Pushing at the boundaries of reality
As part of our in conversation series, Liverpool John Moores University proudly welcomed back Honorary Fellow Ramsey Campbell.
Ramsey is a Liverpool-born writer considered to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. Interviewed by award winning poet Andrew McMillan of LJMU’s Screen School, it proved an evening to savour the remarkable career of this leading horror writer of our generation.
He offered audience members, including many Creative Writing students, an insight into his writing mind and processes. He admitted the older he gets ‘the more appealing he finds horror’ and how the ‘what if’ principle often sets off his writing. The everyday is certainly a source of the uncanny to Ramsey as he discussed how he ‘tries to keep true to what I see around me and then push the boundaries to what might be possible. But reality can often catch up quickly.’
Ramsey also considered the sense of timing that horror and comedy have in common and listed many of his influences, including ‘Rupert’s Christmas Tree’, author M R James and how Stephen King ‘addresses the texture of American life’.
Best-selling author Stephen King has in fact commented on Ramsey’s skills as a writer in the past: "literate in a field that has attracted many comic book intellects, cool in a field that tends toward panting melodrama…fluid in a field where many of the best practitioners fall prey to cant."
The craft of horror writing is about the art of suggestiveness, how to make a reader feel about a scene and the instinct for the right moment and the right word, said Ramsay. He also revealed a handwritten draft page of his next novel.
Commenting on his links with the University before the event, Ramsey said: “Receiving an honorary fellowship from LJMU was as great an honour as any I've had in my entire career, and I value it very highly. I hope that in return I can pass on some insights and inspiration to their students - fifty years' worth, if I can squeeze them in.”
Andrew McMillan said: "It was great honour to be able to host this conversation with Ramsey; both students and staff were able to learn from a true master as we looked at how he creates his work, what goes into the writing of it and how he's managed to sustain such a stunning level of success."
Ramsey was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by LJMU in 2015 - read more here
You can download and listen to audio of his talk here