Whew! Chris Leppek and I are still recovering from the recent book signing of our newest novel Abattoir (see pix on the ‘Abattoir’ page). We held the event at our favorite book store, Tattered Cover in Denver. And we appreciate each and every one of the 200 or so people who, despite having been packed into a small space, were gracious enough to attend, shell out the $15.00 for the book, and enjoyed the total experience. We were blown away by the outpouring of support and the overall vibe was amazing.
It all got me thinking.
A few years ago, Chris and I were lucky enough to have drinks with Clive Barker after one of his signings in Denver. This was arranged at the last minute by his host, the awesome horror writer Ed Bryant. We’d like to think that we were invited in recognition of our talent, but it was probably more due to being in the proverbial right place at the right time.
Settled into a comfortable booth in the bar of the historic Oxford Hotel, we watched Barker (a writer we greatly admired and the creator of such classics as Hellraiser, Books of Blood, Damnation Game and many more)) enjoying a good cigar and a hearty drink. During the conversation one of us (I can’t for the life of me remember if it was Chris or me) asked the question: What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
Barker took a long puff of his cigar, lifted his head toward the ceiling and gently exhaled. He recanted a story of a book signing that he was conducting in some town during the 80’s. At the height of his popularity, Barker was known to attract an extremely diverse fan base. We’re talking about Goths, young people, biker types, old people, tattooed people, pierced people and so-called normal people.
At this one particular signing, Barker got a strange feeling – a tugging in his stomach that alerted him to something wrong. Looking up, he regarded the long line of people that were waiting to have his book signed. But there was something unsettling with a man at the end of the line. He was huge (wearing a heavy leather coat), menacing and looked like a cross between a Hell’s Angel and an ex-con on steroids.
With each book he signed, Barker would look back to regard this man getting closer and closer in line.
When Barker pulled a book off a pile and opened it to the appropriate page, he looked up to see this sinister character. The two exchanged stares for a moment, then something truly horrific happened. The man removed his coat in one move, revealing thick, hairy arms. At the same moment, he produced a small blade, leaned over and set about slicing his arm. Blood began to drip, forming a crimson puddle on the open page.
Barker didn’t know what to do. For a brief moment he thought about calling security and fought both panic and fear. He was frozen, but his instincts won out. He raised his hand and placed it directly onto the blood-covered page. The result was a perfectly formed, bloody handprint. At that point, he handed the book to this strange man who eventually disappeared into the store
When we asked about the response the man gave him in exchange, Barker simply smiled and spoke in his wonderful Liverpool accent: “I never saw such a shit-eating grin in me life!”