Paul Kane: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

July 5, 2010 by
Filed under: Bury Me With This Book, Interviews 

The seventeenth entry in the Bury Me With… series; Paul Kane, one of the nicest men in genre fiction I’ve met, offers up his choice of entombed reading matter.

The Hellbound Heart“My choice for this shouldn’t come as much of a shock, bearing in mind myself and my better half Marie have just co-edited an anthology based on it which came out from Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster) last September. Yes, of course it’s The Hellbound Heart by my favourite author, none other than Clive Barker (we just removed the definite article and added an ‘s’ at the end – Hellbound Hearts – clever, eh?). The other small-ish clue was that I also wrote a book focussing on the film series this novella spawned, The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy. Obsessed? Me? Naw. It’s just that The Hellbound Heart, which was originally published back in 1986, contains the seeds for such a rich and never-ending mythology, that the short book itself is a springboard for many other tales; or at least it was in my imagination. After reading it for the first time, and later watching the movie based on it, I found myself asking questions like: who are the Cenobites, really? What are their day-to-day lives like? (I know, I’m a weirdo, right?) How many other people have they visited after various puzzles have been solved?

But, as cool as they are, the Cenobites aren’t the only reason for choosing this particular book. At its…well, at its heart remains the story of a woman’s love for one man. The kind of love most people can only dream of. The kind that forces her to kill for him… A pity that love isn’t reciprocated then, although there’s definitely a lot of passion when characters Frank and Julia get it together. It’s also a shame – for him anyway, though not in story terms – that Julia’s married to Frank’s brother, Rory (changed to Larry in the film). If any one story represents the insanity, and the lengths that love can drive a person to, it’s The Hellbound Heart. To reference yet another of Barker’s stories, it highlights and encapsulates The (In)Human Condition perfectly. Especially poignant is the unrequited love that Kirsty experiences – here a friend to Rory rather than a daughter, which explains a lot about their screwed up relationship in the film, not to mention Frank’s own incestuous feelings. The way she feels about Rory also sees her doing some pretty stupid things, like going and confronting Julia for example. Big mistake.

So, what do we have? An intriguing premise about a hedonistic waster who thinks he’s opening the doorway to untold pleasures, only to discover that some folks’ interpretation of ‘pleasure’ is a little different to others. We also have some fantastic central characters in the form of the aforementioned Frank, Julia, Rory and Kirsty. A quartet who form one of the most dysfunctional ‘families’ ever. But let’s get back to those Cenobites for a moment. One of the things the authors found most appealing about working on Hellbound Hearts was the freedom we gave them to create new Cenobites of their own devising. Clive himself even came up with his first new one in twenty years for the cover: Vestimenti. There’s just something unique and refreshing about the ‘villains’ of this book (I use the word cautiously, because, as we all know, they’re ‘Demons to some, angels to others…’). And here they are presented in their rawest form, if you’ll pardon the expression: the first Cenobites ever, even before Doug, Nick, Simon and Grace donned the make-up to become their cinematic counterparts. Yes, you can see flashes of all of them – in particular ‘Pinhead’, a name given to the character by fans of the franchise – but here they are different, almost from a parallel universe rather than another dimension.

There are so many stories and novels I could have chosen written by Clive (the Books of Blood, for instance, would have given me infinite pleasure as I drifted off to who knows where – perhaps along the highways of the dead written about inside?). But even though it’s short, The Hellbound Heart I find brings something new to the reader every time. I’d be more than happy to read and re-read that for an eternity, thank you very much…

Night VisionsI was also asked which edition of the book I’d like shoved into my cold hands as they plant me in the ground. Well, I’m actually lucky enough to be the owner of a copy of the original anthology in which it appeared, Night Visions, edited by George R.R. Martin, also featuring stories by the excellent Ramsey Campbell and Lisa Tuttle. It’s a little battered now, in that loving way we voracious readers keep returning to and handling our favourite books, but it’d do for me. Either that or the lovely limited hardback Earthling edition that came out a few years ago, with brand new Barker artwork on the slipcover and introductions from not only Ashley Laurence (Kirsty from Hellraiser) but also Peter Atkins (scriptwriter on Hellraisers II-IV), both lovely people and very dear friends (in fact you can check out another fantastic intro from Pete in my latest novel from… plug alert…Screaming Dreams: The Gemini Factor… ahem).

So, that’s about it. Hope you enjoyed my little love letter to what, for me personally, is one of the best genre tales ever written. I’m looking forward to reading what the other reprobates selected have chosen… See you all in Hell!”


Paul KaneAbout Paul Kane:

Paul Kane has been writing professionally for almost fourteen years. His genre journalism has appeared in such magazines as The Dark Side, Death Ray, Fangoria, SFX, Dreamwatch and Rue Morgue, and his first non-fiction book was the critically acclaimed The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, introduced by Doug ‘Pinhead’ Bradley. His award-winning short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic (as well as being broadcast on BBC Radio 2), and has been collected in Alone (In the Dark), Touching the Flame, FunnyBones and Peripheral Visions. His novella Signs of Life reached the shortlist of the British Fantasy Awards 2006, The Lazarus Condition was introduced by Mick Garris, creator of Masters of Horror, and RED featured artwork from Dave (The Graveyard Book) McKean.

As Special Publications Editor of the British Fantasy Society he worked with authors like Brian Aldiss, Ramsey Campbell, Muriel Gray, Robert Silverberg and many more, plus he is the co-editor of Hellbound Hearts for Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster), an anthology of original stories inspired by Clive Barker’s novella, featuring contributions from the likes of Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola, Kelley Armstrong, Tim Lebbon, Yvonne Navarro, Richard Christian Matheson, Chaz Brenchley and Nancy Holder.

In 2008 his zombie story ‘Dead Time’ was turned into an episode of the Lionsgate/NBC TV series Fear Itself, adapted by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (SAW II-IV). He also scripted the short film The Opportunity which premiered at Cannes in 2009. Paul’s mass market novels for Abaddon’s Afterblight Chronicles – Arrowhead and Broken Arrow – detail the adventures of a post apocalyptic version of Robin Hood. His latest novels include The Gemini Factor, from Screaming Dreams, and Of Darkness and Light, from Thunderstorm books. He currently lives in Derbyshire, UK, with his wife – the author Marie O’Regan – his family, and a black cat called Mina.


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