|Born||31 July 1959|
|Pen name||Jack Yeovil|
|Occupation||Writer, film critic, journalist|
Kim James 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.
Kim James Newman was born 31 July 1959 in London, the son of Bryan Michael Newman and Julia Christen Newman, both potters. He 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 fictional version of the town named 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, an update of his overview of post-1968 genre cinema, 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).
Newman and Stephen Jones jointly edited Horror: 100 Best Books, the 1988 horror volume in Xanadu's 100 Best series and Horror: Another 100 Best Books, a 2005 sequel from Carroll & Graf, U.S. publisher of the series. The books comprise 100 essays by 100 horror writers about 100 horror books and both won the annual Bram Stoker Award for Best Non-Fiction.
Newman is a contributing editor 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 contributes to Rotten Tomatoes, Venue, Video Watchdog ('The Perfectionist's Guide to Fantastic Video') and Sight & Sound. Newman is the author of the Doctor Who entry in the British Film Institute's book series on TV Classics. In 2018, Newman became the chief writer on the BBC Four documentary series Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema.
Newman participated in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll, where he listed his ten favorite films as follows: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, A Canterbury Tale, Céline and Julie Go Boating, Citizen Kane, Duck Amuck, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, Mulholland Drive, Notorious, and To Have and Have Not.
A 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 obscure except to knowledgeable readers. An example is the appearance of the American John Reid, who owned a silver mine and exported silver bullets to Great Britain in Anno Dracula (a reference to the Lone Ranger). Another is the American actor named Kent cast as "Hercules" in an Italian production of the same name (apparently a reference to both George Reeves and Steve Reeves [no relation] who played Superman and Hercules, respectively) in the novel Dracula Cha Cha Cha a.k.a. 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".
Anno Dracula was published in 1992. The novel is set in 1888, during Jack the Ripper's killing spree--but a different 1888, 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 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 the Anno Dracula 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 was published in 2013 as 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 1984. 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 emphasizes the adventures during the 1970s of psychic investigator Richard Jeperson; the stories pay homage to various aspects of 1970s British society, 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 an 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 assistant, Colonel Sebastian Moran. Both Moriarty and Moran are developments of characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes 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 satirizes a major story of the Sherlock Holmes canon. The seven stories are: