The world's greatest horror writer talks Edgar Allen Poe, Jethro Tull and swarms of cosmic hornets
Garth Marenghi doesn’t mince his words when it comes to describing his latest novel, Incarcerat. “Readers can expect a chilling title told brilliantly,” he says simply.
The novelist has written over four hundred books (exact total unknown), and each could be summed up in a similar manner. Avid fans will remember that Marenghi also had a lasting impact on TV horror with his Channel 4 series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and now he’ll be taking to the stage, for a book tour meets live show that will carry him clean across the country.
We got stuck in a lift with Marenghi ahead of the tour to talk unreleased TV projects, his love of salt, and his beef with Edgar Allen Poe.
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
When are we gonna get food?
I guess whenever they find us.
Yeah. What was the question again?
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Probably Edgar Allen Poe. We’ve got beef. I really only managed to talk to him very briefly once when I was communing with him via a medium. We run this alternative to what was formerly known as Twitter called Fritter, which was a social networking site for the deceased. And I got into a big row with Edgar Allan Poe on that, and I would like to prove to him again why he was wrong.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Probably Edgar Allen Poe again. It’s that weird thing of being attracted to and repelled by a mind that is clearly inferior to your own.
What’s the weirdest interaction you’ve ever had with a famous person?
Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull. I tweaked his nose once.
Did he respond well to that?
He did respond well. Yes, he was actually quite impressed. He had his flute out, he was doing a bit of a dance. It was a revival of his Songs From The Wood album and I was there. It was in the moment, I danced up to him, and I just tweaked his nose. And he actually did a little flourish on his flute.
Who was the last author whose book tour you attended?
I’ve never attended anyone’s signing other than my own.
Any reason for that?
I’ve got no time. I produce so many books, I haven’t got time to attend other people’s signings or readings. That would be a waste. That would be taking valuable time away from writing.
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
All the time. I’m either dreaming or I’m writing. Wow. Oh, I tell a lie, there’s an hour off for eating.
Well, I appreciate you taking this time then.
Yeah, this is really valuable time.
What’s on your rider?
Food mainly. Yeah, food.
What did your 12-year-old self imagine you’d be doing?
Writing. I’ve been writing even before I was 12. I had some X-rays back from my father’s scrotal sack, which I was going through. And there was one of my primitive cave paintings on the wall, which told a story. So that was my very first story.
For him, I think it was, yeah.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
I don’t really take advice. I can tell you the worst advice that I’ve ever given myself: writing “the end”. At the end of every story, it’s the end, and my advice is don’t put “the end” because there is never an end to my stuff. It’s not really a word of advice. It’s a loose interpretation of advice, but I think my advice is, “Garth, do you really want to write the words “the end” here? Do you? Really? Don’t do it.”
If you had a theme song, what would that be?
It would probably be (sings) “Garth Marenghi, he’s the master of darkness. The archduke of darkdom, Garth Marenghi.” That’s the first thing I thought of.
You just came up with that on the spot?
I did, yeah.
What’s your most controversial food opinion?
My most controversial food opinion is that there’s never enough salt. Always add salt, as much salt as you can take.
What film have you rewatched the most times?
It’s a film that never got released in the end. It was a film of my own work. In fact, I say it was a film. It was actually a TV series. Does that count? It was about a swarm of cosmic hornets that attack a base. Trouble is it was filmed at the wrong time of year in the Antarctic, and most of the footage is just dark.
That’s a shame.
Yeah. I’ve mainly watched it to see if there was anything we could save, market and put out there but no, it is largely completely black. For that reason, I’ve watched it over and over and over. There’s a slight shimmer of movement every so often, but not enough to really market and put it out on, say, Netflix, for instance.
Any big names in that?
Well, myself. I play the hive mind. And we have Joe Swash in it as well.
Well, I hope that one day we get to see a remake.
Well, we’ve already spent so much money, I very much doubt there’ll be anything left over for a remake. A make would be good to start with.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve always done this. I mean, I guess my part-time job was directing Darkplace. It was more of a hobby, really. It just mainly consisted of shouting and screaming at people – so a kind of hobby for me. But no, I’ve never really held down a job. I mean, things like a paper round, that’s for losers.
Is there a skill that you have that no one else knows that you’re good at?
And you’re gonna keep that under wraps?