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Ramsey Campbell Interview Main

ramsey campbell interview 01


Interview conducted by Stuart D. Monroe

Chances are pretty good that if you have read horror fiction at all in the twentieth or twenty-first century, you are familiar with Ramsey Campbell. Dubbed "Britain's most respected living horror writer" by the Oxford Companion to English Literature, no less than S.T. Joshi said that, “…future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood.”

Praise like that doesn’t come lightly, but Ramsey Campbell has more than earned every word of it.

Since breaking in with the short story “The Church in High Street” in 1962 for Arkham House Publishing, Ramsey Campbell has gone on to write over thirty novels and hundreds of short stories. He’s edited numerous collections of short fiction and is himself the subject of more than one nonfiction book on the craft of horror writing and his impact on the field. His most acclaimed novels include The Doll Who Ate His Mother, The Nameless, Incarnate, Midnight Sun, The Overnight, The Grin of the Dark, Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach, and The Bricester Mythos Trilogy (consisting of The Searching Dead, Born to the Dark, and The Way of the Worm).

He’s the winner of the 1999 Grand Master Award from the World Horror Convention, the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writer’s Association, the 2007 Living Legend Award from the International Horror Guild, and was awarded Honorary Fellowship of John Moores University, Liverpool, for “outstanding services to literature”. The list of awards given to his various works is simply too long to list and includes a slew of British Fantasy Awards and World Fantasy Awards.

I was given the high honor to speak with Ramsey Campbell at length about his newest novel, The Wise Friend, out now from Flame Tree Press. We discussed his latest work (another masterful outing) as well as his style, film criticism as an art form, his feelings on the short story versus the novel, films he’s digging on, recommended authors, his “discovery” of Clive Barker and Adam Nevill, and even got an exclusive scoop on his next work, Somebody’s Voice.

So, sit back and enjoy this conversation with a Grand Master and Living Legend of horror fiction!

Stuart Monroe: So, how is everything out there? Are you staying safe?

Ramsey Campbell: Yeah, we are. We are pretty lucky; we’ve got a big house. Also, we’ve got about a third of an acre of garden, so we can sit out in that as right now when it’s pretty sully. We’re not doing too badly – we’ve lots of films to watch and books to read.

SM: Absolutely! It’s given most of us a lot of free time. I’m essential, so I have to squeeze the cool stuff like this in when I can. Which is, I suppose, a blessing and a curse.

RC: Yes, yes.

the overnightSM: So, The Wise Friend. Man, where to begin? I’ve got so much I want to get into. It’s funny, as a reader I had actually stepped away from your work (obviously I don’t mean that with any negative connotation), but I’d been away for a while. This was the first time I had read since… I believe it was The Overnight back in 2004. I’m slapping myself, like I said in the review, for not coming back sooner! I really loved this one.

RC: Oh, well! Thank you!

SM: So, the first-person approach with Patrick at the center – it really gives a much deeper psychological paranoia that’s very patient, almost frustratingly patient at times. He’s clearly got some buried issues there (which we all do to some degree), but I found myself really drawn to him as a protagonist. Did you give much thought to that “everyman” quality of him being such a flawed character?

RC: Well, to be honest with you, my characters are just kind of instinctive. They present themselves gradually while I’m trying to gather material to write a new novel, particularly. You know, there’s that strange sort of limbo stage of writing a novel where I don’t know what the characters are called, and I don’t know what they do, and I don’t know where they live. Once I’ve sort of got that stuff cleared, they begin to take on some kind of a life, you know? And having him live above the railway station – well, not above the railway station but close to the railway station – we could use the station announcements as a kind of recurring motif or a symbol if you like. That was nice to some extent. Basically, having him as being able to take a vacation during summer was important because we didn’t have to get too much into how his work would impinge on his search for these occult sites. It was important to give him clear time with his son. And you know, once you begin to get what appear to be banal, almost inconsequential details like that, all sorts of stuff come out of it. This is the only way I can work, really. I can’t mechanically create characters. They have to sort of take on some kind of a life of their own before I can write about them.

