Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon and James Moore Interview (with Charles Tan)

Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon and James Moore

Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. In your foreword, you mention that for British writers, "the lines between genres seem far more blurred". Could you expand more on that thesis?

JM: Whether it's the publishing houses and their requirements for publication, the marketing groups or the writers themselves is a topic for debate, but the US has a very different set of sensibilities when it comes to published works. The authors coming from Great Britain are often better at cross pollinating the genres. A horror novel can also be an epic tale of pirates and a fantasy novel about a tapestry can also be a police procedural at the same time. It sometimes seems that the US has a bit of trouble with the very idea of mixing genres or at least a different perspective on whether or not it's a good idea. I don't know that either group is right or wrong, but there is a definite difference in the end result that was the very subject of the discussion which brought about The British Invasion anthology.

CG: Jim's got it right. But I think there's even more to it. In the U.S. marketing concerns have caused publishers to create strict categories for fiction over the years. The definition of what is a "horror story" is more narrowly defined here. In fact, it's often broken down into sub-sections delineating what KIND of horror story it is, and writers have naturally been inclined to include certain trappings or follow certain formulae in order to let publishers and readers identify what sort of story they're telling. This is unfortunate and self-defeating, creating these kinds of limits on storytelling. It hasn't affected every writer, of course, but it's part of the consciousness of most of us. I know that the UK hasn't escaped this phenomenon, but I do think it's far less an issue there, at least based on my own reading of British supernatural fiction. The edges of horror, and other genres, are simply more blurred, and I think that feeds imagination in the sense that there aren't as many ruts worn into the path that a writer might fall into, not as many elements that are familiar and easy for a lazy or distracted writer to fall back on.

Since there's three of you, what was the collaboration process like? Did all three of you, for example, had to like a story before accepting it? Or was it more like dividing the anthology into three parts?

TL: We split the reading duties, but if there was a story one of us liked the other two had to like it as well for it to be used. I don't think there were many disagreements, actually, but it was an interesting process to see who favoured what.

JM: It was a very different process, but I think it worked very well. I think, in the end, we had a very solid list of stories. And yeah, there were a few minor disagreements, but I think it stuck to the spirit in which we originally discussed the anthology in the first place, which was sitting in a bar and chatting about what we do and don't like in stories.

CG: There were certainly things about which we weren't in complete agreement. I think if we ranked the stories in order of preference, those rankings would vary considerably. But as Tim says, if a story didn't impress us all, it didn't make the cut.

What was your criteria for choosing a story? And related to that, how did "British Horror Weekend" find a place in the anthology?

TL: 'British Horror Weekend' was a genuine submission, but the writer thought it would be good writing it as Anon. We loved that idea. And it's a very funny story, and we were delighted to include it. As for criteria - it had to be a good story, well told, as simple as that. Good stories not well told, or average stories beautifully written, didn't make it in. And we think we managed to assemble a wonderfully diverse, consistently first-rate collection of modern horror tales.

JM: I tend to think a better question is how could "British Horror Weekend" NOT be included. It was hilarious and it was decidedly original. As for the criteria, Tim nailed that on the head.

CG: I should add the obvious, that the author had to be British (or Irish) by birth. And yeah, "British Horror Weekend" is one of my favorite stories in the book. It's a love letter to the UK horror community, and a blast to read. As far as I know, the identity of the author is still a secret, but I can tell you that the story was written by an author who is (1) NOT one of the three editors, as has been suspected, or any combination thereof, and (2) British. It's an homage to horror novels and films of a certain period, and a great deal of teasing as well.

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