Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why Be Lovecraftian?

I just saw a wee thread on a Ramsey Campbell site in which people were discussing my fiction, and one lad was saying how frustrated he was that I am so dogmatic about remaining an author of Lovecraftian horror. Here's the thing: I am convinced that my growing reputation has been the result of staying Lovecraftian in the majority of my work. I want to cultivate a solid core of readers, and I want those brave souls to be Lovecraft fans. Because I care absolutely nothing for commercial "success", I have the freedom to write exactly what I want to write. But with this freedom comes a responsibility to do my very best -- especially if my fiction is supposed to be a sincere tribute to Lovecraft. We do not pay homage to Lovecraft by stealing his ideas -- and although I love to borrow bits from his weird tales, I hope that I do so with ingenuity, in my own way. I believe, and this has been my goal as an author, that we can write Lovecraftian fiction that is uniquely our own. We must, if our work is to have any validity.

However, I feel that I have certainly crossed over the Mythos fence and written tales that are not in any way Lovecraftian. My collaborative tale in Allen K's INHUMAN #4 is in no way Lovecraftian -- and my story in S. T. Joshi's BLACK WINGS -- although it deals in part with Richard Pickman -- is not very Lovecraftian, but rather tries to be an original work that has its inspirational roots in "Pickman's Model". One of my favouriter tales in SESQUA VALLEY & OTHER HAUNTS is "The Zanies of Sorrow," and I like it because it seems to me original in a non-Lovecraftian way.

Yes, I am adamant in remaining an author who is linked to my Master and my Muse, H. P. Lovecraft. But I don't think this retards my efforts. Lovecraft is an eternal fount of priceless inspiration -- moreso now than ever before. We can write in his tradition and still be absolutely our artistic selves. Selah.


  1. No doubt those comments were from me, Willum. Now that I'm more familiar with your work, I don't see those fences I expected. Thus I'd like to retract my statements and merely say "carry on!"

  2. Yep -- they were your comments, which I appreciate and wanted to address. I feel that I don't restrict myself as an artist, but probably I do as a marketable writer. My motto toward writing for a market was voiced by Lovecraft in a letter he wrote in his snobbish youth when he first submitted yarns to WEIRD TALES: "I have no idea that these things will be found suitable, for I pay no attention to the demands of commercial writing. My object is such pleasure as I can obtain from the creation of certain bizarre pictures, situations, or atmospheric effects; and the only reader I hold in mind is myself." That last isn't true for me: I write moftly for Lovecraftians. But the book I am co-writing with Maryanne K. Snyder is not at all Lovecraftian, except perhaps in some minimal fashion with some of the tales that mention Sesqua Valley.

    Speaking of which, I'm almost finished with our new tale, set in London in 1879, soon after Simon Gregory Williams emerged from the shadowland of Sesqua Valley. His first big trip outside of the States is to London, where he has a wee adventure with Oscar Wilde! I hope to have ye tale completed before I go to bed to-night! Farewell!