Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Interview: Clive Barker

Clive Barker is a legendary horror writer and filmmaker. He is probably best known for writing and directing the Hellraiser films, featuring his iconic character Pinhead. He has written and directed other films as well, such as Lord of Illusions and Nightbreed, and other works of his have been adapted to film by others, such as his short story “The Forbidden,” which was made into the film Candyman. In addition to his work in Hollywood, he is the best-selling, award-winning author of many novels, such as The Damnation Game, Weaveworld, Imajica, The Thief of Always, and Sacrament. His most recent book is a new Harry DʼAmour/Pinhead tale, The Scarlet Gospels.

This interview first appeared on Wired.com’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, which is hosted by David Barr Kirtley and produced by John Joseph Adams. Visit geeksguideshow.com to listen to the interview or other episodes.

Your character Pinhead first appeared in a novella called The Hellbound Heart. You want to tell us about that?

That started the whole thing off, many years ago. Pinhead, or the character called Pinhead by some, was a minor character in that book. But people liked him. Not so much in the book, but when the movie came along, people really liked the character.

When did you first get the idea that Pinhead was turning into this cult figure?

Soon after the movie opened, we saw that almost every photograph that was printed from the movie was of the guy with the pins in his head. And that had to tell you something, right? People were choosing an image to identify what the movie was, and he wasn’t a significant part of it. People teach you what they want; they educate you in what you’ve done.

What else has Pinhead appeared in after that?

Lord, too many things. I think they have nine movies, sequels — two of which I was connected with — and then the comic books, which have been rather brilliant and taken the mythology into new and interesting places. I’m really proud of the comic books in a way that I’m not really proud of any of the sequels to the movie.

Were you involved with the comic books at all?

Yes. I’d like to say I was a major part of the comic book creation, but that’s pretentious of me. In a way, the comic books have to tell their own tales through the people who write and paint them.

Another character that features prominently in The Scarlet Gospels is Harry D’Amour. You want to say more about him?

Harry is a film noir character; he’s a Philip Marlowe. He is a down-at-the-heel, pissed-off, rather exhausted PI. In the movie, he comes to LA and investigates what seems to be a murder, and it turns out to be much more. That was the illusion of the story.

If people have read The Hellbound Heart, is that a good enough introduction to The Scarlet Gospels? Or are there other things they should read?

It’s always nice to have some background, but I like to think that the book is completely self-contained.

You announced this book a long time ago; when did you first announce it?

I don’t know when I announced it. I do know that I had a coma between then and now. I went to the dentist one day and fell into a coma when I got home, due to some toxic problem I had at the dentist’s. I was out cold for two weeks and took a long time to get better. I’m not really better now.

How are you doing?

A coma is a weird thing: You think it’s gone away entirely, and it leaves these afterthoughts. It mucks with your memory, mucks with all kinds of things. It’s a real fight to get better; many people don’t. The doctors who were lurking around my bed while I was in the hospital expected me to die.

We’re all certainly glad you’re still with us.

I’m glad to be here with you, too, Dave, though you probably wouldn’t notice if I wasn’t.

How far into writing Scarlet Gospels were you when that happened?

Well, you know how writing goes — thereʼs no indication of when I’m halfway through, or three-quarters. I was working and was very deeply into the project, but I probably didn’t get back to it for another eight months. It took a long time to get well.

And you’re known for doing many different drafts.

Handwritten drafts; there’s a lot of drafts, a lot of changes. I was dealing with two iconic characters, for me. People view Pinhead with a certain amount of respect, and I like that. I wasn’t going to disrespect him in the writing. I wanted to say goodbye to him in a really good way. Have you read the book?

Yes, I have.

What do you think? Is the respect there?

I thought it was terrific. It’s a book with a big bang in it. I was really impressed by the scope of the book and the level of imagination in it.

Thank you. So you didn’t feel that it was too small? I did take away a lot of the material from the first and second drafts because I felt that it wandered a bit. I wanted it to be raw and clean and aggressive.

I agree. There’s the climax, and then it continues on, and it didn’t feel rushed at all. It did a good job of wrapping up the character’s story.

That’s good. I am saying goodbye to a major character, and it’s important to pay my respects, but at the same time, not indulge myself.

You say there was a lot of pressure to do this right. What sort of things have fans said over the years about what they hoped to see with Pinhead?

Most people never expected me to go back to Pinhead in literary form; the expectation was that I would go back to him in a movie. That never felt right to me. Pinhead is a rather literary figure. He speaks with a Shakespearean cadence, so I wanted to make sure that was in the performance, if you will, of his farewell, and I couldn’t do that on a movie screen.

I think something else that would be hard to do on a movie screen is just the amount of fantasy in this book.

Oh, forget it, Dave. Even with the best CGI in the world and money to spend, it’s on a much larger scale than I could ever get in a Hellraiser movie. But again, you go back to the wonders of the word. The word is, as you know, magical; the word is protean. It can give us all kinds of wonderful things for just the price of your imagination.

It’s not spoiling too much, I think, to say that a lot of this book takes place in Hell.

I don’t think you’re spoiling anything. It may even be on the back of the book.

Talk about the image of Hell that you created for this book.

Let me talk first about the one I didn’t want to do: A medieval version of Hell with hellfire and brimstone and cold and full of the damned. That didn’t seem appropriate for me, or Pinhead. I wanted to do something that was more modern. This needed to be a Hell that Pinhead could walk, and we could see him in that context and understand that he belonged there. I don’t want to give too much away; I think that’s where we have to respect the danger of spoilers here. I want people to come to the Hell that I’ve tried to produce in this book with a certain freshness, and maybe get a little surprise at how complex it is, how layered. It’s a very political Hell, is that safe to say?

Absolutely; like you were saying, you didn’t want it to be Dante’s Inferno. The characters say, once or twice, that this is a Hell unlike Hell as they’ve seen it before in popular culture.

I think it doesn’t hurt, once in a while, to tell the audience what they’re seeing, or what they’re not. There are many Hells: The Miltonic Hell which, as we talked about, is the medieval Hell, and there’s indeed the nineteenth-century and twentieth-century Hell. You can view Auschwitz as a form of Hell. Hell is mentioned in another book of mine, The Damnation Game. Hell is re-imagined by every generation; we have to reinvent the worst so we can reinvent the best.

And you mention that this is a political Hell, in the sense that there is a hierarchy and bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy is a key thing because it definitely reflects what’s going on in our century, in our time.

How much worldbuilding did you do? Do you have organizational charts for Hell’s bureaucracy?

I did, partly because I can get those things wrong in a heartbeat. It was good that I did, because when I came back from coma-land, I had all that paperwork to refer to. The diagrams are very useful for time, but in the end, what presses the characters forward is their emotion.

You’re a painter as well. Did you do a lot of visual art to help?

Yeah. Do you have the American edition?

I assume it’s the American edition; it’s a hardcover and has an eye on the cover.

Have you looked inside? Look on the inside of the cover, on the inside of the wrap-around.

Oh, yeah. It kind of looks like a William Blake piece.

That would be a nice reference. The painting is a nice little surprise for readers. So you actually read the book without seeing what was within the covers. It’s a hidden world, in a way. Hell is hiding in your book.

I opened the gate to Hell.

I love that. Be careful of the boxes, or the books, that you open.

Some of our listeners may not be familiar with Pinhead, so do you want to explain about the box and what that means?

