Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Clive Barker

I first met Clive back in the late 80s. I worked at Tower Video, just out of University. I was reading a Newsweek magazine. There was a blurb in it about Clive Barker, this new British Horror Writer who was taking the world with his Books of Blood anthologies. Steve King, the "King of Horror fiction" said of Clive: "I have read the future of Horror and it is, Clive Barker." Nice blurb, huh?
About what I looked like back in the late 80s
For some reason, I decided to write to both Steven King and Clive Barker. Clive wrote back. I never heard from King. Nothing, nada, zip, not even the standard fake promo material. Well, now, admittedly, Steve was an icon even then. So I didn't expect much. But Clive actually wrote back. So I wrote him again. And he wrote back.
Clive Barker some years ago
One day, I heard he was going to be at Tower Books, so I was first in line to meet him. While I stood there, I listened to those in line behind me. It seemed like forever when Clive arrived. I had by now, read his books. He came in, wearing a light colored suit and a man asked him if he could get him anything. Some kind of aide or handler of which there were two. Clive said, coffee would be nice and the one man asked her he would like it. Clive said "White," and the man was totally confused. The other man jumped in and said to Clive, "okay, no problem, thank you," and walked off telling the other man that "white" was another way of saying milk or cream in it.

I was first in line and Clive looked up at me and smiled and said, "Hi." I said, "Hi." And we started talking. I told him that most the people in line behind me were Steve King fans. They were there to give Clive a chance. Etcetera. Clive got a kick out of it. He said, "I'll take fans where ever I can get them." He signed my books. All of them. I was married at the time, so I even had him sign some so she could have her own collection.

Funny story. After we divorced, I was at her apartment one day to pick up my son. Now, I had been missing one of my Books of blood and couldn't figure out where It was. As I was waiting for her to get our son ready for me to take him for the weekend, I noticed on the floor a line of books next to her stereo, and in the middle were the Books of Blood. I didn't think anything of it until I noticed there was a duplicate of one book.

So I picked it up and opened it and sure enough, it was signed to me by Clive. I mentioned that when she returned to the room and she got angry. She said something like "Why don't you just look through all my stuff to see if I took anything else?" I said, "well, hey, it has, like, my NAME in it." I was about to blow her off on her offer to look though her things but then I realized that she knew damn well she had my book. So I looked through her other books and I found another. She was pissed. I was humble. But once outside, I felt so good about it. It annoyed me that she wouldn't even have those books if I hadn't paid for them, got them signed and gave them to her; and then she tries to keep one of my set of his books. Low.

Some time later, I heard Clive was coming back. I was still married and my wife (the one I mentioned above) was off somewhere, possibly at work and I had our son. So, I took him at the last minute, down to Lower Queen Anne Tower Books in his stroller. He was maybe 18 months old or so. I strolled him in and we saw Clive. I reminded Clive we'd met (how's he supposed to remember with all he meets?) and had corresponded and he fell into an amiable attitude. I asked him to shake hands with my son, as even though he doesn't understand, I could one day tell him he shook Clive's hand.

So Clive shook his hand. My son had the strangest look on his face and Clive and I remarked to one another about it, laughing.

And now, its years later and I'm looking for Clive to give me a blurb for my book like King did for his. Will it happen? Probably not. Should it happen? I don't know, but hey, who wouldn't want it to happen? Clive will always be my favorite. His prose is better than King, he's more direct, he's more my style. King, you are the original, after Poe, perhaps. Clive, in my book you'll always be "The Man" of Horror Fiction.

So, I got a response from Clive's people. They will forward my email to him and gave me his address to send him my manuscript once its ready to be reviewed. I forwarded this to my publisher which will make her very happy. They had said he's very busy with deadlines but hey, I could wait. For a while. Considering I didn't think I'd even get this far all I can say is, only time will tell, and it never hurts to ask.

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