Thursday, February 25, 2016

An Eldritch Life


I hold, above, my very favourite volume of S. T.'s Penguin Classics editions of Lovecraft's weird fiction. It contains so many of Lovecraft's very best tales, including the wee novels The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and At the Mountains of Madness. It also includes one of my Lovecraftian obsessions--"Pickman's Model." That story has influenced me in a way I cannot quite understand, especially after I spent time haunting ye lanes of Boston with my chums and stumbled among ye tombstones of Copp's Hill Burying Ground. It was wonderfully weird, after having imagined the scenes of Lovecraft's fiction during my myriad readings of ye tales, to actual walk their ground and drink in their aura with mine eyes. I felt a tremendous surge of unspeakable joy when I walked up to 10 Barnes Street and touched my hand to the number 10 fastened to the house, while behind me S. T. Joshi was chanting all the masterpieces that Lovecraft had penned while living there. That was the moment, I think, when Lovecraft completely took over and became my core lifestyle, because the aesthetic energy of which I thrive. 

Because of my heart condition, I am not able to hold a job, and this disheartens me because I love being part of a kitchen crew and miss my job at Stellar Pizza big-time. It's a real responsibility, taking hold of one's life and trying to make every day count, especially for a Taurus who is inclined to be lazy. Every time I finish a new story these days, it feels like a real accomplishment. I'm supposed to be working on new stories for two collections I'm writing with chums--a book of CAS-inspired stories with Henry Vester and a book of Enoch Coffin tales with Jeff Thomas--but none of those new stories have been completed, although some few have been feebly begun. Yet I have been active, thanks to Pete Von Sholly and PS Publishing.  Pete asked S. T. to suggest people who could write new essays for their LOVECRAFT ILLUSTRATED volumes in their PS Pulps Library series, the first nine volumes of which have been publish'd. These books, such as ye one pictur'd at left, contain one of Lovecraft's classic tales, a new Introduction by S. T. Joshi, and various essays and other fun features. For The Whisperer in Darkness series Ramsey Campbell wrote a new Foreword and I compos'd a new essay, "Cosmic Trickery," in which I insist that Nyarlathotep does not appear in ye tale in any guise. The series has been well-received, and PS Publishing is preparing three more volumes: THE MOUND, THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK, and THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP. Pete Von Sholly ask'd if I cou'd write new essays for two of ye volumes, and I must say that working with him has been an absolute delight, because he obviously loves and is intrigued by Lovecraft's stories as much as I am. I spent the past few days writing my essay on "The Thing on the Doorstep," and it went through various stages as Pete reread the story and asked about certain aspects of it. The essay is now complete at 1,350 words. I love having these individual editions of Lovecraft's stories, and it enhances the reading experience to turn a page and find a colourful illustration for it, sometimes even a dynamic two-page spread. Nothing wou'd please me more than to see the series continued so that all, or at least most, of Lovecraft's weird tales are thus presented. 

Now my essay writing is at an end, and so I must try again to concentrate on original composition of my own fiction. I have ideas, and hopefully I can smooth my mental chaos and find my Muse and work my craft. Shalom, my darlings.
in Providence, 24 October 1707--photo by Greg Lowney, Esq.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thanx Penguin!


So I got this huge box from Penguin just now, and I got all excited. I thought, wow, they must be sending me a bunch of cool books that I don't remember ordering! Did I order a big book on Amazon and forget about it? The last big tome I have purchas'd is ye handsome THE ANNOTATED POE, but that's already arriv'd. As I picked up ye box from the porch where ye UPS bloke dropped it, I was surprised to find it rather light, not weighty. So I gets me scissors and slice through the packaging tape, dig through the bubble packing and found--one book. 

Ah--but whut a book! Of course, Titan's ridiculous decision to change ye original title, Black Wings, to BLACK WINGS OF CTHULHU still annoys me. I'm hoping that ye day comes soon when the hideous and alien word "Cthulhu" isn't such an advantage to selling books, such a commercial gimmick. One of the editorial stances for this series is that cliche Cthulhu stories will not be consider'd. This is not a book of Cthulhu Mythos stories; as ye sub-title insists, these are "Seventeen New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror." 

I love the strange green cover stock for this volume, on which the gold image of ye illustration looks very fine in good light (in poor light the illustration almost vanishes). I think this is my favourite volume in the series, I love each and every story. The opening story, a long piece by Fred Chappell, is absolutely remarkable. The one constant complain'd that dimwitted "reviewers" on Amazon and other online forums have concerning such series as this and Ellen Datlow's Lovecraftian anthologies is that the stories selected "aren't Lovecraftian." This is just pathetic stupidity. These writers have given us Lovecraftian fiction that is new and original, extremely modern. (Except for my own work; my story in this book is a traditional Lovecraftian tale set in Kingsport.) 

