Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ye Leopold Return Tales

So I read S. T. Joshi's cool mystery novel (whut we will be discussing in our vlog next Friday when he comes to drive me to Portland for ye HPLFF), and some thing in his excellent approach to the genre got me hankering to reread those books concerning my all-time favourite detective, Nero Wolfe.  I think I may have read all of the Wolfe novels thirty or thirty-five years ago, and then five years ago I began to read them again but got distracted.  This past week I reread In the Best Families, and this morning I began And Be a Villain.  I also order'd ye DVD set of the A&E series starring the remarkable Maury Chaykin as Nero Wolfe.  I seen a few of these, either on telly or I borrow'd yem from ye library -- but they are so fabulous and authentic that I want to watch them all.

It seems that I cannot have a literary passion these days without trying, in some fashion, to ape it.  It hath long been one of my little literary aches to write a series of psychic detective tales, with my psychic being a child of Sesqua Valley.  This poses some few problems, because the haunted valley is, as I have constructed it, a secretive place, and such a series of stories would involve clients coming to visit my detective at his house in the valley.  But now I see that this can have entertainment value and dramatic effect, so my mind is working overtime on ideas for such a series of tales.  I have vow'd to work on two books only this coming year--and whenever I make such a vow I can never keep it.  I've got this weird feeling that I'll be writing three books in 2011, one of which will be Tales of Leopold Return, who will be my psychic detective.  The stories will be highly inspir'd by the Nero Wolfe novels, and Return's sidekick will be a female version of Archie Goodwin.  Tough talking, probably lesbian; a woman of ravishing beauty who dresses mostly in masculine attire and ain't no wimp.  Of course, the series won't comprise "serious" work of fiction, but fun (yet hopefully not trivial) tales in the tradition of Jules de Grandin and Carnaki.

I like being surprised by my sudden "needs" as an author, & to write a wee collection of amusing psychic detectives tales is suddenly a keen ache indeed.  I'm not clever when it comes to plotting, so they won't be whodunits with intricate plotting and red herrings.  They will be investigations of supernatural queerness.  They will be mass fun to write.

Monday, September 20, 2010


That's a great lineup, and  I'm getting very excited about this.  I'll be sharing a motel room with Jerad of Centipede Press, and he is bringing lots of book!  How tempting it will be to me wallet, sleeping in a room filled with Centipede Press books!  He hopes to have the Frank Belknap Long Masters of the Weird Tale omnibus there.  Alas, my own Centipede Press book won't be ready in time for ye HPLFF, but I'll be doing a reading from it.  Hope to see many of ye there!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New S. T. Joshi Video Interview on Octobye 1st!!!

S. T. will be driving me down to Portland, Oregon for this very last H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, on Friday  ye first of Octobyr.  Just before we depart we're going to record another live video interview on me webcam for my MrWilum channel over at YouTube.  Should be mass fun.  He seems anxious to plug his mystery novel, The Removal Company, and discuss his life as a novelist.  It has been his secret ambition all these decades to write fiction.  His novel is quite good, and I believe a second book is ready for publication, probably under his own byline since there is another mystery novelist writing under ye name of J. K. Maxwell. 

Of course S. T.'s moft astounding plot as fiction writer is to
write a biographical novel on the life of H. P. Lovecraft.  He is certainly equipped to write such a book, as his definitive biography of H. P. Lovecraft, I Am Providence, has just been publish'd in two volumes by Hippocampus Press.  Derrick now has had the books shipped to him and is frantically busy sending out ye order'd copies, the first 350 of which (out of 1,000, I believe) are sign'd by S. T.  Gawd, an authentic novel about the life of Lovecraft, penned by ye World's Leading Lovecraft Scholar -- whut a rad treat that will be!!

Hope to see many of you's at ye Hollywood Theatre, & then come join me at the Tony Starlight's Supper Club & Lounge each night after ye festival and imbibe a glass of absinthe with me.  We can drink a toast to Oscar Wilde, or Baudelaire!

Monday, September 13, 2010

S. T. has accepted UNCOMMON PLACES for publication!

I am happy to report that S. T. has read, highly praised and accepted my newest book, Uncommon Places, and hopes to have Derrick bring it out as a Hippocampus Press title probably late next year.  It may be that Mythos Books will bring out The Strange Dark One--Tales of Nyarlathotep, out next year as well, although I wou'd prefer that title to be releas'd in 2012.  I'm still taking this month off and doing no writing, but it's so weird--I tell myself, I'll just take some time off and relax, but then, when I'm not writing, not working on a book, I get all antsy and can't relax!  I feel restless, I get agitated, and it sucks death.  The only way, at such times, that I can relax is to begin work on a new book.  My work is my therapy, I guess.  So I am doing the mental work for the new book, studying Lovecraft and dreaming dark dreams.  I expect I'll begin writing in earnest, or trying to, when we return from the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

I'll be riding down to Portland with S. T., and maybe by that time we will all have copies of I Am Providence, whut I ache to begin reading, as I know that it will aid my Muse.  Indeed, sometimes when I'm too weary to think like a writer, to concentrate or feel inspir'd, I will dip into my favourite portions of H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, & I am instantly rejuvenated as a Lovecraftian artist.  Hanging out with hundreds of Lovecraftians also gets my writing mind boiling and bubbling over, & when I get home from such events my pen flies like a wild thing.

I look forward to seeing some of you's soon in Portland!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Attic Window and Others, by Randolph Carter

I love that spectral photograph of Grandpa--he looks both haunting & haunted.

Been reading over the new 10,000 word addition to "Uncommon Places," seeking yem typos that escaped my notice.  Usually they are wrong words or incomplete words; like, I just found one where I typed "image" instead of "imagine"; & I found one sentence where I used "particularly" and "particular," so I'm altering the 2nd to "peculiar" so to avoid repetition.  Proofing is a bore, but not catching the mistakes & having them infiltrate one's book is too grotesque.

Reading over the entire sequence of 25,000 words, I find it far more Lovecraftian than I remember'd -- or intended -- it to be.  When I added the new portion of 10,000 words it was my aim to be totally Mythos, since the majority of the segments form'd a semi-sequel to J. Vernon Shea's "The Haunter of the Graveyard."  What I did was I wrote one segment that was a portion of the short story, and then I followed it with an arty prose poem that was related to the story I was telling.  Here's an example, with a wee portion of the story, followed by the prose poem inspir'd by it:

Uncommon Places Part XXII (climax)

And then I heard a cry from somewhere in the trees just beyond me, and at their sound a night wind rose, cool and smooth, that played with my length of hair; and as if in answer to the cry a dark cloud melted in the sky and thus was revealed the moon that had been secreted behind it, and I blinked as its dead light fell onto my eyes.  Another sphere arose, as if from buried earth, small and delicate, with black pits where a human face would have worn eyes, and a scarlet mouth that parted.

"Ses yeux profonds sont faits de vide et de tenebres..."

The figure stopped its recitation and cocked its head.  I watched as it hopped from the tabletop slab on which it stood and walked a few steps nearer, and I noticed that this stranger also held a book.

"I suppose you don't know French, judging from your dumb expression.  Let me translate and sing the verse again, thus:
'Her eyes, made of the void, are deep and black;
Her skull, coiffured in flowers down the neck,
Sways slackly on the column of her back,
O charm of nothingness so madly decked!'
Delicious, is it not?  And how clever of Luna to shew her form just now, so as to aid with ghastly light.  One should always read poetry in moonlight, don't you agree?"

"Certainly, if the poet is Baudelaire."

"Ah!  An educated soul."  The voice was high and nasal, yet masculine.  His eyes were concealed behind round black lens of what looked like antique wire spectacles.  His fantastic mauve hair was piled high upon his dome in thick tube-like coils, and moonlight shimmered on the crimson gloss with which his simpering lips had been coated.  "I've been looking for mine kindred dead, many of whom are planted here."  He looked at me from behind his queer spectacles and did not smile as he spoke his name.  "Randolph H. Carter, from Boston.  And yes, I am ruefully related to the writer and man of mystery.  Have you read his famous book?"

