|Kim James Newman|
31 July 1959 |
London, England, UK
|Pen name||Jack Yeovil|
|Occupation||Author, film critic, journalist|
Kim Newman (born 31 July 1959) is an English journalist, film critic, and fiction writer. Recurring interests visible in his work include film history and horror fiction—both of which he attributes to seeing Tod Browning's Dracula at the age of eleven—and alternate fictional versions of history. He has won the Bram Stoker Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and the BSFA award.
Newman was born in London and was raised in Aller, Somerset. He was educated at Dr. Morgan's Grammar School in Bridgwater, and set his experimental semi-autobiographical novel Life's Lottery (1999) in a fictionalised version of the town called Sedgwater. He studied English at the University of Sussex, and set a short story, Angel Down, Sussex (1999) in the area.
Newman's first two books were both non-fiction; Ghastly Beyond Belief: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of Quotations (1985), co-written with his friend Neil Gaiman, is a light-hearted tribute to entertainingly bad prose in fantastic fiction, and Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968-88 (1988) is a serious history of horror films. An expanded edition, bringing his overview of post-1968 genre cinema up to date, was published in 2011.
Nightmare Movies was followed by Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten (1990) and Millennium Movies: End of the World Cinema (1999). Newman's non-fiction also includes the BFI Companion to Horror (1996) and Horror: 100 Best Books (co-editor, 1988), which won a Bram Stoker Award for Best Non-Fiction.
Newman acts as one of several contributing editors to the UK film magazine Empire, as well as writing the monthly segment, "Kim Newman's Video Dungeon" in which he gives often scathing reviews of recently released straight-to-video horror films. He also contributes to Rotten Tomatoes, Venue, "Video Watchdog" ('The Perfectionist's Guide to Fantastic Video') and Sight & Sound.
A recurring feature of Newman's fiction is his fondness for reinterpreting historical figures (particularly from the entertainment industry) and other authors' characters in new settings, either realistic alternate-history or outright fantasy. Some of these characters (e.g. Dracula) are easily recognised. Many more, particularly minor characters, are deliberately obscured and may be considered Easter eggs for perceptive readers. An example is the appearance of the American John Reid who just so happened to own a silver mine and who exported silver bullets to Great Britain in Anno Dracula (a nod to the Lone Ranger). Or the appearance of an American actor named Kent who would be cast as "Hercules" in an Italian production of the same name (apparently a nod to both George Reeves and Steve Reeves [no relation] who played Superman and Hercules, respectively. (In the novel Dracula Cha Cha Cha aka Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959.)
Newman's first published novel was The Night Mayor (1989), set in a virtual reality based on old black-and-white detective movies. In the same year, as "Jack Yeovil", he began contributing to a series of novels published by Games Workshop, set in the world of their Warhammer and Dark Future wargaming and role-playing games. Games Workshop's fiction imprint Black Flame returned the Dark Future books to print in 2006, publishing Demon Download, Krokodil Tears, Comeback Tour and the expanded, 250-page version of the short story "Route 666". There are no plans for Newman to finish the series.
A famous novel is Anno Dracula (1992). The novel is set in 1888, during Jack the Ripper's killing spree—but a different 1888 to the one we know, in which Dracula became the ruler of England. In the novel, fictional characters—not only from Dracula, but also from other works of Victorian era fiction—appear alongside historical persons. One major character, the vampire Geneviève Dieudonné, had previously appeared (in a different setting) in his Warhammer novels. (Newman has stated there are three alternate versions of Geneviève: the Warhammer version, the Anno Dracula version, and a Diogenes Club version who appears in the Seven Stars collection of linked stories and The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club.)
Anno Dracula was followed by a series of novels and shorter works that followed the same alternative history, including The Bloody Red Baron (set in World War I), and Dracula Cha Cha Cha (titled Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959 in the US). Some of the short stories are available online; see below. The fourth novel in the series will be published on 25 June 2013 and will be called Johnny Alucard.
Other novels include Life's Lottery (1999), in which the protagonist's life story is determined by the reader's choices (an adult version of the Choose Your Own Adventure series of children's books), The Quorum (1994), Jago (1991), and Bad Dreams (1990).
Newman is a prolific writer of short stories; his first published story was "Dreamers", which appeared in Interzone in 1982. His short story collections include The Original Dr. Shade, and Other Stories (1994), Famous Monsters (1995), Seven Stars (2000), Where the Bodies are Buried (2000), Unforgivable Stories (2000), The Man from the Diogenes Club (2006), The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club (2007), and Mysteries of the Diogenes Club (2010). There is also Back in the USSA (1997), a collection of stories co-written with Eugene Byrne, set in an alternate history where the United States had a communist revolution in the early twentieth century and Russia did not.
Many of his stories—notably those collected in Seven Stars, The Man from the Diogenes Club, The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club, and Mysteries of the Diogenes Club—feature agents of the Diogenes Club, the gentlemen's club created by Arthur Conan Doyle for the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter". In Newman's stories, it is a cover for a top-secret establishment of the British government, described as "an institution that quietly existed to cope with matters beyond the purview of regular police and intelligence services".
