So, I’m going to begin this piece with a little personal history…purely for context, I’m sure you understand..?
Abiding memories from my childhood are the times at my grandmother’s house, spending time with my cousins, who were always around Gran’s place and generally larking about. They were great days. This would be around 86/7, making me about 5 years old. In those days of vhs there was something called the Britania Movie Club, a kind of mail order video rental which would send out a quarterly- catalogue. In the catalogue there would be pictures of all the videos that were available for sale or rent and my cousins and I would spend hours flicking through and looking at all the artwork. At the back there was a horror section and there were three covers that would mesmerise me every time the magazine arrived; House, Nightmare On Elm Street and Hellraiser. Of those three I mentioned it was that iconic picture of the man with nails in his head that had me staring longest. It stuck with me for life.
Fast forward about six years and I’m an avid reader, my parents encouraged me to read and write a lot and I would devour anything put in front of me. One day a neighbour came around and gave me a book by Stephen King, a book of shorts called Skeleton Crew. That book altered my tastes, having been a massive fantasy reader I quickly moved on to the darker writers…but some of those books left me cold; their themes tried, tested and overworked. They were okay, good reads, but there was something missing for me. Then; about three years later than that and another chance happenstance when a friend of the family who knew I liked horror thrust a book in my hands by an author of which I had never heard, but who had been in my life since I was five years old through that image of that man with the nails in his head… that first book was Books of Blood vol 1 and I had found “my author”. His name was Clive Barker.
So, now we get to the meat of the post; Imajica.
I had read the Books of Blood, Cabal and a couple of Barker’s first novels before I came to Imajica, by then I wasn’t surprised by the way Clive created new scares, it was something that I’d been looking for since Stephen King, but Imajica blew my mind in a totally different way. I was transported from my bedroom to London and the high society of business tycoons, artists and the bourgeois, I was introduced to Gentle and Judith and the whole notion of something other. I’d read Tolkien, I was a fantasy fan, but rarely had the fantasy worlds occupied the real world so seamlessly. I was entranced by the way Barker constructs the story, essentially a love story about an artist and a rich man’s wife until Clive brings his terms into the concept and introduces us to Pie O’h Pah, the sexiest androgynous creation in print. From there it’s all secret societies, conspiracies and magic. Everything I loved in a good story. But… then he went further and created a new religion! It is one of the most complex stories I’ve ever read, yet Barker tells it in such a way that it’s an easy journey through the pages, from London to Yzorderrex and beyond. It is one of the very few books that I read over and over.
Imajica is the book that made me, although I could say that about any of Clive Barker’s works, but this is the one which epitomises everything that his fictions are about. It opened up my mind to other writers like Lovecraft and Poe, and visual artists aplenty. It fired my mind to dream my own dreams and not someone else’s. The good friend who first introduced me to Books of Blood summed it up best for me; “You’ve read other good writers, but this guy wraps you up in a warm blanket of words that you can see!” I couldn’t agree more.
Fast forward to early 2013, I’m now a 31 year old guy considering taking my own writing seriously. A certain social media platform has introduced me to the wider writing world, and more directly the Clive Barker communities. I was encouraged to follow my dreams and to actually submit something. It was something I hadn’t even thought of since I was a dreaming teenager. I spotted an open call from Australia’s horror convention; OzHorrorCon, for short fiction based on the work of a certain author… that author was Clive Barker, of course, and the 500 word piece was accepted. It sits proudly in the Book of the Tribes anthology as my first published work. It hasn’t ended there, I have published another short work in the Thirteen vol 3 anthology and my debut novel is released in February through Vamptasy.
I have a lot to be thankful for in 2014, and it all comes back to that picture of the man with the pins that I first saw as a 5 year old kid and become so entranced by … and the mind from which he springs.
Paul Flewitt lives in Sheffield, UK with his partner and their two children. He is a writer of horror and dark fiction with CHBB/Vamptasy press.
Paul is the author of "Smoke" a flash fiction which appeared in OzHorrorCon's Book of Tribes anthology, "Paradise Park" from JEA's All That Remains anthology and the stand alone novella "Poor Jeffrey" through CHBB'Vamptasy press. He continues to work on further pieces...
Sometimes magic works... Grief drives people to extreme behaviour, and when Poor Jeffrey Kinsey is killed, his friends go to some extreme lengths to bring him back… But Jeffrey’s death isn’t the only thing going on in town... Several girls have disappeared, only to be found half eaten by an unidentifiable creature later... it’s enough to drive a town insane. For Tommy, Jade and Chloe the next few weeks will make them or break them… and a story begins… Poor Jeffrey; he never wanted death to be this way…
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