The Hellbound Web is proud to present an another exclusive interview with Paul Kane, author "The Hellraiser Films and their Legacy", on his project as editor to a volume of original Hellraising fiction, "Hellbound Hearts". The exciting new anthology from Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster) has been two years in the making. Hellbound Hearts (edited by Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan) gathers together 21 original stories inspired by Clive Barker's mythology created the novella The Hellbound Heart (which the film Hellraiser is based upon). The book features a brand new foreword by Clive himself, an introduction by the award-winning Stephen Jones and afterword by Doug 'Pinhead' Bradley. This interview was conducted by email in August 2009.
THW: Hi Paul, good to speak to you again. It's been two and a half years since The Hellbound Web last spoke to you about you book The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy. What have you been up to since then?
Paul: Howdy… It's nice to be back. The time's flown by since Legacy came out, and it's been a very busy period. My first mass market novel was brought out by Abaddon/Rebellion (the folks behind 2000 AD), basically a reworking of the Robin Hood mythology in the post apocalyptic setting of The Afterblight Chronicles. The book did so well I've just completed a sequel called Broken Arrow which should be out in a couple of months' time. I've also had three novellas published - The Lazarus Condition, Dalton Quayle Rides Out and RED - plus gathered together most of my short stories from the last eight years or so in a collection called Peripheral Visions. I've been working on a couple of non-fiction projects which have taken most of that time to complete - I just handed one in and the other is due in the end of September (that one's with my better half, the horror author Marie O'Regan). I was lucky enough to have a story bought by Lions Gate/NBC and adapted by Steve Niles for their horror anthology series Fear Itself last year. 'New Year's Day' was directed by SAW II-IV's Darren Lynn Bousman and starred Briana Evigan from S. Darko and Step Up 2 The Streets; the DVD boxed set of the entire series is due out in September in the US. Finally, a short film I scripted was made earlier this year - The Opportunity - and premiered at Cannes, which was a dream come true. All of this was in addition to the Hellbound Hearts anthology, so it's been hectic.
THW: Looking back, were you happy with the response to the Legacy book, and is there anything now you wish you'd done differently or more in-depth?
Paul: I was bowled over at the response to Legacy, not just from the Hellraiser fans, who have been incredibly supportive of it, but also through reviews of it in magazines and on websites. One of my favourites was from Total Film who said: 'To say Kane delivers the ultimate guide to Hellraiser is an understatement. He absolutely nails it.' That was very rewarding indeed. The reaction I had made the years working on the project, all those weekends and days off from the other writing, all worthwhile. I think I pretty much covered everything I could as thoroughly as I was able. I could have written more, of course - especially about the later films - but had a fixed wordcount. Plus which you have to draw a line somewhere or the book would never have come out. Stuff's always happening in the Hellraiser universe all the time.
THW: Hellraiser and The Hellbound Heart has such a rich mythology that hasn't been touched in any depth since the EPIC comics of the early nineties so it's surprising nothing like this has happened before. Where did the idea for Hellbound Hearts come from and how did you go about organising it?
Paul: That was exactly my thought. I'm very surprised nobody did this before us, too. But, as with Legacy, it didn't exist so we just set about trying to make it happen. The original idea came from a love of the EPIC comics, which I wrote about in Legacy. I collected all of those, and then again when the reprints came out. The mythology had been covered in films and in the comics, just not in literature apart from Clive's original novella - and Scarlet Gospels which he's working on now. It just seemed like a natural thing to want to do. I knew Clive owned the literary rights to the mythology, so I ran the idea past him on the phone and was delighted when he loved the sound of it too. Clive's been absolutely fantastic, not just with this, but all along the line; he's such a great guy. From that initial conversation, there was a lot of pounding pavements to secure a publisher and to see who we could get to do stories. Marie joined me as co-editor because there was so much to do and we'd worked together on other projects - most recently the British Fantasy Society Celebration book, which also featured Clive - plus she's a damned fine editor in her own right. The book wouldn't exist without both Clive and Marie.
THW: How were the authors chosen, and how did you go about approaching them for a project like this?
Paul: It was basically a case of aiming high, and we were amazed at the people who said yes - because of their love of Clive's writing and the mythology really. We were just very, very lucky that the authors involved had time to do the stories for us, because they're all such busy folk. We also wanted some names associated with the mythology and with Clive's universe. Pete Atkins was an obvious choice, as he's done so much work within the Hellraiser mythology already. Nick Vince as well, because he worked on the original Hellraiser comics. Barbie Wilde's writing now - and I have to say excellent she is too, having read her debut novel - so it was great when she said yes. Mick Garris, of course, has adapted Clive's material for film and TV; Steve Niles has done the same but with comics, having adapted the Books of Blood stories. Neil and Dave McKean wrote 'Wordsworth' for the Hellraiser comic originally, but we were delighted when Neil said we could also publish his original script for it, which has never been seen before. The icing on the cake was Clive's foreword, his original cover painting - a Cenobite he created and named especially for us called Vestimenti - Stephen Jones' intro and Doug Bradley's afterword. All in all, a dream line-up.
THW: You and Marie O'Regan act as editors on Hellbound Hearts. Considering your writing background, were you tempted to contribute your own original stories?
Paul: Oh, definitely! We're both editors and fans of the Hellraiser mythology, but we're also writers as you say, so it's only natural that we'd want to have a crack at one. We've told each other our ideas but that's as far as we got with them - I have to say Marie's was a corker! But you have to step back and let the writers you've assembled get on with it. To write one would have meant handing over the editorial job to someone else so there was impartiality, and to be honest we were having way too much fun compiling the book ourselves. Maybe that was our very own Faustian deal? C'est la vie.
