Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Paul Kane.
Paul Kane is the award-winning, bestselling author and editor of over fifty books – including the Arrowhead trilogy (gathered together in the sellout Hooded Man omnibus, revolving around a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood), The Butterfly Man and Other Stories, Hellbound Hearts and The Mammoth Book of Body Horror. His non-fiction books include The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and Voices in the Dark, and his genre journalism has appeared in the likes of SFX, Rue Morgue and DeathRay. He has been a Guest at Alt.Fiction five times, was a Guest at the first SFX Weekender, at Thought Bubble in 2011, Derbyshire Literary Festival and Off the Shelf in 2012, Monster Mash and Event Horizon in 2013, and Edge-Lit in 2014, as well as being a panellist at FantasyCon and the World Fantasy Convention. His work has been optioned and adapted for the big and small screen, including for network US television, plus his latest novels are Lunar (set to be turned into a feature film) and the Y.A. story The Rainbow Man (as P.B. Kane). Forthcoming from him are the collection Monsters and the sequel to RED: Blood RED. He lives in Derbyshire, UK, with his wife Marie O’Regan, his family and a black cat called Mina. Find out more at his site www.shadow-writer.co.uk which has featured Guest Writers such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Dean Koontz and Guillermo del Toro.
AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL KANE
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
My name’s Paul Kane and I’ve been writing professionally for almost 20 years now – next year is the anniversary, in fact, and SST Publications are marking it by bringing out a ‘best of’ collection called Shadow Casting. I’m probably best known for my Hooded Man books and stories – about a post-apocalyptic Robin Hood – and my association with Clive Barker’s work, in particular the Hellraiser mythos.
- What inspired you to become a speculative fiction author?
I read a lot of SF, Fantasy and Horror growing up, which inspired me to try my hand at writing some amateur stories myself. I originally wanted to be a comic book artist, though, and went to art college with a view to doing that for a living. But I found I was getting better marks for my theory work than my art, so I did a History of Art, Design and Film Degree at Sheffield Hallam; I’d go back a few years later and do my MA in Film. As part of that original degree, I did some professional writing courses which forced you to send your work to newsstand magazines to get your grades, and that led to a career in journalism. When I realised I could make a living this way, I turned back to the fiction and started writing stories again for the small presses and it all snowballed from there really. But it was authors like Stephen King, James Herbert, Ramsey Campbell, Christopher Fowler, Poppy Z. Brite and especially Clive who inspired me to start writing this kind of material in the first place, so I owe them a massive debt of gratitude.
- What kind of fiction do you normally read? Have any of the books or stories that you've read influenced your writing style?
I read quite widely, and always have done, though my favourite genres are SF, Fantasy, Horror/Dark Fantasy and Crime. Reviewing books – which I’ve been doing for longer than I care to remember – is a good way to broaden your scope, I find. A lot of my original binge reading that I was talking about in the previous answer influenced the kind of writer I’ve turned out to be, but if I had to pinpoint certain publications then Clive’s Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart, plus Robert Swindells’ excellent Brother in the Land, Frank Herbert’s Dune and Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs would have to be up there.
- You've written The Hooded Man trilogy (Arrowhead, Broken Arrow and Arrowland) which is part of The Afterblight Chronicles. It has been said that The Hooded Man trilogy is a post-apocalyptic retelling of Robin Hood. Could you tell us a bit about this trilogy? What kind of a trilogy is it?
Yes, that’s exactly what it is – a reworking of the Hood legend in a post-apocalyptic setting, namely after the A-B Virus has struck and wiped out 90% of the world’s population. I figured that things would probably go back to how they were in the first Hood’s day, with the strong preying on the weak, gangs roaming around and dictators making life hell for the population. My favourite take on Hood is Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood from the ‘80s, which threw magic and myth into the mix, so I’ve tried to do the same with mine. For example, we get Sherwood giving Hood prophetic dreams and ‘healing’ him when he’s hurt. The trilogy as a whole is essentially a high octane action series – someone once described it as Robin Hood vs. tanks and helicopters – but there’s also a heart to it, a human element dealing with Hood’s relationships which is the driving force that carries it all along. There will be someone in there you can relate to, or something they’ve gone through – which makes the tales more real hopefully.
- The protagonist of this trilogy is Robert Stokes. What kind of a protagonist is he?
