LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with acclaimed author Shaun Hutson
By James Whittington, Friday 20th December 2019
The British horror legend Shaun Hutson is back with Testament, a new novel featuring one of his fans most loved characters, Sean Doyle so we decided to catch up with this talented chap about his acclaimed work.
HC: Was there one author who inspired you to become a writer?
SH: My inspirations were always and still are cinematic if I'm honest. Even when I first started writing my influences and inspirations came from things like Hammer films, from TV series like The Avengers (with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee) and from old Universal horror films. I read the Pan Books of Horror Stories when I was a kid and I think they were probably the first "literary" influences I ever had. I also read lots of horror when I was a teenager and starting out so some of the influences might have been subconscious but film was always the thing that inspired me. Hammer had such a distinctive style and I was lucky enough to see lots of their early films as I was growing up. My stuff still has a "Gothic" feel to it which was undoubtedly picked up from Hammer films. If I had to cite one single book or author that had an effect on me though I'd say William Peter Blatty and The Exorcist. I read it when I was about 15 and it scared the sh*t out of me. As did the film. The sequel, Legion (also a brilliant film) was also superb and Blatty's trick of letting you into characters internal dialogue was a huge influence on me.
HC: Can you recall how you felt when you saw your first book on shop shelves?
SH: To be honest, I can't remember how I felt when I first saw Slugs on a bookshelf. I was lucky and it was incredibly successful. I can remember going into shock when I got the first royalty statement because I'd never seen that much money before! The book that seemed to strike me most when I first saw it on the shelves was Spawn which was published a year after Slugs in 1983. It seemed a bit unreal, it had my name on but it was like looking at something written by someone else!! I remember seeing someone in my local W.H. Smith pick Spawn up and I (stupidly) went over to him and said "If you buy that I'll sign it for you." He looked at me, told me to f**k off and walked away!! I never did that again.
HC: A few years ago, you were one of the writers chosen to bring some classic Hammer film to book form, that must have been a dream come true.
SH: It was a dream come true. I'd grown up with Hammer films so to get the chance to work with them was incredible for me. As far as I was aware, their original plan was to novelize every film they'd ever made from 1956 onwards so the possibility of being able to work on Hammer greats like Brides of Dracula, Plague of the Zombies etc. was a thrill. As it turned out, that didn't materialise but I ended up doing Twins of Evil and two of my favourite Hammer films, X the Unknown and Revenge of Frankenstein. My own style was always influenced by Hammer films so it seemed to be a meeting made in heaven. I worked from the scripts and DVD's of the films but it was great to be able to insert scenes and, in the case of X the Unknown, to try and update the story a bit. But I didn't change anything too much. After all, you don't mess with the best. I must admit, I'd love to have had a go at Frankenstein Created Woman and The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll...one day maybe...
HC: Let's come bang up to date and your latest book, Testament brings back fan favourite Sean Doyle in a sequel to Renegades, why was the time right to go back to him?
SH: Doyle had reappeared in White Ghost, Knife Edge and Hybrid but Testament is the first "direct" sequel to Renegades. It needed the large gap in years to make the story work. It might have been that it took that long before I was ready to write it. He's very close to me so the changes he's undergone are similar to the ones I've experienced I suppose. I love writing Doyle because he is so much like me. Writers can't avoid that I think. The central character is always similar to the writer whether you want it to be or not. I just thought that there were unfinished things from Renegades that needed finishing so the story evolved pretty quick to be honest.
HC: How long did it take from first draft to final copy?
SH: I think it took about six months in total. That was writing fairly intensively and then going back to add or remove stuff. The fact that I don't plan things as intricately as I used to adds time. I don't write as fast as I used to. Slugs was written in about a month when I first started. I don't think I ever spent more than four months on a book when I was younger (and I know some would say it shows but they can f**k off ha, ha.). The pace that I use to write hopefully transmits itself to the printed page.
HC: How much do your books change during the writing process?
