Praise for Twisted Tales Events

'In the past few years Twisted Tales has become a major force in the promotion and appreciation of horror fiction. As well as putting on author readings and signings at bookshops it has expanded into organising larger events, bringing authors and critics together for discussions of the field. I've been involved in quite a few of both and have found them hugely enjoyable and stimulating - I believe the audiences did as well. May Twisted Tales continue to grow and prosper! If you love the field, support them! I do.' - Ramsey Campbell

‘Twisted Tales consistently produce well-organised events for writers and readers of horror. What really distinguishes Twisted Tales for me is the intelligent themes and investigations they pursue, and the high quality of the discussions they always stimulate. As an author I've been invited to three of their events and have been pleasantly startled, to near shocked, by the attendance levels - two out of three were even sold out. I salute anyone who contributes so much to the literary and cultural life of horror fiction.’- Adam Nevill

'Twisted Tales events are wonderful... a great way of promoting 21st century horror fiction. Supported by Waterstone's Liverpool One and really well organised, Twisted Tales brings together established names in the genre as well as new voices and of course readers. Looking forward to much more to come...' - Alison J. Littlewood

Monday, 23 January 2012

Ramsey Campbell interviewed by David McWilliam

Ramsey with wife Jenny
The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes Ramsey Campbell as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association and the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild. Among his novels are The Face That Must Die, Incarnate, Midnight Sun, The Count of Eleven, Silent Children, The Darkest Part of the Woods, The Overnight, Secret Story, The Grin of the Dark, Thieving Fear, Creatures of the Pool, The Seven Days of Cain and Ghosts Know. Forthcoming is The Kind Folk. His collections include Waking Nightmares, Alone with the Horrors, Ghosts and Grisly Things, Told by the Dead and Just Behind You, and his non-fiction is collected as Ramsey Campbell, Probably. His novels The Nameless and Pact of the Fathers have been filmed in Spain. His regular columns appear in Prism, All Hallows, Dead Reckonings and Video Watchdog. He is the President of the British Fantasy Society and of the Society of Fantastic Films. 

Ramsey Campbell lives on Merseyside with his wife Jenny. His pleasures include classical music, good food and wine, and whatever’s in that pipe. His web site is at 

DM: With the re-release of your early Cthulhu Mythos collection The Inhabitant of the Lake & Other Unwelcome Tenants (2012) from PS Publishing, how has the influence of H. P. Lovecraft on your work evolved over the course of your career?
RC: It’s been subsumed, I think. The earliest tales in Inhabitant are very close imitations, but the trouble is that they introduce elements from the later codification of the mythos, exactly what I don’t think Lovecraft would have wanted – the mythos as he conceived it was intended as a riposte to what he saw as the excessive systematisation of the occult by the Victorians, a way of suggesting more than was shown. Then amateurs like me came along and filled in the gaps, rendering the whole thing far too explicit and robbing it of too much of its mystery. Once I realised this I made some attempts to compensate for my original errors. 'The Voice of the Beach' tries to create a sense of cosmic terror without any of the paraphernalia of the mythos. (Fritz Leiber did something similar in 'A Bit of the Dark World', I believe). 'Cold Print' and 'The Other Names' try to locate the Lovecraftian in modern urban society. I also annotated Cameron Nash’s letters to Lovecraft, of course. And there’s The Darkest Part of the Woods, but we’ll come to that. More generally, I think Lovecraft’s influence – his sense of structure, the gradual accumulation of detail to suggest terror – permeates much of my stuff.

DM: In The Darkest Part of the Woods (2002) you explore Lovecraftian occult magic in the context of deteriorating relationships in a dysfunctional family. What was the appeal of this juxtaposition of the intimate and the numinous to you as a writer?
RC: I think these elements reflect each other – at least, I hope they do. I’ve been working along these lines almost as soon as I abandoned the overtly Lovecraftian – for instance, with my first Liverpool tale ('The Cellars' from 1965), where the supernatural elements express the relationship. In The Darkest Part of the Woods the depth of the association between the family and their haunted environment only gradually revealed itself to me in the writing. That’s the kind of experience that makes writing (novels especially) worth all the doubts and hesitations for me. I would also say that I think Woods is my most nearly successful Lovecraftian piece, partly because I took The Case of Charles Dexter Ward as a model, a tale where the mythos is barely referred to but still looms over or under it. I finally appreciated how Lovecraftian elements are often best conveyed indirectly, as he often did himself. In my book, for instance, I like the lines from the masque (“Come man and maid, come dance and sing…”) which hint at something far darker than their bright lyrical surface. The whole book is an attempt to return to Lovecraft’s first principles, as The Blair Witch Project (consciously or otherwise) did.

DM: You have long fought against the censoring of horror and unsubstantiated claims from mainstream political and media figures as to the damaging effects on the individual psyche and society itself arising from the popularity of the genre. This is amusingly expressed in your article 'Turn Off' from the non-fiction collection Ramsey Campbell, Probably (2002), your account of a 'debate' at the Wirral Christian Centre featuring Mary Whitehouse in 1987. Your story 'Chucky Comes to Liverpool' (2010) in Haunted Legends (edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas), addresses the moral panic stirred up against the Child's Play films as the cause of the murder of Jamie Bulger. Looking back to that time, do you think that there is now a more accepting attitude to horror or does it still hold pariah status?
RC: I think the field constantly drifts in and out of favour. I often recall how it was when I originally encountered it in the 1950s. Just a couple of years after horror comics were banned in Britain, and only just before Hammer Films started getting pilloried in the press for being too graphic and sadistic, the august house of Faber & Faber brought out Best Horror Stories, edited by John Kier Cross and boasting a superbly lurid Felix Kelly cover. I suspect the book may have been an attempt to reclaim respectability for the field, though it contained some decidedly gruesome material ('Berenice', 'Raspberry Jam'). It’s surely significant that Hammer Films later received a Queen’s Award for Industry, while you can find in public libraries (Liverpool, for instance) deluxe bound volumes of the very comics that caused the ban in the first place. Right now horror seems to be on the tentatively ascendant, I think. Even the occasional source of controversy, most recently Human Centipede 2, doesn’t seem to be regarded as representative of the field. Still, I’m betting it may find itself scapegoated once again in the future – call me a pessimist if you like.

This is just a short extract from an ongoing interview, which will eventually appear on The Gothic Imagination.

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