Basically, when we first meet my main character Robert – an ex-policeman – he has retreated to Sherwood Forest to live rough after his wife and child have died from the virus. But he’s drawn out because of his sense of justice to help when the Frenchman De Falaise takes over as the new Sheriff of Nottingham, taking up residence in Nottingham Castle with his army. He just can’t let it go, as much as he’d like to. And, inevitably, a band of fighters come into his orbit and he becomes painfully aware that he’s sort of reliving the life of the original Hood. Of course, things are slightly different this time around, but there are definite parallels. He’s quite a brooding character when we first encounter him, but when he stumbles on his version of Marian – Mary – he gradually starts to lighten up… a little. As the trilogy progresses, though, he also starts to feel the pressure of being a ‘Living Legend’ and the leader of his own self-built army, The Rangers. He’s a tough cookie, but fiercely loyal with an unflinching sense of fairness and an unshakable moral compass.
- Your new Hooded Man novella, Flaming Arrow, was recently published by Abaddon Books. Could you tell us something about it? What can readers expect from it?
Well, Flaming Arrow came about when Abaddon editor David Thomas Moore approached me and asked if I’d like to bring Robert back – it had been five years since the last adventure, Arrowland, but in the meantime we’d also had the sellout omnibus edition of all three novels, Hooded Man. I immediately jumped at the chance, as I’d already been starting to ponder about what might have happened to the characters since I last left them. So, in this one we get an older Robert, thinking about maybe retiring and handing over control of his Rangers to his adopted son Mark, who is my version of Much the Miller’s son. But things don’t go at all according to plan, not helped by the fact that a terrorist group called The Defiants are stirring things up at home, and Robert gets caught in a trap during a tour of Ranger outposts abroad. That gave me a chance to do a very tight siege story, in the vein of Zulu or Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers, which was fun after all the huge battles in the original trilogy.
- What inspires you to write this kind of post-apocalyptic fiction?
I often write about things that scare me, because as a writer if it scares me then hopefully it might scare other people – plus it’s a kind of catharsis, getting it out of my system. We live in a world that’s in a constant state of crisis, and some kind of apocalypse of one sort or another is never really far away. So, I just think it’s good to imagine that if the worst did happen, there would still be heroes; there would still be people who’d have your back. People who are always striving to get some kind of society back on track. When you think about it, although it’s as depressing as anything in some respects, it’s also got kind of a positive message as well. Or at least I like to think so.
- Will you continue to write more similar kind of stories and books?
It depends if I get asked to do more. I’d absolutely love to, as these are easily my favourite tales, but we’ll see. I’ll definitely be doing more post-apocalyptic fiction of one form or another though, in fact I have a few ideas as to where I’d like to take another one of my series, but that’s for a different time.
- What are you currently working on? What can readers expect next from you?
I’m currently working on three graphic novel scripts, one of which is an adaptation of my novel Lunar – which I also turned into a movie script, set to start filming in the near future – and one a dream project that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m also doing research for a new mass market novel that’s got such a cool premise, and is – again – another dream come true. Out at the moment, as well as Flaming Arrow (which, incidentally, you can buy at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flaming-Arrow-Afterblight-Chronicles-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00XPIBTCW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433166685&sr=8-1&keywords=flaming+arrow and http://rebellionstore.com/products/flaming_arrow), there is my collection Monsters from Alchemy Press, which has a Clive Barker cover and an introduction by Nicholas Vince, who played Chatterer Cenobite. That’s just had its first review, which gave it five stars, and you can buy it at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Monsters-Paul-Kane/dp/0992980976/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434630189&sr=8-1&keywords=paul+kane+monsters. Plus there’s a new Dalton Quayle adventure out very soon from Pendragon Press, The Bric-a-brac Man, which comprises of two novellas ‘Dalton Quayle’s Ice One’ and the title story, which is a riff on The Wicker Man. The Quayles are comedy horrors and light relief for me after writing about such heavy subjects all the time (and the page for that is at http://www.pendragonpress.net/books/dalton-quayle-and-the-bric-a-brac-man-by-paul-kane/). Then SST are publishing the sequel to my novella RED, called Blood RED – which is part of the multi-book deal I signed with them you can read about at http://www.starburstmagazine.com/book-news/10921-paul-kanes-red-to-relaunch-with-dave-mckean-art. When asked what that one’s like, I always say think Terminator meets Grimm. That comes with a Dave McKean cover and an introduction from Alison Littlewood. Finally, Avalard are publishing Hellraisers – which is a companion piece to my book The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, featuring interviews with all the major players in the Hellraiser world.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
Just thanks for the hospitality, and for letting me talk about my work. Really appreciate it.