Fantastique? Fantastic!

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Cover art for Fantastique

Two weeks ago I was proof-reading a series of PDFs of my latest book Fantastique – Interviews with Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Filmmakers. By Tuesday of this week I was posting out copies of the finished product.

That’s how speedily the good people at BearManor Media turned the book around. On Saturday I was slogging through the index – it took me 12 hours, finishing at 2 o’clock in the morning. By Tuesday I had signed off the final PDF. Seven days later I had the book in my hand.

I’ve been in the writing game for a long time – 30 years, man and boy, and writing books since 2001. But I have never – NEVER – seen a book completed and printed so fast. I’m still in shock.

Moreover, it’s good. A GOOD book. Solid, chunky, packed with info and running to 420 pages. Not bad, if I say so myself.

Several people turned it down, telling me that interview books are no longer viable or of interest when “everything is online”. Well, I beg to differ. Not everything is online. In fact I still prefer the tactile experience of curling up in a chair with a good, old-fashioned book in my hands. And Fantastique is certainly that. Kudos to BearManor.

Working on Fantastique has been the single most pleasurable book-writing experience I’ve had. In truth it was pretty rapid: contract signed January 2015, body of book completed by July, manuscript sent in October, designs back in March 2016, editing complete by April. All in time for the official launch on May 7 as part of Fantastiq – the Festival of Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Horror at Derby QUAD.

Yes, you read that correctly. There is indeed a link between the book and the festival. But the titles are slightly different. The book references the various sub-genres within what I call “the fantastique”; the festival (edition number 4, in fact – or IV as I prefer it) is a nod to its precursor the Fantastic Films Weekend (2002-2012), now sadly defunct, deaded, mortal coiled and ceased to be’d.

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John Carpenter, director of The Thing, on set.

So, what’s this book about, I hear you ask. Well, the clue is in the subtitle. It’s a collection of 30 interviews with some of the greats of the genre. Think John (The Thing) Carpenter, William (The Exorcist) Friedkin, Terry (Twelve Monkeys) Gilliam and George (Land of the Dead) Romero.

Scattered amongst the directors are actors like Will Smith and James Spader. But the book is mostly about filmmakers: directors, producers, writers, costumiers. And much of what they say hasn’t made it onto the internet. Hence the book. It’s all there to be discovered, hidden within 400-plus pages. Dive in, boys and girls.

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Belial, malignant jack-in-the-box villain of Basket Case

Join me if you can on May 7 at 12.15pm for a Q&A with my old mate Andy Potter from BBC Radio Derby. I’ll try and flog you a book, and then you can watch Basket Case, the ’80s cult fave from Frank Henenlotter. He’s one of the other directors featured in the book, talking at length about a film made for tuppence that continues to win over new fans today.

So, that’s Volume I. Volume II looms large. I wonder who’ll make an appearance in that one. How about Anthony Hopkins? And Johnny Depp. And Sigourney Weaver. And Rutger Hauer plus Robert Englund, Gunnar Hansen, Gary Oldman, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Goldblum… Good grief, there are more!

As I said, fantastic! I mean, of course, Fantastique…

oOo

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