SH: I used to plan everything out from beginning to end but I don't tend to do that anymore. I have an idea and I just sit down and write. It all evolves in its own time. Then I go back and re-write stuff and slot in bits and pieces here and there. It's like assembling a jigsaw (and the pieces don't always fit!). I write out of sequence too. A scene I feel like writing one day might not come until half way through the book but I'll do it nonetheless and then hope I can use it later. It's more like making a film I suppose. Not everything is shot in sequence. My next book, Progeny, is a good example of that. I was going backwards and forwards all the time adding bits and writing new chapters to slot in (trying to make it make sense!!). But I find that easier to do these days. Obviously I have an idea of where the story is going but I don't always know every scene until I write it.
HC: Doyle has a new, younger operative beside him, did it take long to get that character correct?
SH: The character of Gideon Vale was supposed to embody everything Doyle didn't like. Also, I knew that I couldn't just have Doyle moaning about the modern world, technology, how times had changed etc. without having something to balance that up. Vale is the more sensible side of the book I suppose. What I was also very conscious of doing was a "buddy movie" type thing but where the characters who started off hating each other didn't end up being friends (which always happens in films). Every time Doyle said something I had to think of Vale's point of view to come back at him with. I wanted Vale to be his equal (in sarcasm etc.). There's a sort of mutual, grudging respect between them but that's about it.
HC: Do you ever censor yourself and what are your views on censorship?
SH: It's very hard for me to censor myself as anyone who's read my books will tell you. If something works within the context of the book then I'll write it, no matter how revolting or terrifying. I've been censored over the years but usually by editors or, in the case of Chainsaw Terror, by others. I did Chainsaw Terror under the pseudonym of Nick Blake back in the 80's and it ended up having about 20 pages cut out and then it was still banned by a well known retail chain! It was re-issued as Come the Night and did okay but once a book has been banned you've pretty much had it ha, ha. Another well known bookshop chain banned Deadhead because of its storyline concerning child snuff films but the ban wasn't complete and Deadhead still sold well. It's being re-published by Caffeine Nights next year. I appreciate there are some things that probably NEED censoring but it's hard for a writer to censor himself (well, it is for me anyway). There were a couple of scenes in Testament that I knew I just shouldn't write so I didn't! But, all through my career I've had stuff cut or editors wanting bits removed (Spawn, Erebus, Shadows, Compulsion and Breeding Ground all had scenes cut). An editor on Necessary Evil wanted all the swear words removed!! That didn't happen. Sometimes you need a second eye going over your work (well, I do) because you're too close to it while you're writing it and, if those suggestions are worthwhile then I'll listen.
HC: Who would you have play Doyle if your books were made into a movie or series?
SH: I think Cillian Murphy would be a good choice. However, the way film companies mess books about they'd probably end up casting James Corden! If I had to pick anyone I'd choose Aidan Turner (from TV's Poldark) I think he'd be brilliant.
HC: What keeps you going as a writer?
SH: I sometimes wonder myself ha, ha. I sometimes think its a case of having to write, some need to get all the ideas and stories out of my head. A reader once said to me "I love your books but I wouldn't want to be inside your head." I laughed but I knew what he meant. The thing that really helps is good feedback from readers. It's incredibly satisfying when someone tells you they loved your book or that you've made some kind of impact on their lives. I don't think readers realize how much that kind of praise means to an author. You spend ages creating the book and then you put it "out there" and just hope to God that people will like it. There's no way of telling obviously. You just have to keep your fingers crossed.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
SH: Testament has just been published, I've got a new novel called Progeny coming out next year and I've just been messing about with some short story anthologies. I did short stories for magazines when I first started but, lately, I'd been getting lots of ideas that were good but didn't work as novels so I thought "why not" and put a few of them together. I've also done the opening of another book called Hidden but that's only about 30 pages in so far. It might turn to sh*t ha, ha. The war novels I wrote when I first started are being re-issued by digital publisher Endeavour and some of my early pseudonym work is being re-published soon too so at least my readers will be able to get their hands on stuff that might have gone out of print.
HC: Shaun Hutson, thank you very much.