SM: Kind of like uncovering something you see that’s half-buried – you don’t really know what you’re getting until you really dig it out.

RC: Yes, exactly.

SM: I was particularly digging on all the allegory with Patrick. He’s a father who’s having to go back and face the mysteries of his Aunt Thelma’s magic from his own childhood, but as a grown man he’s also dealing with the mysteries of watching his son become his own man…not just through the conduit of Bella but from growing up and coming into his own. That’s a wonderful touch. Is allegory like that an important focus in your work, or is that just sort of a happy byproduct that comes out of that relationship scheme?

RC: I think, yes…to be honest, I tend to trust my subconscious and feel that it knows what it is up to even if I don’t. While I’m simply trying to tell this story about these characters in this situation, it’s actually creating other more complicated patterns and resonances in the story. When you put it that way, you’re absolutely right about this kind of mirroring of, you know – his youth with the experience with his son. In a sense, I suppose it’s very much a parental thing – the stuff that maybe you did or I did in my youth as part of my expiration of life, then seeing my own son whose grown up and moved away. Seeing him in his teens, experimenting with the same kind of stuff, it’s a lot more disconcerting and a lot more concerning, if you like. So, in a sense it comes out pretty well out of direct experience even though I wasn’t trying to write autobiographically. In a weird sort of way, it’s only now while talking to you that the kind of autobiographical parallels become clear to me. I suppose it just demonstrates how instinctive the writing process is for me.

SM: Yeah, that definitely comes through naturally. If you had planned it that way, it could have come off a bit unnatural, but in this case, it comes through very organically (which is pretty amazing).

RC: Organic is exactly the word for what I try to make the story do. Or rather, let the story do. I may not have made this clear, but I don’t plot in advance for a novel. I’d like them to grow of their own accord, you know? I mean, I gather a lot of material before I start writing a novel, but I need to have some sort of a sketchy sense at least of the structure of the order of some of the events, at least, and also some sense of what the major events of the story are going to be. But I don’t try and construct the entire thing in advance. I’d much rather let the thing of itself reach these points that I know it will need to reach by constructing itself. To put it even more forwardly – I’m speaking to you now from my desk up here in my workroom. Whenever I come up here in the morning to write something, I find myself with something that I didn’t know I was going to write until I wrote it.

SM: Man, that’s awesome. So, you talk about how the format of the novel…in getting ready for this interview, I re-read a short story of yours from an anthology called Dark Masques, edited by J.N. Williamson. It’s called “Second Sight”.

RC: Ahh, yes!

SM: It’s my favorite of that entire collection. It’s just the whole duality of the nightmare and the way it plays with your perception and everything, and that ending is such a gut-punch. Do you prefer to operate in the world of the short story more or the novel? I know things happen a bit more organically in a novel, whereas the short story is a bit more contained.

RC: Yeah, I mean I like writing both. If I had to choose, it would be the novel simply because it generates so much energy and has so much of a capacity to take me unawares while I’m writing it; to suggest ideas I didn’t know I was going young ramsey campbellto have until I got close to writing them. And always, um, there will be whole chapters in a novel that I had no idea where going to exist until the novel itself produced them. I didn’t think that much about them in advance – the logic of the characters or the situation has created them. Novels are terribly fun to write. With the way I do it, I mean, there’s always this element of risk that you’ll find yourself at some point out in the middle of nowhere with no idea of how you’ve got there and no idea of where you’re going, either. So far, I’ve always found that there’s something earlier than the novel, maybe, that I put in which I thought was just kind of background material to bring the scene to life. But now it’s become the seed of what I need to do next. If I’m somehow stymied in the narrative it contains its own solution somewhere in what I’ve already written. It’s just a question of finding that.

SM: Absolutely. Have you ever found that something you thought was a short story ended up growing into a novel?

