Name: Paul Kane
Where are you from? Derbyshire in the UK.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I was born in Chesterfield and originally wanted to be an artist (I still dabble in this, particularly when doing remarques inside my books) so headed off to art college after finishing my A-Levels. Instead, I ended up doing a theory course at Sheffield Hallam University, a BA in History of Art, Design and Film (I went back again a few years later and did an MA in Film). One of the modules was Professional Writing and that springboarded me into journalism. But I’d always written stories from an early age and turned back to that in the late ‘90s, making a name for myself in the small presses and then through the British Fantasy Society as their Special Publications Editor. Since my first collection in 2000, I’ve had over 50 publications out, but am probably best known for my mass market Arrowhead novels (published by Abaddon) – based around a post-apocalyptic Robin Hood – and for my association with the Hellraiser mythology, through books like The Hellraiser Films & Their Legacy and Hellbound Hearts. I also script: I’ve had three short films made from my screenplays, with others in various states of readiness, and have written two features, plus I’m now dipping my toe into the area of graphic novels. I’m lucky enough to be able to write and edit full time, and have done since I first started out. I live in Derbyshire with my family, including my wife the author and editor Marie O’Regan, and a black cat called Mina.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Where to start? Well, you catch me as the Hooded Man makes his return after five years in the Arrowhead novella Flaming Arrow, which has just been published this week and you can buy here (http://t.co/Tk4K5Sus3z). After the success of the omnibus gathering together the three original novels, Hooded Man, I was asked to continue the story and submitted a pitch that would catch up with Robert and co. a few years down the line. He’s an older Hood by this point, thinking of handing over control of his Rangers to his son Mark – but of course there’s trouble in store and things don’t really go to plan. Part of this one is a siege story, inspired by my love of films like Zulu and Starship Troopers. I’d done so many big battles in the original trilogy that it was really the only way to go: make the focus tighter and hopefully also concentrate on the characters, old and new. I’ve also just finished writing a sequel novel to my 2008 novella RED, which is out soon through SST publications (you can read more about this and the multi-book deal I signed with them here http://tinyurl.com/nxn87w9). If you’re looking for a summary of what that one will be like, think Terminator meets Grimm… SST are including the original novella with it, and the book comes with another cover from the excellent Dave McKean (Sandman, The Graveyard Book), an introduction from Alison Littlewood and a whole bunch of extras, including an extract from the award-winning film script of RED. The book also has ties to a novelette I did for Hersham Horror called The Curse of the Wolf (http://tinyurl.com/p7q2clh), which came out a couple of months ago, plus my ‘Life Cycle’ stories – the third and final brand new addition to which features in my collection Monsters from Alchemy Press (http://tinyurl.com/por72wp), launching at Edge-Lit in July. I’m very excited about that one, as not only has Nicholas Vince done the introduction but it also has awesome cover artwork from Clive Barker. Work-wise, as opposed to releases, I’m tackling my first graphic novel – after completing an adaptation of Clive’s ‘In the Hills, the Cities’ for the Seraphim/MadeFire Books of Blood motion comics – and have just signed on to do another mass market novel that I’m really thrilled to be writing. But more on that as and when.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I think, and this probably applies to most writers out there, I’ve always had stories in me that needed an outlet. Before I wrote, I used to make up backstories for my Action Men and then send them off on adventures, or I drew comics inspired by those my dad used to buy me from the local newsagents. Then, when I began to read I was inevitably drawn to genre books and, in turn, started to think about setting down stories of my own. Initially this was in classes at school, longhand – I’m sure I used to exasperate my teachers – but then I used to borrow my mum’s old battered typewriter and bash them out on that. I still have a few of these somewhere and they’re hilarious! So, in short, I think it was just something inside me that wanted out.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I started to sell articles and reviews to magazines and newspapers, earning money from that. It helped me get off the dole fairly sharply after I left uni the first time in my early 20s, and I’ll always be grateful for that. Since then, I’ve pretty much made my living as a writer of one kind or another – including teaching creative writing for a time and giving workshops, as it’s all related. I’ve never had a day job and I’m not honestly sure now what else I would do!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first attempt at a book was when I was about 15 – one of those early typewriter stories I was talking about which I still have. It was called Night Beast and was heavily influenced by the horror novels and movies I was into at the time. It was all very Garth Marenghi, with people out on the moors waving Magnums around and fighting an alien creature. My first proper attempt at a novel, again, still hasn’t seen the light of day – although it’s not a bad premise so I might return to it one day. The first novel I felt brave enough to show anyone was The Gemini Factor, which I wrote back in the early 2000s and ended up being published by Screaming Dreams (http://tinyurl.com/oxdv75u). The – now retired – horror author Steve Harris (The Hoodoo Man, Wulf) kindly took a look at that one for me and offered suggestions; he basically took pity on this fledgling author and did a professional edit on it, God bless him – which is why it’s dedicated to him. It’s a book I’m still incredibly proud of, not least because it got some cracking reviews, but also because it’s the first longer piece I’d done which felt like it was in my voice. It was inspired by reading a lot of crime fiction growing up, but more specifically serial killer novels like The Silence of the Lambs – only giving it a supernatural undercurrent. A lot of horror books and movies did this when I was growing up, so I guess that one was my homage to them.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve never really stood back and analysed it – I think when you start to do that you second guess yourself. I prefer just to get on with it and not really question it when the words flow. I panic a lot beforehand, wondering if I can remember how to do it, then go into a kind of fugue state and emerge out the other side having written a story or 3,000 words of a novel that day. Or at least that’s how it’s worked so far! I do like characters, so I guess my fiction’s very character-driven. If your characters aren’t fully rounded with their own back histories (which sometimes only you know, as the author) then your readers won’t care about them or what happens to them.