One sequence focuses on the adventures during the 1970s of psychic investigator Richard Jeperson; the stories homage various aspects of '70s British culture through adventures reminiscent of '70s television series such as The Avengers and Department S. (A version of the Diogenes Club also appears in the Anno Dracula series, complete with alternative version of Jeperson. The Diogenes Club series, conversely, sometimes includes alternative versions of characters who first appeared in the Anno Dracula series.)
He contributed two short stories to Shadows Over Innsmouth (as Kim Newman and as Jack Yeovil), an anthology based on H P Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The short story "Famous Monsters", in which a Martian left over from the invasion in H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds gets a job in Hollywood, was included on an information package sent to Mars by a US-Russian probe in 1994.
In 2011, Newman published Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles, a collection of seven stories about Professor James Moriarty as told by his right-hand man, Colonel Sebastian Moran. Both Moriarty and Moran are developments of characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes series of novels and stories; Moriarty appeared in "The Final Problem" and The Valley of Fear, and Moran appeared in "The Adventure of the Empty House", which also mentions Moriarty. Each of the stories in this collection is inspired by, and riffs on, a major story in the Sherlock Holmes canon. The seven stories are:
- "The Volume in Vermillion," which introduces Colonel Moran to Professor Moriarty and develops plot elements and characters from A Study in Scarlet, blending them with plot elements and characters from Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey.
- "A Shambles in Belgravia," inspired by "A Scandal in Bohemia" and the thrillers of Anthony Hope, with a featured role for Irene Adler.
- "The Red Planet League," inspired not only by "The Red-Headed League" but also by The War of the Worlds and "The Crystal Egg" by H. G. Wells, who makes a cameo appearance.
- "The Hound of the D'Urbervilles," a synthesis of ideas from The Hound of the Baskervilles and Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
- "The Adventure of the Six Maledictions," a spin-off of "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" with mentions of The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker and "The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God" by J. Milton Hayes.
- "The Greek Invertebrate," inspired by "The Greek Interpreter".
- "The Problem of the Final Adventure," inspired by "The Final Problem" and "The Adventure of the Empty House".
- The Night Mayor (1989)
- Bad Dreams (1990)
- Jago (1991)
- The Quorum (1994)
- Back in the USSA (1997) (with Eugene Byrne)
- Life's Lottery (1999)
- Anno Dracula series
- Time and Relative (2001)
Short story collections
- Seven Stars (2000)
- Dead Travel Fast (2005)
- Diogenes Club Series
- The Man from the Diogenes Club (2006)
- The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club (2007)
- Mysteries of the Diogenes Club (2010)
- Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles (Titan Books, 2011; ISBN 9780857682833)
As "Jack Yeovil"
- Warhammer setting
- Drachenfels (1989)
- Beasts in Velvet (1991)
- Genevieve Undead (1993, three novellas published as a single book)
- Silver Nails (2002, short stories)
- The Vampire Genevieve (2005, compilation of the above four books)
- Dark Future setting
- Krokodil Tears (1990)
- Demon Download (1990)
- Route 666 (1993)
- Comeback Tour (1991)
- Orgy of the Blood Parasites (1994)
- The Horror Writers of America's Bram Stoker Award for Best Non Fiction (Horror: 100 Best Books)
- The British Science Fiction Award for Best Short Fiction (The Original Dr Shade)
- The Dracula Society's Children of the Night Award for Best Novel (Anno Dracula)
- The Fiction Award of the Lord Ruthven Assembly (Anno Dracula)
- The International Horror Critics' Guild Award for Best Novel (Anno Dracula)
- The International Horror Critics' Guild Award for Best Novella (Coppola's Dracula)
- Prix Ozone for Best Novel (Anno Dracula)
- The British Fantasy Award for Best Collection 2000 (Where the Bodies Are Buried)
- Kim Newman's Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award nominations include Best Article for 'Rediscovering Polanski' in Video Watchdog #108, 'Edgar Wallace: Your Pocket Guide to the Rialto Krimi Series' in Video Watchdog #134, and 'Suspense: The Lost Episodes' in Video Watchdog #140; Best Commentary for I Walked with a Zombie and Mark of the Vampire (both with Stephen Jones); and DVD Reviewer of the Year (for 2008)
- Kim Newman's World Fantasy Award nominations include Best Novel for Anno Dracula; Best Collection for The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club; and Best Novella for Out of the Night, When the Full Moon Is Bright...; Coppola's Dracula; Soho Golem; The Man Who Got Off the Ghost Train and Cold Snap.
- Clute and Grant 1997, p. 682.
- "Kim Newman's Anno Dracula - Johnny Alucard cover art and release date unveiled".
- Official website
- EOFFTV: Kim Newman Archive—ongoing project to archive all of Newman's film related writings
- Kim Newman at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database