Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another Revision

I am ending this year with a month of rewrites. As I explain'd in my other blog, I spent some time earlier this month completely revising and partially rewriting "The Zanies of Sorrow," a non-Lovecraftian story. Now I have completely a complete revision of the story I consider my finest, "Inhabitants of Wraithwood," after discovering that I didn't have my own personal doc of the story. I did find an old file with a bunch of stories, one of which was "Wraithwood"; but it was a "read only" file, and being utterly computer-clueless I didn't know how to save it as a single file, my computer wouldn't let me. I was, however, able to print out that version, & so I did and used that copy while typing up a new doc. As I began to type, I was dismay'd to discover how much of the writing of that original version displeas'd me, how clumsy some of the writing was; & so, of course, I began to revise as I typed, and by the end of three days' labor found that I had made quite a few alterations and revisions. I think that I have improved the story, although I didn't make any really major changes to the text.

I have a vague recollection of writing that original version of the story. I think what inspir'd it was Stan Sargent's teasing me about not being able to write stories of length. It was true that, back then, I had trouble writing anything longer than 2,000 words. So I got out my manuel (not even electric!) typewriter and told myself, "I'm gonna write a story and it's gonna be fifty pages long!" I can't recall, but I think a desire to do something with ye theme of "Pickman's Model" inspir'd the theme of weird art that is ye basis of the tale. I remember wanting to use the story to pay a kind of homage to some of my favorite paintings. So I started writing, with just a vague story idea in my head but no actual outline jotted down. By the time I typed "--finis--", I had a manuscript of fifty pages exactly

I had a hunch that it was a rather good story, compar'd to moft of ye stuff I had written; and so I excitedly sent it and another new story to S. T. Joshi. He was utterly unimpress'd. "These two new stories just won't do," his letter inform'd me. 

I think S. T. was just preparing to edit the first volume of BLACK WINGS, but I hadn't written my story with that anthology in mind. I cannot now remember what he didn't like about the story, although he express'd confusion about the Pickman connection and what it added to the plot. I decided that I wou'd save my new story and use it as one of the original unpublish'd yarns in a new collection. Some time later, I got a letter from S. T. in which he listed the final selection of accepted stories for Black Wings--and there it was, in ye list: "Inhabitants of Wraithwood". A pleasant surprise--I really did want to be included in S. T.'s anthology.

My recent typing up ye tale led me to reconsider the Pickman allusions--were they really necessary to ye story? Could it exist just fine without the Lovecraft connection? Perhaps; but as I typed up ye new revision, I felt in my gut that that aspect of the story did indeed belong and added to ye overall mood and substance of ye text. So it stay'd. 

Now I hope to spend ye next few weeks actually writing new stuff!

Monday, December 14, 2015



I confess that I love what I suppose wou'd be describ'd as "traditional Lovecraftian horror", stories that paint imagery such as we have in ye illustration beside this text: the full moon, the abandoned necropolis with its overgrown grass and twisted tress, the hoary antient sarcophagus nestled in its lonesome mausoleum, & ye solitary haunter of ye dark. Just as there are motifs and moods and such that I love to paint in my stories, there are tales and settings by H. P. Lovecraft that continually draw me to them as I seek his texts for inspiration, from which I sup as if the story was some unholy fount. One setting that I continue to visit in my own work is Kingsport, the city in mist. I have a vague fancy to eventually write some handful more tales set there and then collect all of my Kingsport stories in a single book, as I collected my tales of Nyarlathotep in The Strange Dark One. A wee few months ago I finalized ye Contents for my forthcoming second omnibus to be publish'd by Centipede Press. Almoft all of ye stories are reprints; and one story, "Smooth Artifact of Stone", is a revision and expansion of a tale that was publish'd in a small press anthology. Here is ye Contents for that forthcoming book from Centipede Press--An Ecstasy of Fear and Others:
"Underneath an Arkham Moon" (in collaboration with Jessica Amanda Salmonson)
"The Black Winged Ones (3,670 words)
"Gathered Dust" (12,200 words)
"To Dance Among Your Puppets" (1,100 words)
"An Ecstasy of Fear" (11,600 words)
"Let Us Wash This Thing" (2,260 words)
"Artifice" (200 words)
"Letters from an Old Gent" (2,460 words)
"The Imps of Innsmouth" (2,390 words)
"Smooth Artifact of Stone" (3,075 words)
"Some Unknown Gulf of Night" (40,080 words)
"An Identity in Dream" (580 words)
"Hempen Rope" (500 words)
"Chamber of Dreams" (525 words)
"Unhallowed Places" (9,500 words)
"House of Legend" (735 words)
"A Shadow of Your Own Design" (2,625 words)
"Cesare" (307 words)
"To See Beyond" (9,000 words)
"A Quest of Dream" (5,200 words)
"The Horror on Tempest Hill" (11,660 words)
"Pickman's Lazarus" (4,660 words)

