|Ramsey with wife Jenny|
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?
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?