Kim Newman is the author of Anno Dracula and has been a writer and film journalist for over 40 years. Apart from Anno Dracula he has also written numerous other books such as The Quarom and The Diogenes Club, comics and graphic novels. He is critically acclaimed and has won writing awards. He also collaborated with Neil Gaimen. His most recent novel Anno Dracula 1999 is set in a nightclub shaped as a dragon in Tokyo.
TST: You have dedicated at least 40 years to the Horror Genre, what is it about the Horror Genre that appeals to you?
KIM: It started out as a craze, when I was a kid and when I started to write about things I was naturally interested in, things I think about. I am interested in Horror as a critic and I am interested in Horror, as a practitioner, sometimes, but my work is not easy to categorise as Horror. I have written some stuff that is straight up Horror, but most of what I write exists in the weird fringes, It is some somewhereween Horror and Satire or Horror and Crime or Horror and Science Fiction. Horror is always there, and over the years I have reconciled myself to being me rather than a Genre writer. I write the stuff I write, I saw a add today, and it says “in the tradition of Kim Newman” that Kind of worries me a bit, I kind of want to own the tradition of Kim Newman, and that is me. I kind of think that the division of me as a critic is that I spend all my time trying to put things in boxes, and as a writer I spend all my time writing stuff that does not go into boxes. I think I have found a balance.
TST: Has being a film critic helped your writing knowing what is good and what is bad?
Kim: There has always been a feeling that people that are critics are only doing it until they find their own voice, to create stuff online.I have always thought that being a film critic is an interesting calling and stuff I would be doing, anyway. There is probably a blood between my criticism and my Fiction. One of the things I tried to do as a Critic is work on the prose as opposed to just meeting deadlines and word counts, and that sort of thing. I thought just to have good ideas about Film is not enough you have to communicate it, same things that interest other people and maybe actually I have written a lot of Fiction that touches on Popular Culture in general and Film in particular. I am about to start a book set in Hollywood in the 1940s, I probably would not have got to that without Film Criticism.
TST: What was it like to see your work in print after selling a article to a Magazine in 80s about the film Last House on the Left?
Kim: Yes, that was my first piece, or first professional piece. I had previously written for Fanzines, which I suppose would be the equivalent of web sites today. Today I would have a blog. Then I had wrote for Fanzines since a schoolboy. Actually, it was a big thing to make a sale. The Magazine that I sold it to be absorb into Sight and Sound, who I still work for today. It was a prestige outlet. They had a remit to review everything. They had to review Adult Films, which I did for a while. They had to review stuff that most critics would by pass. They holds bit of a history with people that share my interest. David Mc Gilluan from A, he was extreme writer who wrote for Fright Mare. David Pirrie who wrote Heritage Horror, which was very influential.
He was an MFB Critic. There were other big genre fans or enthusiasts for a different type of Cinema. I started out just before Anne Bilsing and Mark Kermode, and we had a different attitude to prevailing ones and we all drank in the same Bars.
TST: Would you say the Fanzines you worked for were Post Punk?
Kim: They were actual Punk (laughter) It was during the Punk Movement, Weirdly there was not much overlap between Music Fandom, Comics and TV fandom. The reviews I wrote about Films were slightly more fussy and tweed and respectful. Although in 80s spurred by the culture that grew up with home video, you know when Video nasties came out; I worked for Shock Express. A very interesting Magazine. There was definitely a Punk spirit to that.
To be continued next Monday.