Monday, November 16, 2015

I, too, have had my influence . . .


Lovecraft isn't ye onlie one who has had a nefarious influence on weird fiction. When I became a total Cthulhu Mythos nut in ye early 1970s, one of my all-time favourite writers was Brian Lumley. My ghod, I thought he was magnificent. I cannot now recall how I obtain'd his address--probably from Jim Turner of Arkham House--but I began to write Lumley ferver'd fan letters, and then I wrote foam-at-ye-mouth articles about how excellent his fiction was in my Lovecraft fanzine. Honey, I was young and clueless, and utterly obsess'd with ye Mythos. Indeed, to my shame these days, I wrote a rather disapproving review of one of Ramsey Campbell's collections in an early issue of Nyctalops--disappointing because I found the stories lacking in wondrous Cthulhu Mythos elements!! How dense ye young can be! 

So ye can imagine my utter delight when Lumley (I addressed him as "Briantus" in my letters to him) sent me the follow missive:


O My Holy Yuggoth!!!!!!!!! One of my favourite writers wanted to write a story inspir'd by my idea! & he wanted to name one of ye characters after me!!!! 

You see, I began writing horror fiction seriously when I was a Mormon missionary in Ireland. Yes, that's right--ye eldritch queen was one of yem lads who went around knocking on doors and annoying people. Can ye image having ye geek pictur'd below knock on your door wanting to preach about Jesus and Joseph Smith:

Anyway, while station'd in Omagh, Northern Ireland, I began to write horror stories. And although I have no memory of it, I wrote one called "The Seashell", using "Bill Pugmire" as my byline, and sent it to some fanzine called SCORPIA, who printed ye tale in their issue of October 1972. I don't remember getting a copy of the published tale, but 1972 was when I got transferred from Ireland to ye Arizona/Las Vegas mission due to health problems, so if ye issue was sent me it must have got lost. I seem to recall having rewritten the story in the mid-1970's, when I became "serious" about being a writer, and submitting it to some other fanzine. Anyway, I must have mention'd ye tale to Brian in our correspondence, and he asked to use ye idea for a wee story, which then became the wee novel, THE RETURN OF THE DEEP ONES. Some mate in England sent me ye British pb edition when it came out; and then, later, I bought ye hardcover edition of The Whisperer and Other Voices (Tor Books, 2001), where ye novel was reprinted. 

Over the years, after my initial obsession with Mythos fiction, I became less enamored of the genre and, in my maturity, found Lumley's fiction rather wanting. Thus I confess that, although I have try'd --- I've never been able to completely read The Return of the Deep Ones cos I find it too bloody boring. Still, it was a wonderful thrill, when I was young, to have one of my Lovecraftian heroes write that story and name one of his nasty Deep Ones "William P. Marsh".

  

4 comments:

  1. God, I'm enamored with that 'Tangled Muse' book. You've aged rather well, good sir. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, YE TANGLED MUSE is such a beautiful book--but I think my next book from Centipede Press, AN ECSTASY OF FEAR AND OTHERS, will surpass it in every way (especially quality of writing).

      Delete
  2. Lumley is very hit-or-miss, when he is good, he is really good (I consider "The Taint" one of the best Mythos works ever), but mostly he is average at best. Most of his stories seem to me quite superficial and unoriginal, which is a shame because he is perfectly capable to go beyond that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy'd "The Taint" indeed.And I am still a huge fan of ye Titus Crow stories. Lumley's first book from Arkham House remains a book to which I return just for the pure joy of reading delightful weird fiction, fiction that is unpretentious and effective.

      Delete