"The Horror on Tempest Hill" has been publish'd under ye title of "A Presence of the Past". I decided I wanted a title that sounded more like a book publish'd by Arkham House. It is, of course, my "Sesqua Valley version" of Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear", and I am very fond of the thing, although S. T. (my book's editor) isn't crazy about it. I had such fun writing it, but the story never made much of an impact, I guess, for no one has ever mention'd it to me and said what they think of it. 

I confess that I smiled wickedly to myself when ye idea for the new story hatched within my brain. "My ghod, girlfriend, you're not seriously going to write another story inspir'd by 'Pickman's Model'!" But of course I had to; because when one gets such an idea planted into one's imagination, it gnaws at you until ye have exorcised it by writing it out in fiction form. My other attempts to write something in which Lovecraft's Pickman character appears as a character have been so bloody awful that it shock'd me to find myself doing it yet again. My story is in two parts, the first of which is entitl'd "The Past" and concerns a fellow known as "Mr. Richard Peters" who has a secret art studio in Boston's North End. He is obsess'd with an idea he has for a macabre religious work inspir'd by Christ's raising up of a dead bloke. And he has created a life-size model on which to base his Art. Ye 2nd portion of ye tale in entitl'd "The Narrative of Grevel Zhukovsky," and is set in modern time. I really enjoy'd writing this story--especially as it had been quite a while since I had completed a new work, and it felt delicious, once ye final revision was completed and printed, to hold that new manuscript in my paw.

There is nothing more beautiful than a Centipede Press book, and I think my new book will be especially gorgeous because it will include some illustrations by that magnificent artist, David Ho! Below are some samples of his Art.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trade pb edition is Popular!

Ye trade pb edition of A MOUNTAIN WALKED is #3 in ye Amazon charts of best-selling horror anthologies! The Contents is slightly different from the hardcover edition, missing the two stories by H. P. Lovecraft (they were added to ye hardcover by the publisher, and S. T. wasn't entirely happy with their inclusion in ye tome), and some few other items. Ye Contents of the trade pb and Kindle edition from Dark Regions Press follows:

Introduction, S. T. Joshi
The House of the Worm, Mearl Prout
Far Below, Robert Barbour Johnson
Spawn of the Green Abyss, C. Hall Thompson
The Deep Ones, James Wade
The Franklyn Paragraph, Ramsey Campbell
Where Yidhra Walks, Walter C. DeBill, Jr.
Black Man with a Horn, T.E.D. Klein
The Last Feast of harlequin, Thomas Ligotti
Only the End of the World Again, Neil Gaiman
Mandelbrot Moldrot, Lois H, Gresh
Black Brat of Dunwich, Stanley C. Sargent
The Phantom of Beguilement, W. H. Pugmire
...Hungry...Rats, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
Virgin's Island, Donald Tyson
In the Shadow of Swords, Cody Goodfellow
Mobymart After Midnight, Jonathan Thomas
A Gentleman from Mexico, Mark Samuels
John Four, Caitlin R. Kiernan
Sigma Octantis, Rhys Hughes
[Anasazi], Gemma Files
The Wreck of the Aurora, Patrick McGrath
Beneath the Beardmore, Michael Shea

This is one of ye really outstanding anthologies in the genre, shewing the vital and  titan influence that H. P. Lovecraft has had on writers of modern horror. I do not hesitate to proclaim that at least two of the tales, those by Klein and Ligotti, are classic tales of horror, masterpieces in every way. This is mostly a reprint anthology--but the stories reprinted are in many cases difficult to find, being rarely reprinted anywhere else.  And, honey, ye cover of this trade pb edition doesn't lie--these are great stories, and they showcase the diversity of styles that makes up modern horror. One that I am especially fond of, because it touches on a memory of how it felt when I first became a Cthulhu Mythos nut; and, it evokes a memory of Robert Hayward Barlow, my gay brother whose suicide was triggered (if I understand the situation correctly) by fear of homophobia. My own story in ye book is one of many tales I have set in Lovecraft's Kingsport, that city in ye mists with which I am obsess'd (indeed, one day I plan on publishing an entire collection of my Kingsport stories--after I've written six or seven more).

