There are, it seems, milestones in every writer's evolution; those experiences that obliterate the parameters and presumptions under which their imaginations operate, allowing them to swell into fresh contexts; become more both as writers and as human beings.
I could cite any number of times this has happened to me -the first time I encountered The Lord of the Rings at the age of 6, reading Stephen King's short story The Mist at age 8-, but one in particular stands out, its resonance still shuddering my soul, still shaping thought and inspiration; manipulating perception and providing new and wonderful vistas to appreciate:
Weaveworld by Clive Barker.
I first encountered the book at the age of 11, when my Mother handed me a hardback copy she'd received as a free gift from her book club. “This is a bit weird for me,” she proclaimed, “but you'll probably like it.” Even back then, my proclivities were fairly evident.
The book was unlike anything I'd ever encountered up to that point in fiction; a blend of psychological and socio-cultural realism with high metaphysics and mythology; gods and demi gods and angels walking the streets of suburban Liverpool, traipsing the snow-quilted moors of Northern England. I did not realise that fiction ostensibly labelled “fantasy” or “horror” could be like this; that there could be profundity and beauty; the most monstrous grotesquery and intense eroticism, all occurring beneath a verisimilitude as dense as anything you'll find in socio-political tracts or cultural examinations. The book blew my mind; ripped the seams wide open, and made me sincerely and seriously take pen to paper, not for the first time, but for the first time with the passion and desire to make something beautiful; to make something that would move and change and transform people, as it did me.
I emerged from that reading bloody and breathless and newborn; an experience I have had since, but rarely, rarely with the same degree of intensity or so profound a shift in perception and personality.
For the first time, I began to realise my affinity for the absurd, the strange, the surreal; that the images on the page echoed the same that swirled in the dark behind my eyes every waking and dreaming instant; that my own appetites and obsessions had parallels in other heads.
It's a strange thing, realising how profoundly you've been shaped by another's inspirations, but a beautiful one, too; it acknowledges a level of connection more intimate than one can conceive; a man I have never met has written portions of my entire personality; helped to shape it through his work, as others before and after have done. In that, we are all glorious, New Promethian monsters. Weaveworld helped me to see that, and celebrate it.
Weaveworld is an epic adventure of the imagination. It begins with a carpet in which a world of rapture and enchantment is hiding; a world which comes to life, alerting dark forces and beginning a desperate battle to preserve the last vestiges of magic which Humankind still has access to.
Weaveworld is a book of visions and horrors, a story of quest, titanic struggles, of love and of hope. It is a triumph of imagination and storytelling, an adventure, a nightmare, a promise…
'The great imaginer of our time'
'Barker's fecundity of invention is beyond praise. In a world of hard-bitten horror and originality, Clive Barker dislocates your mind' - Mail on Sunday
George Daniel Lea is a bizarre and curious specimen that can most often be found wandering dazedly around certain environs of the U.K. Midlands. He likes stories above most things; even more so than the fact that his hair is going profoundly grey at the age of 29 and that he has felt inwardly ancient since the age of 8. Never expecting to live as long as he has, he currently spends his time attempting to upset the delicate psyches of other human beings with stories of utmost absurdity and surrealism. Also likes chocolate.
A vile waking... There are places we walk; cold and dusk-lit; places where the wind whispers, carrying echoes of forgotten games. ...a storm of sadism, more loving than any embrace or caress he'd ever known... There are places where we are naked; where the grass and weeds rasp across bleeding wounds, exposed nerves, their dew glistening red. ...we are all sick; some are simply sicker than most... Places where the silence cannot be broken, its insect chatter fraying thought, fracturing sanity. ...shadows swarming around their intertwined bodies, whispering, congealing... These are the Strange Playgrounds; places where we meet our murdered or abandoned selves, and join their desperate games. Come and play awhile.
"George Daniel Lea writes with the sensuality of Poppy Z Brite, with the range and feelings of intimacy of Clive Barker but with a style and imagination that is purely his own."
PURCHASE WEAVEWORLD AND GEORGE'S BOOK FROM THE LINKS BELOW