Clive Barker

Clive Barker is a leading author of contemporary horror/fantasy. Barker's distinctive style is characterised by the notion of hidden fantastical worlds existing side by side with our own. After being disappointed with the adaptations of his books Transmutations (1985) and Rawhead Rex (1986), he directed his first film, Hellraiser (1987), based on his novel The Hellbound Heart. His short story The Forbidden formed the basis for the film Candyman and its two sequels. Sci-fi-online caught up with Barker a few months before his latest project, the video game Jericho, was due to be released in the UK...

Sci-fi-online: You're both a writer and artist. Have you supplied much of the concept art for the games you've made?

Clive Barker: I like to contribute both images and story to the game projects I get involved with. Often the images are simply sketches to illustrate my thoughts for the designers. It's certainly useful to be able to 'talk' in both words and pictures.

SFO: How much of the actual gameplay elements - such as the psychically-controlled bullets - have you contributed to Jericho?

CB: Brian Gomez [Jericho's co-creator] and I debated from the beginning the kinds of powers the lead characters of the game would have.

I'm excited about the game because the story is I believe fresh and because of that we have a greater chance of scaring the sh*t out of the players around the world. I'd carried the idea of Jericho around in my head before I'd even talked to Brian about the project, so I feel very close to it.

I'd love people to think of Jericho the way I thought of, let's say Alien, when that movie was about to come out. Teased with glimpses but never given the whole monstrous truth until the story was told on the screen. Jericho should be the same: unique and terrifying.

I've liked the Jericho idea since it first came into my head because it marries up two of my passions (history and horror). Our protagonist's journey through slices of other times in the game. Their progress bringing them steadily closer to the Great Adversary who sits at the centre of this Labyrinth of Time.

SFO: Do your games tie in with your books? Are there any plans to create an overall coherent universe?

CB: My games do not tie up with my books. At least so far.

Jericho is the first games project I've been connected with which I really feel might be explored in novels and comic books (I have a huge passion for comic books).

The climaxes of my books end with apocalyptic events and unravelling realities. There should be a taste of that same sublime destructiveness in Jericho.

Of course the ending depends entirely on how you play the game but one way or the other you'll get to see fire and blood.

SFO: What do you think are the advantages of videogames over traditional art-forms such as movies or novels?

CB: I don't think of the media in which I work (movies, books, paintings, games) as having advantages or disadvantages when balanced against one another. For me, it's very much a question of mood. There are days when the only thing I want to do is paint or write, others when I want to read or play a game. All the media have their joys and their limitations.

SFO: What other authors have inspired you in your work?

CB: The list of authors who have inspired me is virtually endless but I could name Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, William Blake, to name but a few. I am also very much influenced by painters, the work of Francisco Goya, of Ernst Fuchs, of James Ensor [the Belgian surrealist]. They are always there in my head inspiring me to do better.

SFO: The game gives the impression of Lovecraft-style extra-dimensional chambers, deliberate paradoxes that the human mind can't quite grasp. Do you think that a game can represent this repeatedly looped world effectively?

CB: There is indeed a connection in the game to the kind of vast architectural spaces evoked in the work of H.P. Lovecraft. But that's where the similarity ends I think.

Lovecraft methodology was to continually hit at the presence of vast unnameable and indescribable forces, which as far as I'm concerned gets a little old after a time. There's only so many occasions in a book when the author can tell me that the monster was so terrible he doesn't have words to describe it before I become irritated.

Right from the beginning of my career as an imaginer, I've always taken great delight in presenting the reader, or in the case of Hellraiser, the spectator, with precisely imagined and elegantly photographed villains. I'm not interested in a beast that the creator claims he can't show me.

SFO: There's some pretty horrific stuff in Jericho - is there anything you would consider too violent to include in the game?

CB: There is indeed some intense and gory material in Jericho, but I've always believed that one of the tasks a maker of horror stories in any medium has is to his or her audience into areas of Taboo; places where they would not have dared to venture had the game not obliged them to trespass on treacherous ground. And in so trespassing, inviting the wrath of some creature that they have never encountered before.

SFO: What's your favourite character/creature in the game?

CB: I never play favourites with characters in books or games. Wait, that's a lie. I love the villains. Always have. Always will.

SFO: Jericho itself is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the world, yet your title refers not to the historical city but to the supernaturally talented psychic squads sent into Al Khali to resolve the mystery throughout the ages. How are these squads formed and bound together?

CB: There's no doubt that if Jericho is liked by players we will take our psychic squad out on other adventures (assuming, of course, any of them survive). The human appetite for mystery and terror has never waned even when, as now, the world is filled with very real terrors.

Maybe that's the connection. Maybe we seek out games and stories that allow us a measure of control over the horrors of the invented world: a control which we do not have, regrettably, in the real world.

SFO: There are definite ultimate evils in your work but there's little sign of good. Does this reflect something of your own outlook on the world?

CB: I disagree with the observation that there is little sign of good in my work. I would point to novels like Imagica and Weaveworld both of which have very powerful heroes and heroines. So too, do the stories I write for all ages, The Thief of Always for instance, has a very strong hero called Harvey who stands up to a much stronger enemy the way the biblical David stood up to Goliath. And in the Abarat books, of which there are presently two of the five novels published, there is an entire band of good guys who surround our human heroine, Candy Quackenbush. Needless to say, the good guys are hopelessly outnumbered, but that's all part of the fun, isn't it?

SFO: Thank you for your time.

With thanks Kate Linfoot at Way to Blue

Clive Barker's Jericho is an overload of sensory horror shock as players journey through hellish locations and slices of time. The Jericho of the title refers to the Jericho Team, a seven-man strike force that protects government interests from paranormal threats. Trained in both conventional warfare and the arcane arts, each Jericho Team member is an expert in different para-psychological disciplines, including clairvoyance, alchemy, blood magic and exorcism.

Jericho is released by Codemasters from 01 October 2007.

View the trailer: Quicktime / Real Media / Windows Media

Buy the game: PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC

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