In 1967 Barnes resident David Pinner, 70, wrote Ritual, a book that provided the inspiration for the cult horror film, The Wicker Man. This month the book is finally being re-issued and the profilic author spoke to Will Gore about his creation.

What gave you the idea for Ritual?

At the time I was playing the lead in The Mousetrap at The Ambassadors and it gave me the idea for the policeman in my story. I was interested in witchcraft and Dennis Wheatley’s books and that combination resulted in Ritual. I wrote a lot of the book on the tube train to the theatre and also in the intervals. It was quite funy to do it all at the same time.

How did the book come to inspire The Wicker Man?

It was going to be a film before I wrote it as a novel. Michael Winner was considering it but my agent at the time felt he might sit on it for a long time, so he told to just go and write it. He promised me he would get it published and eight weeks later I gave him the manuscript. I then sold the film rights of the book to Christopher Lee in 1971 - the basic idea and the structure of it was used for The Wicker Man.

Are you a fan of the film?

I like much of it but I feel it is missing the humour of the book.

Why has Ritual been re-issued now?

Over the years it became a big collectors item and was being sold for £400 to £500 on eBay. Until it was reprinted I only had three copies of it myself.

You’ve also just had your trilogy of vampire plays published?

Yes - it includes Fanghorn, that Glenda Jackson did at the Fortune Theatre, Lucifer’s Fair, that was done at The Arts Theatre, and my latest play, Edred, The Vampyre, which is about a thousand-year-old bisexual vampire who slept with Shakespeare but didn’t bite him! I wanted to turn all of Bram Stoker’s ideas on their head - the main character loves garlic and nothing will kill him.

What inspires your writing?

I write on a wide range of subjects. My Stalin trilogy and The Potsdam Quartet of plays were inspired by politics. I’ve also written plays inspired by history and I’m currently writing a screenplay about Thomas Hardy. The big things that link most of my work are humour, irony and paradox.