Halloween Extravaganza: Paul Flewitt: Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer Pt 6

Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer:
A Retrospective
Part 6

The Abarat series was several years in the making, conceived back in the late nineties with a series of epic-sized paintings. Barker had left the paintings hanging around the house, the collection steadily growing as other pursuits took his time. It wasn’t until the death of his father that Clive, surrounded by the paintings, decided that he had to do something with them. He had conceived the bones of the Abarat story as he painted; now he had to create the entire mythology.

Initially intended as a quartet of novels (since revised to five or six books), it is a tale with very familiar themes: the sea, the worlds beyond our own, and the sacred feminine. The difference here is that his storytelling is directed toward children, the creation of an epic story that would enrapture children and adults alike, in much the same way that Harry Potter and the Roald Dahl books had.

It was a story that would occupy him for many years, progress slowed by the need to create more paintings before the story could be written. The paintings would appear in the hardback copies of the books, captivating the reader as they read the tales. The undertaking is such that the work still isn’t finished today, its creation severely hampered by the coma and strokes of 2012 which left Barker significantly weakened (more on that later).

There were also other distractions as publishers and readers alike clamoured for new adult material. Barker had been working on a work entitled The Scarlet Gospels for years at this point, the story evolving and changing over the years before it reached its apotheosis.

Through all of this, for a decade, Barker’s attention was constantly taken by his new obsession: Abarat.

2002 – 2011, although movies and a separate novel appeared during this period, we shall forever think of as the Abarat years.

The Abarat Years (2002-2011)

Abarat, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War,
and Abarat: Absolute Midnight

Due to the fact that the Abarat series is unfinished, I will here offer only a very basic outline, and not an “in full” analysis of the work, as I have done with previous work in this article.

Abarat is the story of Candy Quackenbush of Chickentown. Candy is bored and ill at ease with her life in the Nowheresville that is Chickentown, where nothing ever happens and the only ambitions achievable are to work in the chicken factory that gives the town its name or to get out.

When she is given an assignment by her teacher to write a report giving five facts about the town, Candy can have no way of knowing how her research will change her life. She cannot know the ties that Chickentown has with the fantastic, being as it was the former harbour and trading town of Murkitt on the sea of Isabella.

Her first inkling of something more exciting than chickens in Chickentown is when she goes to speak to the manager of the town’s hotel, hearing the story of Henry Mirkitt’s demise in that very hotel and the cryptic note and sextant that he left behind: “I was waiting for my ship to come in…”

Little did she know how her life would change when, in a rage after her assignment on Mirkitt is torn to shreds by her teacher and she is sent to the principal’s office, she goes wandering on some scrubland on the outskirts of town. Here she sees a man being pursued through the tall, dry grass, a strange man with antlers on his head and seven heads sprouting from the branches. John Mischief is a thief from the Abarat Archipelago, pursued to the place he calls the Hereafter by Mendelssohn Shape. In desperation, Mischief asks Candy to go to the lighthouse (a strange folly which stands amidst the grass in the scrubland, totally misnamed by Mischief since they were many hundreds of miles from the sea), and play the oldest game in the world. Confused, Candy does as the brothers ask her and sets off for the lighthouse while they distract Mendessohn Shape.

She enters the tower and climbs the rickety stairs, listening keenly for the sounds of pursuit which meant that Shape was following. Only when she reached the room at the top of the stairs did Candy understand what John Mischief meant when he said it was the oldest game in the world. In the centre of the room, there is an inverted pyramid, and a strange ball in the cracks on the floorboard. Now she knows what must be done, but she hears Shape on the stairs. As Shape reaches the top of the stairs, which crumble under his every step, Candy throws the ball at the cup and runs out onto the balcony which runs around the outside of the tower. Shape follows and grabs her, but the balcony collapses and both fall and lay unconscious at the foot of the tower.

Candy is awoken by Mischief and his brothers. Shape is still unconscious nearby, but he’s stirring and there is little time to lose. They take her to see what it is that she has called forth by throwing the ball into the cup. A little way from the lighthouse, lapping up against a jetty, is the sea. Before Shape can catch up with them, Mischief asks her one final favour, to look after something that he brought to the Hereafter with him. He explains that the sea will carry him to the Abarat and safety, but that she must stay in the Hereafter where she belongs. To his dismay, Candy demands to go with the brothers to the Abarat. There is little time to argue: Shape appears and both the brothers and Candy jump into the sea and the currents take them away from the shore to the islands of the Abarat… and Candy’s life is forever changed.

The Abarat Archipelago is a collection of twenty-five islands, all of them associated with a different hour of the day and the twenty-fifth hour, the time out of time. The story follows Candy on her travels around the islands, and tells of the changes she goes through and chaos that she brings in her wake wherever she goes. We meet Jimothy Tarry and his army of Tarrie Cats; Rojo Pixler, the nefarious chairman of the Commexo Corporation and his demonic mascot, The Commexo Kid; Mater Motley and her army of Stitchlings; and Christopher Carrion, the Lord of Midnight, whose greatest ambition is to bring perpetual night to the Abarat.

We follow as Candy tries to understand the politics and struggles of the people of the islands, while trying to understand how she herself fits into the fabric of this fantastical world. It is a journey of change, discovery of self, of friendships, and loves found and lost.

The Abarat series is planned to stretch over five books in total, with only three currently published (hence my reticence to write a full summary at this point, but offer only a tantalising synopsis). What Barker has already presented is a work of young adult fantasy which rivals anything written by C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carrol, or Roald Dahl. Once again, Clive Barker proves that even in darkness, there is beauty.

Mister B. Gone (2007)

As implied earlier, Abarat is not the only work that Barker has produced in the Abarat period, although most of his time has been taken by Abaratian works. In 2007, Barker spoke about taking a break away from work on a novel called The Scarlet Gospels, writing a short novel called Mister B. Gone. Clive was living in the darkness of the Hellraiser world with Scarlet Gospels, and felt that he needed some brief respite. Mister B. Gone is still a very dark, sinister book, but not as epic in scale as Scarlet Gospels was conceived as being.

“Burn this book…”

That’s how the story begins, with the narrator imploring you to burn the book that you are reading. It is a demand that is repeated throughout the work, and many people have been tempted to do just that. Read on, though, and you find the history of a minor demon and “vicious little bastard,” Jakabok Boch. We read of how he was raised and abused in the shit piles of the lowest circles of hell, and how he came to inspire the printing of the first book… and how he came to be trapped within the pages of his own.

It would be impossible to give a full and in depth rundown of the entire story, as it is the transcribed ramblings of a tortured soul without a story, per se. It is the collected memories of the demon, Jakabok Boch, and must be read to be truly understood. Mister B. Gone would have worked very well as a Books of Blood story, although a little long in my opinion to have been included in a collection. Some fans deride Mister B. Gone as a throwaway scribbling that should have remained unpublished, but I feel differently. This book creeped me out. I read it in one reading while lying in bed, my wife sleeping beside me, and my baby daughter in the room next door. As the demon becomes more desperate, his demands more nasty and threatening, it feels that he is talking directly to you… whispering in your ear. I admire the book for that quality of writing.

Mister B. Gone was a Halloween release in October 2007, and quite fitting that it was published for that season, being as it was a welcome return to Barker’s horror roots. At the end, Jakabok Boch gives up on his imploring to burn the book, and just leave him on the shelf to gather dust… or pass it onto a friend. I know of several readers who have done just that and mailed the book to random addresses. To my knowledge, there are at least three copies of the book in the mail system, being passed from address to address, although I haven’t read of their whereabouts for several years… maybe they’ll turn up one day. Maybe one might drop on your doormat?


2007 and 2008 were busy years for Barker in the movie world. He worked on three adaptations of Books of Blood stories, with The Midnight Meat Train appearing in 2008, and Book of Blood and Dread in 2009. Barker worked as advisor on The Midnight Meat Train and Book of Blood, appearing on set throughout filming to assist the directors in capturing the story. Both are very faithful adaptations of the stories, with a career best performance from Vinnie Jones as Mahogany in The Midnight Meat Train.

It was a welcome change to have quality, faithful adaptations made from his work. They restored the audience’s faith in Barker as a creator of horror after the thievery and raping of the Hellraiser franchise since Hellraiser 3, but to date these are the last movies to appear adapted directly from Barker’s own work and involving him in production.

Maximillian Bacchus & His Travelling Circus (2009)

Originally written in 1974, The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus was finally published in 2009, with illustrations by Richard Kirk. Although he initially denied that the stories were based on anyone in particular, he did finally admit that Bacchus was based on himself, the ballet dancer Ophelia was based on Ann Taylor, and the perfect prince was based around Graham Bickley, who Barker described as “the most beautiful of people, a wonderful looking 18 year old.”

The book itself is very short, comprised of four stories which connect to each other. We join Maximillian Bacchus as his circus travels across the country to play at a King’s castle. On the way, the circus give other performances and fall into adventures, which Barker tells of in his trademark, darkly fantastic manner. They are each classic fables in the style of the The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson, and just totally wonderful.

With its illustrations and succinct storytelling, Maximillian Bacchus sits very well alongside The Thief of Always and the Abarat books as children’s literature.


And then, very abruptly, everything stopped.

2012 was possibly the worst year in the life of Clive Barker, the year which began with the ending of a court case that came about through an acrimonious split with long-term partner David Armstrong, and ended with Barker in hospital and close to death.

The court case and all the rumour I will leave alone, as tabloid and salacious as that subject is. I will, however, go into Clive’s illness as it continues to be a source of rumour and speculation among readers. It is strange that Clive’s long time absence from the public stage is still the subject of rumour and supposition, since Barker has been very open about what happened and the impact that his illness has had upon him.

Clive was busy at work on The Scarlet Gospels and the fourth Abarat book when he became ill. He attended what was a routine appointment for dental surgery, a routine procedure that millions of people will undergo each year. For Clive, it became a nightmare. He returned home following the procedure and collapsed unconscious. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital and diagnosed with toxic shock, which had caused him to have a stroke. He remained in a coma for a while, enduring three more strokes which left him debilitated and extremely weak. Clive being Clive, almost as soon as he regained consciousness he demanded to be unhooked from the machinery that had monitored him and wanted to get back to work.

Barker’s debilitation has been a source of great frustration for him since then. He is left pretty frail and struggled to leave his home in LA for several years. His usually prolific attendances at signings and conventions ceased, and his output of books also stopped. Abarat was hit the hardest, since he could no longer manage the huge canvases that were required of him. Interviews did appear from time to time, and the occasional photograph where he appeared thinner and far more frail than he had ever been.

None of this meant that he had stopped working. Quite the contrary. He still did what he could to complete Abarat (a project that is still ongoing) and The Scarlet Gospels. He was still selecting artwork to create the Imaginer series of books, which collects his visual art in book form. He also authorised the release of several Books of Blood stories in deluxe edition form.

At long last, after six years of absence, Barker made his first public appearances at conventions in 2018. Fans were glad to see him up and around, though were shocked to see him so frail. He has made further public appearances this year, and appeared briefly on a panel alongside Barbie Wilde, Doug Bradley, Nicholas Vince, and Simon Bamford. He may have been down for a while, but Barker is certainly not out.


Amidst his illness, there was much speculation about whether Barker would ever release another book. The general consensus among his hardcore fans was that they wouldn’t expect too much, such was the concern for his wellbeing. It was a welcome surprise in 2014 then, and one that was met with much excitement, when Clive began talking about The Scarlet Gospels on his Facebook page. A release date was soon announced for 2015.

Of course, Barker had been talking about The Scarlet Gospels for many, many years. The writing of this book was ongoing for around twenty years and had gone through many evolutions in that time. He first described it as a sprawling, epic history of religion and mankind… and hell, of course. What was delivered was something quite different: a horror-noir which charted the end of Barker’s most popular creation: Pinhead.

The work was met with mixed reaction from readers. Some applauded Barker’s return to horror fiction, his visceral approach to the work, and intent to shock. Others lamented the patchy quality of writing, with some positing the theory that parts of the story may have been ghost-written (a theory that I do not support). For certain, The Scarlet Gospels isn’t Barker’s best work, but it is still an enjoyable enough story and well worth reading for any Hellraiser fan.

The Scarlet Gospels (2015)

The last true magicians alive in the world are gathered together, resolved to face their doom together. They have been hunted and pursued, most of their colleagues already killed by one who thirsts for their knowledge. They argue over the best way to proceed, to fight or submit, but it is already too late. They hear the tolling of the bells and smell the sickly sweet fragrance which precedes his coming… and then he is there in the room with them. Pinhead.

The Hellpriest finds new and inventive ways to massacre all but one of the gathered mages, tearing them apart and even impregnating one with a demon-baby which is birthed within moments of its conception. The only survivor is reconfigured and remoulded to play Pinhead’s dog for the rest of eternity.

Harry d’Amour is drinking himself into oblivion after the end of a difficult investigation. He is reliving his first liaison with hell, and for that he really needed to be drunk.

As d’Amour is drinking away his sorrow and regrets, his partner and guide, Norma Payne, is visited by the spirit of a lawyer who had left behind a house of sin that he wasn’t too keen on his family finding. Beyond this sketchy detail he would tell no more until both Harry and Norma agreed to sign an NDA. Norma admonished the man, telling him that she would sign no such thing and nor would Harry, but the man displayed just enough humanity for her to want to help him. She agreed to set up a meeting between Harry and the dead man, and so Harry found himself in New Orleans.

Harry travelled to the house of the dead man, and in the investigation, discovered a library of the arcane. While in the library, he discovers an ornate box which draws him in. He knows precisely what this is and senses the power within the box, finding himself absently toying with it until the thing is solving itself. He hears the distant tolling of bells as his protective tattoos begin to burn a warning. Soon enough, the Hellpriest’s god appears and attempts to apprehend him, but Harry is well versed in the arcane and utters an incantation which will seal the divide between the world and Hell. Before the portal closes, Pinhead apprehends him and offers him a deal: kill his dog and he will make him an offer he cannot refuse. Unwillingly, d’Amour does battle with the dog and is close to being bested before a phantom comes to his rescue. He flees, leaping through a window and breaking bones in the fall as the house tears itself apart.

D’Amour is helped by the man who has guided him this far, his hurts treated by a voodoo mage. He experiences a day of delirium after drinking some potion that the mage gives him, but awakes more or less cured, although still in pain. He returns to New York to heal his hurts, but is soon disabused of any notion of rest.

He sets off to visit Norma at her apartment to update her on all that happened on his trip to New Orleans, but is stopped by a stranger who shoves a crumpled piece of paper into his hand before disappearing into the crowds. Harry finds a quiet place where he won’t be seen before unfolding the paper and reading the note, knowing that it is from Norma. He reads the words which immediately chill him to the bone: “Don’t go to my apartment. Its bad. I’m in the old place. Come at 3am. If you itch, walk away.”

D’Amour goes to a bar and waits, drinking until the place closes. He takes a cab and heads to the place that Norma directed him to. He knows the place, of course. It is the place where he and Norma first met. He gets out of the cab a block or two from the place, making sure that he hasn’t been followed before heading to the empty office block which was once home to his psychiatrist. He breaks in and heads up to the old office, but finds no sign of his old friend. He searches through the reception area and into the former consulting room. He is about to give up when he goes to the en-suite and finds the message that Norma has left: an arrow scrawled in ash on the window, pointing downwards. In the basement was a gentleman’s club, and that is where Harry heads next.

At the top of the steps which lead to the club, Harry’s tattoos begin to tingle. He flicks on the lights and heads into the place, calling out a challenge. The room before him seems deserted and silent, and he moves further in before things begin flying at him. He runs to the stage, trying to get some height and see who… or what… is attacking him. He threatens the poltergeists with an incantation, and begins to recite the words when Norma’s voice cuts through the air. The ghosts attacking d’Amour are hers, and they are present at her command. She calls them off, but tells them not to stray far in case Harry has been followed. She leads him into the back room and Harry sees that she has been living there for some time.

Norma explains that the lawyer led them into a trap and that she was fooled. “There are highways open that should be closed… and there’s something coming down one of those highways – or all of them – that means you and me, and a lot of other people, harm.”

It isn’t anything that d’Amour hasn’t already guessed, but his first priority is to get Norma out of the cesspit that she has chosen as her hideout and get her somewhere more comfortable. With that in mind, Harry leaves her to arrange her accommodation.

The Hellpriest was busy also, setting his plans into action. He was in the Monastery of the Cenobitical Order and arranging the first phase of his scheme. He had been summoned to the chamber of his superiors for judgement, and it was a prospect that didn’t please him. He turned to his dog and told him that, if the judgement went against him, all of his endeavours must be destroyed. The dutiful servant understood and promised that he would do his duty.

Together they made their way to the Chamber of the Unconsumed, where the leaders of the Order were gathered. Pinhead was accused of heresy, of researching human magic. Such behaviour was outside of the system, and the Cenobite Order was built on rigid systems. They had found books which had aided his research and the evidence against him was incontrovertible. The judgement of the Unconsumed was that the Hellpriest be banished from the Order to the Trenches; his belongings had already been taken and destroyed. All Pinhead said in response was “Thank you.”

He left the chamber and walked across the courtyard, pointing to a stand of trees and ordering his dog to wait for him there. Once the servant was outside the gates, the Hellpriest went about his business. He went to a row of buildings which stood under the wall and entered the last one in the row. Here is where he had done his work and laid out his plans. In an upper room was a birdcage filled with origami cranes, the identity of a Cenobite priest written on each one. He wrote out the last few names on the last few cranes before placing them in the cage with their brethren. He whispered the incantation he had learned and watched as the cranes became animate, their wings flapping against each other. He let the first few cranes free, watching to see how they would act. After a moment of testing their new found freedom, they set off to do their duty. The Hellpriest released more cranes, not all of them for fear of being discovered, but soon enough the cage was empty and the endeavour was underway.

He climbed up to the top of the walls and looked out over the city, where there was a revolution underway. He watched as the city walls came under attack from people with rudimentary petrol bombs. After a few moments drinking this sight in, he heard screams from much closer at hand. Now he turned his attention back to the monastery, where his work was being done.

He walked back across the courtyard and made his way up the steps to the cells, where he found the priests, priestesses, abbots, deacons, and bishops in states of extremis. Most were already dead, but one or two were still in the process of dying. He was well satisfied with his work until a brother he knew called out to him, calling him a traitor. This one was obese with dark glasses, and he accused the Hellpriest of his treachery and murder. Pinhead denied involvement, but the fat Cenobite didn’t believe him and caught him by his vestments. Only then did a convulsion rip through the Cenobite and he expelled blood from his mouth in a torrent, soaking the Hellpriest in gore. He turned and left the scene, making his way across the courtyard to the gates.

He was almost out of the monastery when the Abbott who had meted out his judgement called out to him, accusing him. Pinhead turned and once again denied involvement, but the Abbott called him a liar. The Hellpriest took hold of the man and began tearing his vestments away from his body. The Abbott had ordered the inquisitors to come and take the Hellpriest, and time was too short to complete the atrocity that he was currently committing. He dropped the Abbott and left him to his guards, leaving the monastery, and heading to the forest to meet with his dog.

Harry d’Amour went to visit his tattooist, Caz, in hopes of finding Norma a more comfortable place to stay. He tells Caz about his trip to New Orleans and the trap that had been set for him there, and how Norma had gone into hiding. The big man listened to all of this, promising to find a place for Norma to lie low in Brooklyn. Harry agreed to Caz’s plan and returned to Norma with food and brandy.

Harry is sleeping, Norma talking to the spirit of a man named Nails, when Caz arrives at the club with Lana, a friend of both Harry and Caz with more protective tattoos on her body than both men combined. She was a magnet for the supernatural, and had agreed to have Norma stay with her and keep her under her protection.

On the way to Lana’s house in Caz’s van, Harry’s tattoos were worryingly quiet. They were less than a mile from their destination when he screamed at Caz to stop and jumped out of the van. He looked down to the corner of the street that they’d just turned into and saw what could only be a mirage: standing on the corner, as if waiting for the bus, was his saviour from New Orleans, Dale. Harry called him and approached, and the man explained that his dreams had told him to be on that spot, at that moment. Suddenly, Harry’s tattoos flared up and he dropped to his knees. Something was coming, something big, and all of his tattoos were screaming against it.

When the sensation in Harry’s tattoos subsided, the introductions were made between Dale and Harry’s friends, and they became aware of a vibration in the air which rose to a fever pitch as they listened. There was a force in the air which blew out windows and cracked pavements. Without further discussion, the group armed themselves and waited for what was coming.

A doorway of fire opened up in the street before them and the Hellpriest appeared with his pet dog. Pinhead approached d’Amour, making him an offer to be his witness as he carried out plans that he had been making for most of a lifetime. He would be denied nothing, and the Hellpriest’s gospel would be one of total honesty… all d’Amour had to do was witness and write down the events that occurred from here on. Of course, Harry’s response was a “fuck you,” but Pinhead was not here to be denied. Even as d’Amour pumped bullets into the Hellpriest’s head, his dog had quietly circled the group and now held Norma Paine, a curved blade held to her belly and threatening to gut her if d’Amour made the wrong move. Still, Pinhead was wounded and bleeding his acidic blood onto the floor. The Hellpriest whispered an incantation which turned his blood into vicious darts which flew at d’Amour and caught his arm. D’Amour wrapped his jacket around his arms and charged at the demon, grabbing his arms and forcing them downward. More blood-darts flew from the Hellpriest as he roared in revulsion and rage, destroying Caz’s van and causing it to explode.

The Hellpriest was not as adept at the use of this form of magic as he had thought – there were too many variables in the situation and it was throwing his calculations off. Knowing that this encounter was not going the way that he had hoped, the Hellpriest called his dog and retreated… but not without a prize… He took Norma Paine back to Hell with him. D’Amour was rendered immobilised as the associations with past experiences overwhelmed him and for a moment he was unable to act. Caz screamed at him to move, to do something, and at last Harry sprang into action. He sprinted toward the portal that Pinhead and his dog had disappeared into and followed, the doorway disappearing as he entered.

Harry’s friends follow him through the doorway, and they find themselves in Hell. Upon their arrival, the friends feel distrust toward Dale, since he appeared just before the Hellpriest. They begin to walk toward civilization, but Dale stops and tells them that something wonderful is about to happen and they will trust him. Just then Lana begins speaking with a voice that isn’t her own, and it soon becomes apparent that it is Norma. The Hellpriest has beaten her severely, and she is close to death, but she tells the friends where she is and how to get to her. Too soon, Norma’s body calls her spirit back… apparently there is more that she must do in the world of the living.

From there the story becomes a pursuit to rescue Norma. They follow in Pinhead’s wake as he travels through Hell to the sanctum which holds the body of Lucifer, the Morning Star, who Pinhead believes to be dead. There, Harry witnesses as Pinhead violates what he believes to be the corpse of the fallen angel, ripping away the armour which he believes gave the devil his power and wearing it himself. As he is leaving, the devil awakes and, realising the violation wrought upon him as he slept, goes after the Hellpriest.

Meanwhile, Norma is dying. Pinhead has violated her and she has only moments to live. Harry finds her with his friends, lying on a beach, and promises to see Pinhead dead before he bears her body back to the world. Pinhead also finds them, and renders Harry blind as Lucifer appears and attacks the Hellpriest.

A battle ensues with both demons unleashing their power upon each other and tearing Hell apart. The friends rush to escape as the ground opens up around them and both demons lay each other low. Lucifer tears the armour from Pinhead’s body and destroys him utterly before turning his attention to the realm that he made for himself so many generations past.

The book ends with Harry blind and moving into Norma’s old apartment. He is emptying his office and one of his friends find the puzzle box that he took from the house of the lawyer in New Orleans. He takes the box from the man and hides it once again, keeping it safe from inquisitive hands. Now, Harry will take over from Norma as the interpreter of the dead.


And so to the future…

Barker has already announced that he has a new novel close to completion: Scarebaby. He has said that this will be another return to horror, and that it is the scariest thing that he has written in a long time.

He has also announced that he is developing two new television series: one based around his Books of Blood stories, the other a Nightbreed television show. Of course, these are in development and may never be made (there have been a few series pitched for both books in the last twenty years), but the signs are hopeful.

Clive has also attended more conventions and has further appearances planned for conventions next year.

It seems that Barker still has the energy and will to create new worlds, while revisiting the old favourites from time to time. What will he create next? Only time will tell, but what I hope this (rather long) retrospective proves is that he has already cemented his place as one of the most influential dark fiction authors of our time, as well as the greatest imaginer of the last thirty years. I’m sure there are many writers who feel, as I do, that we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for showing us that there are no limits to our own imagination.

“You have to trust your own madness…”
Clive Barker

Thank you for joining us through this 6-part retrospective. I hope you have enjoyed the work that author Paul Flewitt has put into this. Thank you, Paul, for sharing this with us.

Paul Flewitt is a horror/dark fantasy author. He was born on the 24th April 1982 in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield.

Always an avid reader, Paul put pen to paper for the first time in 1999 and came very close to inking a deal with a small press. Due to circumstances unforeseen, this work has never been released, but it did give Paul a drive to achieve within the arts.

In the early 2000’s, Paul concentrated on music; writing song lyrics for his brother and his own bands. Paul was lead singer in a few rock bands during this time and still garners inspiration from music to this day. Paul gave up his musical aspirations in 2009.

In late 2012, Paul became unemployed and decided to make a serious attempt to make a name for himself as a writer. He went to work, penning several short stories and even dusting off the manuscript that had almost been published over a decade earlier. His efforts culminated in his first work being published in mid-2013, the flash fiction piece “Smoke” can be found in OzHorrorCon’s Book of the Tribes: A Tribute To Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

2013 was a productive year as he released his short story “Paradise Park” in both J. Ellington Ashton’s All That Remains anthology and separate anthology, Thirteen Vol 3. He also completed his debut novella in this time. Poor Jeffrey was first released to much praise in February 2014. In July 2014 his short story “Always Beneath” was released as part of CHBB’s Dark Light Four anthology.

In 2015 Paul contributed to two further anthologies: Demonology (Climbing Out) from Lycopolis Press and Behind Closed Doors (Apartment 16c) with fellow authors Matt Shaw, Michael Bray, Stuart Keane, and more.In 2016, Paul wrote the monologue, The Silent Invader, for a pitch TV series entitled Fragments of Fear. The resulting episode can be viewed now on YouTube, but the show was never aired. The text for the monologue was published in Matt Shaw’s Masters Of Horror anthology in 2017.

Paul continues to work on further material.

He remains in Sheffield, where he lives with his partner and two children. He consorts with his beta reading demons on a daily basis.

You can find more information on Paul Flewitt and his works here…

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Halloween Extravaganza: Paul Flewitt: Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer Pt 1

When I invited Paul Flewitt to take part in this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, I never could have expected the guest post that he sent me. We discussed it several times over the past few weeks, and every time he would tell me that it was almost done, send me over a small portion of it, and ask me what I thought. When I received the final copy, I immediately sat down to read it – a retrospective on one of my all-time favorite authors? – and could not believe just how good it was. Weighing in at 69 pages, 40,227 words… it’s definitely the largest, most researched blog post I have received in my seven plus years of being a blogger. I have broken it up into six days, so sit back and enjoy.


Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer:
A Retrospective
Part 1

Hi everyone, and happy belated Halloween. Thanks to Meghan for inviting me to write this, admittedly rather lengthy article.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that, given the opportunity to do so, I would write an article about Clive Barker. I have never made a secret of the fact that I love his work, and that I hold Barker in high esteem as a writer, artist, director and human being. I think every interview I have ever given has included Barker in some way or another – how could it not? He is a huge influence on my writing, as is reflected in many reviews of my books and stories. It would be utterly remiss of me to refuse to celebrate him in any way that I can. So when I discussed with Meghan the kinds of spots she wanted for her Halloween Extravaganza, and a Barker retrospective came up in the conversation, I leapt at the chance to be the one to write it. I do hope that you take as much pleasure in reading it as I have in researching and writing it.

I have tried to be concise, to keep this from becoming an unauthorised biography running into many thousands of words, but there is a lot of ground to cover. Clive has been an insanely prolific artist over the last 40 years, and to fit absolutely everything into a blog article in the detail that each project deserves would be inadvisable. I have written here a potted history of his books, some selected movies, and mentions for plays he has written. You might see this post as a jumping off point for further research. I recommend Douglas E. Winter’s authorised biography The Dark Fantastic, Clive Barker’s own The Essential Clive Barker, and also the Barkercast and Revelations websites for further examination of his wider work.

So, all of this said… shall we begin?


Liverpool, UK in the 1950’s and 60’s was a city in transformation. The year of Clive Barker’s birth, 1952, came seven years after World War 2 ended; Liverpool was still rebuilding and regenerating after being gutted by bombing and the docks, which once provided the lion’s share of the city’s economy, were slowly dying. It was a city catching up with the modern world, and was a hotbed of artistic creativity. From this soup would be fermented bands like The Beatles, The Merseybeats, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and writers like Phil Redmond and, of course, Clive Barker.

The young Barker was a creative, artistic boy. His bedroom was filled with scribblings, doodles, and models half-built. He created for himself different worlds to inhabit and take him away from one that made very little sense to him, which probably gave a clue to the man that he would become. He was an intelligent child; was one of only ten children in his primary school to pass his eleven-plus exam and be admitted to Quarry Bank Grammar School. The headteacher of Quarry Bank was William Pobjoy, a man forever remembered in history as the guy who allowed a young lad named John Lennon to form a little sciffle band while at school and play during lunch periods; The Quarrymen would pretty soon become The Beatles. Pobjoy was described as a “pompous prick” by Barker, so he clearly didn’t enjoy the same rapport with the man as Lennon did. Of course, Clive also described himself as a “snidey little bastard,” so his criticism is not only reserved for his headteacher, but turned upon himself too.

In his first years, Clive was absent from lessons more than he attended them, a fact that was mourned by one teacher who remarked that the class was “lesser for Clive’s absence.” He hated sports, and the class system which pitted child against child. The enigma to teachers was that Barker was a talented pupil, far from a dunce. He performed well in exams and in class… when he deigned to show up. Put simply, academic pursuits held little relevance to the young Clive Barker; the arts and words were where the world made sense to him. In time, he came to a compromise with his parents that he would knuckle down at school, if he could also pursue his art. As long as his mess was confined to his room, a deal was struck.

Clive’s English teacher, Norman Russell, immediately saw something very different in the young Barker, famously refusing to mark Clive’s assignments because “he had moved beyond the curriculum and could not be marked.” Russell was the man who encouraged Barker’s exploration of his imagination, supporting his endeavours on stage. Clive was cast in school plays throughout his time at Quarry Bank and was permitted to put on his own fringe plays, many of them written by him and his friend Phil Rimmer. This was also where Barker first met a boy two years his junior, but would become a lifelong friend, Doug Bradley. Most memorable of these self-produced plays was Neongonebony, a play entirely improvised by the students.

In these plays Barker and his fellow actors showed a forward-thinking and almost revolutionary philosophy toward the arts, seating the audience on stage while the play was enacted on the floor, lit by candles held by the actors and with horrific special effects designed by Clive and Phil.

Clive left Quarry Bank with the intention of attending Liverpool College of Arts, but at the insistence of his father who wanted him to get a proper education and some possibility of gainful employment, he went to the University of Liverpool instead. This dismayed his English teacher, Norman Russell, who had hoped to see Clive accepted into Oxford or Cambridge, but as Barker himself concedes “I lacked the application… I didn’t want to be an MP or justice of the peace…” University did not stop the young Barker from creating; writing plays and even a short novel, originally entitled “The Company of Dreamers;” later released as “The Candle in the Cloud” and dedicated to his friends: Julie, Sue, Anne, Lynne, Doug, and Graham; his fellow actors from school.

Throughout his years at university he continued to act, forming his own theatre company with Doug Bradley, Peter Atkins, Phil Rimmer, and others. The company started out as The Hydra Theatre Company after Clive and Phil Rimmer made a series of experimental short films, which included Salome and The Forbidden. The company occupied much of Clive’s spare time throughout the 70’s, mutating into The Theatre of the Imagination. Under both guises, Barker put on a number of plays. At this time he also wrote The Adventures of Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus, a short novel for young adults which was eventually released in 2009 and loosely based on his theatre company and friends. The theatre became more of a full time focus when he graduated from university in 1974, and they built a solid reputation for themselves.

Liverpool could not contain Clive Barker for much longer, however, as travel to cities like Paris and London showed him the wider world. It took some persuasion – Barker believed that living in Liverpool offered a unique mystique that being in the London scene would not afford them – but he was persuaded and was first of his friends to move, with his partner, John Gregson, to London in 76. Doug Bradley moved in 78, as did Phil Rimmer and the rest of the company. The troupe morphed as new members joined, becoming The Dog Company and performing several Barker-penned plays including “History of the Devil,” applying for funding from The Arts Council and touring to places like Edinburgh and Holland to perform. Barker and John were never particularly well off, but got by on John’s salary, Clive’s welfare checks, and whatever small income he received from performing. He also supplemented his income writing for a small S&M magazine, copies of which were seized and burned, much to Clive’s delight. It was these stories and articles that would later inspire, in part, Clive’s most famous creation, Pinhead.

More plays followed in the early years of the 80’s, with “Paradise Street,” “Frankenstein in Love,” “The Secret Life of Cartoons,” “Crazyface,” “Subtle Bodies,” and “Colossus” being written and performed in 81, 82 and 83. By now Clive had withdrawn from acting, taking on the role of stage director and principle writer in pursuit of more singular recognition for his writing.


1983 and 84 proved pivotal years for Barker as he began working at night on short stories. His days were still spent on plays and the theatre, the stories being more a distraction and something to share with his friends from the company. He explored his imagination in a much deeper, unreserved way in these stories, giving no thought to publishing any of them. That was, until he saw the Dark Forces anthology in a bookstore, containing short stories by Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ramsey Campbell. This anthology set off a lightbulb for Barker and he immediately set about, with his theatrical agent, to find a publisher for his stories. It was a tough sell; the industry opinion was, and still is, that anthologies don’t sell. Sphere Books took a chance on them however, and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood were published. A new Imaginer had arrived, and took the world of horror and dark fantasy by storm. Ramsey Campbell wrote; “I think Clive Barker is the most important writer of horror fiction since Peter Straub,” and Stephen King wrote; “I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker.” It was a phrase that Barker says “changed my life forever…” but also proved to be something of a curse.

Books of Blood (1984)

Of all Clive Barker’s works, Books of Blood is the one I see most frequently recommended in online groups to initiates into the world of Barker (or The Barkerverse, as I term it) these days. I can see why too; Books of Blood gives an overview of everything that might be expected from Clive’s work. There are claustrophobic horrors and epic fantasies, peopled by monsters of both the human and distinctly non-human variety. If you’re going to like any Barker at all, you will like a lot of what’s contained in these volumes.

There are a number of releases of Books of Blood: individual volumes and omnibus editions which collect volumes 1-3 and 3-6, all with differing cover art. Really, Barker is a collectors’ dream when it comes to interesting cover art. Like Pokemon; you’ve gotta catch em all.

Stand out stories for me here would be: Pig Blood Blues, Rawhead Rex, Dread, The Forbidden, Book of Blood, The Body Politic, Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament, Son of Celluloid, and In The Hills, The Cities. Honestly though, there isn’t a bad story in the whole bunch. As an introduction to Barker’s work, you really can’t go wrong here.


The release of Books of Blood proved something of an anomaly in publishing circles; for a writer to debut with a short story collection was unheard of in the modern era, for them to be a critical success unprecedented. It wasn’t an astounding commercial success, but sold enough for Sphere to want more from Barker: a novel. It was a daunting prospect for Clive to write a full length piece, but he set to work and produced a synopsis entitled “Out of the Empty Quarter.” This was proposed to begin in the Arabian desert; an explorer discovers the ruins of Eden inhabited by a lonely angel. The explorer returns to England and unleashes a horrifying force, which turns out to be more angelic than demonic. Sphere rejected this idea, finding it more akin to fantasy than horror. Unperturbed, Barker came up with something else: “Mamoulian’s Game,” but we would come to know it as “The Damnation Game.”

The Damnation Game (1985)

The story begins with a thief wandering through the ashes of the Warsaw Ghetto, searching for a legendary card player. Stories have been told of the European, the greatest card player they have ever heard of who never loses, and the thief is skeptical. Of course, he wants to meet this man himself and disprove the fable… and play him himself. He has tracked the European to Warsaw, and here he will find him… and win. The prize for winning against the European is wealth, fame, and long life, a prize that the thief accepts eagerly.

Years later, Marty Strauss is in prison for armed robbery, closing in on parole and determined to see out his sentence in peace. He is summoned to a meeting with the governor of the prison and is greeted by William Toy. Strauss is soon made an offer he could scarcely refuse: early release, in return for his services as bodyguard to the hermetic millionaire, Joseph Whitehead.

Strauss is taken to Whitehead’s Sanctuary by Toy, where he will live as Whitehead’s right hand man. He meets Whitehead and, quite frankly, cannot believe his luck. He is paid well for his services, lives in a grand mansion, and can live his life again. All is going better than Strauss could have possibly dreamed… until Mamoulian comes to call.

The Damnation Game is a Faustian tale of redemption and… well, damnation obviously. Marty Strauss is portrayed as a normal guy, thrown into some very unusual and terrifying circumstances, used by a man who considers himself above the common. Mamoulian, the Last European, is characterised as an eloquent, melancholy, and ill-used antagonist in the piece. There is a lot to like in this story, as bleak and morbid as it turns out to be. It is certainly a great debut novel from a writer finding his feet and discovering his style.

Once again, Barker’s work was praised by the genre critics, but wasn’t so much a commercial success. Sphere marketed it as a middle-ranked book, giving it a little marketing and hoping that Clive could sell it in personal appearances. They were hoping to sell movie rights, but they never materialised. It certainly engendered a response, with one critic calling it “spiritually bankrupt,” while another said it was “Zombie Flesh Eaters written by Graham Greene.” Characteristically, Barker revelled in these critiques. “What you can’t do to most of the images in my books is ignore them…”

If nothing else, Barker had announced himself on the scene as a major writer of dark fiction, and his contribution was recognised in 1985 by the British Fantasy Society and World Fantasy Society, awarding him Best Collection award for 84’s Books of Blood.

Now it was time for Barker to cement his place in the pantheon of British horror writers… but not before a little distraction in the form of movie-making.


1985 also brought Barker’s first feature film through Green Man Productions: Underworld. A futuristic horror, it was doomed from the beginning by interfering producers which led to a disjointed affair. Barker wrote the script and friend, George Pavlou, directed with a shoestring budget; neither was in control of the money and Pavlou was even barred entirely from the editing suite during post-production. A second writer was brought in to rewrite Barker’s scripts (which began as unfilmable since Clive had previously written for stage and had no experience of writing for the screen), but the new writer turned it into a more 80’s themed, low budget action romp. Pavlou tried to sew the two scripts together in an effort to create a coherent script… and ultimately failed. Barker saw the movie in the theatre and couldn’t watch, seeing the butchery that had been committed on his vision, which gave a preview of themes that he would revisit in Nightbreed.

Barker had sold the rights of first refusal to Green Man Productions for five of the stories from Books of Blood: Rawhead Rex; Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament; Confessions (From a Pornographer’s Shroud); Sex, Death and Starshine; and Human Remains.

Pre-production on Rawhead Rex would begin in January 1986.