Fiona: How do you come up with a title?
Usually the book or story suggests a title, or it might even be the other way around. Just recently, for example, I was commissioned to write a Lovecraftian tale by editor Lois Gresh for the PS anthology Innsmouth Nightmares. I did quite a bit of research for that one, as I didn’t want to get anything wrong, but the title came to me one night while I was struggling to think of an idea. I was mulling over sayings connected with the ocean or water and suddenly thought ‘Thicker Than Water…’ which suggested something to do with family. From there, I came up with a tale about a girl being taken home by her boyfriend to meet his parents. And you just know that’s going to end well in Innsmouth… With something like the novel Lunar, which is being turned into a feature film based on my script, I knew I wanted to write about the moon’s effect on people. The late, great Jim Herbert had already taken the title Moon for his own novel, so I started to think about other words relating to it – and Lunar just cropped into my head, probably because of its association with ‘Lunatic’. And, from there, came the name for the monsters in the book, with their huge white eyes: the Loons. I jot a lot of titles down in notebooks, though, and flick through if I’m starting a new project.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
There are always messages and themes in my books, which hopefully people will get – though if they don’t then with a bit of luck they’ve got something else from the novel instead. I know people who absolutely love the action in the Arrowheads, but hate the spiritual aspects of them, which is absolutely fine. We all have different tastes. Usually, there’s something about family, friendship, relationships and love in my stories or novels, as I think those are the fundamental elements of what make us human. Someone once said to me that there’s a sweetness to my writing, even when I’m dealing with the most brutal of subjects and I love the fact they got that: my stories have a heart, basically.
Fiona: How much of the books are realistic?
Hopefully not the monster bits, though obviously there are human monsters far scarier than any werewolf or vampire. I like to ground all my fiction in reality, because only then can you take readers off into weird places. With the post-apocalyptic work, I think a lot of it is frighteningly possible. How people would act if society breaks down, who would take over once the authorities are no more, if there’s no police force, and what they’d be capable of doing. Though, I like to think there’d still be people like Robert and his band around to protect the innocents.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Like most writers, I’m a bit of a sponge – absorbing everything, whether it’s events that have happened to you or someone else, snatches of conversation, films, TV shows, books… It all goes into a kind of melting pot in your brain which you dredge when you’re writing something, coming up with mish-mashes that make something new.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The books that had the most impact on me in my teens, and I’ve talked about this so much that people are probably bored of hearing about it now, are Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. They were just so fresh and original and blew me away. The Hellbound Heart followed closely behind, then its adaptation Hellraiser and so on… I’ve loved everything Clive’s ever done, from his theatre work to his paintings, from his fiction to his films. The man is a force of nature and a constant inspiration to me. I’m lucky in that I got to meet and become friends with him, as well as work on projects for and involving him, and he’s still inspiring me to this day! Others who helped show me the way in the business include people like John B. Ford and Simon Clark – who were there right at the very beginning to offer advice – Christopher Fowler, Stephen Jones and my wife, Marie.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
If I tell you that, it’ll give away what I’m working on next – so instead I’ll tell you what I’ve just read and reviewed: Clive’s long-awaited The Scarlet Gospels, which pits Pinhead against detective Harry D’Amour. I loved it! And you can read my review on the British Fantasy Society site here (http://tinyurl.com/ncn93hn).
