We interviewed the very talented author Guy Adams last year when his novel Kronos was released. This cracking book, which was based on the classic Hammer movie Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter, has lead to Adams penning another based on a Hammer favourite. This time around he tackled Hands Of The Ripper.
Guy took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about this book and if you fancy trying to win a copy of Hands Of The Ripper as well as X The Unknown by Shaun Hutson click here.
(Guy Adams photo by Peter Coleborn)
HC: Can you recall the first Hammer movie you saw?
GA: I saw the later ones first, which is good as that means they have retained a nostalgic quality that stops them from being disappointing! Twins Of Evil had a major effect on a certain part of me, The Satanic Rites Of Dracula thrilled me in another way entirely.
HC: What was it about them that grabbed your attention?
GA: Well, Twins just felt naughty, illicit and sexy. The Satanic Rites Of Dracula had a sense of scale to my young mind that I just found brilliant, the mixture of the gothic with the beige, corduroy, hirsute Seventies. I love mixing up flavours in my writing and this was an early influence. I accept there are better Hammer movies but when you're young you miss a lot of the flaws, you see the broad strokes and fill in a lot of detail yourself.
HC: Do you have a favourite Hammer film?
GA: It changes all the time, I'm such an anorak that I couldn't name just one. Besides, they're so different! From the cool British sci-fi of the Quatermass pictures, to the sumptuous warm velvet of the early gothics to the cosy afternoon thrillers like Cash On Demand. The reason I love Hammer is they cater for all my tastes, just not necessarily at the same time!
HC: How did you approach your book, Hands Of The Ripper?
GA: With reckless abandon. Kronos had been a very tight book, I was (rightly I think) limited in what I could change. When it came to this, the discussion with Hammer Films was simple: if you keep the mood of the original, be honourable to it, then you can do what you like. When you love something so much, as I do with the original movie, the only way you can viably approach it is with a sense of freedom. Reverence, once it gets its teeth into you, will only harm the book. You have to do something that justifies the project, you have to let it live.
HC: Why did you change certain elements (without giving too much away)?
GA: The major change, and it was suggested by the publisher rather than coming from me, was to set the book in the present day. To begin with I thought that might be impossible but once I looked at it, realised that a story is not its setting, I saw how it could be to my great advantage. We've seen with the BBC's Sherlock how blowing the Victorian fog away can actually bring you closer to the important things, the people and the story. I think the same thing happened here. Of course, having made that fundamental change lots of other things had to shift to allow it. In the movie, John Pritchard is partially motivated to help the disturbed girl, Anna through his enthusiasm for new, Freudian psychology. That's a product of its time and had to go. Now he gets involved simply because he's nice. The psychological aspect stays - he lectures in it at a London university - but there’s more humanity to their relationship. And I address a little more clearly the state of mind of a man who moves a strange girl into his dead wife's room and dresses her in her old clothes.
The list of changes are immense, still I think - and thankfully Hammer Books agrees - that the spirit of the original is very much there.
HC: Did you work through many drafts of the book?
GA: No, it came quite easily. I edit as I go so I rarely do several major drafts. I deliver what is, in effect, second draft and then create a third based on editorial feedback.
HC: How different is it writing a tie-in to an original piece? Which is harder?
GA: They're just so different. Sometimes writing original work is easier because you can do anything, sometimes it's the reverse, with tie-in offering a supportive structure that buoys you along when your imagination is feeling slack. Then, I say they're different but I approach each one in the same way. I always want to write a book I can be proud of. I have no less love for Hands Of The Ripper than I do any of my original novels.
HC: Would you consider writing a film script for the new Hammer?
GA: Of course I bloody would! Scriptwriting is something I love and, with my acting background, it comes quite easily. I really wish I could do more of it. To work with Hammer would certainly be a dream come true.
HC: What classic movie would you like to novelise next?
GA: I'm already preparing work on Countess Dracula. I'm shaking things up again because it's going to be set in thirties Hollywood. The characters and the story fit so well there, they forgive you anything in LA but getting old.
HC: So what other projects are you working on?
GA: I'm just finishing work on Deadbeat: Makes You Stronger, the first in a series of novels for Titan, then I'm cleaning my revolver and heading out West for The Heavens Gate Chronicles, a pair of weird westerns being published by Solaris next year. Imagine Brigadoon as directed by Sergio Leone.
HC: Guy Adams, thank you very much.
GA: My pleasure as always!