RC: No, I think I’ve got a pretty strong sense of which themes are best under the short story and which are best under the novel. A short story could possibly, just possibly, turn into…no, actually…I’ve not even had any short stories yet turn into a novella (which I’d define as being over seventy-five-thousand words). A short story might run over the length I vaguely it was going to be. Maybe, something I thought was going to be five thousand turns out to be ten thousand words. It might end up maybe double the length, but that’s the furthest I’ve gone so far.

SM: Okay, I gotcha. So, back to The Wise Friend – I had read another book of yours that made me think and feel along the same lines. I had read The Darkest Part of the Woods at a time in my life when I was regularly imbibing hallucinogens…

RC: [laughs heartily]

>SM: …in fact, I actually read the bulk of that book in one sitting while I was actively on some purple-ring ‘shrooms (which is a highly recommended way to read). I got kind of a flashback-like feeling at certain times reading The Wise Friend that really made me think of that book. Would it be fair to say that there’s a little magic behind the scenes in many places of the world and many times in your life, and a little bit of assistance helps us be open to that? Whether the assistance comes from a wise friend or maybe even a magic mushroom

RC: Oh, absolutely! I believe that, certainly. You’re not entirely wrong in sort of gently suggesting that was some of the inspiration – because way back when I had my days with psilocybin, too (which I thought was the most benign of the psychedelics, actually).

SM: Yes, sir. Agreed!

RC: I would often go off into nearby woodlands, you know. I always found that to be a particularly amenable sort of setting. And, most of that did indeed end up in The Darkest Part of the Woods. But there are still kind of memories of these experiences that never go away, these perceptions that linger. In a sense, some of the material that I didn’t manage to incorporate into The Darkest Part of the Woods has now shown up in The Wise Friend. To some extent, The Wise Friend was certainly an attempt to find a context for some of the images that occurred, particularly some of those occult sites that he visits in the course of the story. With some of those images, I really wanted to find a suitably strong motivation for using them. I hope this turned out to be that.

SM: Yeah, it definitely comes through on the edges, and for those who’ve ever spent some time in that particular headspace that’s how a lot of it all occurs – at the peripheral edge of your vision and your perception. It’s a cool space to operate in and read in. Getting down to ending, though, with the yearly portraits going in reverse and the weakening resolve you see in Patrick – is there potential for a sequel there? Is that something that would interest you at all? Or would you say the magic is sort of safely back in the shadows?

RC: [laughs] I would say it’s back in the shadows, but that doesn’t make it safe by any means. Sequels…well, I’ve never really been tempted to write a sequel. What I’m more likely to do is if it suggests a variation on the theme is to write another story with new characters in it. The only major exception to this is the trilogy that I wrote over three years, you know, a couple of years ago. That does have all the central characters recur throughout. I did find that very exciting to come back to them a year later in terms of the writing and several decades later in terms of their growth. That was pretty fascinating. The trouble with that, though, (not trouble really but issue with that) is that the only reason to write a trilogy is if there is an actual reason to write three volumes…not simply to write an extended novel and chop it into three bits. I did find a reason to do this; it’s precisely that the narrator of the trilogy and his friends are picked up thirty-odd years later in the second volume and thirty-odd years later again in the third volume. There are all sorts of different reasons why I needed to explore the theme of that novel in those different times. At the same time, I should explain that it was my old friend and publisher Pete Crowther [of PS Publishing] who said to me…he tried for years to get me to write a supernatural horror trilogy. I said, “Look, I don’t have an idea that fits.” But, finally I did get this idea that was easily written. So, that was the only sort of a sequel that I’ve ever been tempted to write so far.

SM: Yes, sir. That was the…let’s see…I’m not only a Yank but a Southern boy, so I’m probably going to butcher this horribly…was that the Mythos Trilogy, The Brichester Mythos Trilogy? [laughs]

RC: Yes, yes! Brichester. Don’t…don’t go putting down the South! I’m very fond of it! You did quite well.