Are there really people in the world who don’t know about Pinhead? I wanted to have the access to Hell in the first book, and in the first movie, explained or explored by something different than drawing a circle on the floor with magical symbols around it; that seemed rather stale. So I went back to something I remembered from my childhood: My grandfather was a ship’s cook, and he came back from the Far East with these strange little toys. One of these was a puzzle box, which obsessed me for a long time. It was made of carved wood, not really elaborate, but it was nevertheless something I hadn’t found before in my life, and I played with it a lot as a child. So when I went back to the problem of how to open the doors of Hell, the idea of a puzzle box, or some kind of puzzle, being presented to the would-be opener of these doors just came to me. And it’s very interesting that the image of a cube is everywhere in our culture and world culture. Whether it be a Rubik’s Cube or the idea of the power cube in the Avengers movies, there’s a lot of places where the image of a cube as a thing of power is pertinent. I don’t have any explanations for it, but it seems to work on people.

Let’s get back to this illness you had. It was right in the middle of writing this book: Do you think that affected the way the book turned out?

That is very hard to say. I could whip you up some Kung-Fu story about how I came back from my coma with visions, but I saw nothing, or at least if I did, I don’t remember it. It was a terrifying experience, when looked back upon. Itʼs like falling asleep very suddenly and very hard. Gone.

Did you find that spending a lifetime reading and writing scary stories prepares you for something like that?

In my life, I’ve done a lot of different kinds of things. Some of the stories I’ve written have been scary stories, but there’s also Weaveworld, Imajica, and The Great and Secret Show — a lot of stories that are not scary. Theyʼre, I hope, very life-affirming. I’d like to think that any help along the journey would be on both sides of the coin; it would be the dark side and the light. But the honest truth is that I don’t think I remember anything at all from that journey, so I can’t say that there wasn’t anything helpful. I don’t think there’s a lot of research being done into comas — what is happening when the brain is not functioning as it should?

You talked about this experience on The Nerdist podcast, and I heard you say that you heard from some people saying that they were more concerned with how this would affect your publication schedule than anything else.

There have been a lot of examples. Recently, it happened to Anne Rice. The readers are interested in when the next book is going to be along. It takes precedent over the author’s health. That’s regrettable for whoever it is who’s having bad times in their life. It doesn’t have to be bad health; it could be losing your husband, as it was with Anne Rice, who lost her husband, Stan. And the fans were not very kind. They were impatient with Anne not being able to stop mourning and get back to writing. That’s cruel, inhuman. It’s not what I would hope my fans would be concerned with, but it turned out to be the case with some of the fans. Only some, but they certainly had some volume to their voices.

It seems that some people see authors as celebrities, and they imagine that your life must just be wonderful, no matter what happens to you.

Maybe. I think if people look at what I produce in terms of books and paintings, they would see I work pretty hard. There’re no red carpets or big parties in my life; I just sleep and write and play with the dogs. People know what kind of life I have. I don’t own planes like John Travolta or swan around in fast cars. My life is about the arts and the friends I have around the arts. You are standing outside the life I live; do you think you have a different view of it?

I don’t really know what your life is like, but I imagine your house being full of skulls and dildos and stuff.

Skulls and dildos: that’s an interesting combination. Somebody’s going to have a good time tonight. Let me just look around: There’s a bat in here, and some dogs, and — yes, there is a skull. And there are actually four — No, we won’t go there. There’s a lot of fun stuff in here, but there’s also masks and paintings. I think it would be a sad life if we didn’t have room for skulls and dildos.

I’m sort of disabused of this, because I’m a writer and I’ve met enough writers, but I do think when I was younger, I had a more naïve notion that whatever kinds of characters an author wrote about, that’s basically what they were like in real life.

If you were writing a romance scene, the author was swanning around in a long dress, even the men, smoking a cigarette in a long holder and sipping a cold martini — it’s simply not the case, is it, and we both know that.

Yeah.

You would actually be disappointed if it was the case, because if we, as authors, were reaching for the life that we were writing about, why would we write about it? Part of what we do as authors is the business of realizing the dream. Or nightmare.

Exactly. And you just mentioned that you don’t have this glamorous life where you’re on the red carpet and all these things. It seems like you used to be on television more and gave interviews more. Did you get bored with that?

