What first attracted you to horror writing?
A turning point in my life was seeing Dracula (1930) on TV circa 1970. Almost the next day, I wrote a one-page version of the story as a play and, ever since, I’ve been writing horror. Even before that, I loved Marvel comics, Dr Who, The Avengers, HG Wells, Biggles and the like, but when I caught the monster bug, which extended to the Aurora hobby kits and other arcana, I almost incidentally became a horror writer.
A tough question for any writer – and probably tougher for me since I’ve worked in a variety of fields. If you were to ask different people what my most notable work was, different folks would say the Anno Dracula series (novels under my own name), Nightmare Movies (non-fiction), Drachenfels (young adult fantasy written as Jack Yeovil), Life’s Lottery (odd semi-mainstream experimental novel) or various broadcasting things. I’ve worked all over town, as it were, and sometimes people aren’t even aware that Kim Newman, the film critic, and Kim Newman, the novelist, are the same person.
What are you working on now?
I’m in the editing stage of The Hound of the d’Urbervilles: The Crime Book of Professor Moriarty, due out from Titan this Autumn. I’m also doing a lot of promotion for the reissues of Anno Dracula and Nightmare Movies, which are both out (from Titan and Bloomsbury) in new, expanded editions.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
Besides the dead folks (Lovecraft, Poe, Stoker, Bloch, etc), Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub and Richard Matheson.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I’m happy with either, if done well. It’s true that psychological horror cuts deeper and lasts longer, but there’s still a place for grand guignol – for instance, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is as great a horror work as anything you could mention and it’s insistently physically horrible. In movies, I’m a little tapped out on tied-up-in-the-basement-and-tortured stuff.
Why should people read your work?
Most American authors can answer this question proudly and without embarrassment. As a Brit, I cringe when asked to say how wonderful I am and sit here sulking hoping someone else will blow my trumpet for me. Enough people tell me they like my work to convince me there might be something there.
Recommend a book.
Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich.