Originally Posted on: July 29th, 2014
Charlie J.J. Kruger sits down with the author of the book 'The Venus Complex', Barbie Wilde.
H-P: First off, thank you so much for sitting with us and answering some questions. It is a great honor to talk with you, not only because I have a wee bit of a crush on your 'Female Cenobite' character (man... that says a lot about me...) but also because you have become one of my favorite new authors. What made you decide that writing could become your focus?
BARBIE: I’ve always enjoyed writing and I was coming up with stories and plays even when I was a kid. I suppose the easy answer is that after acting “left me”, as thespians say, and after I got rather burned out as a casting director, I wanted to explore some creative ideas that had been plaguing me for years. Writing felt like a very natural outlet for me.
H-P: Your novel, The Venus Complex is a fully actualized work of literature. I was so happy to read it and see that you had not only something to say, but a true ability to say it well. Who has influenced your literary voice? What authors do you most identify with?
BARBIE: I suppose the writer who probably had the most influence on my work was the late Colin Wilson, who wrote a number of extremely well-researched true crime books about the motivations and actions of the criminal mind. My first Wilson book was called The Order of the Assassin and introduced me to the world of serial killers: those lone wolves picking off the weaker members of society, often just for their own pleasure. Another great book by Wilson is The Criminal History of Mankind. And what an astounding and savage history that is!
Other authors who have influenced me are: Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Hemingway and of course, Clive Barker.
H-P: Some of the passages in the book are visceral and quite bleak, where/how did you come up with some of these brutal vistas?
BARBIE: During the research period, I read a book called Lustmord, which contained the writings of serial killers. Their take on the world was extraordinarily bleak and nihilistic, as you can imagine.
In a book like The Venus Complex, where you are stuck in one man’s mind and POV, it’s important to fashion a character that is as believable as possible. After creating the character of Professor Michael Friday, which in many ways was like an acting job, I had to think like him. Being so intensely involved in Michael’s world gave rise to many strange nightmares that I transformed into some of his more bizarre fantasies and dreams.
H-P: The first few pages of the novel are lined with positive and glowing reviews, and of course, my review was quite loving... has this outpouring of love for your work surprised you? How has all this positivity touched your approach to writing?
BARBIE: I was braced for some controversial reviews. After all, the content of the book is pretty sexually charged and like you said, some of the chapters are very dark, so I was delighted to see how many people have responded to the book in a positive way. I think it’s because Michael is a very human character. He’s not a “monster”. He’s not “evil”. He’s not a one dimensional bad guy. He’s just a normal bloke (who can be quite funny as well) who just “went another way”. (BTW, that’s a direct quote from the judge of Ted Bundy’s last trial to Ted himself. Understatement of the 20th century!)
I was also pleasantly surprised that a lot of women have responded very favorably to the book, considering that Michael could be perceived as quite a reprehensible misogynist.
H-P: Do you have anything you are working on now? Either a follow up or a wholly new novel?
BARBIE: I’m thinking seriously about a follow-up to The Venus Complex, but at the moment, I’m working on a screenplay adaptation of one of my short stories, “Zulu Zombies”, which was published in the Bestiarum Vocabulum anthology by Western Legends Publishing, as well as in Fangoria’s Gorezone #29.
I’ll also be returning to acting in a featured role in the horror movie, Bad Medicine, written by Amazon #1 horror author Dave Jeffery and helmed by Bram Stoker award-winning director, James Hart. They will be launching an Indigogo campaign at the end of August for funding. You can follow the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Badmedicinemovie
H-P: Do you feel that the shadow of Clive Barker over your work has helped or hindered people taking your work seriously or at face value?
BARBIE: I think that being part of Clive’s Hellraiser mythology has been brilliant. I’m not sure that people would have been so eager to review the book if I’d just been known as the mime artist who taught venerable UK Kids’ TV hand puppet, Sooty, how to do the robot, or just been a dancing mannequin on the legendary UK comedians Morecambe and Wise Show.
Although it can be a double edged sword. On one hand, I’ve had a lot of interest from the horror world in my short horror stories and The Venus Complex (which I don’t really consider horror as such, it’s more dark crime). Trying to get reviews from crime literature or mainstream websites has proven to be more difficult.
It’s also the perception of me “just being an actress” that could make folks reluctant to consider that I could do anything else. One reviewer even confessed to being taken aback at having to review a book written by “the chick who played the Female Cenobite in Hellraiser II”. Luckily (and bravely for him), he did eat his words and gave the book a great review.
H-P: As a female, did writing a male lead with a particularly perverse sense of gender and sexuality pose a large hurdle for you? Or were you able to simple move through such a task?
BARBIE: I actually prefer writing from the POV of a guy. It’s tremendously liberating in a weird way. And it’s quite satisfying when guys come up to me and say (in a very puzzled and worried way): “How did you find out our secrets?” My reply is always: “Research, my friends. Research.”
H-P: Freddy Vs Jason... who really wins?
BARBIE: Freddy is so much more interesting and funny. Freddy wins hands down. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I’m doing the Flashback convention in Chicago with Robert Englund in August!)
H-P: Have you imagined The Venus Complex as a movie? Who would be the dream cast and crew?
BARBIE: Of course! I even started writing the screenplay, which I must return to soon. Dream cast? That’s a difficult one. Michael is a quirky, unusual, intelligent character: perhaps Michael Fassbinder or Bradley Cooper.
H-P: Thank you so much for sitting with me! Do you have anything else you want to add here?
BARBIE: Just thanks for your questions, which were fabulous!
Get 'The Venus Complex' on Amazon: amazon.com/gp/product/1936964449