I did. And television changed. It was harder and harder to say things that you wanted to say, because people would censor you. It became unrewarding. I was interviewed by Bill Maher at the beginning of my career, and I could say just about anything. When he moved to ABC, it was harder to have the freedom to say what you wanted to say. Why do it? I’m not on TV for the money; I’m not on TV as a celebrity. I’m on TV so I can say things, usually political things, something about my sexuality, that I can actually put in front of people when they don’t expect it. It’s shocking maybe, but that’s a useful tactic once in a while, and I was able to do that, and I was pleased to be able to do that.

I used to watch Bill Maher’s show; I always thought it was interesting that there were people like you and Harlan Ellison on. Part of the reason I wanted to do this podcast was to have fantasy and science fiction authors come on and talk about things that matter.

Have you had Harlan on?

I haven’t had him on yet.

The house that I live in — I bought it off Robert Culp, who was one of the actors in I Spy, which was a very famous and popular TV show in the ’60s. Before he did that, he did a couple [episodes] of The Outer Limits, including one written by Harlan Ellison. So when I moved into this house, Harlan called me and said, “You bought Bob Culp’s house. I fucked in a room in your house.” I gathered that was true.

Was it “Demon With a Glass Hand”?

It was. You’re good, Dave. And I think that was the piece which inspired [James] Cameron to do The Terminator. Is that right?

That’s controversial. Harlan alleged that Cameron had taken elements from that one and another one. It was based on the short story “Soldier;” I’m not sure if The Outer Limits had the episode.

It was “Soldier”? I just remember that Harlan is thanked in the end of The Terminator on video, and I never asked him about this. So I figured that since I have an expert on the line, I may as well ask you. It was an interesting thing: Harlan has been so many things to so many people and done amazing things, and the connection he had between me and Culp and “Demon With a Glass Hand” and my house was pretty awesome.

I feel compelled to point out that James Cameron would dispute that.

I understand, and we’re not holding any of this as truth, we’re just postulating some things. I just remember this being in the air once, and I offered it up as a question. No harm, no foul.

I’m curious as an interviewer: Why did you get tired of doing interviews? Was it just the same questions over and over?

Yes. It was a lot of: “How did you invent Pinhead? How many pins does he have in his head? Does he have pins in his penis? If he has pins in his penis, what happens when he gets an erection?” It gets very old very quickly. At the same time, I don’t want the image of myself — my voice — to bore people. I prefer to disappear as a person and leave the books to tell the tales I want to tell.

I can understand that. I try really hard not to ask the same old questions, but it’s hard sometimes.

The bad thing is that people want the same old questions answered. I suppose I would be the same if I was talking to Gore Vidal or someone else that interests me.

I’ve only been interviewed five or six times in my life, and every time, they ask about my dad, who’s a well-known physicist. If I’m interviewed 500 times, I can just imagine that every single interview is going to involve that question, and I’m going to get tired of it.

Your voice also starts to get tired. You start to project feelings differently. I’m a passionate person, but when people ask me the same question 500 times, it’s very hard to sound interested. That’s why I liked Bill Maher, because he would ask pretty radical questions and I was able to go up against fundamentalist Christians, and it was cool stuff. But that disappeared recently.

Because he moved to ABC?

I think when you move to a major network, you lose freedom. Your bank balance gets better, but freedom is the price. I suspect Mr. Maher wasn’t happy to give it up.

He’s back on HBO now, though.

That’s why I think he wasn’t happy with the ABC move in the first place. But you do things with your life and look back and say, “This was a big mistake.” Everybody does that; I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life in terms of my career, and you try to correct them and get on with your life.

Do you want to talk about any of those mistakes?

No, I’ll leave the transsexual stories for another night.

You said that you missed talking about politics on Bill Maher’s show, but I’ve also heard you say in interviews that you don’t think authors should talk about politics; that they should, like you were saying a second ago, get out of the way and let the works speak for themselves.

What I mean is, I don’t want to be part of party politics. I want to talk about the broader sense of politics, how our lives are run by people we don’t trust, and why we allow them to do the running. Those are the larger political questions which I do want to address, which my books are very much concerned with a lot of the time.

There’s a scene in The Scarlet Gospels where the characters, some of whom are gay, run into this evangelical preacher who tells them that they’re going to Hell.

For once, he’s right.

Why did you include that scene?

I’m a gay man, living an “out” life for a long time, and it’s tiresome to hear people continue to spit out the same old dreary opinions about the fact that gay men are doing things that are unnatural, and that we have a price to pay when the Rapture happens. All kinds of strange choices are made on behalf of God by strange Christians who should just shut up.

But life has a tendency to prove that they have their own secrets. Revenge is taken by time and circumstance, which reveal the true nature of these people, whether they’ve had their hands in the pockets of their audience or congregations, or whether they’ve had their hands on the breasts of the congregation. They have been bad men by and large. I’d like to think more people will pay attention to what those lessons are telling us, but they don’t. Christians are a gullible lot by and large; they give money to the Pope as if he hasn’t got enough. Only fifty-five years ago, the Vatican was supporting the masses. When do we learn?

According to Wikipedia, you identify as a Christian. Is that the case?

The idea of identifying solely with one religion doesn’t make sense to me; identifying as being a believer in something greater than us does. When I’m in a Christian country, sure; when in Rome, be a Roman. But I do like to stay open. Thereʼs a pleasure in saying, “I’m available to any kind of belief system, if it’s interesting to me.” Interesting, not true.

So what do you think about a book like the Bible? Do you try to follow it?

I was given a chance by a magazine recently to name my five scariest books, and the Bible was one of them.

But you don’t think people should follow it, necessarily.

No. I think following it isn’t a very good idea, because you end up on a cross.

Why do you think it’s such an issue for so many Christians to accept homosexuality when they would never kill someone for working on the Sabbath or something like that?

But they would kill people for being adulterous; they would kill people for a lot of bad, silly reasons. Christians are rather unforgiving people. For a sect which is supposed to be loving, caring, and compassionate, there’s a bunch of mean bastards.

It seems like there’s progress being made on that — that in a lot of evangelical churches, they’re telling the young people, “You can’t be a good Christian and accept homosexuality,” and young people are choosing to accept homosexuality and abandon Christianity.

I see that, but I don’t know if I see that on a level which will change our culture. So many of these mistakes have been written in our constitution of self for a very long time; it’ll be hard to shift peoples’ attitudes. The other thing is, people like being bastards; people like choosing to look at other people and not like their lifestyles. It makes them feel superior.

I agree with everything you’ve said.

You know, I’ve done a lot of interviews and shows with Christians. I did some with Bill Maher, with a couple of decent Christians who laughed with me over coffee. And then the lights went up, and Bill Maher said, here’s so-and-so from this church or that, and they became vehement and nasty people because, I think, they saw that there were votes in that. It disgusts and terrifies me that people will still use hatred as a reason to vote.

I’m a well-known atheist; both my parents are scientists, and I don’t believe in anything supernatural.

You’re not well-known by God. He tends to be rather dismissive of atheists who don’t believe in him. That’s a joke, Dave. Sorry.

No, just in case you’re wondering where I’m coming from.

You have science in your blood, and I have art, and here’s where science and art have a lot in common: We’re all making our own worlds. I’m making my own worlds by hand; you’re making your own by how you see the world.

It’s an interesting paradox: that I love fantasy so much, even though I have such a rational outlook.

Isn’t that a way of relieving the tension of having to believe in the world itself when the world is so bloody rotten?

I think that’s true. It’s like the yin and the yang: I see imagination and skepticism, and I wouldn’t want to have one without the other.

