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!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A New Book for 2011

I completed my new Sesqua Valley novelette, "The Strange Dark One," last night. At 14,055 is comes short of my hoped-for 15,000 words -- but it's near enough. The contents, then, of
THE STRANGE DARK ONE AND OTHERS is thus:
"Recompense of Sorrow" (reprint, 5,000 words)
"Some Bacchante of Irem" (reprint, 3,000 words)
"The Audient Void" (heavily revised, 1,500 words)
"The Hands that Reek and Smoke" (reprint, 3,000 words)
"One Last Theft" (reprint, 10,000 words)
"To See Beyond" (unpublished new tale, 7,500 words)
"Immortal Remains" (utterly revised, now featuring Simon Gregory Williams, 2,579 words)
"The Strange Dark One" (unpublished, 14,055 words)

Because the book is mostly reprints (but with some that have been in magazines only, not in past collections), I knew that the new stories had to be substantial. Still, at 46,634 words, this will be a wee collection, but one that I have wanted to bring out for quite a while, a book of all of my Nyarlathotep tales to date. I got the idea for the book during my first reading of Bob Price's The Nyarlathotep Cycle from Chaosium. The Crawling Chaos is quite simply the most intriguing of Lovecraft's Gods for me -- enigmatic, daemonic, beyond comprehension. Thus my collection shews my growing obsession with this Great Old One (if so he may be called,) this "soul and messenger" of the Other Gods. I knew that the new title story had to be a creature of length, and my dream was a novelette of 15,000/20,000 words. Didn't quite reach that, but I'm satisfy'd nonetheless. What weirded me out was that I had originally planned for the new novelette to be a total sequel to Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark," and thus I brought in one of the black windows that was part of the New England church featured in Lovecraft's tale; but that was it! I also had this perverse idea that I would reference Derleth's story, "The Dweller in Darkness," a story that I really enjoy except for its bloody awful ending. So I have my main character, April Dorgan, the granddaughter of one of the dudes in Derleth's tale (naming her April after Augie's own daughter). As the story progress'd, it became, more and more, a total and direct sequel to "The Dweller in Darkness" and nothing else. But I think it works, and I like what I've done with various Lovecraftian angles.

I've sent the book via email to David Wynn, so now we just wait until he can fit its publication into his schedule. Feels damn good having a new book completed for publication next year, and one that came into existence rather quickly, almost as a surprise. I hope that it will give some pleasure to those Lovecraftians who read it. It will certainly please fans of Sesqua Valley.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Three-Hundred & Counting

My vlog with S. T. has caused quite a sensation, it seems. I've never had a video on my MrWilum channel get so many views so quickly -- it's now at 300 views in two days of being posted. The video has been posted on various forum sites and links have been provided to it at Hippocampus Press and elsewhere. Yog knows how many have seen it via Twitter, which is a beast I do not yet understand. I think part of what charms people about the video is the wee duet at ye end where we sing Happy Birthday to Bobby Barlow's memory -- and that was such fun, but it has a serious component. Barlow killed himself just months before my birth, and although I don't know the circumstances of that suicide it has been said that it was related to a potential scandal concerning his sexual adventures with young men. This has always really saddened me, that this young man took his life because of being queer. So I've always had a special tender spot in me heart for Bobby, and when my friend at Facebook reminded me that the 18th would have been Barlow's 92nd birthday, I knew I wanted to honour it in some way with S. T. on camera. This is the thing about my YouTube videos -- they have to have a serious foundation of literary content, an expression of love for H. P. Lovecraft and the Weird Tale Circle of writers, news or views about books &c; but they also have to be fun and kinda goofy, with me dressed in all of my freaky splendor.

The real reason, I think, why this video with S. T. has proved so popular is because there is a curiosity about him, and much admiration. He has earned a huge reputation as a world scholar and editor. He has changed forever the world view concerning H. P. Lovecraft and continues to do so with book after book. He is my hero. Of course, heroes have flaws, and S. T. can sometimes be ruthless as a critic. In The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos, I feel that he was unduly harsh concerning Michael Shea's early Mythos novel, The Color out of Time, which was reprinted in Shea's fabulous omnibus collection from Centipede Press. I loved that novel when I first read it in paperback and I thoroughly enjoy'd my reading of it in ye Centipede edition. Also, I disagree with S. T.'s assessment of the Mythos fiction of my buddy and publisher (he published my first American collection), Jeffrey Thomas, who has penned some of the Mythos most original fiction. Jeff is furious with S. T.'s critique of his fiction, and deeply hurt, I think. It is S. T.'s right and duty as a critic to be honest, but he has at times been brutal, as with his unkind comments concerning Berglund's Mythos fiction in the infamous Weird Tales article, the publication of which ended Stan Sargent's writing career (he has yet to finish a new story since the publication of that article) and kept Joe Pulver from writing for five years. In Pulver's case, S. T. has now worked with him on two books for Hippocampus and hails Joe as a magnificent weird tale artist.

Anyway, there is a fascination with S. T. out there that he has earned from his never=ending work in the field, and other fields. I hope to have him over for additional videos, but his schedule is so crowded and his work life so crazy that he rarely has time. The reason he came over was because he had to sign the 150 signature sheets for my Centipede Press omnibus, The Tangled Muse. But as we ate dinner, we remembered other things we should have mentioned in the vlog. "We'll mention them next time," he said over his minestrone (which he order'd specifically because it was one of Lovecraft's favourite foods). So, there will be more vlogs with him.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Me & S. T. Tuesday Night!!!

Yo, my sweet hearts. Jerad at Centipede Press sent me ye signature sheets for The Tangled Muse that are to be sign'd by me & S. T. Joshi, so S. T. is comin' over to my pad Tuesday night, May 18, 2010 -- he he has agreed to let me interview him live on my MrWilum tv channel over at YouTube! Yaahaw! One thing I especially want to ask about is the forthcoming hardcover annotated edition of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward that he has edited for Tampa Press & whut will be publish'd some time this year. Ward is my absolute favourite work of fiction by H. P. Lovecraft, so I am very excited about seeing that edition! I had dinner with S. T. last night and he has many projects going on, so I think two ten minutes vlogs will be needed to get all ye news out. S. T. is such a great chum, and he can be so amusing. For those who have never met him, these interviews will be revealing, I hope.

I have yet to receive my box of twenty copies of S. T.'s Black Wings--New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, publish'd in March by P. S. Publishing. I asked to be paid in copies of the book rather than cheque, and then I promised a bunch of people copies of the book. Got an email from P. S. this morning asking if they could pay me in cheque instead -- so now I have to tell all my chums to whom I promis'd a copy of that fab book -- sorry! Happily, I bought a copy for myself at Abe's Books cos I got tired of waiting for it. Even S. T. has yet to see the book! So when he comes over Tuesday night I'll have him sign my copy, which will be the first actual copy he will have seen. I'm not too annoy'd about getting $$$ rather than gobs of copies -- because now I can use that money to buy the magnificent Centipede Press omnibus, Masters of the Weird Tale: William Hope Hodgson!!! Whoo-hoo!

I have almoft 6,000 words of the story that I am working on, the title story for my book The Strange Dark One and Others. I read the story's opening poem on YouTube last night, but I wasn't completely satisfy'd with it; so this morning my pal Tony (who is a brilliant poet) made a suggestion which has much improv'd ye poem. Here is ye complete thang:

I have looked through black trees to the dry and dead moon,
There in a darkened sky, a place of ultimate omission,
Which expands overhead like some cauldron of nightmare,
An abyss of evening.
Overhead, a yawning universe seethes,
As if to devour this world and we
Who creep insignificantly on it,
We who stumble and find no hold of sanity.
A chill madness seeps down from darkness;
It touches the hoary stones
Of this unholy house in the valley
Where chaos and lunacy dance,
Where they move in an atmosphere haunted
By the mockery there on His mask,
His facade of Imperial Midnight.
He offers His hand to our tongue.
(rough draft of a poem by William Davis Manly, left unfinished at the time of his disappearance)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Okay, darlings --I needs must begin to cook ye spaghetti & chicken for me & Ma's dinner. I kiss ye all to death.
--Willy Wanker, Esq.

Friday, May 14, 2010

MythosCon!!!

I am getting more and more excited about MythosCon, whut happens in Phoenix, Arizona on January 6 - 9, 2011. This convention is the brainchild of Phoenix resident and Mythos novelist Adam Niswander, and look at this list of those who, thus far have confirmed membership: Gary C. Myers, William F. Nolan, Stephen Mark Rainey, Kevin Ross, Scott David Aniolowski, Allen Koszowski, S. T. Joshi, Ken Fair Jr., Peter Cannon, Ramsey Campbell, Walt DeBill, David Drake, Alan Dean Foster, Cody Goodfellow, Jason Eckhardt, Jason V. Brock, Donald Burleson, Sam Gafford, Steffan Aletti, John Langon, Yvonne Navarro, and many others.

S. T. is helping with the programming, and a tentative schedule of events is now listed at the con site, and it looks great! Everything from Lovecraft's Letters to the original Lovecraft Circle to Arkham House to Mythos Gods and Tomes and Films and Gaming has been included.

