Sunday, October 10, 2010

Clive Barker on Storytelling 38

Clive Barker
Campfire tales. Urban legends. Rumours and whispers. The shaman sitting with the tribe, passing on knowledge. Parables and miracles. Gospels and dark, dark, fiction. There may well be only ten stories in existence with all the rest derivations from the source - but it's all in the telling...

"It really wasn't until I was eight or nine that I really began to grasp the idea of stories. I could do it orally, but it took longer to write them down. I started to write as most writers do, out of the desire to influence. Everybody likes to do something they could do well. Just as there were people in my class who were better mathematicians or better chemists or better sportspersons than I was, storytelling seemed to be the gift I had." So Many Monsters, So Little Time...
By Michael Brown, Pandemonium, 1991

"By a good story I don't mean a good series of events. One of the problems I have with a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and epic fantasy in particular, is that there's this sort of linear thing where you move from siege to rape…A good quest story isn't naturally linear. A great quest will have maybe a circular structure, will lead you from external wisdom to internal wisdom." Clive Barker
By Kim Newman, Interzone, No 14, Winter 1985/86

"There is a potent tradition of horror fiction writing, fantastique fiction writing, a slowly-slowly-catch-monkey structure whereby you let people in bit by bit, moment by moment, and you get to some final revelation by which the hero is either blasted to smithereens or from which he may escape. That's not the kind of story I write. I write stories in which there is confrontation quickly; then it will be something as original as my mind can make it. I'm always saying, 'Imagine more, imagine harder.'" Some Harsh Words for the Critics from Ballard and Barker
By Rodney Burbeck, Publishing News, 24 July 1987

"It is not that the old stories are necessarily the best stories; rather that the old stories are the only stories. There are no new tales, only new ways to tell…For the writer this presents certain challenges, not the least of which is the shaping of a fresh and original interpretation of a structure which may have been cast and recast several hundred times down the centuries. The problem is particularly acute when working in a genre that boasts a very clear line of tradition, as does horror. Perhaps, if he's farsighted, the writer, looking back along the road he's travelling, may even glimpse its beginning…and be enriched by recognition of why the tale he's reinterpreting was first created…that farsighted glance I spoke of earlier - the one that leads back to the rocky place - shows us in the Faust tale one of the most important roads in all fantastic fiction. At its centre is a notion essential to the horror genre and its relations: that of a trip taken into forbidden territory at the risk of insanity and death. With the gods in retreat and the idea of purgatorial judgements less acceptable to the modern mind than new adventures after death as dust and spirit, all imaginative accounts of that journey become essential reading." The Tragical History Of Doctor Faustus
Essay by Clive Barker, Horror : 100 Best Books

"My favourite moments in horror movies and books are the unmasking scenes, the key moment when the realities collide; when the bourgeois assumptions of the characters - who have muddled through so far unaware that an unspeakable 'thing' is hovering over their heads - finally look up and see the truth. What becomes interesting then is what metaphysical defences they have or don't have." Terror Tactics
By John Brosnan, Time Out, 16-28 March 1988

"I have to make the most of the time I have on the planet because I want to make sure that I at least make a contribution with the work I do. Besides, what any artist wants is to be blessed with ideas and an audience. You want an audience that says, 'I want to share your world, taste the vision that you're creating,' and those are things which so far I think I've been granted. Besides, when you get those things and have an audience, it would be selfish to say, 'I'm going to sleep now.' " Barker's Bite
By Anthony C. Ferrante, huH, Issue No 12, August 1995

"You know the word autopsy. It means the act of seeing with one's own eyes. The work of a horror writer is actually in a sense a kind of extended autopsy. The act of seeing with your own eyes and saying I can look at that." Horror Visionary
By Michael Beeler, Cinefantastique, Vol 26 No 3, April 1995

"What I've always tried to do, what's drawn me to story telling from the beginning is to say things that are in my heart, somewhere. Now, the fact that I choose to say these things in such fantastical forms is often a confusion to people, not by and large to the readers but very often to critics and reviewers. They don't understand that some of the things that you want to say are actually best said in a form which stimulates the imagination rather than echoes what's going on in the outside world. If the kind of things that I like to talk about are best said that way, and from my earliest childhood the things that have drawn me, have been the stories that have drawn me, the images that have drawn me to them, They have been stories and the images which seem to be getting beneath the surface of what we loosely call the real world, beneath the surface of life as it is lived by most people, which is very often a compromise and which is very often a kind of half life. Getting beneath that surface in order to find deeper meaning, deeper sense, and deeper significance. " Confessions
By [Stephen Dressler and Cheryl Bentzen], Lost Souls, Issue 2, [September] 1995

"One of the reasons why I tell my stories, as I mentioned a little earlier, is because they answer some need in myself. I've always thought of myself as an outsider, as somebody who was different, not better or worse, just different. If I can pass the message out to folks, to readers, or viewers of my movies, that to stray from the assumed norm is no great crime (indeed it may be healthy) then I'm doing my job." People Online Appearance
Transcript of on-line appearance, 30 July 1998

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