No; I think that would be a rotten thing. We have four dogs at the house, and some wonderful parrots, and three human beings. We have a little dog named Dickie, and Dickie has the eyes of a great philosopher. You look into Dickie’s eyes, and he looks at you with the sweetest, most gentle, loving eyes, but he seems to be questioning you all the time. And my parrot does the same thing. The animal world, the natural world, is questioning us all the time. I would not be a physicist, but a biologist, if I was a scientist. I’m interested in the natural world because it seems to be very unnatural.

I heard you say in an interview that people will come up to you at book signings and say, “Thank you. Reading your work makes me feel like I’m not alone.”

Yes, but the reasons why people are “not alone” will be very different from person to person. Thereʼll be gay readers who say, “Thank you. I was fifteen when I first read one of your books, and it made me realize that Clive Barker was also gay, and that it was good to live in the world that way.” And that’s a nice thing, but there are also people who want to believe in the fantastic, not as a reality, but as a way to shape their lives. I’ve lived more by the rules of fantasy than I have by the rules of reality, because the rules of reality are rotten.

What do you mean that they want to use fantasy to shape their lives?

If you look at what politics tells you and what Ray Bradbury tells you, then I want to learn about the world from Ray, not politicians. Ray had a lot of kind, loving things to say, healing things. He made me feel better when I felt ill in the soul.

I grew up reading a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and I had this world view that the world would be a fine and perfect place if everyone read these books and internalized them. If all these politicians grew up reading Clive Barker books . . .

They wouldn’t have to go to the Senate. Theyʼd be too busy reading, and that would be a good idea. There’s a wonderful line from an author — I can’t remember who — who says, “You don’t get who is President because he’s bound to be a politician.” I think that’s a very smart thing to say because the act of seeking out political power — and being able to — and we see it over and over again: that it’s not good to become a politician because you’re just going to end up sick in the soul and sick in the head.

But someone’s got to write laws, right?

Do they?

Not according to Alan Moore, I guess.

Do you know how many bad laws there are? There’s something to be said about taking a deep breath and looking at what we do to put structures in place around us, to see at what point those structures are detrimental to our lives.

In your lifetime, hasn’t there been tremendous progress in terms of gay rights in politics?

No, not enough! There’s people beating and killing us every week. I’m a human being. I don’t deserve to be treated like a lesser human being because I suck cock. And I do it very well, by the way.

You don’t think things are improving?

I don’t think we can say, “They’re improving, so we should be happy.” I will not be happy until things are good and righteous and in order. And we’re not in order about other things: We have one planet, and we’re destroying it. I’m not going to say we’re getting better about the oceans; it’s not enough. Ninety percent of the fish are dead.

I agree that a lot more needs to be done.

If we agree on that, then it’s not worth saying anything other than, “Get on with the work of making things right.” Otherwise, we get to some complacent place where we say, “Theyʼre better than they were.” “Different than they were” is rotten when you look at how things were a hundred years ago.

Point taken. We had a bunch of listener questions, and people mostly want to know what you’re working on these days.

A lot of things. I’ve learned it’s better to just shut up about things until you’re ready to put them out into the world. The only thing I can talk about, I suppose, or at least mention, is that I’ve got two more Abarat books to deliver, and right now, I’m working on four out of five books, after which I will be moving straight to the fifth, and Abarat will be finished. But there are a lot of other things in my life — paintings, movies — I’ll keep to myself.

A Hellraiser remake was announced. Is there anything you want to say about that?

I actually wrote an outline for it, but it seems as if Miramax has lost the enthusiasm for it. We’ll see what happens. Right now, I’m at a place where I’m feeling good about the world, about the work, and I just want to get on with the work and see what surprises me.

I’m a relatively new writer, and I’m curious: From your point of view, what is the writing world like these days? In the horror field, are things good? Bad?

Every writer lives in their own personal Hell, and I don’t think it’s possible to say with any certainty what the business is like. I think that’s highly pretentious. What the business is like depends on how you feel this morning. My life has been up and down right through my writing career, my painting career, and so on. It isn’t useful for me to pontificate about what other people’s lives are like. I can barely describe my own.

