“NIGHTBREED’s” Nicholas Vince talks his fiction collection “OTHER PEOPLE’S DARKNESS”Books/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Colin McCracken
Nicholas Vince has been exceptionally busy of late. In addition to over a year of promotional appearances for NIGHTBREED: THE CABAL CUT, the child of Midian and former screen Cenobite (in the first two HELLRAISERs) has penned a number of delightfully horrific and sensual works of fiction, as well as staging a very successful theatrical adaptation.
Vince’s first book, 2012’s WHAT MONSTERS DO, was a truly original insight into the other worlds of creatures that stalk the shadows. Blending complex and intriguing relationships with traditional beasts and ghouls, Vince made the statement that “It is not our flesh, but our acts which make us monsters.” With his new collection OTHER PEOPLE’S DARKNESS AND OTHER STORIES, he chose to veer in another direction.
“I decided not to go with a theme this time,” Vince tells Fango, “but to simply write stories as they occurred to me. I really enjoyed the idea of looking at monsters and the monstrous, but I also had some ideas I didn’t want to shoehorn into that theme. A few concepts from the first volume might still come to light.”
While digressing from traditional monsters this time around, Vince has furthered his studies of human interactivity and the complexities of modern relationships. “Families and friendships are where we are most naked and vulnerable,” Vince explains. “These are the people who know where all the skeletons are buried, and how to re-animate them, and I’m drawn to places where people are in extremis.” It’s not all intense examinations of interpersonal difficulties, though; “One of the stories is definitely about someone’s sinister work,” he adds enticingly.
There are five tales in his new omnibus, which is available on paperback at Vince’s website:
“Other People’s Darkness”: The world didn’t end on December 21, 2012, but Scott was given a gift—a terrible gift.
“Having Once Turned Round”: Red strawberry jam reminds Gregory he is about to murder love.
“Spoilers”: A visitor to a mansion brings deadly news.
“This Too Solid Flesh”: Tanya is Caroline’s best friend, and Caroline hates her. She enters the poison garden…
“Why Won’t They Tell Me?”: London, 1883. Eight-year-old Cassie wants the police to tell her what will happen to her, now that her family are dead. Perhaps if they believed her story, they would?
In penning them, Vince had to maintain a balance in terms of their lengths. “Although there are only five stories, vs. seven in the first collection, this book is 30 pages longer,” he says. “A lot of the feedback from the first book was that people wanted the stories to be longer, so I decided to give myself more space with these. At the same time, I do keep an eye on page count, as I want to be able to sell the books at a reasonable price.”
Quite a number of ideas, in fact, didn’t make the cut. “One is nearly 10,000 words and the others are around 3,000 words each,” Vince notes. “They aren’t abandoned, as such; more like lying fallow, until I have a look at them again. That’s what happened with ‘Green Eyes’ in the first volume. I wrote the original story sometime in the 1980s, and revised it for WHAT MONSTERS DO.”
Many writers have the ability to jot down ideas and concepts, but crafting the story itself is a delicate and arduous task, requiring meticulous precision and skill. So how does Vince filters through his deluge of ideas, and choosing which ones to run with? “Often, it’s a phrase or scene which inspires me,” he says. “ ‘Having Once Turned Round’ is inspired by a verse in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ I could clearly picture a key scene, but then I would have to go back and work out why someone was there and what happened later.
“The title of ‘This Too Solid Flesh’ comes from Shakespeare [in HAMLET], but that isn’t the phrase that inspired the story,” he continues. “Before I was born, there was a show on radio called EDUCATING ARCHIE. That featured a character whose catchphrase was ‘She’s my best friend, and I hate her.’ Having got a basic idea, other ideas come into play; in this case, I was asked on a podcast whether or not I believed in ghosts. Sometimes a story will go through three or four titles while I’m working on it, which does sometimes become very confusing.”
Vince’s theatrical abilities were showcased in the 2013 run of WHAT MONSTERS DO on the London stage, and having his work performed by actors has certainly inspired his recent output. “ ’Spoilers’ was originally written as a monologue for a play,” Vince reveals, “which started with the phrase, ‘I know when you’ll die.’ ”
Vince cites his friend and mentor Clive Barker as someone who maintains the perfect command of the short story: “Clive and H.H. Munro [Saki] are still my favorites,” he says, “but I’ve started reading Guy De Maupassant recently.” With his HELLRAISER co-star and occasional Fango scribe Barbie Wilde (pictured above with Vince) also writing superb fiction at the moment, it would appear that Barker has had a great influence on those who have worked with him along the way, or as part of his mythology. And in the wake of the stunning and exciting OTHER PEOPLE’S DARKNESS, it may not be long before Vince joins the ranks of those who have influenced him.