Clive Barker



by Linda L. Richards


Sacrement Cover


Shock value alone does not a character make. Perhaps no one knows this better than Clive Barker. Barker himself is frank, charming, incredibly lucid and literate and owns an aura of happy sensuality that defies easy categorization. Barker recently announced his homosexuality, simultaneously debuting his latest book -- Sacrament -- that the writer himself says is largely autobiographical and whose main character is a gay man.

Born in Liverpool in 1952, Barker attended Liverpool University to study English Literature and philosophy. While there, he formed a theater company to perform the plays that he was writing. He continued to work in that medium throughout his 20s as a writer, director and actor. Many of the plays Barker wrote at that time contained the erotic, horrific and fantastical elements that would later become an essential part of his work as a mature writer. They include "The History of the Devil," "Frankenstein in Love," "Subtle Bodies," "The Secret Life of Cartoons" and "Colossus." These works were published as Incarnations by Harper Collins in the fall of 1995.

In his late 20s, Barker turned to short fiction. The first published examples -- The Books of Blood Volumes 1-3 -- were only a modest success in the United Kingdom. They were followed by the more successful Books of Blood Volumes 4-6 -- published in the United States and Canada as The Inhuman Condition, In the Flesh and Cabal.

Two of these early stories were adapted for film. Barker disliked the film versions of both Rawhead Rex and Transmutations and decided to direct something himself. The result was Hellraiser, based on his novella The Hellbound Heart. This film developed a cult following and has since spawned several lines of comic books as well as three movie sequels: Hellraiser 2 Hellbound (directed by Tony Randall) and Hellraiser 3 Hell on Earth (directed by Tony Hickox). Later, Barker adapted his short story Cabal into the film Nightbreed, which he also directed.

After the publication and wide acceptance of his novels Weaveworld and The Great and Secret Show, Barker's name had become literary box office: an ever-widening following, it seemed, looked forward to reading whatever he wrote. The epic fantasy novel Imajica followed, then an illustrated children's fable called The Thief of Always, a line of superhero comics for Marvel called "Razorline," and a one man art show at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York. Barker also was executive producer of the film Candyman directed by Bernard Rose which was based on his short story The Forbidden; followed by Candyman 2 Farewell to the Flesh released by Gramercy in 1995.

More recently, Barker released Everville the sequel novel to The Great and Secret Show and the United Artists release film Lord of Illusions starring Scott Bakula.

The multi-faceted Barker is a renaissance man whose creative outpouring is as important to him as the air he clouds with smoke from the cheroots he favors.

Back to the interview...