Monday, May 31, 2010

A Sequel to "The Dunwich Horror"

There was a time when I could not write anything longer than 3,000 words -- my imagination simply couldn't think in a way that extended my wee tales. So you can imagine how great it feels, now, to have written my longest weird tale yet, "The Strange Dark One" at 14,000 words. I was partially obsess'd with completing a new book for next year, because to do so removes a mental weight, the longing to have something to look forward to next year, a new book for fans, and for Mythos Books, who has been hounding me for a new collection. So I thought, cool, now I'll leave the Mythos behind me and concentrate on finishing the new book that S. T. has been asking me to write for Hippocampus Press. Mostly a collection of prose poems. No more Cthulhu Mythos for the rest of the year.

Ha! I've been engaging in Lovecraftian threads at a wonderful British forum, Science Fiction Fantasy Chronicles, and I recently began a thread of "The Dunwich Horror." I aim to prove S. T. Joshi wrong in calling the story one of Lovecraft's "artistic failures." I think it's one dead good story. It became obvious that I needed to carefully read the story again. Recently I got the original 1963 Arkham House edition of THE DUNWICH HORROR AND OTHERS as I wanted the jacket with Lee Brown Coye's portrait of Wilbur, so it was my plan to read the corrupted text of that edition at the same time I read the story in THE ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT (Dell, 1997), comparing the two texts and really studying the story, jotting down interesting ideas as they come to me. Doing so intoxicated me with this insane longing -- to write a 20,000 word sequel to Lovecraft's original tale. It's like -- writing such a long novelette gave me this hunger to do it again, only bigger!

I now have pages of notes for ye proposed story, "Our Sinless Infancy" (the title is taken from the Charles Lamp epigraph to Lovecraft's tale), the first half of which will take place in Sesqua Valley and the second half in Dunwich. This may just be a pipe dream, but I think I'm actually going to write it -- or at least make ye attempt. I already have my main character, a young man from Dunwich, Enoch Moodus, recently graduated as an art major from Miskatonic University. He drives to Sesqua Town so as to hook up with some distant relatives (as he explains to Simon Gregory Williams, "My family has faint incestuous ties with the Whateleys.") Enoch is going to be my version of Wilbur Whateley, but his relationship with Yog-Sothoth is psychic rather than physical. There are many things in Lovecraft's tale that I want to investigate in my own, such as the idea of Wilbur and his twin needed to subsist in blood (human or cow), and perhaps the theme of matricide found in "The Dunwich Horror."

Here's some of my scribbled notes:

"When they get to Dunwich, women and men are repairing antient covered bridge. The odor of Dunwich Village as compared to Sesqua Town."

"Magick answer'd by sounds below ground; Aboriginal natives called to things from sky and in ground. Noises from domed hills, compare to sounds from Mount Selta."

"Why did Yog-Sothoth choose Dunwich? Already intimate due to aboriginal worship. Veil is thin atop Dunwich hills."

"When ye Old Ones drag the Earth out of our solar system to its original cosmic place, the Earth will be cleansed of unnatural fungi called humanity, & ye earth will return to chaotic primal state (sounds like Mormon theology, eh wot?)"

"Covered bridge in Sesqua has an effect on Enoch."

"Broken-steepled church."

"Use the word 'conclave' in the story."

"From S. T.'s wonderful notes in Annotated: 'Lovecraft has picked the date [1692] to indicate that Dunwich was founded by those individuals who fled from the witchcraft trails in Salem; the suggestion being that Dunwich was founded by actual witches.' Cool!"

"Cat as psychopomp."

"Worship of the insane Old Ones by insane humans or quasi-humans. Insanity is ripe in Dunwich."

"Simon Gregory Williams has memorized all versions of Necronomicon."

"Enoch whispers secrets to ye statues he discovers in the woodland of Sesqua Valley -- and he whispers secrets to petrified figure (human?) atop Sentinel Hill."

So you see I have a lot already to work with. I really wore myself out writing "The Strange Dark One," and this time I'm going to take my time, maybe two or three months of careful work, interspersed with writing new non-Mythos prose poems for the book as well. It will please my wicked little Imp of ye Perverse to send the novelette to S. T. with my note:

"Here is my wee 20,000 word sequel to Lovecraft's 'artistic failure' -- enjoy!"


  1. Thank you for the glimpse into your creative process. I'm already looking forward to this yet-unwritten sequel to Lovecraft's amazing novella.


  2. A word of warning -- the Dell books of Lovecraft aren't quite reliable either (look up my old friend the "silent stutterer" in "The Horror at Red Hook" for example).


  3. Yes, it's frustrating that, as yet, there still aren't any absolutely reliable error-free texts of Lovecraft! The Barnes & Noble SHOULD have been that book and it, amazingly, is one of ye most corrupted, which is just mind-boggling. A close reading of the story is proving so fascinating. Lavinia's death seems to have been a prolonged or anticipated (at least by the whippoorwills) event, which intrigues me. I have questions concerning Wizard Whateley's role as surrogate father of the twins; & Armitage has his own ideas/questions concerning Wilbur's actual father, which he seems to link specifically to ye Outside. I am so enjoying this rereading of the story, and I admire it more than ever.