This is a first-time convention, and my impression of such things is that they initially have a small turn-out. As I write there are 88 attending members listed, but I know many people who absolutely plan on going and I have a feeling that this is going to be one of the greatest Lovecraftian gatherings of all-time. If you are planning on attending but have yet to register, now would be a great time to do so, so as to help give Adam an idea of membership size.

Adam Niswander is the author of many Mythos novels and he is quite simply one of the nicest guys ever. He is so absolutely devoted to the Mythos and to encouraging new writers who are working in the Mythos, especially young novelists. I am trying to write my first Lovecraftian novel, in collaboration with Maryanne K. Snyder, in which we dwell on the life story of Richard Upton Pickman, and I can tell you that trying to write a novel is really difficult for me. I envy those who have the talent to work in this medium. I am determined to do it and complete at least one Lovecraftian novel before I fade away, but I can tell that I am not by nature a novelist, alas. I look forward to gathering with other Mythos writers and readers in Phoenix, and I'm sure that it will totally inspire me!

Friday, May 7, 2010

YE STRANGE DARK ONE & OTHERS

Strangely, I am now almost finished with a new book, The Strange Dark One and Others, which I hope will see publication next year if Mythos Books can fit it into their publishing schedule. I worked, this week, on completely rewriting an old story, "Immortal Remains," which has not seen republication since its appearance in Sesqua Valley & Other Haunts. I wanted to stress the story's connection to Nyarlathotep, and I wanted to switch the character of the wee child with that of my dear daemonic Simon Gregory Williams, a character I so love writing about. Thus it is almost a completely new tale.

This is a book that I have had in the back of my mind for some time -- a collection of my tales of Nyarlathotep, who is my favorite of Lovecraft's Great Old Ones. I now have one final story to complete, the title story for the book, and then I will turn in the collection to David Wynn. I really want to explore the legend of Nyarlathotep and tie him absolutely to Sesqua Valley; & I have long wanted to write something of a semi-sequel to my favorite H. P. Lovecraft tale, "The Haunter of the Dark." So I feel that this new story, "The Strange Dark One," can be of considerable length and (hopefully) substance.

Ye Contents of Ye Book:

Introduction by myself
"The Audient Void"
"Immortal Remains"
"One Last Theft"
"Some Bacchante of Irem"
"The Hands that Reek and Smoke"
"To See Beyond"
"The Strange Dark One"

"The Audient Void" is rather a crummy tale and I wasn't going to include it, but then I thought, "What the hell, let my early stuff be seen once in a while without being touched up," so I'll have it as the opening tale. Like Lovecraft, I am always rewriting my early work, expanding the initial inspiration of theme or visual motif or whatever, as HPL did, after writing "Dagon," then revisioning it as "The Call of Cthulhu." "Some Bacchante of Irem" was published last year in the wonderful magazine, Dark Discoveries, and it was given a honorable mention by Ellen Datlow. "To See Beyond" is my sequel to Robert Bloch's "The Cheaters," and will see its first publication in this book. It will be a wee book, aye, but one that has been on my mind for some few years, so it will be nice to see it actually published.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Immortal Remains

In working on my next collection for Mythos Books, The Strange Dark One and Others, I realis'd that I had forgotten to include one old tale, "Immortal Remains," which is tied to "The Nameless City," one of my fave Lovecraft tales. The story will not be appearing in my Centipede Press book, so I thought I might as well include it in the new Mythos Books thing, as it has oblique mentions of Nyarlathotep. But it thinking it over just now, I see that I may be able to significantly as to the tale, enlarge it, and magnify the references to ye Strange Dark One, and also add some other bits of borrowings from HPL. And I want to set it in the year that Lovecraft wrote "The Nameless City" -- 1921. I think the story has had but one book appearance, in Sesqua Valley & Other Haunts -- (bollocks, my boldface won't shut off...) (ah, there we go) so it can stand a complete rewrite and expansion, and then ye new version will be a lovely wee addition to the new collection. So that is my project to-night. If I can stop listening to Lady Gaga, whom I find rather compelling...

I really enjoy reworking my older tales and seeing what I can do with those old ideas now, so many years later, when I have taught myself to imagine so much more fully as an author. When I wrote that first version of "Immortal Remains," most of my stories were around 2,000. The idea of writing something 3,000 words seemed an impossibility -- my imagination simply didn't work that way. I remember how excited I was when, at the urging of John Pelan, I worked and worked on my story for The Children of Cthulhu and finally penned something over three-thousand words! I felt so professional! And over the years I have experimented with writing tales of length, finally culminating in my longest and best story, "Inhabitants of Wraithwood," for S. T. Joshi's Black Wings. And now it is almost impossible for me to write a story under 3,000 words!