"I've inherited an edition, but haven't scanned it yet.  What was his mystery?"

"He had many, actually.  There is the mystery of what happened to his friend and mentor, Harley Warren, who was last seen with Randy on the day of Warren's disappearance.  I actually know a direct relative of Warren's here in town, a fabulous painter who has a studio on French Hill.  It was she, actually, who told me of this place; she often paints it and its denizens.  Just now she is conjuring a life-size doppelganger of Obediah Carter, who was whispered to have been a wizard."

"That was his tomb you were standing on just now."

"I thought it might have been, although I couldn't quite make out its faded inscription."

"Perhaps," I ventured, "you should remove the shades..."

"Don't be absurd."  He began to move away from me through the high dead grass, and so I held my lantern higher to light his way.  We both saw the tree at the same time, and I could not suppress a shudder.  "Some fool hanged himself on that tree last year."  He turned and frowned at the expression on my face.  "How sad you look; but then, who wouldn't dressed like that?  You look like some Gothic hobo.  Well, I should depart, morning classes at Miskatonic come so early.  What are you reading?"  I told him.  "Ah," and he winked, "be on guard for the little people.  This is their kind of demesne, I imagine."  I watched him saunter toward the trees and disappear into their darkness, and suddenly I felt alone and vulnerable.  Turning, I found my way homeward, climbed over the stone wall and examined my house.  It looked a grotesque thing in the sallow moonlight, with its cupola, widow's walk and many gables.  Lunar light feasted on the face of the gargoyle that Elmer Harrod had added as Gothic touch, and which had been featured in the opening shots for many of his episodes where he was seen before the house in his outlandish outfits and ghoulish make-up, costumes (such as the one I now wore) that usually had some connection to the horror film that he would introduce and mock throughout.  Standing as it did at the end of a dead end street on which most of the decaying houses had been abandoned and uninhabited, the Victorian pile seemed especially desolate, a classic haunted house; and so it was, haunted by myself and my strange imagination, my conjurations, my spectral dreams.

Entering the lonesome place, I went to the library and found the collection of horror stories by Randolph Carter, The Attic Window and Others, which had been published by private hands some years after his strange vanishing act in 1928 had caused a sensation, resulting in his early and unpopular book being reprinted by a New York publisher.  The new edition had been an enormous success.  I was pleased to see that Harrod's copy was the original first edition.  I began to read, oblivious to the subtle keening of windsong that emanated from the graveyartd next door; but soon my eyes grew heavy, and my long day came to an end in the cozy armchair of my quiet room.


She climbed the winding wooden steps that led to the small door, pushed it open and coughed into the dry air that, issuing from the attic room, assaulted her face.  Her candle's feeble flame threw shadows into the room among the litter of antiques, the wooden crates, the shrouded figures.  She was curious to see that their dark sartorial camouflage resembled her own, and she wondered if they, too, had hoped to conceal themselves from the world of men when roaming the streets at night.  Pressing her hand against the breast of one still thing, she felt its torso of twisted wire; and then she lifted her face to its sad mask, the expression of which filled her with such remorse that she drifted from the thing, to the attic window.  Bending before the small panes of glass, she gazed into their latticework at her peculiar wavering reflection, upon which shadows frolicked.  She watched one patch of shadow sink into one particular reflected eye, and her eye of flesh experienced a bothersome tugging sensation, as if some playful thing were pinching it.  She did not like how dark that eye looked on the window's glass, and so she brought her candle very near it, until its lashes were slightly singed.

The contents of the attic room began to spin, like leaves caught in a dance of wind, inviting her to trip the light fantastic; and so she rose and pirouetted around the place, one hand holding her taper, the other at her breast, beneath which she could feel a latticework of dainty bone.  She gazed again at the dark shrouded ones who watched her with their awful masks and saw that on each mask one eye-hole was larger than the other, giving each faux countenance a slight distortion of feature.  Raising a dainty hand, she stroked the rough surface of one mask, and then she gasped as the thing loosened from its mannequin and slipped into her hand, which grasped it.  Gently, she lifted the mask to her face and pressed its rough surface to her soft soft skin, against which it adhered.  Gracefully, lifting her free arm in imitation of the figures that began to move about her, she joined in their danse as candlelit shadows on walls watched unmoving.  She capered until exhausted, and then fell once more upon her knees near to the attic window, toward which she turned so as to behold the reflection of her mask; but it was not the stiff papier-mache veil that appeared there, but rather a misty countenance that wore a beguiling and sinister smile.  Setting her taper on the floor, she crept to the attic window and touched her finger to one of the small squares of glass, and she shivered as the image behind the window lifted its mouth so as to kiss her hand, which experienced sharp pain.

Falling away from the attic window, she lifted her hand and marveled at how the beads of blood that spilled from the slit thereon shimmered in the candlelight, like rarest gems.  Beyond her hand she could espy the wavering of night's mist and the face within it, the face with a blemished eye and bloodstained mouth.  It was a face that seeped through the reality of glass and wood and floated just before her, joined by spectral arms in antiquated dress that reached for her with hands that, taking hold of her mask, lifted it away.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Damn it, I've completed work on five bloody books these past two or three years and I deserve a holiday.  True, a lot of the work on those books has merely been doing a light polish on older yarns, but lots of it has been ye composition of new weird fiction.  So I told myself, okay, I'm taking the rest of the year off, no writing until I return from MythosCon.  Four months of being lazy.

Joe Pulver says No Way.  That's me and Joe standing at the grave of Robert W. Chambers.  Joe also has a new collection forthcoming from Hippocampus Press, and S. T. Joshi told me he cannot yet read or comment on my newest book because he is busy reading a Joe Pulver novel.  You have all ready Joe's first collection from Hippocampus Press, the magnificent Blood Will Have Its Season -- if you haven't, what the hell is wrong with ye?  It's bloody brilliant!  Thomas Ligotti praised it!

Well, I do have a new idea for a story I'm gonna write for my book from Miskatonic River Press, a tale set in Innsmouth.  I need to write at least one lengthy Innsmouth story.  So I got this idea of a young poet who has just graduated from Miskatonic University thirty years after the incidents in HPL's "The Thing on the Doorstep," who -- wanting to write a book of weird verse that will be powerful & evocative of Derby's verse -- journeys to Innsmouth for decadent squalid atmosphere.  He finds an antique store run by the youngest of the three Innsmouth  servants that were hired by the Derbys.  In his bed and breakfast he meets a weird white dude who is actually Nyarlathotep in his The White Man disguise, who has come to Innsmouth in search of rare Deep Ones metals with which to build some amazing device using rare metals from Y'ha-nthlei and combine them with Innsmouth lightning so as to fashion a toy of doom & destruction.  The idea looks idiotic set down but I think I can have fun with it and write something Mythos-up-ye-arse.  So I've started taking notes and am nigh reading "The Shadow over Innsmouth" and "The Thing on the Doorstep" so as to fill me commonplace book with suggestive notations.

My buddy Greg, who along with Maryanne have taken me to the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival these past years, has just reminded me that every time I attend HPLFF, I come home so on fire to write that there's no way I will be able to take off for four months and do no writing.  He's probably correct.  I'll come home from this, ye very last HPLFF in Portland, with emotional & creative overload -- & onlie ye pen will save both sanity & soul.

Friday, September 3, 2010


And, honey, it feels so good!  I even sent it off to my editor, S. T. Joshi, before I did a final careful proof of the new 10,000 word addition to "Uncommon Places," and now my printer is outta ink so I can't print ye damn thing out and make corrections with red pen, as I like to do.  I've accomplished a lot of long-planned goals these past few years, written stories that I've been wanting to write for years or decades.  I finally wrote "The Tangled Muse," a title that haunted my mind for almost ten years before I found the way to tell its tale.  I finally wrote my sequel to a Robert Bloch story after almost three decades of trying.  And now I have written my sequel to J. Vernon Shea's "The Haunter of the Graveyard," something else I've had on my mind for ye past three decades.  I've written the sequel as part of the extra 10,000 words I've added on to "Uncommon Places," which was supposed to be a series of prose poems and vignettes inspir'd by Lovecraft's Commonplace Book (hence ye title Uncommon Placees).  But I really wanted these last ten-thousand words to be totally Lovecraftian bordering on Cthulhu Mythos, and it came to me that I cou'd combine inspiration culled from entries in ye Commonplace Book with that inspir'd by "The Haunter of the Graveyard."  It worked extremely well.  Here's an example.  Here are two of the entries from Lovecraft's notes that I used as inspiration, followed by a portion of my finish'd work.

[entry 165] Terrible trip to an ancient and forgotten tomb
[entry 112] Man lives near graveyard--how does he live? Eats no food.

I came to inherit the queer Victorian residence after my uncle's insane suicide, and I happily made the move from my small and cramped apartment to the spacious abode, where I was surrounded by elements of ghastly horror collected from various pockets of the globe by the two previous owners, things that I knew would aid my career as weaver of weird tales.  I was ruthless enough to bask in the notoriety that came my way, to the aid of my creative reputation, by the scandal that arose from my uncle's suicide; for the local papers carried sensational stories of how my uncle's corpse had been discovered hanging from a strong length of vine attached to a hideous old tree in Old Dethshill Cemetery, and how the end of the vine that had tightened around his broken neck had implanted itself into the flesh of the ravished throat.

I found, during my first months of residence in Arkham, that Uncle Silas had gained a curious reputation in the town; for it was whispered that he never ate, was never known to shop for groceries or dine out, and the fact that he was often seen haunting the abandoned cemetery at night gave way to rumors of vampirism and other such nonsense.  It was when I discovered my relation's own home movies that I learned how uncanny truth can eclipse the wildness of paltry rumor; for Uncle Silas had followed Elmer Harrod in the practice of being filmed within the wild confines of the haunted burying ground, but where the horror host had brought in a film crew to record his outlandish behavior among the tombs, it seemed that my uncle's was a one-madman's crude operation.  On one spool of film he had recorded himself dancing among the tombs and speaking the most outlandish gibberish I have ever heard, in what must have been a language of his own invention.  He seemed almost to chew upon his lips as he drooled and muttered such phrases as "Kloolhu Rally" and "Ne'er-lahtep."  On one film he had recorded himself reclining on the slab beneath which rotted Obediah Carter, and the dim electric light that he had somehow set up caught to perfection the weirdness of his expressions, with which he mimicked the actual visage of the dead sorcerer as he muttered what seemed to be snatches of eighteenth century verse.  But perhaps the most disturbing images were caught on the three rolls of film that showed him dancing in front of the unwholesome tree on which he ended his life.  On one spool of celluloid he had wrapped the hanging vines around his arms and ankles and then pirouetted like some deranged puppet; and it was eerie to see how the withered old tree, in the uncanny light of uncle's source of illumination, seemed more like some gigantic bestial claw than any dendroid inhabitant of the necropolis.  My uncle's experiments with filming seemed to incorporate some kind of trick photography near the end, for on the last spool of film he was seen close up, dangling from the vines of the tree, vines that resembled cloudy veins through which a dark substance moved in the directions of my uncle's upraised limbs, into which the vines had penetrated.  Uncle Silas did not regard the camera as he muttered, "More, more -- my arms are hungry."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In "The Haunter of the Graveyard," Vernon mentions how many Carters are interred within Old Dethshill Cemetery, and he mentions the grave of an evil sorcerer, Obediah Carter but briefly, then neglects to use this warlock in the rest of the tale.  I thought it would be fun to tell a bit more of the history of Obediah and his influence on they who are lured into the graveyard.  This was great fun, as it had me returning to the Randolph Carter stories by HPL, so as to cull them for historical anecdotes.  I loved the writing of this sequel to dear Vernon's story.  I shall rewrite the thing for the book I will write next year, a collection of Cthulhu Mythos stories for Miskatonic River Press, and therein I will dedicate the tale to Vernon's memory.  It was because of his story in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos that I gave him the nickname of "Ghoulie Shea," whut he rather enjoy'd.  I miss my dear pal Ghoulie, so I do.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Book Alomft Done, Thank Yuggoth!

