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A Conversation With Clive Barker - Part 1
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A Conversation With Clive Barker - Part 1
A phone conversation with Clive Barker conducted in 2008
[1,319 words]
Iron Dave
[September 2010]
[email protected]
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A Conversation With Clive Barker - Part 1
Iron Dave

Iron Dave : "It�s been a little while since we chatted."
Clive Barker : "Yeah, a long time and a lot of good things have happened - let�s dive in."

Iron Dave : "Well, one thing we don�t want to talk about much is the release of Midnight Meat Train on DVD because you�ve been interviewed everywhere about it in the last two weeks."

Clive Barker : "And I say the same fucking thing every place too!"

Iron Dave : "Part of being everywhere on it, of course, is that there are multiple reports from the conference call you did this time to facilitate several interviews at once."

Clive Barker : "Well, there were just so many people that you could just do one and Lakeshore were late about the whole thing, they literally called me up I think three days before the thing was supposed to be out wanting me to do ten interviews, actually it was more like twelve, with Kitamura - not realising Kitamura was in Tokyo!
"Anyway, the thing has come out. I haven�t read any responses because I don�t read those things but I hope people are liking it and I think it looks damn good, particularly the Blu-ray edition and I think the extra material really makes the rhythm of those very gory scenes feel better, feel untampered with. You know, the fact that both of Ted Raimi�s eyes pop out now - it�s those little details... I am very pleased with the movie, I have to tell you - and I am incredibly pleased with what Diblasi�s done with Dread - oh my God!"

�Iron Dave : "Great news. Principal photography's done, what's he doing on it now?"

Clive Barker : "I think he has a day of some little insert things - hands touching switches, you know, little incidental punctuations, if you will. I�ve seen two cuts of it now and he�s been laying music in - temporary music obviously - and what I see is a movie that has the documentary reality of Friedkin around the time of The French Connection when he was really in amidst of everything, when the camera was right there with Doyle and I suppose with The Exorcist around the same period."

Iron Dave : "What we hear though, for you, is that it's all about Abarat Three - are you done writing?"

Clive Barker : "Very, very, very, very, close�"

Iron Dave : "How close?"

Clive Barker : "God knows, God knows! I am at the very end of the final draft - this is my fifth draft - and I have a portion of that draft to complete: not a large portion, maybe a tenth, and then I have two or three chapters which... this has been an interesting book because this is a crossroads book and I�ve never had to do it quite like this before. It�s a book where every character who is relevant to the end of the book has to some way or other appear, in some way or other have relevant conversations or encounters or battles or love-affairs with the characters that are going to be part of their arc."

Iron Dave : "Because you can�t just have someone just popping up at the end and solving everything."

Clive Barker : "That�s right, and so it�s three-dimensional chess and it�s been very, very challenging but it�s also been very exciting. I get to work at about 9.30, 10 and I work to 2.30 in the morning�"

Iron Dave : "And that�s all writing at this stage? No painting, just sole concentration on the final draft?"

Clive Barker : "Totally. It�s a seven day a week - you do the calculations, I�m horrible at this - and a fourteen hours a day kind of thing�"

Iron Dave : "So you�re working hard! At this stage is it still an enjoyable process or is it more functional at this stage?"

Clive Barker : "Oh Christ, no, it isn�t functional, no, no, no, no, no. I wouldn�t go so far as to say it is in flux because, you know, I know who�s dying and who�s living and all that stuff, but there is so much going on, oh my God! When you read it� It�s very hard in the abstract to describe what the challenge is but you will see immediately what I�ve been trying to tackle which is this elaborate dance of characters who are playing out some kind of middle-eight, like in a song, and it�s got to be beautiful and it�s got to be seductive and it�s also got to be at times really, really scary because we are showing the first signs of where Mater Motley gets her magic from and we are seeing the book of the Abarataraba and the stakes suddenly become much, much higher."

Iron Dave : "So the book of the Abarataraba will be in Book Three will it? We�ve never been quite clear where you were placing it."

�Clive Barker : "Well, a portion of it will be in Book Three - and it is hugely powerful, it is mammothly powerful and so we get a sense of well, fuck me!
"I don�t think I had known or understood how difficult this book was going to be."

Iron Dave : "Let�s just reflect on that because we first started talking about what was then The Book of Hours back in 1996 or 1997 when you were first working out what Kaspar Wolfswinkel was saying to you off the canvas and at that stage it was a single volume, and then it became four and then it became five but you couldn�t possibly have imagined back in 1996 or 1997 that you�d be on the middle book of a five book series or how many paintings you�d feel compelled to create for this world."

Clive Barker : "No, no, you�re absolutely right. Nor could I have imagined how this thing would find such favour, I mean I come back to this marvellous lady, Peggy, up in Kodiak. She is an extraordinary lady and she has been a marvellous conduit between myself and her classes and I�ve sort of been using her a little bit, asking what sort of questions do they want answered? It�s a bloody revelation, it really is! It is wonderful, because the kids are so damn smart and they are so full of insight and so clear in their desire to confront the dark underbelly of the stories."

Iron Dave : "Because that�s one of the things you might have been scared about - how to keep the balance but keep it interesting."

Clive Barker : "Absolutely right, and particularly as this book, Absolute Midnight, is in a place where... You know, I�ve always liked the middle Star Wars movie best, the middle of the first three (I don�t count the others). Even though we leave Han Solo in carbonite and yes, that�s frustrating, there is a wonderful narrative energy to it. It doesn�t have silly little teddy bears with zips up their backs but nor does it have the problem of establishing a world, right? That�s always been the model in my head; and it�s also a very dark movie, number two is a dark movie."

Iron Dave : "Again, it�s the pivotal one with a lot of backstory but also a lot of teasers for what�s to come."

Clive Barker : "Yeah, yeah, lots of clues, right. That�s where, if you look carefully, you can see that they are brother and sister. That�s always been my model, so I�m trying very, very hard to learn the lessons of what Irving Kershner and Mr Lucas did there. And there are so many characters in play. Bill Quackenbush - let�s just take one example and then we�ll leave it alone - Bill Quackenbush at the end of Book Two is basically lost, there�s a painting of him in that little rowing boat, looking forlorn."

Iron Dave : "He�s literally washed-up and mentally washed-up and everything."


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© 2009 Iron Dave
November 2009

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