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I don’t get that much time to read as many magazines and new anthologies as I’d like, so I’m probably a bit out of touch with who’s up and coming. But quite a few authors have come along and blown the genre wide apart since I started in the ‘90s: people like Joe Hill, for example (Heart-Shaped Box, Horns), Adam Nevill (House of Small Shadows, No One Gets Out Alive), Sarah Pinborough (Murder, Mayhem), Alison Littlewood (A Cold Season, Path of Needles), Stephen Volk (especially with the mighty and award-winning Whitstable), Robert Shearman (Tiny Deaths, Remember Why You Fear Me)… There are far too many to mention, really. People to keep an eye on, though, include the likes of Cate Gardner, Helen Marshall, Sarah Lotz, Stephen Bacon… I could go on and on.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
In addition to the ones already mentioned, I’ll throw in Hellraisers – the Hellraiser interview book that’s taken quite a long time to get there, but is almost ready now, out soon from Avalard – and a new Dalton Quayle adventure: The Bric-a-Brac Man, from Pendragon (who published Dalton Quayle Rides Out). Hellraisers is kind of a companion piece to my previous non-fiction book, The Hellraiser Films & Their Legacy (http://tinyurl.com/nm7t5uq), containing interviews with the people behind the mythology and films. As an aside, I also have a 25 minute featurette as part of the 3 disc Leviathan DVD documentary which you can find out about here (http://tinyurl.com/ou8eojn); we just had the launch for that down in London which was an absolutely amazing evening! But I’ve been writing the Dalton Quayle stories since I started out, comedy horrors that give me a bit of light relief from the usual doom and gloom I write about. For those not familiar with the previous tales, you can get your hands on the collected Adventures of Dalton Quayle – which includes titles like ‘The Sheepshank Revelation’ and ‘The Curse of King Tuti Fruiti’ – online here (http://tinyurl.com/pqwzzwn). I hope they make you chuckle; they certainly do me.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Entity as in body of people, you mean? I’d have to say the British Fantasy Society then. When I found them, I finally felt like I’d found my tribe as they say – especially going to FantasyCons every year. Before that, as well, the same was true of the Terror Scribes, who used to host more local gatherings. The genre community is a wide and wonderful one, and I’m very lucky to have made such great friends through it – people I’d just hang about with anyway, whether they were involved in the business or not.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely! It’s the only one I’ve ever had at any rate.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest books?
That’s a very difficult one, as I’m probably too close to them at the moment to see. It’s not until you gain a bit of distance that you see where you could have improved things. At time of writing I’m quite happy with Flaming Arrow, Monsters, Blood RED and Bric-a-brac, but I guess the reviews will tell me if there are any major problems. At the same time, I hate looking back at work that I did a few years, or even ten years ago or more. I have a ‘best of’ collection coming out next year called Shadow Casting which marks 20 years as a professional writer – yes, I’m that old! – and I’m not looking forward to going through my back catalogue for that one, though I am looking forward to the finished book coming out. I had to do a fair amount of that for Shadow Writer, which was a tenth anniversary hardback gathering together Alone (In the Dark) and Touching the Flame, and kept wanting to rewrite the material. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very proud of the stories, and even now I get people who’ve only just read ‘Astral’ or ‘Blackout’ writing to say how much they enjoyed them… But I like to think I’m a much better writer, and certainly a very different person, to the one I was back then. Things have come along in my professional and personal life that have changed me, and thrown up different topics that I wanted to write about; it’s inevitable. And, God willing, I’ll be a different writer in another 20 years to the one I am now – and probably have just as much of a problem looking back at stuff that’s only just coming out this year.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I say, it was basically the need to tell stories – to get them out into the world. And through reading genre titles growing up. I basically devoured everything science fiction, horror, crime and fantasy-related in my teens, which I consider my ‘real’ education. It definitely gave me a proper grounding in what had been done before – well and not so well. Reviewing for magazines and newspapers carried that on in my 20s, as did going to press screenings of films. I’m lucky to have been exposed to so much in terms of books and other media throughout my life.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I can do better than that, I can give you a link to the Abaddon site which features a brand new Hooded Man story I wrote to accompany the release of Flaming Arrow, along with a sketch I did of Robert. You can find that here (http://tinyurl.com/p6hrtgm).