THW: Clive owns the rights to The Hellbound Heart, rather than Hellraiser itself. With that in mind, did you have to make any considerations for what could and could not be used in, terms of the mythology?
Paul: Yes, definitely. We had to steer clear of anything from the Hellraiser filmic world, but actually that made the book extra special. It gave the authors involved freedom to invent their own Cenobites, to weave their own stories based in the mythology - exactly like the comics did all those years ago. Luckily the mythology Clive created in The Hellbound Heart is pretty much the same as it is in the films, in fact it goes into more detail in some respects, so the stories are all recognisably set within that world.
THW: You said you collected the EPIC comics. Can you tell us what you felt the appeal of them was, any particular favourite comic stories on your part and whether they have had any influence on the types of stories that will feature in Hellbound Hearts?
Paul: Apart from being Hellraiser comics you mean, which was the main appeal for me - and I suspect most fans? I just think they opened up the mythology beyond what we were seeing in the films, expanding and adding to it at the same time; which is what hopefully we've done with Hellbound Hearts. I loved the 'Devil's Brigade' story arc in the comics, there was some wonderful work done in that - not least by Nick Vince and John Bolton. I also thought 'The Harrowing' was a terrific idea - from Clive himself, incidentally - where you had this group of people with the power to actually battle the Cenobites. I can't speak for the authors as to whether any of the comics were an influence on their stories, but as fans I suspect they'd have been aware of them.
THW: I'm sure you're proud of all the stories in the collection, but are there any specific ones, obviously without giving anything away, that you feel Hellraiser fans may particularly respond to?
Paul: I think they're going to love them all. We have such a range of different tales, touching on different times and cultures, exploring lots of different scenarios, and told in different voices. It'd be very difficult as editors to pick one above the rest as they're all so good - but then that's what you'd expect from the level of writers involved.
THW: You mention the authors were fans of Barker's mythology. Pinhead and the films are perhaps the mainstream face of Hellraiser, were any of the authors surprised or intrigued to discover the wider mythology beyond the icons?
Paul: Again, that's not really something I can answer on their behalf. I think a lot of people are quite surprised by the breadth and scope of the mythology once they start delving into it. Even some of the people from the movies I've talked to in the past were surprised to learn that there are now eight films in the series - possibly because the later ones still haven't had a UK release? One thing I can say is that I think everyone involved relished the thought of expanding it even more, making their own mark, adding their own unique stamp to a Hellbound Heart-inspired tale.
THW: You've obviously written a lot of your own work, but what was the experience of editing other people like and how did you approach the role?
Paul: Well, I've had about ten years worth of experience in editing books now so it really wasn't that hard to put on that hat again. Back in the day I edited anthologies of stories from Guest Writers on my site and I continue to edit the Terror Tales series with John B. Ford. Add to that the invaluable experience of being Special Publications Editor of the British Fantasy Society for five years - a very steep learning curve indeed - and I'd pretty much got a handle on the whole editing process. What was different this time was working with such a big publisher as Pocket and going through stages with the book that I hadn't before on much smaller books. That's taught both Marie and I a lot which hopefully we'll carry forward on projects in the future. As regards editing other people's work, it actually helps to be a writer yourself so you can approach authors with tact, make suggestions and shoot the stories back and forth to make them even better on subsequent drafts. That's all part and parcel of being a professional author or editor.
THW: The future of the Hellraiser film series seems uncertain at the moment, with the remake having lost another director, whilst The Scarlet Gospels still seems some way off. It seems this book couldn't have come at a better time, do you think it will help increase the profile of Hellraiser and perhaps introduce the mythology to a new generation of fans?
Paul: I certainly hope so, although I have to say going out to conventions and meeting Hellraiser and Barker fans, I can't see any evidence that it's really waned at all. There's still a tremendous excitement surrounding the mythology, and even about its possible future in the movies. If our book helps to raise even more awareness though, we'll be incredibly happy about that. It would be such a nice feeling to know that through Hellbound Hearts people who'd never come across the mythology before might then go and seek out Clive's original novella, or the movies, or the comics. Marie and I would be over the moon to see a new generation of fans being spawned by the book. It's a mythology which, like Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, is never going to die and will only be added to and added to over the years, I believe. The mythology Clive created is so strong and so open to new ideas and interpretations that it'll be going long after we've made our contribution to it.
THW: Finally, assuming the book is as successful as we all hope it will be, do you have any plans to do further work within the Hellbound Heart mythology?
Paul: It would be wonderful to do more work within the mythology, but as you say that all depends on the success of the first book. So if fans want to see more new material by more writers, then order the book - in fact order copies for all your families, for birthdays, for Christmas… In all seriousness, we approached the project with the fans of the series firmly in mind, to give them something to perhaps tide them over until more filmic stuff comes along, or we get the eagerly awaited Scarlet Gospels from Clive. We really hope they like what we've done, because we've had a blast working on it.
THW: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and, from everyone at The Hellbound Web, we wish you the best of the luck with the book and all your future projects.
Paul: Always a pleasure - and thanks for the good luck wishes.
The Hellbound Web would again like to thank Paul Kane for agreeing to answer these questions and wish him the best of luck with the book. Clive Barker's iconic masterpeice The Hellbound Heart, the novella adapted into the film Hellraiser, unleashed a new mythology of horror, brilliantly conceived and born of darkest imagination. Now, enter this visionary world - the merciless realm of the demonic Cenobites - in Hellbound Hearts, a terrifying collection of stories inspired by The Hellbound Heart. "Hellbound Hearts" is released on September 29th 2009 by Pocket Books, priced $16.00.
Shadow Writer - The Official Paul Kane Website