Below is an interview with Paul Kane conducted by The Eternal Night, published September 2001
Eternal Night: What are you currently working on?
Paul Kane: At the moment I'm working on several things all at once, a novel, a couple of novellas, a non-fiction book and, of course, the usual batch of short stories. All this is in addition to my reviewing and column work for Terror Tales Online and my regular freelancing work - my bread and butter. Up until this year I used to do one thing at a time and finish it fictionwise, but now I seem to have got into the habit of multitasking and it's working okay for me at present.
Eternal Night: Who or what has been a major influence on your writing and why?
Paul Kane: With regard to big names, I'd have to say Clive Barker has had the biggest influence on me ever since I picked up his Books of Blood at school. He's just such a great writer and has this awesome imagination. If I can ever become a tenth as good as him I'll die a happy man. Naturally I've also been influenced by a variety of other horror authors in the past, from the usual suspects like Herbert, Lovecraft and King, to Christopher Fowler - a master of the short story - and, over the last few years, people like Simon Clark and Neil Gaiman. My friends and family have had a great influence on my writing, too. My parents, for instance, have always been behind me 100 percent, and I've been fortunate enough to meet some truly brilliant friends, such as John B. Ford (a first-class storyteller in his own right) who have offered me unlimited support. Only recently, I met another writer who has become a close personal friend - and will remain so for life - and we help each other out as much as we can by looking at each other's work and giving advice.
Eternal Night: Who (Fact or Fiction) would you most like to meet, and what would you ask them?
Paul Kane: I'd love to meet the makers of the new Jurassic Park film and ask them what they were thinking about...But seriously, I think I'd like to have met Hitchcock on the set of Psycho and just followed him around for a bit while he created a landmark in cinematic history. As you can see, movies are another one of my interests. I'd ask him why he once said that 'films were not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.'
Eternal Night: Is there a book or story you wish you had written?
Paul Kane: That's a tough one. There are loads of them. I wish I'd written Barker's shorts 'The Yattering and Jack', 'In the Hills, The Cities' or 'The Forbidden', because they are such terrific self-contained stories. As for novels, I think possibly Frank Herbert's Dune because it's a sweeping epic set in a time and space that feels completely real to the reader.
Eternal Night: What was your first professional sale? How did it feel when you received the acceptance?
Paul Kane: The first story of mine to be accepted anywhere was 'The Cave of Lost Souls', a seaside ghost yarn, and this saw print in Terror Tales back in 1998. That felt absolutely marvellous because it was one of the first serious stories I'd ever written and John B. Ford chose it to appear in his magazine alongside the likes of Paul Finch, Derek M. Fox, Paul Bradshaw et al. That same year I actually sold a story within three weeks of writing it - for actual money! Not a lot, but it was enough to encourage me to carry on.
Eternal Night: If you could give one piece of advice to a would-be author, what would it be?
Paul Kane: I know that everyone always says this - it's been said to me often enough in my "career" - but the most important thing in the writing game is to keep at it. Never stop writing, never take rejections to heart, never look back, and never loose confidence in yourself or your abilities. Sure, you're gonna have days when you say to yourself: 'I've had enough of this, I'm packing it all in.' But don't go through with it because you never know what's around the next corner, and you'll always regret it if you don't give it your best shot. Hand-in-hand with perseverance is that other "p", patience. Nothing ever happens overnight, even to the most talented authors on the planet - and particularly in this climate at the moment. I'd also like to say one more thing, it's not a piece of advice, just an observation: there's always going to be a writer who's bigger and better than you are, so don't ever let anything go to your head.
Eternal Night: Do you enjoy book signings/conventions?
Paul Kane: Well, the only real "signing" I've ever done, if you can call it that, was in Chesterfield at a small Terror Scribes gathering which Simon Clark attended. It was a bit overwhelming at first, people asking you to sign copies of your book - this was just after Alone (In the Dark) came out - and I spent ages trying to think of something witty or relevant to put in the front for them. As for conventions, I love them. I've attended all the Sheffield and Chesterfield Scribes gatherings and last summer went to the Birmingham Terror Tales/Horror World event at the Britannia Hotel. I was only sorry that I had to leave early, but my father was pretty sick at the time and I had to get back. A shame, because from what I hear I missed most of the fun. I'll definitely be stopping over for the next one wherever or whenever it is.
Eternal Night: What gives you nightmares?
Paul Kane: For a long time it used to be death, but that doesn't really bother me now. I look on it as just a natural thing that happens to us all, like being born. The only thing that scares me about it is the many different ways it might happen, or if it's a long and drawn out affair. I'm also quite frightened of waking up one night and finding an intruder or nutter in the house. I grew up in a rough kind of neighbourhood where the risk of that sort of thing happening was quite real. On the other hand it also makes you acutely alert to the dangers that are out there.
Eternal Night: Have you ever used real life horrors for inspiration?
Paul Kane: Oh yes, certainly. Things I see in the paper or that happen every day. I think a lot of horror writers must do this to some extent, that's why there are a ton of stories out there involving crime and serial killers and so forth. However, I also like to offer readers something they can't get in real life - but might possibly exist somewhere.
Eternal Night: What book are you reading at the moment?
Paul Kane: At this precise moment I'm reading Quentin Crisp's The Nightmare Exhibition from BJM Press, which I'm going to do a review of for the TT site. It's a very interesting book and you have to read each page carefully or you might miss something. Quentin's certainly a unique talent. After this I'm hoping to plunge into either Gaiman's American Gods or Clive Barker's Coldheart Canyon, which have both been sent to me for reviews. In fact, I can't remember the last time I simply sat down and read a book that wasn't for a review, just for pure pleasure - although when they're of this calibre I can't ever complain.
Eternal Night: Do you enjoy collaborating?
Paul Kane: I do, yes. Very much so. I've only ever collaborated with a couple of writers, but it's a very rewarding experience - especially if you happen to gel. I have plans to do a collab with the new writer I met this year, so I'm really looking forward to that because we're both on the same wavelength. Now it's just a matter of throwing ideas into the hat and brainstorming in a pub somewhere. Quite apart from anything else, writing can be such a lonely business and two heads are always better than one.
Eternal Night: What's the most memorable thing said in a review of your work?
Paul Kane: The SFX one of Alone (In the Dark) has to be the most memorable, because I was called promising by David Langford - a writer whose opinion I greatly admire. Dave Price's kind remarks about it being the start of something big were also a high point. But the comments that have most stuck with me weren't really from reviews but from professional writers who are way above me on the ladder. Derek M. Fox's 'The mark of Kane is one you won't want to miss.'; Tim Lebbon's 'Paul Kane is a name to watch.'; and Simon Clark's 'Paul Kane's world is a world of horror and wonder. A world of monstrous things beautifully carved in words by one hell of a talented and visionary writer.' Don't know quite what I did to deserve such praise, but I'll be eternally grateful.
Eternal Night: Is there something you are particularly proud of?
Paul Kane: I'm really proud of my Controller stories, 'Astral' and 'Eye of the Beholder'. These tales about interfering godlike other-dimensional beings seem to have really struck a cord out there and I have to confess that 'Eye of the Beholder' was one of the most emotional pieces I've ever set down on paper; I had real trouble killing off the main character, Lucy, in that one. On the flip side, I'm also fond of the humorous tales like 'The Bones Brothers' and my Dalton Quayle adventures - a character who's a surreal mixture of Holmes, Brian Lumley's Crow and Carnacki.
Eternal Night: Plug away - what do you have coming out?
Paul Kane: Nothing at this specific time, but I'm compiling a follow-up to Alone called Touching the Flame, which should be between 80 and 90,000 words and will feature all my best stories plus a number of originals.
Eternal Night: Many Thanks, Paul
(C) Steve and Lesley Mazey 2001
© Paul Kane 2003-2018. All rights reserved. Materials (including images) may not be reproduced without express permission from the author.