That’s interesting. Stephen King called you the “future of horror” when you were younger than I am now.

I was thirty-one, thirty-two. How old are you?

Thirty-seven.

Oh, I’m so, so very old. You’re just beginning your career, aren’t you?

Yeah. I’ve published about thirty short stories.

That’s a lot for thirty-seven. Are any of them in English? That was a joke, sorry.

Some of them have been translated.

There you go. You can’t have everything. Are some of them in French? Terrible language.

Do you follow new writers?

I try not to because they tend to arrest me for stalking.

Are there any movies or books or anything that you follow?

I try to keep up with stuff, but to start to list the stuff I’m interested in, or the number of things I’ve seen would be a long business. I don’t watch much television; that’s the only thing I’m not interested in. It’s no use saying “this is my life” in terms of my tastes, because very often, the things that are usable to me are the things I don’t like. I can get more lessons from a bad movie than a good one.

What are some lessons you’ve learned from bad movies?

That would require me to name the bad movies. That in turn would require me to name people I know. There have been a lot movies, of late, that have come out from people who I do like, that have been wretched. I think everyone, in their career, makes good and bad movies every once in a while. You do your best and move on.

It’s funny, because some listeners wanted me to ask what scares you, and it sounds like maybe one thing is being forced to give an honest critique of your friends’ work.

I would never do that. Giving an honest critique of anything is tiresome. Honesty is fine, as long as all you’re talking about is love.

This is probably a question you get a lot, but what does frighten you?

Waking up from a coma, because I might not have woken up. But in all honesty, I just don’t think those are very useful questions.

I’m curious, then, since you write horror and stuff that isn’t horror, do you find that it affects your mood or outlook to write one versus the other?

That’s an interesting question. I have not written for adults for a while, and coming back and writing for adults now has been very rewarding. When I write things which are more poetic or innocent in tone, that can be rewarding, too. What is nice is being able to work, that I can have the freedom to work and get the work to other people. Communication: thatʼs what gives me the greatest joy. To be silenced would be the greatest terror.

So when you moved into writing stuff for younger readers, did you notice that younger fans said different things in response than the older fans?

We all live in our own separate spheres, and the eight-year-old lives in a different one than the twenty-eight-year-old. I was rewarded by the incredible intelligence of the younger people responding to the books, incredible clarity of thinking and humanity. Things that many adults are missing.

One thing I’ve heard a lot of horror authors say is that people are afraid the books are too scary for kids, but actually, it’s always the adults that are more scared.

Kids haven’t got clarity of thinking of what the world is really like — which can be scary — to actually look into the abyss and say, “That’s what it looks like; that’s its color.” That can be a very intimidating business.

I thought this was a funny question to end on: One of our listeners wanted to know, “Would you solve the lament configuration if given the chance?”

Given the knowledge of what was going to happen? I’d leave it be. On the other hand, I do like playing with things if I have enough time, so I could play with it in the dark. We all can, canʼt we? Dave, I think there’s too much innuendo in what I’ve been saying. I think we should be thankful we got away with it.

This is a podcast. You can say anything you want.

Well, bugger that. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

I think we’re going to have to wrap things up.

Thank you for the freedom to do this. When I began, I wasn’t feeling very well, and now I do. Not because we’re finishing, but because I had a damn good time. Thank you for that.

Thank you so much. It was great talking to you.

My apologies to anybody if I sounded weary at the beginning. It didn’t have anything to do with the company I was keeping. Thanks, everybody. Take care.

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The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy

Geek's Guide to the Galaxy

The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction/fantasy talk show podcast. It is produced by John Joseph Adams and hosted by: David Barr Kirtley, who is the author of thirty short stories, which have appeared in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, and Lightspeed, in books such as Armored, The Living Dead, Other Worlds Than These, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, and on podcasts such as Escape Pod and Pseudopod. He lives in New York.