SM: So, you have an expression for your style that I’ve come across in a few different places. You use the term “comedies of paranoia”, which I absolutely love that expression because horror and comedy (whether it’s literary or in film) are so intrinsically interwoven together. For someone who’s never read your work, how would you describe what a “comedy of paranoia” is exactly so they would maybe know to expect. It’s an interesting term.

RC: Yeah! Well, I suppose we know what black comedy is – obviously something by a Hitchcock or a Monty Python. A comedy of paranoia, let’s say, is something where we’re sort of traveling on the edge of madness. Madness in the world or madness in the character or both. It tips over into something that is comic. Or, it’s possibly that comedy is the only way to deal with this, to get hold of it and control it to some extent.

SM: Oh, yeah!

RC: What I’m really saying is that it makes me laugh when I’m writing it. Laugh however sinisterly, but laugh all the same.

SM: [laughs] Yeah, I get the mental picture. That’s fantastic. I’ve certainly done that, too. I’ve had a handful of short stories published, and there was one that I honestly couldn’t believe I got published where I laughed like a lunatic the whole time I was writing it. I’m going, “No one is going to publish this shit!” But they latched onto it and said it was the most disturbing thing they’ve ever read! I cackled like a maniac the whole time.

RC: Yes, yes!

SM: So, I know you did quite a few years of film criticism for the BBC. That’s my main thing (in addition to the interviewing), so I found that quite cool. You’ve mentioned Lovecraft (who’s an influence for all of us) and “The Colour Out of Space” as a personal favorite. Have you seen Richard Stanley’s newest, Color Out of Space, with Nicolas Cage?

RC: Yes, I have!

SM: It was my favorite film of the year so far from a film criticism and a fan’s standpoint. What did you think about that one? Did you like it or dislike it?

the darkest part of the woodsRC: Oh, no! I did like it. I need to see it again. I was kind of assuming that Richard Stanley would take a more, how do we say, more occult approach to it. Of course, he does somewhat – he brings in this magical rite at the very beginning of the film. He also genuinely captures the dread of Lovecraft’s story. I think it’s my favorite Lovecraft story, actually. It did occasionally strike me as being a bit more Stuart Gordon, let’s say, or Brian Yuzna than I was expecting. There were more zapping lights and stuff than I was quite prepared for. The story goes for a slightly quieter or more insidious approach throughout. On the other hand, many of the images are very disturbing and very memorable. I do mean to go back to our Blu-Ray of the film very shortly now that I know what to expect. But, yes, I’m certainly in favor of the film. I thought Nicolas Cage did very well (but by no means as over-the-top as he was in Mandy). I’d say I judged it pretty well!

SM: It would be kind of hard to top the energy of Mandy and that performance, but I totally see what you’re saying. I think that Yuzna/Gordon approach to Lovecraft is so ingrained in the psyche at this point, though. When you’re trying to make a Lovecraft movie, I honestly think it’s hard for people to stay away from the Yuzna/Gordon approach or template, almost. It’s so what we’re accustomed to seeing from a Lovecraft story.

RC: Yeah, yeah. I mean, there were some that I saw quite recently that did have sort of a Lovecraftian…we…this term, Lovecraftian, is one I tend to overuse, I’m afraid. I think a lot of people do overuse it a bit and apply to something that doesn’t even really have a hint of cosmic terror to it.

SM: Agreed.

RC: At the same time, I’ve always argued that (for me) Lovecraft’s ambition for horror fiction…I’d say that The Blair Witch Project seemed to capture that, you know? The elusiveness and documentary realism. Then, of course, showing almost nothing at all. It was, for me, a sense of almost absolute dread. Now, a film I saw very recently which I thought actually had some of that was called The Dead Center. Does that ring a bell at all?

SM: The Dead Center? No. I haven’t even heard of that, honestly.