So now I am going to reread "The Nameless City" in the delicious Penguin Classics edition, The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, and as I read I shall, in some small pocket of my mind, dream of the Crawling Chaos, and then I shall see what I can do in recreating an antient tale and so make it new & nameless. Shalom.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Letters from an Old Gent

With my new prose poem sequence, "Letters from an Old Gent," I have not try'd to write in Lovecraft's "voice," but merely to compose a string of feelings, emotions, inspir'd within my haunted mind when I think of HPL's imagined relationship with his family & friends. I was hoping the piece would be 5,000 words, but it felt complete at merely 2,300. Here are the last three "letters":

VII.
Beloved Sarah Susan:--

Let me take your lovely hand and walk with you along these quiet grounds. The Grotto is especially beautiful today, and you look charming with primroses in your hair. Yes, you do look frail, and we can walk as slowly as you desire. I do not mean to look troubled--you know that I am supremely unemotional--I wish only to give you comfort, and thus I can slow my pace and enjoy Nature as you have taught me. We can gaze into the heavens and bask in their beauty, knowing that they contain nothing else, not gods nor angels with whom, in time, we dance among the clouds. That blue sky, as you have told me, is but an illusion of light; beyond it lies darkness illimitable, with here and there some momentary globes of cosmic fire. The clouds are very white, almost as pale as your face, wherein those stars, your eyes, regard me with love and wonder.

You laugh to hear the birds sing in the trees, and warble with them in your lovely voice. But then your eyes seem troubled by some sight that you imagine, there, behind the trees. I see nothing but imagine much, for you have taught me how to sense the things that haunt the places just beyond our ken. Your hold is tighter on my hand and now your laughter is a strained and nervous sound. But know this, dearest, I will catch these fiends with my imagination and so trap them that they can never do you harm. And I'll expel them with my poet's pen and trap them onto paper. And the one sound that comes to you at night will be our laughter, sweet and safe and sane, and you will smile to know again this kiss that I bequeath upon maternal brow.

VIII.
Papa:--

Can you smell the river where you rest? It smells of mud and stones, and sometimes, at night, it seems to sing with liquid sigh. Do you hear its lullaby, where you lie? It talks to you, I know, and tells you tales, as you told me when I was but a child. I think of you now and then, and envision you beneath the ground, through which you seep to your neighbors and knock upon their doors. What would you sell them, Papa, what are the wares of Death?

Can you smell the wind that flows from off the river? It smells of earth and sky, and sometimes, at night, it whispers of another world that one can find in dream. I meet you there, Papa, and let you lift me to your lap, which once was warm but now is as cool as naked bone. What is it that we hear within the wind? It may be Mother calling--she is near, you know, just over there, where she followed you and frolics off the walls.

I have my newest tale. I'll read to you as you once read to me. I was thinking of you, Papa, when I wrote it, and of the place where you rest, in darkness but not in silence. Death is unquiet, disturbed by things that crawl and scratch and gnaw. I'll read to you, Papa, with my lips pressed onto the ground so that my hot voice sinks into cold sod and finds your ears. You have no ears? They have deliquesced? Then listen to me with your bones, that ivory pith folded or outspread. I'll sing it to the earth, my art, and add it to the noise in the dirt, the ground beneath which we will sink in time, your family, and be with you again, and whisper secrets of the world we knew.

IX.
Sunand, dear fellow:--

It's interesting, isn't it, how I can infiltrate one's life? I am like one dead yet dreaming. You heard my call when very young, and I molded your mind with the power of my literary potency. As it was done unto me, I do unto others. I pulse within one's blood, through every vein. I infiltrate the eyes, which see the world anew, through my ideas. I shape the soul with spectral hands, and kiss with an influence you would never otherwise have known. I race with young minds as they devour my Cthulhu, my Innsmouth, my Fungi. I educate through the magick of my correspondence, and urge you to seek wisdom and knowledge of your own. You are mine as we walk, together, along the lanes of Providence, down Benefit Street and to the burying ground I still haunt with Poe. I am there as you stand before 10 Barnes Street, as you chant the titles that I penned there, that rich litany of Work. I dance the dance of ghosts as you slave over my stories so as to purify them as much as possible, so that they are printed as written, down to the very last semicolon and comma, as I instructed Baird. I know that you praise my correspondence for its "importance"--but know that it is my fiction that I cherish above all else. It is there that you will find me, utterly. Know, too, that I will never melt away from your mind, but like some eternal revenant I will dwell within you ever and evermore. I have attached myself, to you and many others, and there will be no letting go; for I am Eternal, and my depths can never be completely plumbed. I am as deep as Time, and the Cosmos.

Yr obt Servt,
Ec'h-Pi-El