Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oh... good idea! - The Inhuman Condition

When it comes to Clive Barker, I've enjoyed his short story work more than his novels. Granted I've only read two of his novels so far, but I found both of them to have lots of great ideas, but seemed to lack in the execution. His short stories work much better for me, delivering the horror in concentrated bursts and with a streamlined delivery that is very effective. However, I ran into a short story that seemed to be something else - a polished outline for a longer work.

The story is called "Down Satan". It's fairly short, and covers the life of a powerful businessman who will do just about anything to meet God. It get’s it’s point across in five pages, but there seems to be so much missing. It reads like a story idea, not a full story itself. The characters are fleshed out just enough to convey the theme, but they also give you enough to be interested to find out more about them. The idea of going to horrifying lengths to meet God is an intriguing one, and there is plenty of room to make things a bit more interesting.

So being a storyteller myself, I began to wonder how I could take this nugget make it into something more in depth. It was an interesting exercise. I saw where things could be fleshed out, a solid two part novel coming together, with new characters falling into the framework easily and the delivering the same theme. Of course, I couldn't actually write this novel, at least not in it's current state. I think Mr. Barker might object. But how about an adaption of his short story into film? Hmmm, that's an intriguing idea. Barker has a pretty solid fan base both in books and in films (I still know lots of fans of the "Hellraiser" series).

I just thought it was intriguing to see where some ideas will come, often from other sources, but sometimes in a ways you never really saw coming.

Have you read "Down Satan." What did you think of it? Have you ever been inspired by another writer's work, enough to see some way of improving or elaborating on it?



The short stories in the Books of Blood collections are among the best horror fiction ever written. To my mind is best novel is still Cabal.

Roman J. Martel said...

I agree, books of blood are some of his best horror stories. Cabal was good, but for some reason it didn't click with me quite in the same way it did with others. It almost felt like Part 1 of a longer story. I wish he would revisit that world and give us a glimpse of where it was gonna go after that.