RC: I’m just looking it up here to get a bit of detail on it, then. Let me see…it actually stars Shane Carruth, the guy who gave us the wholly incomprehensible Upstream Color. Maybe you understood that movie; I didn’t. At the same time, the fact that he was kind of involved in a horror movie made it sound interesting to me, so I had a look at it. It’s actually written and directed by a guy called Billy Senese. It’s basically about a guy who’s committed suicide and is revived and sort of brings something back with him from wherever he’s been.

SM: Ooh…okay. Nice!

RC: We almost don’t see this thing at all. When we do see it, it’s more like some sort of Lovecraftian conjuration than most of what I can think of in the cinema. I really did think it had a sort of sense of cosmic dread to it. It’s certainly not the average horror movie, so I do recommend it.

SM: Oh, man. I’ll make some time to dig into that probably this morning. I hadn’t heard of it, but I’m always down for something new. If I’m not working, I’m pretty much watching movies all the time. In regard to the whole film reviewing thing, you did it for a very long time yourself. How do you feel about the craft of reviewing? I’ll preface that by saying that a friend of mine, who reads a lot of my stuff, said that they prefer the short stories and such because (and I quote), “It’s not really writing like fiction is.” How would you respond to that as far as how you see the art or craft of film reviewing?

RC: Well, I mean just because it’s not like fiction doesn’t mean it’s not equally important, you know? It’s a separate process, in a way. On the other hand, if you’re doing it the right way then you’re trying to convey your perception of the film as clearly as possible, with as much detail as possible. Also, for me personally, I would distinguish between reviewing and criticism. When I did stuff for the BBC for nearly forty years, I’d go see and movie and then review it. I wouldn’t have a chance to see it again, usually speaking. When I did…I don’t know if you know, but I did a column for Video Watchdog for quite a number of years.

SM: I did not, sir.

RC: I see. In that case, I would always watch it again on Blu-Ray or DVD. Then I could stop and run it again to look at whatever I wanted to look at in more detail. That, to me, is closer to more criticism, you know? I’m not saying those columns were that great, but they were based on an attempt to read the film more closely. You know, I had the opportunity to do that since I had it in permanent form and watch it as often as I like to do. I think those columns got better as I went on. I think there will be a collection of those, all those columns, that will be published in England quite soon now.

SM: Oh, cool! Put ‘em all together in one place. I’m digging on that concept. I’d read it. I was curious what someone else who’d done it at a high level for a long time thought. I kind of bristled at it, you know. Like, what do you mean it’s “…not really writing”?! It’s really writing! But, yeah – you do really approach things differently when you watch a movie and you know you’re going to review it. I hate to say you’re paying closer attention, but you’re sort of nit-picking certain points and looking for things that stick out either positively or negatively. It’s not quite the same as just wallowing in the experience.

RC: Yeah, yeah. That’s right.

SM: With your writing, you have such a patience and restraint in not only building the tension but laying out that familiar sort of rug that you then pull out from under us with quite a bit of force when the horror finally appears. The ending of The Wise Friend is so patient in getting there, and then when it comes, it’s just straight horrifying. It’s the polar opposite of style of someone like, say, and Edward Lee or a Jack Ketchum. I know it’s not your style. How do you feel about the “splatterpunk” or “hardcore” style that gets more in your face in that way?

RC: Well, you know I was a great supporter of splatterpunk (not quite splatterpunk but it’s certainly very direct) with old Clive Barker. I did the introduction to the first three Books of Blood. In fact, Clive showed them to me before they were published (which is how all that stuff came about). I found them hugely impressive and entertaining. My criteria are always, you know, I can take graphic horror just as much as I can take the subtle. What I want is horror that enriches the imagination rather than just as a substitute for the imagination. The same goes for movies, you know. I love playing Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. I’ll happily watch a Lucio Fulci zombie movie, for that matter.

SM: Yes, sir!

RC: So, I take my horror wherever I can find it, basically.

SM: Well said! Not to take up too much more of your time, but you mentioned Clive Barker. The story goes that you essentially discovered Clive Barker after running into him a few times, then he gave you the manuscripts to look at for Books of Blood. I can only imagine, but what was that like reading through that on first pass as a raw work. I remember reading it for the first time in middle school and just being so deeply disturbed by it. How floored were you when you first got your hands, so to speak, on Barker?