If Clive thought that Rawhead Rex would be a happier, more successful experience and that Green Man Productions would have learned from the errors made with Underworld, he was mistaken. From the outset it became apparent that this would be another difficult production. First, the producers re-set the movie in Ireland instead of the south of England, then announced a budget of £3m, but the reality was rather less. Barker wrote the screenplay, which director George Pavlou loved… and that was essentially the end of Barker’s involvement in the project. He was never invited to the set, nor was he even called for advice. Clive presented the artists with sketches for the Rawhead character, but the producers had other ideas. The make-up artists designed an elaborate twenty-piece suit for Rawhead which would take seven hours to dress, but these were also rejected for being too expensive by producers. Instead, they went with a single piece suit which took fifteen minutes to dress… and it showed. Shooting took place during the worst storms Ireland had seen for years, meaning filming was a torturous experience. The movie took seven weeks of eighteen hour days to make in terrible conditions.

Needless to say, Rawhead Rex was far from the movie that it could have been, and once again Clive was disappointed with the result. What could have been a fine inclusion into the pantheon of monster horror was resigned to the B-movie comedy bin. Barker was not bitter about the experience, however; he had been taught an important lesson: if you want something done right, do it yourself.

1986 also saw Barker’s work return to the stage, and this time in the West End. The Secret Life of Cartoons had been received well at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1982, and now there were producers who wanted to put it onto the bigger stages in London. So it was that Tudor Davis directed the play at the Aldwych Theatre in October of 86. Barker expanded the play to two hours from its original one, and the play starred Una Stubbs (Worzel Gummidge), Derek Griffiths (Play School), and Geoffrey Hughes (Coronation Street). Unfortunately, the critics were not kind to Clive’s venturing into farce and the run was a short one.

1986 was a year of learning harsh lessons indeed… but 1987 was a year where everything would change and Clive Barker would put the lessons he had learned into action.

The first seeds of Barker’s rise to prominence on the world stage were sown in 1986, when he began writing the novelette that would kick his career into the stratosphere. So far, while his written work and stageplays had been moderately successful, his movies could only be viewed as interesting failures. 1987 would be the year that all of that changed… but Clive had to raise some hell first…


The Hellbound Heart (1987)

Clive Barker’s next release came with little fanfare: a novelette published in the Night Visions 3 anthology. This was a small press release, and very limited, so Barker could not have known the impact that this small (only covering around 100 pages) Faustian tale could have on his future. Night Visions was re-released in 1988 as The Hellbound Heart; the story itself not released individually until 1991, at the height of the movie’s success.

The Hellbound Heart begins with Frank Cotton, a man fuelled by excesses which are no longer sated by normal human pursuits. He travels in search of the next experience, the next excess with which his desires might be relieved. He is given a small, plain black box in Dusseldorf by a man named Kircher, who promises that to open the box is to travel… or something very like it. Of course, Frank wastes no time in finding the solution to opening the box and summoning the Cenobites of The Order of the Gash, explorers of the outer reaches of pleasure and sensation. They take him to their realm, to discover the limits of his own desires.

Barker takes inspiration for the Cenobites appearance from the homoerotic S&M magazines that he had written stories for previously; their scarred and disfigured appearance, bound in leather recalling the most extreme body modifications. He is here calling to outsider culture in the most direct terms possible, and perverting their activities as only Barker can.

Rory and Julia Cotton move into a house left to Rory by his missing brother following his disappearance, helped by their old schoolmate, Kirsty. Julia has grown to dislike Kirsty, her dour demeanour and endless fawning over Rory, and isn’t exactly happy in her marriage either: her thoughts are often drawn back to the day that she had succumbed to the advances of his brother, the irrepressible and missing Frank.

Rory cuts himself on a nail during the move and blood drips onto the floor of the house, unwittingly inviting a visitor into their new home. That night Julia is drawn to a room at the top of the house, the wall peels back to the sound of tinkling bells and a strange, flayed form is revealed; Frank is back.

What follows is a tale of love and lust. Julia agrees, reluctantly at first, to bring men back to the house so that Frank can feed. This she does and, over the course of the next few days, Frank grows stronger and ever more persuasive… what he needs next is flesh, and there is a donor living in the house with them.

Rory has asked Kirsty to look in on Julia, concerned by her suddenly erratic demeanour and distracted mood. When Kirsty does, her curiosity overcoming her. She explores the house and finds the puzzlebox that had undone Frank and the husks of Julia’s victims. She comes face to face with the skinless Frank, who lusts after her and sees her ripe for corruption. Kirsty escapes the house with the puzzlebox, fully intending to warn Rory before it’s too late, but she faints on the street outside the house.

She awakes in a hospital and notices the puzzlebox on the table beside her. She studies it to pass the time, her fingers moving across its lacquered surfaces. Unwittingly, she solves the puzzle, the box begins to open, and the Cenobites arrive. Of course, Hell’s servants must take Kirsty back to their domain, but Kirsty manages to persuade them to take another in her place.

Kirsty returns to Julia’s house, hoping to save Rory from a fate similar to the men whose remains she had seen. When she gets there, she finds Julia and Rory, with blood on his face, drinking brandy. Rory tells her that he has killed Frank, and knows all about Julia’s actions of the last few days. He then utters a phrase which betrays him – “Come to Daddy…” he says, belying the man who really lived beneath the borrowed flesh. Kirsty argues against him, and Frank gives chase through the house until they reach the upper room. There, Frank unwittingly names himself and bells begin to toll as the Cenobites arrive to take their errant pupil.

While Barker didn’t write the story with any thought toward making a film of it (it was written to exorcise the ghost of his ended relationship with John Gregson after ten years), he soon realised that it would translate very well to a low-budget film. Clive first approached George Pavlou, but was also introduced to Chris Figg, who was interested in making a horror movie and had ambitions toward production. Learning from past mistakes, Clive insisted on directing the movie. Figg knew that insistence meant that the project would be small scale, low budget – no one would offer cash to a first time director. So, they set about trying to convince financiers to invest. Barker set about writing The Hellbound Heart as a screenplay and, via a circuitous route they came to Hollywood. After a deal with Virgin Films fell apart, New Line Cinema stepped into the breach and committed $4.2m to the project. Filming began in 1987, less than a year after Clive had conceived the story.

The movie version of Hellraiser was approached in much the same way as Barker approached his work with The Dog Company: it was a family affair. He drafted in Doug Bradley to play Pinhead and his cousin, Grace Kirby, played the female Cenobite with Nick Vince and Simon Bamford as Chatterer and Butterball. Clare Higgins was enlisted to play Julia, with Andrew Robinson as Larry and Ashley Laurence as Kirsty.

