Clive Barker is my favorite modern horror author, and he’s had a tremendous influence on my own horror writing. My Parted Veil series is heavily inspired by Barker, in particular by his ability to weave dark fantasy with horror to create worlds that both ignite your imagination and terrify you at the same time. But while I love Barker’s longer works like Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show and Everville, it’s his short stories that first made me fall in love with him. And my first introduction to them was the Books of Blood.
Like many kids in the ’80s, my first foray into modern horror was Stephen King’s short stories, in collections like Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. I started consuming anything of King’s I could get my eyes on. And then around 1986, I came across this:
Look at that cover. And look at the quote on the top. “I have seen the future of horror…and it is named Clive Barker.”
For me at least, Stephen King was 100% right. Because I bought the first volume of the Books of Blood, and it changed everything. After tearing through the six volumes of the Books of Blood, I searched out everything else with Barker’s name on it. By the time I saw the Hellraiser film sometime in 1988, it just cemented Barker as my favorite horror creator, and he has never been knocked from that perch.
There are times where I feel like I’ve lost my horror mojo, that my own horror writing is feeling flat or uninspired. Or sometimes I just want to remember why I fell in love with Barker in the first place. So, I’ll go back and read through some of the Books of Blood again. And they never fail to both impress and inspire me.
I gave away my original copies of the Books of Blood years ago (I give away books and comics like candy when I find out someone hasn’t read something). I’ve had them digitally for years, but I recently decided that I need all of Barker’s books sitting on my shelf again. So, I picked up the two omnibus versions of the Books of Blood, each of which contains three volumes.
I’m rereading all of them again, and I’ll be posting about some of my favorite stories over the next several weeks. If you haven’t read Barker before, I cannot recommend him highly enough.