Tuesday, April 20, 2010

THE TANGLED MUSE

Jerad and I are putting the finishing touches on the omnibus of my best weird fiction, THE TANGLED MUSE. The book will be an extremely limited edition of 150 copies and it is going to look wonderful, we've chosen some great artwork, black and white and color. I believe the book will be available in October, and will be signed by S. T. Joshi and myself.

I am working slowly yet steadily on the next two books, BEAUTIFUL GROTESQUE for Hippocampus Press and THE STRANGE DARK ONE AND OTHERS for Mythos Books. Then I want to take a break from short story collections and fully concentrate on THE FABULOUS DARKNESS--A NOVEL OF RICHARD UPTON PICKMAN that I am trying to write. Writing a novel is such a lot of work and I don't know if I have what it takes--if I have the kind of imagination that can craft a full novel. The few other times I have tried to write one, I discovered that I was trying to turn a short story idea into a work of 60,000 words, and that simply does not work. A novel is a beast of its own unique nature.

Best wishes to all.
Wilum

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BEAUTIFUL GROTESQUE

I was planning on calling my next book from Hippocampus Press The Tangled Muse and Others -- but, I dimly remember, a wee while back I suggested to Jerad that we call my Centipede Press omnibus The Tangled Muse, but I never got confirmation from him. He just sent me the book as file and it is called, I rejoice to say, The Tangled Muse. This I need a new title for ye Hippocampus collection, and I think I'd like to call it Beautiful Grotesque. That seems a good title for a book that is utterly arty and overflows with prose poetry of a macabre nature. Thus far ye Contents is up to 30,000 words and includes these new prose poems:

An Identity in Dream (484 words)
Artifice (226 words)
Cesare (236 words)
Hempen Rope (474 words)
House of Legend (622 words)
Keepsake (309 words)
Postcard from Prague (165 words)

and the following reprints:

"Cathedral of Death" (534 words)
Necronomicon (462 words)
Sickness of Heart (455 words)
In Memoriam: Oscar Wilde (2,073 words)
In Remembrance: Edgar A. Poe (3,340 words)
The Tangled Muse (6,094 words)
Uncommon Places (15,056 words)

I am currently working on a prose poem sequence, "Letters from an Old Gent," that I hope will reach 10,000 words. Then lots and lots of wee prose poems. I've been studying the prose poem form, and especially those prose poems by Oscar Wilde, H. P. Lovecraft, Samuel Loveman, Donald Wandrei and Clark Ashton Smith. It's a refreshing book to work on because it's so different from my usual thing -- and I get to be art-up-ye-arse, which is so delightful.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"The Horror in the Museum" -- as Muse???

So I was reading the wee snatches of letters that H. P. Lovecraft wrote to Clark Ashton Smith that were published in DREAMS AND FANCIES, as I'm writing a prose poem sequence called "Letters from an Old Gent" in which I write imaginary letters to various of HPL's correspondents -- and I began working on a new one, & then I got this impulse to combine the inspiration from the letters to CAS with something inspired by -- gasp! -- "The Horror in the Museum." Now when I was a young Mythos kid, I loved that story, thought it was just great. I now consider it just plain silly -- yet I am always going back to it. So I pulled out my copy of the mammoth Centipede Press edition, MASTERS OF THE WEIRD TALE: H. P. LOVECRAFT, and I began to reread "The Horror in the Museum" for diabolique inspiration. Here's what I came up with:

"An Identity in Dream"
W. H. Pugmire

I wandered a ruined city that had been under the sea. My sense of gravity was timid, and I walked charily lest I awaken the attention of the star-strown abyss above me. I did not like the red ignition of those dead points of light, which I could feel so weirdly on those spools, my eyes. And so I stumbled up the sand-heaped streets until I came to the Museum of Forgotten Things, the queer underground place of which I had dreamt in my awakened state. I stepped down the crude rough-hewn flight to the obscure level and saw the door ajar. Squeezing through the narrow aperture, I entered into the chamber that was pregnant with an iconography of nightmare, in which I felt at home. I waltzed past the shapes furtively whispered of in cycles of subterranean legend, daemons pent in lore of lunacy by diseased visionaries. Ah, the poignant terror conjured by the suggestive silhouettes that bent to me as if in supplication. "Remember us," they seemed to whisper, "and speak our names." I was tempted to open my mouth in that vaulted museum chamber, yet some aspect of the hungry shadow surrounding me kept my lips from parting.

I came to a wall and its antediluvian ten-panelled door, which proved unlocked. It would not open smoothly, and I sensed that there was something weighty behind it that moved sluggishly as I pushed the worm-eaten wood. I entered what looked to be a work room, a place of tools and tables. The place was lit by the red illumination that oozed through the dusty window-slits that had been hewn into the ancient brick wall. This crimson light fell onto the heap of disjointed things that had been behind the door and slithered across the floor at my forceful entry, leaving as trail a dark thick stain. I supposed that the mound was damaged and discarded limbs of wax, doe they were certainly incomplete. How evocative was they stench that emanated from them.

I moved past the tables and their tools, to the circular brick curb of a well set in the stony floor. Bending to that well, I placed my appendages on its cool brick and bent over the circular rim, so as to peer into a pool of liquid shadow, wherein was revealed the ultimate horror in the museum. I did not understand the dark form revealed within that well, the formless face with its eyes that were like unto the crimson stars of some haunted heaven. I was confused by that void, its mouth, the lips of which parted so that a sound rose as bubbles that broke and spoke my name. It was the sound of that name that reawakened memory. Smiling, I dove into the well, sank beneath the swirling surface of the liquid void and fell homeward.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

THE STRANGE DARK ONE AND OTHERS

The Strange Dark One and Others -- Tales of Nyarlathotep. This is a book idea I've had for a wee while, and its time hath come. I proposed it today to David Wynn at Mythos Books, and he said "Yes, yes, yes!" The contents as I see it will be something like this:

"Recompense of Sorrow" (5,000 words, reprint)
"Some Bacchante of Irem" (3,000 words, reprint)
"The Audient Void" (1,500 words, heavily revised reprint)
"The Hands that Reek and Smoke" (3,000 words, reprint)
"One Last Theft" (10,000 words, reprint)
"The Strange Dark One" (new yet-to-be-written novelette)
"This Terrible Relic" (new yet-to-be written weird tale)
"To See Beyond" (7,500 words, my just-completed sequel to Robert Bloch's "The Cheaters")
and I want to write a new wee sonnet cycle to ye Crawling Chaos.

"The Strange Dark One" will, as I see it, be a Sesqua Valley novelette set in 1917 and concerning a group of avant-garde poets who all witness a singular cosmic vision concerning the Faceless God. This is a work I've had in mind for some time, with two characters based on real poets: H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) and Robert H. Barlow. I am especially eager to write a loving portrayal of a character based on Barlow, yet one who embraces and survives being queer, rather than taking his life as Barlow did.

I am also well into the first chapter of The Fabulous Darkness -- A Novel of Richard Upton Pickman, that I am writing with Maryanne K. Snyder. And I am well into working on the next book for Hippocampus Press, primarily a collection of prose poems. Lots and lots of writing ahead, yeehaw!!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Letters from an Old Gent

Part of the fun of writing a new book is discovering those things that inspire one's writing. My inspiration always comes from books, be it Shakespeare or Wilde or Lovecraft (those constants of genius!). To-day's inspiration came from picking up the wee Arkham House volume, Dreams and Fancies, which I purchas'd at World Fantasy Convention in San Jose. I read the second letter on page three, writ by HPL to Maurice W. Moe, and it's imagery so charmed me that I knew I wanted to try and express something inspir'd by it as a new prose poem. I've been writing individual prose poems, but I suddenly felt a desire to write a new sequence of related pieces, & it came to me that I wanted this sequence to be ispir'd by the wonderful letters of H. P. Lovecraft. This got me glancing over various volumes of HPL's letters, which led me to write a wee review of Essential Solitude at Amazon, where the book had not yet received any reviews. Finally I went back and read once more that letter to Moe, and thus I came to write, to-night, the first of a sequence that I have entitl'd

Letters from an Old Gent

I.

May 15, 1918
My dear Maurice:--
The town to which I have journeyed was very strange indeed. As I hovered above it I thought the plan of roads most peculiar, as the lines, combined, formed some kind of sign that I was once able to understand but could now not comprehend. The place was not deep enough to be called a valley; rather, it was like a sleepy hollow betwixt ranges of horrible gray hills. How can hills be horrible? Their queer shapes were suggestive, as if they had once been living forms who had fallen down and so perished beneath the wind that never seemed to silence. They were titanic heaps of ashen sod on which no living thing existed, heaps that held no memory of when they roamed and ruled. Their loneliness seemed echoed on the stone-paved streets of the dead town, on which no soul sojourned. I floated to one main street and marveled at the numerous statues of robed figures, figures that were inexorably rotting in the edacious wind. I could sense it all around me, the voracious air; I could hear it smelling for me, as though it would rot me too, until I was nothing but a formless pillar waiting to crumble into dust.
Is it not strange, Maurice, that even there -- among a multitude of phantoms -- I was yet the Outsider? I hovered in a place in which I did not belong, observing everything of which I will never be a part. Even the daemon wind could not touch me, which made me rather sad; for I wanted to feel that ancient place, to walk along its antediluvian roadways, to lean against the cracking planks of slanting habitations. I did not belong to that realm, familiar though it seemed, nor did it appertain to me in any way. It was some distant memory of a place I might have known -- and lost.
I see it, now, but mistily. If I close my eyes, Maurice -- if I close my eyes... There, they are shut, and before their flaps I see impressions still, red and black, as formless as the horrible hills. Perhaps -- perhaps I can be of that place, if I teach myself to howl correctly, like the daemon wind that seeks me still, if I learn to howl as one last spectre within a haunted place.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now I can have weeks of fun, reading over the letters of H. P. Lovecraft and finding those gems that will inspire new prose poems for this new sequence. Too, I am slowly plotting in my mind what I hope (against hope) will be a novel concerning Richard Upton Pickman and his relationship to Boston witchcraft. There is so much writing yet to accomplish, thank Yuggoth!