The hardcover edition of this book was one of the most amazingly awesome and beautiful books I've ever beheld. Although this pb edition lacks all the incredible artwork and one of the finest of ye original tales (by Laird Barron), it is still a stunning collection, and serves as a significant tribute to ye influence of E'ch-Pi-El.
with S. T. and Lois at NecronomiCon 2013

rereading S. T. Joshi, yep

Friday, December 4, 2015

Where Once Poe Walked by H P Lovecraft - Poem - animation

H. P. Lovecraft Virtualy reads from "The Nameless City" Literary discuss...

Lovecraft Part 1: A Christian Minister & H.P. Lovecraft Fan explores his...

Divers Hands

One of August Derleth's finest ideas was ye publication of a series of marginalia-themed books that not only included rare items from H. P. Lovecraft's pen but also, importantly, memoirs of E'ch-Pi-El by still-living members of ye Lovecraft Circle. The vile aspect of these books is that they "inspir'd" Derleth to pen one or two new collaborations "with" Lovecraft, and Augie's ego then allow'd that ye new fake collaboration serve as book title. The book's inner-flap perpetuates the myth that Derleth was completing stories that Lovecraft left unfinish'd:

"In the novella which is the title story of this collection of Lovecraftiana, August Derleth develops an incompleted Lovecraft story linking the Innsmouth and Dunwich themes, achieving a typical Lovecraftian horror."

There are so many things about that statement that are horribly false. Lovecraft wrote one story about Innsmouth and one story about Dunwich--he wou'd not have written others--as he did with the one mythical setting, Arkham, that he used repeatedly. Derleth's "The Shuttered Room" is an awful story, a clear ripoff of "The Dunwich Horror," and is an insult to Lovecraft's memory. 

But this book has some excellent features. Ye Contents:
Foreword, by August Derleth
The Shuttered Room, by August Derleth
The Fisherman of Falcon Point, by August Derleth
Juvenilia and Early Tales, by H. P. Lovecraft
     The Little Glass Bottle
     The Secret Cave
     The Mystery of the Grave-Yard
     The Mysterious Ship
     The Alchemist
     Poetry and the Gods
     The Street
Old Bugs, by H. P. Lovecraft
Idealism and Materialism: A Reflection, by H. P. Lovecraft
The Commonplace Book of H. P. Lovecraft, annotated by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei
Lovecraft in Providence, by Donald Wandrei
Lovecraft as mentor, by August Derleth
Out of the Ivory Tower, by Robert Bloch
Three Hours with H. P. Lovecraft, by Dorothy C. Walter
Memories of a Friendship, by Alfred Galpin
Four Poems
     Homage to H. P. Lovecraft, by Felix Stefanile
     H. P. L., by Clark Ashton Smith
     Lines to H. P. Lovecraft, by Joseph Payne Brennan
     Revenants, by August Derleth
The Barlow Tributes
H. P. Lovecraft: The Books, by Lin Carter
H. P. Lovecraft: The Gods, by Lin Carter
Addendum: Some Observations on the Carter Glossary, by T. G. L. Cockcroft
Notes on the Cthulhu Mythos, by George T. Wetzel
Lovecraft's First Book, by William L. Crawford
Dagon, by H. P. Lovecraft
The Strange High House in the Mist, by H. P. Lovecraft
The Outsider, by H. P. Lovecraft

To ye best of my knowledge, much of the newer material (seemingly written especially for this anthology) has never been reprinted, and much of it is interesting. The essays by Lin Carter are interesting both in their content and in the way they exhibit Carter's mania for ye Mythos, which resulted in his writing his own batch of Mythos fiction, which was then collected by Robert M. Price in ye Chaosium book, The Xothic Cycle, a book that I confess I have return'd to more than once just for the sheer joy of reading traditional Mythos fiction--although it has always seem'd to me that the stories reveal far more of a Derleth than a Lovecraft influence.

I love these Divers Hands books from Arkham House--and that phrase, "divers hands," is exactly right, and it shews the tremendous influence that Lovecraft and his work exerted during his lifetime, and shortly afterward. Happily, that eldritch influence continues, more potently than ever, in this neoteric era.