The movie is fairly faithful to the book, aside from the relationship of the principle characters being changed: Kirsty is now a teenage firebrand daughter of Larry (Rory) and Julia Cotton, not the dowdy old school-friend. The roles are perfectly played, particularly Kirsty, Julia, and Pinhead. Doug Bradley particularly understands the understated quality of Barker’s invention; equal parts Karloff’s Frankestein’s monster and Christopher Lee’s Dracula, he presents Pinhead as an aloof figure, intensely eloquent and with a quiet aura of threat and promised violence. Andrew Robinson, too, provided two improvisations which have proved to be iconic moments in the films; as he chases Kirsty through the house, he growls “Enough of this cat and mouse shit,” and as the Cenobites deliver their coup de gras, the tortured Frank utters the famous line “Jesus wept” moments before he is ripped apart by the hooks and chains which bear him up. It is these improvisations which show the spirit of collaboration that Barker brought to the project and work to make Hellraiser one of the most faithful and best adaptations of a horror story ever produced.

Much to Barker’s surprise it was not the character of Julia or Frank which captured the imagination of the audience, but the monster, Pinhead. The striking appearance of the Hell Priest gave rise to tee-shirts, jigsaws, comic books, a short story anthology and several more movies (declining in quality as they move further away from Clive’s initial intention,) models and trading cars. What Hellraiser ensured was Clive Barker’s equity as not only a writer, but a director and imaginer.


Hellraiser was not the only creation that worked to cement Barker’s reputation in 1987; the year also saw the release of Barker’s second novel. Amidst the praise and furore which surrounded Hellraiser, Clive released Weaveworld.

Back in 1986, Clive had signed a lucrative new publishing deal with HarperCollins, and they were keen to capitalise on the exposure that Clive had received with the movie. The PR department went into overdrive, putting everything they had behind the UK release and were rewarded with a number one bestselling book. They eschewed the “horror” tag and marketed the book for what it was, not for what Barker had become known for. There was a nationwide tour, television appearances, and the commissioning of a carpet from the Royal College of Art.

In the US, Simon & Schuster were more reserved, preferring to cling to the horror angle. This led to critical confusion and a more lukewarm reception from critics and readers alike. The Stephen King quote, “I have seen the future of horror…,” became a millstone around Clive’s neck, rather than the lifechanging gift that it once was. It is an issue that has plagued Barker ever since, as new readers on discussion boards the world over mistake Clive for a linear horror writer, not the fantasist that he really is.

Weaveworld certainly sold in the States upon its release, but was not the phenomenon that it was in the UK.

In the UK, it made Clive Barker a household name.

Weaveworld (1987)

Cal Mooney is an accountant yearning to dream, and for his dreams to come true. He has returned to Liverpool following the death of his mother, to care for a father who isn’t dealing well with his sudden widowhood, and his beloved racing pigeons. It is a setting familiar to anyone who, like me, grew up in the north of England.

When one of the pigeons flies off for adventures of its own, Cal chases the bird and tracks it to a house being emptied to pay for its occupants’ nursing costs. In the backyard is laid a rug from the house, its design facing upwards toward the sky. Cal corners the bird on a window ledge, climbing up on a wall to catch the errant creature. Cal falls while reaching to retrieve the pigeon, falling onto the carpet and catching sight of another world in the warp and weft of the rug. It is a sight that changes Cal’s life, and colours the future events of the story. He meets the grand-daughter of the occupant of the house, Suzanna, a potter with a free-spirit and memories of her grandmother’s tales of other places and magic. She has a book of fairytales, passed down to her from her grandmother, and strangely evocative of the world Cal has seen in the carpet.

Shadwell is a salesman, the emissary of dark witch Immacolata the Incantatrix, and her horrific sisters. He wears a dazzling jacket which has the power to produce the wildest wish of whomever views its lining; all you need do is look and your dearest wish can be yours. Shadwell’s greatest wish is to find the Weave and to sell it. This puts him at odds with his mistress, whose undying ambition is to exact revenge on the people inhabiting the carpet, the Seerkind, for rejecting and fighting against her ambitions to rule them and exiling her from their world, The Fugue. Together, Shadwell and Immacolata steal the carpet, tearing it in the process.

Cal and Suzanna find a deep attraction to one another, and make love. While they sleep, the fragment of the carpet unravels, releasing three inhabitants from The Fugue… and so the story proper begins.

Weaveworld is an ambitious work of fantasy, epic in its conception and execution. Barker introduces us to a Liverpool instantly recognisable and relatable, before taking us on a flight into his own imagination. Weaveworld involves themes that will become familiar in Clive’s subsequent work: magic being shunned by a world grown banal and ordinary, the fantastic hoping to live side by side with the ordinary, the struggle for the acceptance of difference, and the wonder of the weird. Like Books of Blood, Weaveworld is a book that I see recommended frequently to readers new to Barker’s work, and one that most Barker fans have taken to their hearts as a true modern classic.

1987 was a pivotal year in Barker’s progression as a writer, seeing the success of Hellraiser and the release of his first bestselling novel. As we know, Barker is not one for resting on his laurels and the need to move forward was as strong as ever.


Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of this fantastic retrospective on Clive Barker.

Paul Flewitt is a horror/dark fantasy author. He was born on the 24th April 1982 in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield.

Always an avid reader, Paul put pen to paper for the first time in 1999 and came very close to inking a deal with a small press. Due to circumstances unforeseen, this work has never been released, but it did give Paul a drive to achieve within the arts.

In the early 2000’s, Paul concentrated on music; writing song lyrics for his brother and his own bands. Paul was lead singer in a few rock bands during this time and still garners inspiration from music to this day. Paul gave up his musical aspirations in 2009.

In late 2012, Paul became unemployed and decided to make a serious attempt to make a name for himself as a writer. He went to work, penning several short stories and even dusting off the manuscript that had almost been published over a decade earlier. His efforts culminated in his first work being published in mid-2013, the flash fiction piece “Smoke” can be found in OzHorrorCon’s Book of the Tribes: A Tribute To Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

2013 was a productive year as he released his short story “Paradise Park” in both J. Ellington Ashton’s All That Remains anthology and separate anthology, Thirteen Vol 3. He also completed his debut novella in this time. Poor Jeffrey was first released to much praise in February 2014. In July 2014 his short story “Always Beneath” was released as part of CHBB’s Dark Light Four anthology.

In 2015 Paul contributed to two further anthologies: Demonology (Climbing Out) from Lycopolis Press and Behind Closed Doors (Apartment 16c) with fellow authors Matt Shaw, Michael Bray, Stuart Keane, and more.In 2016, Paul wrote the monologue, The Silent Invader, for a pitch TV series entitled Fragments of Fear. The resulting episode can be viewed now on YouTube, but the show was never aired. The text for the monologue was published in Matt Shaw’s Masters Of Horror anthology in 2017.

Paul continues to work on further material.

He remains in Sheffield, where he lives with his partner and two children. He consorts with his beta reading demons on a daily basis.

You can find more information on Paul Flewitt and his works here…

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