Neil Gaiman on Dennis Wheatley
Neil Gaiman has been a big fan of Wheatley’s since the tender age of 10. He still remembers the tattered copies he borrowed from the school library – especially the most coveted title, The Devil Rides Out, that “was handed around from boy to boy and we read it incredibly nervously and with deep trepidation and terror”. Apparently even the teachers were eager reader of Wheatley due to his skilful, page-turning story-telling. The students were equally engrossed in the books’ content, if attracted to them for a more prosaic reason – the risqué covers with bare-breasted women and Satanist symbolism.
All these years later, Gaiman still considers the ending of The Ka of Gifford Hillary to be one of the best story twists he has ever read. The dense description of demonic possession and madness from The Haunting of Toby Jugg continue to haunt him to this day. It would be fascinating for someone to trace where in Neil Gaiman’s own work these inspirations could be seen!
In the picture Neil is holding the Bloomsbury Reader editions of The Devil Rides Out, To The Devil a Daughter and The Forbidden Territory. These books will soon be reissued with new covers – stay tuned!