I am at 21,844 words in my extension of "Uncommon Places," the title piece for my new book from Hippocampus Press, whut I hope to see published next year.  Not certain if I'll get these new version of the sequence up to 25,000 words, as I hope to.  The 15,000 word version will see its initial publication in The Tangled Muse, to be publish'd late this month or early next.  Because I am calling the Hippocampus book Uncommon Places, I want the title piece to be of significant length.  Most of the new wordage is in fact a short story inspir'd by J. Vernon Shea's "The Haunter of the Graveyard," which he wrote for Derleth's initial edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.  My sequel, such as it is, to Vernon's story is based not only on his text but by entries in H. P. Lovecraft's Commonplace Book, and I'm having great fun writing this very Lovecraftian thing set in Arkham. 

I have also added two old tales to the book's contents, "The Host of Haunted Air" and "The Zanies of Sorrow," since they touch on aspects of Oscar Wilde.  The contents for Uncommon Places as I now have it stands thus:
"An Identity in Dream" (new, 484 words)
"Artifice" (new, 226 words)
"Cesare" (new, 236 words)
"The Host of Haunted Air" (reprint, 4.041 words)
"Hempen Rope" (new, 474 words)
"Cathedral of Death" (revised reprint, 534 words)
"House of Legend" (new, 622 words)
"Inhabitants of Wraithwood" (reprint, 13,000 words)
"In Memoriam: Oscar Wilde" (reprint, 2,073 words)
"The Zanies of Sorrow" (reprint, 4,994 words)
"In Remembrance: Edgar A. Poe" (reprint, 3,340 words)
"Keepsake" (new, 309 words)
"Necronomicon" (reprint, 462 words)
"Postcard from Prague" (new, 165 words)
"Sickness of Heart" (new, 455 words)
"The Tangled Muse" (reprint, 6,094 words)
"Uncommon Places" (reprint with an addition of 10,000 new words, 25,000 words)
"Letters from an Old Gent" (new, 2,398 words)
"Chamber of Dreams" (new, 457 words)
"Some Distant Baying Sound" (reprint, 6,060 words)
"Your Ghost on Glass" (new, 224 words)
"Some Buried Memory" (reprint, 2,849 words)

My plan to write a sequel to "Inhabitants of Wraithwood" did not work -- yet.  All in all, if I can actually complete the new 10,000 word extension to "Uncommon Places," the book will come to almost 75,000 words, a perfect length.  I will, quite frankly, be glad when the book is finished, as I am feeling a bit of burn-out, which is moftly ye result of heightened duties here at home, where I am my mother's live-in caregiver.  I be worn down, my ducks.  Too, I have been intensely productive.  Since getting online a wee bit over two years ago (I think), by using Microsoft Word and composing almost completely on my laptop, I have completed these books:
Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror (revised/expanded edition), for Mythos Books;
Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley, published by Terradan Works in 2009;
The Tangled Muse, Centipede Press, hopefully out end of this month but maybe not until October);
The Strange Dark One--Tales of Nyarlathotep, Mythos Books;
Uncommon Places, Hippocampus Press.

Honey, just looking at that list makes me wanna take a nap!
I swear I am gonna limit myself to two books next year, a first novel with ye lovely and awesome Maryanne K. Snyder, probably set in Gershom, my city of poetic & doomed exiles; and a book of totally Cthulhu Mythos fiction for Miskatonic River Press.  I'm a busy wee thing, aye.