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Interview With Award-Winning Author And Playwright James Goss
By James Whittington, Sunday 5th January 2014

James GossRespected author, playwright and producer James Goss has written some of the best pieces of fiction of recent times, including official tie-ins for Doctor Who and Torchwood. His latest work for the stage, The Gentlemen Of Horror is a play based on the relationship between Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee which can be seen at the Etcetera Theatre, Camden on January 13th.

Here he chats about this acclaimed play and his plans for the future.

HC: Have you always been a horror fan?

JG: Well, sort of. But the horror I like is very much the Hammer and Amicus variety rather than “Oh God! Don't do that with the eyeballs!” kind.

HC: Where did the idea for The Gentlemen Of Horror come from?

JG: One evening my friend the author Guy Adams started acting out the kind of conversations Cushing and Lee would have had in their dressing room, and I thought “Oh yes, that'd be a fun thing to do.”

HC: Did the play take long to write and did its structure change much from first draft to completed work?

JG: It didn't take that long, really. The structure is fairly simple – it's five conversations between Cushing and Lee backstage from the 1950s to the 1980s.

HC: How much research did you do on these actors?

JG: I devoured their autobiographies (the recent reissue of Cushing's is a wonderful thing), and read Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes's big book on Hammer. There's also a host of wonderful anecdotes thanks to the DVD and Blu-ray releases. Nothing's better than the recollections of a slightly indiscreet actress.

HC: Do you think either actor regretted working in the horror movie industry and thus became typecast?

JG: The whole piece is very much about how their feelings (certainly Lee's) changed towards the genre as the years went by, falling in love with it, then running away from it, and then curiously finding himself right back where he started.

HC: Did you have any input for the casting?

JG: No! Matthew Woodcock and Simon Kane were a brilliant recommendation of the director's. They do a horror podcast together and are very good friends, which makes the hour fly by.

HC: What do you hope people will take away from seeing this production?

JG: That they were two very good friends who provided each other with marvellous company whatever their feelings about the projects they were working on.

HC: Do you have a favourite Cushing/Lee movie?

JG: No! They share so many marvellous moments together – like the scene in Horror Express when they first meet and there's almost a look of “Oh, you're in this one too, are you? Drink later?”

HC: So what are you working on at the moment?

JG: A novel about a man who decides to make the internet a nicer place by killing people. It's an excuse to stare at twitter for hours on end. Honestly.

HC: James Goss, thank you very much.


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