Related show tags: THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN MORE ARTICLES Horror Channel announces raft of premieres for February
Posted in Features, Thursday 13th January 2022
February on Horror Channel keeps genre fans alive with the UK TV premiere of What Keeps You Alive - another suspenseful knife to the throat of 21st Century genre cinema from the deliciously warped mind of Colin Minihan, director of It Stains The Sand Red.
And expect more total shock and abject terror in the UK TV premiere of Paul Hyett's sinister sci-fi horror fantasy Peripheral. This twisted cross between Ex Machina and Videodrome boasts an astonishing performance from Hannah Arterton.
Plus, there are channel premieres for the gore-filled, stomach-churning zombie chiller Death Trench, Producer M. Night Shyamalan's claustrophobic supernatural thriller Devil, the...SHARE: READ MORE Marco Beltrami and Brian Tyler's Scream scores get new releases
Posted in News, Sunday 9th January 2022
Varese Sarabande celebrate the return of Scream with two very special releases. Marco Beltrami's scores from the first four films get the box set treatment via a 4-LP set, 6-CD set (exclusive to VareseSarabande.com), and digital releases. Featuring a trove of previously unreleased material, both physical sets come in packaging that folds out into a Ghostface mask. The digital album is now available to stream wherever you get your music!
Meanwhile, Brian Tyler's score for the brand new Scream is getting an LP, CD and digital release as well... The expanded 24-track CD and digital version of Scream: Music from the Motion Picture are out n...SHARE: READ MORE Who ya gonna call for help in the Afterlife?
Posted in News, Wednesday 5th January 2022
From director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman comes the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, available to Download and Keep on January 10th, to Rent on Digital on January 31st and also on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Starring Carrie Coon (Gone Girl, The Nest), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things, It), McKenna Grace (Young Sheldon, Gifted), Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II) and Paul Rudd (Ant-man, Avengers: Endgame), the film is written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman.
When single mum Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two children Finn (Finn Wolfhard) and ...SHARE: READ MORE Stagefright - Blu-ray review
Posted in Reviews, Thursday 30th December 2021 Stagefright Shameless Entertainment Certificate 18 ****
Also known as Aquarius, Deliria and Bloody Bird, Michele Soavi's bold directorial debut Stagefright finally gets the Shameless treatment. Released at the backend of the slasher trend this 1987 effort takes the genre in a far more artistic direction than most of the era and stands up to close scrutiny to this day. More recent movies such as Halloween (2018) and Climax (2018) seems to have taken some themes from this which is a fine reminder of why slasher movies don't just start and end with the more famous franchises.
When a masked killer infiltrates a group of actors rehearsing overnight in an isolated theatr...SHARE: READ MORE Horror Channel ushers in 2022 with zombie invasions
Posted in Features, Tuesday 21st December 2021
January weekends on Horror Channel are invaded by the undead with the UK TV premiere of Lin Oeding's newly-flavoured zombie horror-comedy Office Uprising, and the two highly acclaimed Zombie apocalypse road movies - Stake Land, receiving its Channel premiere, and the sequel The Stakelander, enjoying a UK TV premiere.
Plus, there are channel premieres for the bone-chilling The Wretched, directed by The Pierce Brothers, Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead 2, once again starring the demon battling Brue Campbell and the original Dolph Lundgrem/Jean-Claude Van Damme futuristic thriller Universal Soldier.
Here's everything you need to know:
A VHS classic on the 8th as Je...SHARE: READ MORE The best kind of honey trap! Doctor Who: Hornets' Nest is coming to vinyl
Posted in News, Thursday 16th December 2021
On limited edition vinyl for the very first time, Demon Records presents Doctor Who: Hornet's Nest, the unique audio adventure that first instigated Tom Baker's remarkable return to the role of the Doctor.
This release will include an exclusive, frameable portrait of the Fourth Doctor - every copy of which has been individually signed by Tom Baker himself and is just one of the treats inside this stunningly designed package which also includes an impressive, die-cut removable outer sleeve houses a hornet-adorned lidded box, inside which are 10 individual, exquisitely illustrated LP sleeves featuring full cast and credits for each story.
Also included is The Do...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Abigail Blackmore, writer and director of Tales From The Lodge
Posted in Interviews, Tuesday 14th December 2021
Ahead of Horror Channel's Xmas Day broadcast of her horror comedy feature Tales From The Lodge, director Abigail Blackmore recalls the brutal weather conditions, the challenges of casting and the joy of playing at FrightFest.
HC: Thanks to Horror Channel, Tales From The Lodge finally gets its UK TV premiere on British TV. Excited or what?
AB: So excited! I know a huge amount of people watch the Horror Channel so I'm hoping it opens TFTL up to a whole new audience.
HC: Looking back to its showcase screening at FrightFest in 2019, what are your abiding memories?
AB: It was a wonderful experience! FrightFest has long been one of the highlights of my ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Barbara Crampton, star of chilling horror Sacrifice
Posted in Interviews, Wednesday 8th December 2021
Barbara Crampton is a Horror Channel favourite. This much loved and much admired creative is starring in the UK TV premiere of Sacrifice, which is showing December 12th at 9pm on Horror so we chatted to her about this movie and her plans for the future.
Note that there are some spoilers for Sacrifice in the interview.
HC: Can you recall how you felt the first time you stepped onto a TV or film set?
BC: Yes, I remember the first time I was ever on a television set, it was for the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, and it was my very first job, and I had one line, "Hi. I'm your cousin Trista from Colorado". It was to the character Marlena Evans and subsequently I had w...SHARE: READ MORE Stagefright to be released thanks to Shameless
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021
Combining graphic, blood-splattered set pieces with his trademark wit and filmmaking elegance, Michele Soavi's (Dellamorte Dellamore, The Sect, The Church), Stagefright is now unleashed in a new 4K restoration.
When a masked killer infiltrates a group of actors rehearsing overnight in an isolated theatre, thesta ge is set for carnage! Featuring an abundance of over-the-top kills and spills, shot with Soavi's typical style, marvel at the mayhem as the iconic chainsaw wielding 'Owl Man', delivers a bloodsoaked performance for the ages.
From one of the masters of Italian horror, Stagefright is at the pinnacle of 80s slashers. Michele Soavi was schooled by Dario Argento and Terry Gil...SHARE: READ MORE Scream - Legacy cast posters revealed
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021
It's always someone you know.
Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town's deadly past.
Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers) and David Arquette (Dewey Riley) return to their iconic roles in Scream but will all three survive?
The cast also includes Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Sonia Ammar.
Paramount Pictures and Spyglas...SHARE: READ MORE Finally, Argento's masterpiece to get 4K restoration release
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021
From master of horror Dario Argento (Suspiria, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) comes Phenomena - one of his most eccentric and unique thrillers, featuring telepathic insects, maggots galore, and even a razor-wielding chimp!
Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly), daughter of a world-renowned movie star, arrives in the so-called "Swiss Transylvania" to attend an exclusive girls' school. However, a vicious killer is targeting the pupils, and sleepwalker Jennifer finds herself in the assassin's headlights when her nocturnal wanderings cause her to witness the death of a fellow pupil. Aided by paraplegic entomologist John McGregor (Donald Plea...SHARE: READ MORE Video nasty classic Don't Go in the House will reopen next year
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021
A legendary title from the Video Nasties era, Joseph Ellison's relentlessly bleak and disturbing Don't Go In The House has lost none of its power to shock in the decades since it was first censored by the BBFC and seized by UK authorities.
Donny Kohler (The Sopranos' Dan Grimaldi in a gripping central performance), a disturbed loner unhealthily obsessed with fire, comes home from his factory job one day to find his abusive mother has died. Now all alone in the large Gothic mansion he calls home and consumed in an inferno of insanity, he is finally able to fulfil his violent revenge fantasies against her. Soon, any woman unlucky enough to enter...SHARE: READ MORE Articles Archive: 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Friday 21st January
Friday 28th January
Saturday 29th January