Now you scream. Into the darkness. Above, behind, forward and below. Scream until your throat rubs to rust. Scream at the futility because there is no one to hear.
-Adam Nevill, The Ritual
Not everyone can say that they love what they do, and that’s especially true for those of us lucky enough to work in retail. It can be a withering experience, wearing on your soul and your mind until you become a jaded husk of who you were at the start. The good news is that there are ways to combat this mental deterioration, and one of the tricks that I have found is to find a position selling a product that you love and believe in. In my two years in the business, there are few artists that I have come to love and believe in more than Adam Nevill.
Working in a bookstore is a dream come true. Every day is an opportunity to expose someone new to the filmmakers, recording artists and authors that are important to you. Many of your customers come in without a specific title or author in mind, looking to be inspired by what’s on the shelves and tables. The retail-jargon for this is “Serendipitous Discovery”. Over the past year or so, I have tried to be an Agent of Serendipity by handing a copy of The Ritual by Adam Nevill to as many customers as I can. This is easier than it sounds because his books appeal to so many different types of readers. Nevill’s novels offer everything for a reader to enjoy; technical proficiency, beautiful prose, character development and pants-wetting horror.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Ritual, here‘s a synopsis to whet your appetite:
When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn’t possibly get any worse. But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artifacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees
The Ritual was the first book of Adam’s that I read and I can understand why it was turned into a feature film. The novel is dark, atmospheric, foreboding and so well paced that you find it difficult to set it down. It’s not a short read by any means, sitting at 430 pages or so, but I have had several customers and co-workers approach me and say that they flew through it in only one, or two sittings. I’ve experienced that same feeling with each of Adam’s novels, oftentimes staying up until dawn to finish them. I have to stay up, for if I were to stop reading, then I would be forced to turn off the lights and face the nightmares that he conjured inside my head.
With the release and promotion of The Ritual film, down-time in not a concept Adam has much familiarity with these days. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us at Nightmare on Film Street about the film making process he went through with his novel and the artists that inspire him to write the incredible tales that he does.
Tyler Liston for Nightmare on Film Street: What inspired you to start writing horror fiction?
Adam Nevill: My Dad reading books to me as a child. James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man sealed the deal. I read that at 16.
NOFS: Have you had time to read lately? If so, who are some current horror authors that you recommend? (NOTE: Book titles in parentheses added by the interviewer)
AN: I never stop reading. Vital for my own writing, inspiration, concentration, the endless discourse of considered imaginative language that I need around my own work. [As] for Recs: Nathan Ballingrud (North American Lake Monsters: Stories), Gemma Files (Experimental Film), John Langan (The Fisherman), Aliya Whiteley (The Beauty), Catriona Ward (Rawblood), Josh Malerman (Bird Box), Stephen J. Clark (In Delerium‘s Circle), Reggie Oliver (Mrs. Midnight: And Other Stories), F.R. Tallis (The Sleep Room)…all doing such interesting things in the field. Great time for new horror right now.
NOFS: What are a few horror films that scare and inspire you?
NOFS: The Guardian once called you “Britain’s answer to Stephen King”… Is this comparison a motivator for you?
AN: It’s tempting to be flattered as I love The King’s books, but it’s mainly a handy phrase for mainstream reviews of new horror fiction. Who else are we ever compared to? So I never let it go to my head and his die-hard fans have given me grief as if I claim to be some sort of answer. I’m just a minion giving horror my best shot.
NOFS: How would you describe adapting The Ritual for the big screen?
AN: My experience of page-to-screen was very favorable: a great production company packed with very talented people kept me in the loop and treated me like a pagan deity. They invited me out to the shoot on a mountain in Romania and threw a great cast and crew screening. Top people who made me want more film action as they did such a terrific job of adapting the book.
NOFS: What type of feedback have you personally heard about the film?
AN: Nearly all positive, from what I’ve read and heard. Plenty of mixed reviews exist, too, but I’ve only read three who found nothing at all to enjoy or praise about the film. And it was extensively and widely reviewed, so a very positive experience (against all odds for an indie horror film).
NOFS: There are few novels that have truly frightened me like Last Days, and I feel like it would make an amazing horror film. Which of your titles do you feel would make the best film?
AN: I would love to see Last Days made, then No One Gets Out Alive next. Lost Girl is also begging for an adaptation! The Ritual was the one that was imagined as a film at the novel stage, and that’s been done now.
NOFS: So, what’s next for Adam Nevill?
AN: My second collection of short stories is just out- Hasty for the Dark– which completed 20 years of my choice of my short fiction with the companion volume Some Will Not Sleep that was published last Halloween. And I am currently writing draft five of a new novel. I hope it’ll be in better shape by Christmas, and maybe completely done by early next year. I began last November but it still needs work.
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of The Ritual and experience one of the world’s finest horror authors for yourself. While you’re at it, you might as well pick up a copy of Last Days at the same time, because I guarantee that The Ritual will not last long on your nightstand. I would like to again thank Mr. Nevill for taking the time to answer a few of our questions and for being an inspiration to so many that love the horror genre.
Kim and Jon saw The Ritual at TIFF (LUCKY FACES). Read Kim’s review HERE and let us know what you think! What is your favorite Adam Nevill novel? What other horror novels are begging for a film adaptation? Hit us up on Twitter or our Facebook Group Page and let us know.