's directing something for me. Those things normally only last a couple of hours and that's a lot to do with the methodologies of my writing process ... systematic and disciplined. So, I don't allow myself room to get distracted from the simple business of writing."

Chats From The Past

Transcript of on-line Hollywood Spotlight appearance, 23 June 1998

"When my dad had passed away, I had just begun Cold Heart Canyon, and the beginning of a book is a time when you need that momentum because that's where all the doubts crowd in. They crowd in at the beginning and they crowd in at the end. At the beginning of a book, that's when I am thinking because I've got a lot of writing ahead of me, is this a good idea? Is this a bad idea? That's when I'm just a mass of doubts. My dad passed away and there was a month of organizing the funeral and then I came back to America for a week and then I flew out and went on tour for the Essential Clive Barker for three weeks in England, Scotland, and Ireland, which was an error. It was an error because I was emotionally exhausted with all that had happened and then I went on tour, which is also emotionally exhausting in different ways. Going on tour three weeks after your dad dies and being public is a dumb thing to do. I've always been a good boy scout about those things and I didn't want to disappoint anybody. I didn't want people thinking that, 'I was looking forward to seeing Clive and now he doesn't come out on tour.' I just didn't think it was right that I should make my personal problems, as it were, other people's issues. I thought it was my responsibility as a writer and as somebody who has readers who love me and readers who I in turn love, that I should be there for them.
"It was a dumb thing to do because what happened was that when I got back I collapsed and there was nothing left. I lost the book for 5 or 6 weeks. I couldn't get back into it; it was associated with grief for me. It was associated with being exhausted from being with Dad in the end and very emotional things like Andrea [Winchester - Lost Souls member] and I have talked a little bit about. So I went and I wrote the first draft of the first Abarat book. Which was a completely different thing to do and was a wonderful escape. I went to a world which I was inventing, It was a world with some dark and tragic elements but actually a pretty up place to be. And then came back to Cold Heart Canyon in the early part of this year and now I'm about a month away from finishing.
"So the answer is yes, I did lose momentum and it was retrieved finally, but it was a long period of removal, it was really hard to do and it was the first time it has ever happened to me, but the circumstances were very particular. I'm very protective of the rhythms of my writing. I disappear for long periods when I'm writing, particularly towards the end of a book. It's very rare for me for instance to be talking to somebody as we are talking now, but we haven't talked and I owed this conversation and I wanted to do it but it's very rare for me to do that. Normally I would have head buried and nobody would even know where I was. I'm very nervous about losing momentum. I'm not nervous about this book because I enjoyed writing it. Once I got back into it I enjoyed writing this book immensely. It's coming to an end with a great feeling of satisfaction. So it's been very pleasurable.
"Andrea is right there is a genuine danger and at the age of 47 going on 48 I am still learning about writing, I'm still learning about how to do it properly, not just writing, but all the creative processes. I'm still learning. And one of the things I'm trying to get my head around is that every project you work on brings a different set of challenges. There is never a time that enter a project thinking, 'Oh this painting is going to be great,' or 'Oh this book is going to be great.' I'm very excited to finish a painting and stand back from it and go 'Fuck, I love that!' I usually go away thinking 'Damn,' and maybe three or four weeks later come back thinking, 'Well it's not so bad.' But you are dealing constantly with the momentum thing."


By [Craig Fohr], Lost Souls Newsletter, September / December 2000

"Handwriting everything, for me, is psychologically useful because it keeps my writing economical. I think there are word processor styles emerging. Something does seem to happen to a writer's style when he works on a word processor. When you hand write a thing the size of Weaveworld (584 pages) you want to make sure every word counts because it's such a huge labour to get it down."

Prince Of Horror

By Vern Perry, The Orange County Register, 18 October 1987

"Well, I wrote this entire book [Galilee] - what I do for drafts is I write a book and don't look at it; I mean, I handwrite everything, so I'll write, in this case maybe a first draft is 3,000 pages and I get to the end of it and I haven't looked at it at all, because if I look at it, I despair! So, I write the whole thing once, and then only when I've literally put the end on, do I go back and look at it again. Everybody has their different methods; that's the one that works for me because it protects me from my self-doubt. What happened here was I wrote the book, and realised that there was so much in the book; so many elements, so many characters, so many - it's set in Samarkand, which is way to the East, it's set in Hawaii, it's set in New York, it's set in North Carolina, it's set in South Carolina, it's set in all kinds of places. There was just so much going on in the book that what I felt I needed to do was stick it together. And the way I decided to stick it together was to do something I'd never done before which was to write in the first-person; the first person not being Clive Barker in this case, the first person being on of the Barbarossa children - Maddox Barbarossa his name is. He's a cripple, he's a drunkard, he's a cocaine user, he's not a very nice man and he's wonderful to write - for all those reasons! I'd never done this before; taken on the persona of somebody else and said well, I'm going to live with this person for - I guess the last draft took me eight months or nine months - and allowed his personal doubts, his personal convictions and his personal anger to appear on the page. And one of the things it allowed me to do (and if you guys get to read the book, you might find this interesting) there are times in the book when Maddox says, 'I'm lost. I don't know where I am, I have so many characters here and I don't know where I am and I don't think any of this is ever going to stick together and I wish I'd never started.' That's exactly how I felt that day. And so, what I really tried to do is make Maddox's voice my voice, so the book is probably more of a confessional, if you will, than a first glance would show. It's a book which talks a lot about writing. But it's also a book, filled, I hope, with magic and family stuff - a lot of genealogy and a lot of the Civil War stuff which I found fascinating. I'm very proud of the book."

LA Times Festival of Books

Transcript of an interview by Martin Smith at the LA Times Festival of Books,25 April 1998

"I don't know what other people do, but when I write, I am so close to the material that I just let it pour out. I never write it for myself, I never think to myself, 'Oh, I mustn't do that.' So it pretty much comes out and I just let it be. And in this particular case [Coldheart Canyon] it was some pretty dark, strange stuff that came out. And I think I'd been holding in a lot of anger and resentment towards this town seeing that I've been here for 10 years, and it poured out in this allegorical form - not allegorical, but in some sort of encoded form I should say."


By Craig Fohr, Lost Souls, 22 February 2002 (note - online at www.clivebarker.com)

"25% of what appears in the first draft makes the cut in the final book. That's optimistic... 20%.
"I do three drafts handwritten and then it's typed up... They are different from each other, they are hopefully improvements in the sense you're going back over something. The first time you write it, it's the first thing that you can think. The second time you're trying to shape the dialogue, helping the characters. The third time you're doing it because you want the words to sound nice, hopefully making the prose better, making it more fun to read, making the jokes funnier and the scary bits scarier."


Transcript of radio appearance on Loveline with Dr Drew & Adam Carolla, 21 October 2002

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