I love this series from S. T. and am overjoy'd that he has selected tales of mine for the next two volumes.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

MIDNIGHT DIN & OTHER WEIRD STORIES



So, this is too typical of me. I totally forgot about writing this book and recording this video! I found it again quite by accident, because of Bobby Derie's new posting regarding Henry S. Whitehead. Whitehead was buddies with H. P. Lovecraft and the author of a number of cool vodou stories, many of which were publish'd in Weird Tales. Such is my admiration for Whitehead and his weird fiction that, on a whim, I based a character on him for my story, "Ye Unkempt Thing," whut was included in my last book, Monstrous Aftermath. My character was named Reverend Henry St. Clair, author of ye book Midnight Din and other Weird Stories. Well, at ye moment I am trying to write new stories for a collection of Enoch Coffin stories that I'm doing with Jeffrey Thomas, and I thought, hmmm, let's write a story called "Midnight Din." So I went to Google to see if anyone had already used that title, because quite often I find that a character name I come up with, or a story title, has already been used by someone else. So I did a search on "Midnight Din" and, lo!, there was my video! Oh yeah, I was gonna write this totally gay book of weird fiction. Seem;d a fun idea at ye time, and then the more I thought about it I changed my mind, thinking it wou'd result in a rather stupid, trivial collection. But I still like that story title, so I have decided to try and write a story with that title for ye new Enoch book. 

My initial plan was that this 2nd book of Enoch Coffin stories would not be Lovecraftian--but I'm beginning to see that Lovecraft's spectre seems to taint everything I intend to write to some degree. So be it. I hope soon to be able to announce that I have actually written one or two of ye new tales.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ye Lurking Fear


Knowing that a second NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT volume will be forthcoming next year or early 2018 has me contemplating what illustrations will be used for some of the stories; and that made me reflect on some of ye cool illustrations I have seen for "The Lurking Fear." I love that story and have an almoft-intimate relationship with it. When I was ask'd to write a story for the weird journal, Fungi, the editor told me he wanted a story of around 11,000 words, he wanted it in segments or chapters, and he wanted each chapter to have its own title. This made me think immediately of "The Lurking Fear," a story of 8,170 words that Lovecraft divided into four episodes, each with its own title. My fanboy juices began to bubble, and I knew that I was going to write my own Sesqua Valley version of "The Lurking fear." I had my own Martense mansion, located on Tempest Hill, near Sesqua Valley's monstrous Mount Selta. I had a doomed character named Arthur Munroe, as did Lovecraft. My one change was that my daemons were ghostly rather than physical creeps. I took my chapter titles from those in "The Lurking Fear" and "Herbert West--Reanimator." I wrote the story quickly, effortlessly; I think it was so easily done because the writing of it was such rad fun. It felt illicit and irredeemably fan-boy, writing a story that was so like one of Lovecraft's tales, at least in inspiration if not completely in approach. Lovecraft is the only writer who can influence me to commit such a reckless act--again & again & again.  (I was once going to write my own version of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, but eventually came to my senses, thank Yuggoth...) So, anyway, thinking about Leslie Klinger's 2nd volume of annotated HPL has me dwelling on all this, and I am rather shock'd to find that I want to write yet another story inspired by Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear"--perhaps this time using his actual setting. Maybe I can have Enoch Coffin visit the site for one of my new stories that I'm writing for a second volume of Enoch tales. Hmmmm.......

So, I have started a very slow, careful re-read of Lovecraft's tale, in S. T.'s wonderful volume, A MOUNTAIN WALKED. Actually, S. T. didn't choose to have either "The Lurking Fear" or "Pickman's Model" in ye hardcover edition of that book (it was publisher Jerad's idea), which is why Lovecraft's tales don't appear in ye recent trade pb edition of the book from Dark Regions Press. And now I have this new queer hankering. My version of "The Lurking Fear" was originally publish'd in Fungi and then reprinted in my book, In the Gulfs of Dreams and Other Lovecraftian Tales. There it wore its original title, "A Presence of the Past." I have since grown bored with that title, so when the story is publish'd in my forthcoming Centipede Press collection next year it will wear ye title "The Horror on Tempest Hill"--yes, for real, bitches! And I am thinking of asking my publisher, Centipede Press, to use the Clark Ashton Smith illustrations for "The Lurking Fear" when it first appear'd in Home Brew to illustrate my story! Is that crazy or whut?! 

So now I have much to do. I need to reread Lovecraft's story, in the way I study tales to which I want to write a sequel, which requires a different kind of mental approach to ye reading process. Then I need to begin to mentally outline a new Enoch Coffin story in which he visits the site of Lovecraft's original tale (I think Lovecraft destroyed the daemonic mansion of his story, but I can invent a kind of macabre ambiance that is left behind and affects (pollutes) ye mind & soul. Oh, this is going to be fun!

Here's a reading from a story I rather regret having written--I think it was a mistake to try and use Lovecraft's Pickman as a character in a Sesqua Valley tale. But, you know, we try and try, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails.


Monday, February 1, 2016

NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT II: BEYOND YE MYTHOS

Leslie Klinger had announc'd that, because NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT is selling so extremely well, Liveright/Norton has ask'd him to do a second volume, tentatively titled New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft: Beyond the Mythos. The focus of the first volume were those stories that Klinger felt were a part of the "Cthulhu Cycle"; so this 2nd volume will have tales that are not a part of that cycle. The selected stories are:

The Tomb
Polaris
Transition of Juan Romero
The Doom that Came to Sarnath
Ex Oblivione
The Terrible Old Man
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
The Cats of Ulthar
Celephais
The Temple
The Outsider
The Other Gods
The Music of Erich Zann
The Quest of Iranon
The Lurking Fear
The Rats in the Walls
The Shunned House
He
Cool Air
The Strange High House in the Mist
Pickman's Model
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

Klinger notes, "I'll be working with my friend S. T. Joshi to use the most accurate text possible, based on his brilliant Variorum edition.

Hopefully there won't be any tentacles on this editions jacket.....