... Barry Hutchison on »Invisible Fiends«, friends and moral
: First and foremost, its a horror, but I didnt want it to only be scary and nothing else. I wanted it to be funny, too, and I wanted there to be real, believable relationships between the characters. Theres a bit of a mystery thrown in there, too, so its a bit of a mix of things, but if you have to file it somewhere, file it under Horror.
: I dont know if the UK and Germany are all that different when it comes to issues like violence in childrens books. Even now, some teachers and parents are uncomfortable with the idea of horror for children, and Ive had to tone down some of the more frightening aspects of a couple of the books in case they were too much for kids to handle. Even as recently as ten years ago there was no horror for children in the UK, apart from the GOOSEBUMPS books, but now its a huge market, and kids have a wide range of scary books to choose from. Theres a lot of really good stuff out there these days, although theres plenty of terrible stuff, too!
Where do I see myself? Id like to think Im doing horror with a bit of intelligence to it. Strong characters and plot are more important to me than just filling the pages with blood and gore for no real reason, which is sadly the case with a lot of horror for both adults and children.
Long term, though, Ill be branching out and writing a whole range of genres, although I wont be abandoning horror completely. Ive just sold two comedy/fantasy books to my UK publisher, HarperCollins, and I have ideas for everything from science fiction to historical adventure, so theres plenty more to come once FIENDS is finished!
: My sister used to have an invisible friend when she was younger, who lived inside an air duct in my mothers house. My sisters invisible friend was a little girl, and so she could fit inside the air duct, all her bones had been broken, and her face was pressed right up against the metal bars of the vent. The idea of there being a little girl squashed in there like that terrified me, and it stuck with me for a long time. A few years ago I started wondering where the girl went when my sister stopped seeing her, and then I wondered what would happen if she came back.
I guessed she would be unhappy at having been forgotten about and cast aside. And then I thought, what if shed been sent somewhere really horrific a Hell for imaginary friends how furious would she be about that, and what kind of revenge would she try to take if she ever returned?
: In the books, forgotten friends find themselves in a place called the Darkest Corners. It is a frightening, terrible place, filled with all kinds of evil creatures. When they are there, those invisible friends strong enough to survive lose their minds and become twisted, wicked versions of themselves, eventually becoming little more than monsters.
Kyle visits the Darkest Corners in every book in the series, and you learn a little more about it each time. Almost all of book 4 is set within the Darkest Corners, and Kyle discovers just how terrible a place it is.
: I never had an imaginary friend, although I always quite liked the idea of having one. I think theres quite a lot of me in Kyle, though hes a bit of a coward who somehow manages to be brave when his family really need him, and hes not very good at talking to girls. Thats pretty much me summed up right there!
: There are 6 books in the series. Book 6 begins around 3 hours before the prologue so 3 hours before the world is overrun by the inhabitants of the Darkest Corners. Its fun being able to count down to that moment, and Im looking forward to carrying the story on from there and finishing the series.
: Yes! My idea with the series was to write a really fast-paced horror, with some humour in it, and lots of action and excitement. This continues over the rest of the series, and things actually start getting worse for poor Kyle in books 3 and 4. When I was young I used to love books that dragged you along with them, forcing you to keep turning the pages until you reached the end, and thats what Ive tried to do. Every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, pulling you into the next one, so hopefully readers will find it hard to put down.
Im quite often exhausted at the end of the day whenever I work on the books, as I throw myself into the story as much as I can. Im right there with Kyle and Ameena, running away from Mr Mumbles, or facing an army of killer dolls. Its tiring, but great fun!
: The series is all about the relationships between friends and within families. Its difficult to reveal too much about how I see the overall moral and theme of the series without giving away some of what happens, but lets just say it involves learning to accept our friends and family for who they are, even if who they are can sometimes be quite annoying or unpleasant.
: My pleasure. Happy nightmares!