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
All of it! Writing’s really, really hard – and anyone who tells you different is just lying through their teeth. It’s challenging doing research, getting the words down, doing the editing and proofreading. That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable process – though I have to admit I find the editing more enjoyable than sitting down and banging out the words. Some people are the other way around, and that’s as it should be; we all approach it in different ways. I’m also a planner, I like to have a roadmap of roughly where I’m going when I set off on a journey, but I might make detours along the way. Though I have quite a detailed synopsis for the next mass market novel, and don’t necessarily need a chapter breakdown, I’ve just done one for my own peace of mind. If I was a trapeze artist I’d never, ever work without a safety net.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
That would be Clive again. What strikes me? Everything! It’s his use of language, the beautiful-horror ethos – where he can describe the most disgusting things and make them sound so appealing – and the sheer imagination. He definitely takes you beyond the limits.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
A fair bit, yes. In fact I’d never traveled as much until I became a professional author. There’s always a convention to go to, or a signing or reading to do as part of the promotion for something you have out. I’ve been everywhere, from Toronto to San Jose, from Philadelphia to San Diego, not to mention just about everywhere in the UK, all connected with the writing. I’ve been on film sets and been a Guest at many conventions, making great memories that I’ll treasure forever. We’ve just got back from London, where we had a bunch of meetings and the Leviathan launch, in June I’m a Guest at the third SFSF Social along with Jacey Bedford which you can read about here (http://tinyurl.com/nvmn57v), in July Monsters is launching at Edge-Lit in Derby, which you can find out about here (http://tinyurl.com/nv648bj) and that same weekend Marie and I are Guests at the first ever HorrorCon, which you can find out about here (http://tinyurl.com/qcy7ag6)… So, as you can see, even the next couple of months are pretty packed. One event I’d love to go to, though, is Comic-Con International. Two of my projects have launched there over the years and I wasn’t able to make it either time, but I live in hope!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Monsters was Christian Francis of Seraphim, using Clive’s artwork. Flaming Arrow was Simon Parr and Sam Gretton of Rebellion, based on Sam’s art. And Blood RED is being designed by Dave McKean, based on his artwork.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your books?
For me, it’s always the sitting down and getting the words on the page day after day. It is nice to turn around after you’ve been writing for some time, however, and see that you’ve suddenly got 30,000 or 50,000 words. That spurs you on.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
You take different things away from different books, I find. Your characters teach you stuff and, often, help you work through things that have happened to you in your own life. Writing a lot of the new ghost stories for my Spectral collection GHOSTS (available here http://tinyurl.com/o8hflwp) helped me work through some of the issues regarding the loss of my parents, and indeed the book is dedicated to them. Although, strangely, ‘Creakers’ – which was also issued as a chapbook before the collection came out – pre-empted what happened when my dad passed away and I had to clear out the family home before it could be sold. Writing’s oddly prophetic like that sometimes.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
At writing classes and workshops I always used to use the three p’s when that question was asked. Patience, persistence and perspiration. You won’t get anywhere without all three of those. Essentially put the work in, keep trying to sell it, and pay your dues – don’t give up at the first hurdle. In fact don’t give up at the hundredth hurdle!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just thanks for all the support and encouragement over the last 20 years, and for buying the books! You’re all the best.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember the first one that was ever read to me, when I was small – which I picked up not long ago out of nostalgia. It was collection of stories called The House in the Fog by Enid Blyton, and I used to get my granddad to read me that over and over. The title story is about a kid who finds a strange house in the fog and weird things happen inside, which probably has a lot to answer for.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The answer to the first one is simple: The Pythons. The second is more complicated, but revolves around anything bad happening to loved ones. Having said that, I have been known to shed a tear or two watching movies like Love Actually and About Time. Manly tears, of course.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
I’ve met and chatted to two of my favourite horror authors, or two of the ‘unholy trinity’ as I called them growing up – Clive and Jim Herbert – but never had a chance to sit down and have a natter with the other, Stephen King. It would be nice to shoot the breeze with him, definitely.
Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone and why?
I’ll take my queue from Arnie here and say ‘I’ll be back!’ – for obvious reasons, believing in the supernatural as I do. Don’t piss me off, cos I’ll come back to haunt you!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
They’re mainly related to the day-job, reading and watching TV and film – keeping up-to-date with what’s current. Other than that, spending time with my lovely wife and my family, which is tied in to that anyway.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Blimey, how long have you got? I’ll probably just list the most current TV shows we’ve been watching, which includes stuff like Penny Dreadful, Daredevil, True Detective, Hannibal, Gotham, Person of Interest, Agents of Shield, Arrow & The Flash, Elementary… We watch a lot of telly! We also recently finished a re-watch of the box-set of Fringe, and are now part-way through another viewing of Lost. Films? My favourites are obviously the Hellraiser and Barker movies, but also Jaws and Invasion of the Body Snatchers – the 70s version. We watch all sorts, usually at weekends. We tend to have themed marathons in our house, like Marvel movies, the Alien films, robot flicks, monsters, Hitchcock and so on. The film I’ve been most impressed by recently was Under the Skin – I was totally blown away by that movie! I’m a huge fan of the Michel Faber book, which I reviewed back in 2000, and although it retains the feel of that novel Jonathan Glazer’s adaptation is definitely an experience in its own right. Visually stunning, very disturbing and a stunning performance by Scarlett Johansson – I loved it!
Fiona: Favorite food / Color/ Music
Cheese, black and U2.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I can’t honestly think of anything else I’d rather be doing. I’d like to have a go at directing something, maybe a short film at some point – but there’s hopefully still time for me to try my hand at that.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
You can find and connect with me at the following: