Revisiting Roots: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood

I’ve been very nostalgic lately. Maybe it has something to do with my recent health scare and being reminded of human mortality. Tomorrow is never promised, but we always have our memories of yesterday. Unless we experience amnesia, dementia, or whatever I have that makes me write ideas down on little pieces of paper because I know I won’t remember them tomorrow. But I digress…

My recent return to the past has brought back all kinds of fun stuff from my childhood and adolescence. I’ve been looking up old Dungeons & Dragons modules and listening to 80s and 90s music.

I’ve also decided to reread some classic Clive Barker short story collections, which has been a greater pleasure than I expected. It’s easy to see why this was the main guy that inspired me to write horror. Here’s a quote:

“We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we’re healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived, and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.”

Clive Barker

Damn, that’s inspiring! That quote is from the introduction to Books of Blood. This man just inspired me with his intro written in 1998 more than any author I’ve read since has done with entire books.

The actual stories are even better. It is such a pleasure to read something in which you can tell every sentence was carefully crafted with the proper word choice and rhythm to add that extra layer of magic to a story. These stories not only stand the test of time, they might even be better now in the wake of all the mediocre writing that has come since.

Horror authors these days need to step their game up – myself very much included. I doubt I’ll ever be as brilliant of a writer as Clive Barker, but revisiting his work has made me realize that putting in that extra effort is often what separates stories that make an impact from short-term entertainment.

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