RC: That’s just it, isn’t it? My jaw dropped; I think it would be fair to say. I wouldn’t say, though, that I discovered Clive; I’d say Clive discovered himself to me, if you see what I mean. He had already been writing at the theater quite a bit. the wise friend ramsey campbell poster largeThen he came to me, basically, because his agent was a theatrical agent. He wanted some advice and some grounding from someone who had some experience in publishing or in being published. The contract that he’d had from the publishers; I’ve known Clive since he was in school. That’s how that original contact came about. This was now years later when he approached me about the Books of Blood. He actually just wanted me to vet the contract for him, which I was more than happy to do. It was a perfectly decent contact; he just wanted some professional reassurance, I think. Then he said would I like to read some of the stories? He gave me a xerox of the whole three books, which you may know were originally meant to be a single volume. The publisher split them into three. And he actually said if I only wanted to read a few, he recommended “Midnight Meat Train” and I think it was “Dread”…and it was certainly “In the Hills, the Cities”. I think it was “In the Hills, the Cities” that I read first, and I thought, “My God! What is this?! Why have I not heard of him before?” I mean, I knew him, but why haven’t I realized he wrote like this before, and it was because he hadn’t shown them around before, that was why! But, you know, the experience of thinking here’s this major talent and before he’s published even! I remember telling old Peter Straub just the basics of “In the Hills, the Cities”, and Peter says, “There’s a genius right there!” I’m pretty certain it was then Peter who tells Steve King about it, and Steve then famously (on the panel) says, “I’m hearing from you fellows about this guy in England that sounds like the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker!” Thereby, of course, that’s how the quote came about. Yeah, if you can imagine the experience of reading the Books of Blood just in manuscript; here was this thing that hadn’t even been published yet. It was really quite an epiphany in itself.

SM: Man, yeah. I bet that was like walking up and discovering a cache of buried treasure.

RC: Yes, yes!

SM: You’re picking your jaw up off the floor.

RC: That’s right. Then not long after Clive makes Hellraiser, the movie. He invited me to a press showing of that in London; not to review it but just because he wanted me to see it. I remember seeing the press stumble out at the end, and someone said, “That’s not a film you watch. It’s a film you…” What the hell was it he said? Oh, yes. He said, “It’s a film you live through if you’re lucky!”

SM: [laughs borderline hysterically] Which is the best single sentence review in film history! That’s pretty accurate when it comes to Hellraiser. Everyone remembers the first time they saw that movie!

RC: Absolutely. Yes, yes!

SM: Well, I know you’re very supportive of up and coming authors. Can you give myself and the readers at Horror DNA one author who’s criminally underrated and should be more widely read, or maybe someone who’s more widely read over there on that side of the pond than they are over here?

RC: Oh, gosh. I think there’s so many. If you insist on pinning me down to just one – I would say because he just isn’t that published – is Terry Lamsley. Does he ring a bell with you?

SM: I’ve not heard of him, no.

RC: Ah, well that proves my point. If you’ve not heard of him, then that’s a good reason for me to mention him. Terry Lamsley. Luckily, things are about to change as apparently Centipede Press are going to do him in the “Masters of the Weird Tales” series, a big collection of his short stories. He’ll be back in the public view, and he deserves to be.

SM: Excellent. I always like to get my head around someone new to read. One of our guys at Horror DNA, Tony Jones, had interviewed you recently (I believe it was for Ginger Nuts of Horror), and he turned me on to an author I hadn’t read named Adam Nevill. It was almost a Barker-like experience. His work is incredible.

RC: Ahh, yes! I have to tell you about that really, if you’ve got the time. I will sort of make the claim that I “almost, sort of discovered” Adam. I was co-editing an anthology with Dennis Etchison and Jack Dann around the turn of the century called Gathering the Bones. The idea was that Dennis would edit the American writers, Jack would do Australian, and I would do British. And so, you know, I was dully approaching various people in Britain whose work I admired. And out of the blue came this short story because a mutual friend had recommended that Adam Nevill send me this story called “Mother’s Milk”. Once again, I read it and thought, “My God!” It was like nothing else I’d read for the book. This guy was a true original. Then, when he wrote his author note to proceed the story, he mentioned that he had a sort of M.R. James-ian supernatural horror novel called Banquet for the Damned which was unpublished. I told him to send it to me or send it to my publishers, PS Publishing, in Britain. They dully were very enthusiastic about it. Then I said I’d write the introduction, which I dully did. That gave it a bit of a boost. From that on, now he is a very well-published supernatural horror writer. I have to say – did you read No One Gets Out Alive?

SM: It’s funny that you mentioned Banquet for the Damned. That’s the one I’m just starting. It’s the first thing of his I’ve ever read. I didn’t have a specific recommendation. It was the first title that came up, and I loved the title so I went with it. I’m not even that far into it, maybe twenty or twenty-five pages. I had to get to sleep for this interview [laughs].

RC: Yeah. Whew!

SM: Yeah, it’s…yeah. I’ll probably be going back to that when we get off the phone. Well, either that or watching The Dead Center. I’ll be looking that up, too.

RC: Yes, well…Banquet for the Damned is very fine, and it’s his first supernatural horror novel. With No One Gets Out Alive, I was recently asked by The Guardian newspaper what’s the most frightening scene in fiction, and I went with a whole series of chapters in No One Gets Out Alive. It’s an unending nightmare. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, you realize there’s another chapter that will be! I definitely recommend it!

SM: It’s going on the Kindle, for sure. Well, I suppose I’ve come to the inevitable “What’s next?” question. I’d read online that the title of your next novel is Somebody’s Voice. Is there anything you can tell us about that one? Will that one be Flame Tree as well?

RC: It is going to be Flame Tree as well. Yes, we’ve just agreed that it will be. You’re the first person to hear that apart from those involved, so there you go. You’re actually scooping the news here! It’s a non-supernatural one; I occasionally do those. It’s about a crime novelist whose latest novel has caused such controversy that his publishers are unhappy with his image basically. In an attempt to salvage it, they give him the job of ghostwriting a memoir of a survivor of child abuse. It then becomes apparent that the account he’s based this on is not entirely reliable (though it is to some extent). And also, his own memory has become increasingly untrustworthy and increasingly interwoven with the ghostwriting that he’s done, so his sense of what’s real and what’s not and who he is is beginning to collapse. It sounds just like the kind of thing I write, doesn’t it?

SM: [laughs]

RC: [laughs] I leave it to you to decide when it appears!

SM: Alright! Blurring that line between what’s real and what’s not- that’s the calling card we’re looking for.

RC: Yes, right! That’s it.

SM: Well, sir. Thank you so much, Mr. Campbell. I appreciate you spending so much time with me. I’m tickled that we got so much time together. You have been so awesome! Thank you for everything.

RC: Oh, it’s my pleasure, man! Maybe sometime we’ll meet if this wretched virus ever goes away. Will you try to go to Stoker Con?

SM: I definitely want to make the next one. I’ve unfortunately been so busy where I work on the distribution side of Walmart with this virus stuff. We’re swamped. It’s a matter of making it into the schedule. I’ve been told it’s one that I don’t want to miss. My editor mentioned it, but I wasn’t able to. Hopefully the next one.

RC: Uh-huh. Well, I hope we meet sometime, Stu!

SM: That would be amazing. Thank you again for everything.

RC: No, no! My pleasure! Thanks for having me!

SM: Yes, sir. Have a good day and stay safe.

RC: You look after yourself, Stuart. So good to speak to you. Bye-bye now!

On behalf of Horror DNA, I would like to thank Ramsey Campbell again for being so generous with his time and so easy to talk to. It was a true honor and a privilege!

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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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