Wednesday, June 23, 2010

OH GAWD I CANNOT STOP!!!




This was the happiest day of my life, one that can never be equal'd. It was on this day, this hour, around 4.30 p.m. on 23 Octobye 1707, that I stood in front of 10 Barnes Street with Maryanne and Greg and S. T. Joshi, and then I went up and touch'd ye sacred abode. Greg and Maryanne had taken me to New England and New York for three weeks, and we spent four days in Providence, in a bed & breakfast directly across the street from the Shunned House! We had no idea that for two of our days, S. T. Joshi would be in town doing work on the Clark Ashton Smith papers at John Hay Library -- this is the magic of Providence. S. T. took us on an exhausting walking tour of Lovecraftian sites, but it was standing here, in front of the house where HPL wrote so many of his classics stories, the Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet cycle, &c &c, where I felt Lovecraft's spirit the strongest. It was an amazing experience. During this wee tour I was carrying all three of S. T.'s Penguin Classics editions of Lovecraft's fiction, plus my wee Ballentine Books mass pb edition of Fungi from Yuggoth & Other Poems, a reprinting of the Arkham House edition of Lovecraft's poems complete with those wondrous Frank Utpatel illustrations (one of which we will be reprinting in The Tangled Muse). I don't know if other Lovecraftians visiting Providence seek to feel "the spirit" of H. P. Lovecraft, some lingering something that hints of a particle of his essence still lingering there. I certainly did nit sense it at Swan Point -- but I felt it here moft potently, along with my deep gratitude to my beloved Greg and Maryanne for their gift of letting me dwell in Providence, and the awesome gift of S. T. Joshi's friendship and all that he has done for Lovecraft's texts. Standing before this house just did it for me, it made me
feel that I was a Lovecraftian to the core of my soul, and I made my wee vow that, as an author, I wou'd work my guts out to write book after book of Lovecraftian fiction until my happy day o' Death. This was the moment, standing with those magnificent friends before that historic house, when I felt every inch a Lovecraftian, and gawd what a great feeling it is! I became a Lovecraft fan in 1973 (the same year, I think, that S. T. got hooked on HPL), and those early years were intense. Members of the Lovecraft Circle were still living, and I began to correspond with many. I was writing my first weird tales, most of which were happily been destroyed before they saw print. I learned, through either Whispers or Weirdbook, that H. Warner Munn was living in Tacoma. As a man in his early twenties, Harold Munn was selling stories to Weird Tales and driving H. P. Lovecraft around sightseeing in New England. I drove to Tacoma, got into a phone booth and called up Harold, and thus began a firm friendship that lasted until his death. He read to me the stories that he had penned for the Unique Magazine, shew'd me his copy of The Recluse, took me to gatherings of poets. Told me tale after tale of being with HPL. It was a great time to be a Lovecraftian, because the new era of serious Lovecraft scholarship was just beginning. However, great as that time was, nothing compares with NOW. Great Yuggoth, what a great time this is to be a Lovecraftian. Book after wondrous book is being publish'd, collections of Lovecraft's correspondence, his collected essays in five volumes. Soon we will have S. T.'s definitive biography of Lovecraft in two hardcover volumes, and a new hardcover annotated edition of my favorite Lovecraft work, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward -- which he wrote in that magical dwelling before which I once stood, #10 Barnes Street. Lovecraft has given me so much joy, & he is the gift that will keep on giving, for the rest of my life. He has given me my writing career, the best of my friends, my most exquisite joys.

THE TANGLED MUSE soon to see publication!


Fun with Images! This is the Virgil Finlay illustration that will be illustrating the title story to my new book, The Tangled Muse, which (according to Centipede Press) is soon to go to print. The title story is one that I have wanted to write for over a decade, but I simply could not find the "right" idea. I brought in an old daemon from an earlier vignette, "Wormhead's Kiss," which was publish'd in an issue of Deathrealm, & this new story is a huge expansion on that original idea. I was finally able to write it because of my invention of the city of exiles, Gershom (the name was inspir'd by one of my favorite writers on Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem -- hey!, what a great idea, a new prose poem sequence inspir'd by Scholem's books, something mystical and Jewish like the story I wrote with Maryanne that was publish'd in Weird Tales!) You see, I kinda got interested in this thing called The New Weird, and I decided to invent a new locality for some new weird fiction, an urban setting. The stories that I wrote in this new series wou'd be totally non-Lovecraftian and utterly modern! Yeah! A new artistic direction! The first story, which was rejected by
Weird Tales, was a semi-Lovecraftian piece inspir'd by, um, "Pickman's Model" (it will see its first publication in me Centipede Press omnibus, where it is the lead story). The next tale was kinda a take on "The Picture of Dorian Gray." My characters are named Sebastian Melmoth, Ada Artemis, Max Romp and my young painter, Japheth Beardsley. My "utterly modern" city is very much Wilde's London of ye 1890's. Oh well...

But the new setting was what I needed to write my story, this thing that I had been trying, year after year, to create, with no success. I set the story in Gershom, which is also inspir'd by Wilde's exile to France at the end of his life -- which is why I named my character based on Wilde "Sebastian Melmoth," which was the name that Wilde adopted as his own in exile. And it worked. Here is my introduction to the story's title character:

When the surrounding chatter quieted, Japheth looked up and saw the woman who watched him as she sauntered past their table and walked to where a blind boy sat at a piano. The room listened as the lad began to play his somber music, and something clutched at Japheth's heart as Audre Brugge began to sing Baudelaire's "La Muse malade." Sebastian forgot his drink and felt his slow-beating heart grow weighty with woe. He began to chant the words with whispered voice.

"Ma pauvre muse, helas! qu'as-tu donc ce matin?"

"Hush, Melmoth," Max scolded.

"Her voice is like the coming of Death. No, I cannot listen." Sebastian rose and vacated the room, stepping onto the porch and puffing furiously at his cigarette. His companions sat, transfixed, their eyes and ears bewitched. The woman's voice was deeper than Japheth had remembered. Her eyes, those colorless orbs, penetrated him with their staring, and her perfect mouth made love to the language she uttered. The artist, his hands itching for his pen, took in her mauve skin, her coils of tawny hair; and he marveled at how luxurious that hair looked in the misty light of the place, how it seemed in his imagination at times to writhe with an almost lecherous sentience. He watched as her hands trembled to the emotion of her song as they stroked her velvet vest, and he stared at the dark nipple of an exposed breast. Her song ended, and the room exploded with wild applause. Japheth blushed as the lithe chanteuse winked at him and licked her lips as she exited the room.

Sebastian Melmoth felt the presence behind him, one that commanded him to turn and acknowledge. He refused to do so and stared at the yellow moon as if that sphere of dust would grant him inner strength.

"Have you another cigarette?" a husky voice asked. He watched as Audre Brugge moved to a lower step and stood before him. How eerie that the poisonous light of the dead moon seemed to have been transferred to the eyes that held him. Hypnotized, he reached into his vest pocket and brought forth his golden cigarette case. He watched as the woman made her selection and placed the reed of nicotine into her mouth; and he trembled as she bent to him and touched the tip to his. "Your breath tastes of wormwood," she stated, "lots and lots." He detected a Dutch inflection in her accented voice.

"Yes, " he replied. "One must imbibe to fulfillment. The first glass will show you things as you wish they existed; and the second gives you a glimpse of things as they are not. The third glass of absinthe -- reveals the truth behind the mask of reality, and that is the most horrible of revelations."

"And what do you see behind my mask?"

He sucked deeply on his bit of nicotia and exhaled a patch of scented fume that floated as curtain between them. "Nay, Medusa, your alchemy cannot touch me. My heart turned to stone ages ago."

Secretly she smiled, licked her mouth and walked away.

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

You will see the tributes that I pay in that portion, to Poppy Z. Brite, to one of Lovecraft's revision tales, to many things. And then, you can imagine my amazement, when hunting for an illustration for the tale's appearance in my book, I found that drawing by Virgil Finlay!!! Life never ceases to amaze me!

Dreams & Madness



I have completed the rewrite of "Into the Depths of Dreams and Madness," the original version of which had its one printing in Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley last year. More and more the original version displeased me and I knew it had to be revised and expanded. It is perhaps a mistake to use an actual character from Lovecraft's fiction -- Richard Upton Pickman, with whom I am just as obsess'd as I am with Nyarlathotep. (But I don't think we'll be seeing a wee collection of my Pickman tales.) I was hoping this rewrite would be a novelette of at least 10,000 words, & thus was disappointed when the tale ended at merely 6,364 words; but the tale was told, and any addition to it would be superfluous. I cannot call this new version a success, for various reasons, but I find it a vast improvement over the paltry first version. I confess that the writing of it has given me serious second thoughts about my idea of writing a novel next year, with Maryanne, concerning the early years of Pickman. I think it would be wise to invent my own character inspir'd by Lovecraft's character, but set in the modern era, or maybe have him (or her) live in my city of exiles. One must listen to these inner voices and heed their council -- to ignore them is to be damned.

Oh, I've just seen that I can add images and videos. Let me try one as an experiment. Wow! It works! That is an illustration by Virgil Finlay that will appear in my next book, The Tangled Muse, so as to illustrate the story (inspir'd by "Pickman's Model") "Born in Strange Shadow," in which one of Pickman's paintings appears in Sesqua Valley, a painted of a hanged witch surrounded by her brood of dog-faced ghouls. Oh, that was fun. Let's see if I can do it again!
FUN!!! There's me in Brooklyn, in the churchyard that inspir'd H. P. Lovecraft to write "The Hound" -- to which I have penned my own sequel, "Some Distant Baying Sound."

Oh boy, this is cool. Now I gotta do another blog and find a cool image to talk about!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Soon, soon...

I was so totally ready to spend the day writing, although I was weary from having to be aware of my mother's state, as she was confused and too weak at 4.30 this morning to get out of bed to use the bathroom. When she is like that I have a habit of listening to her through most of the night to see if she is all right (I sleep in the room next to hers). I was in a good mood. I am one of some few writers who participated in writing a Lovecraftian round-robin story, which just sold to F&SF, and yesterday I got my cheque for $72, so I thought, cool, I'm gonna buy some Gladys Knight MP3 over at Amazon and then have some yummy Thai food for dinner. Nope. Mom's state worsened and I ended up dailing 911 and following an ambulance to ER -- this was at three in ye afternoon, we got home around seven tonight. Honey, I am so worn out. I have just spent about an hour looking at the story I am now writing, just kinda staring at the screen and trying to conjure forth the spirit of Poe and Lovecraft and write. I want the character I am now introducing to evoke some of Poe's verse, thus I am giving her hair that is raven black, and a face that is pallid and wan, and she will be wearing angel wings as she sits in the burying ground in Sesqua Valley where the soil breeds lunacy if one lingers upon it too long a time. And I just sat here staring at the laptop screen with a brain that refuses to work. Sucks.

Jerad at Centipede mail'd off my copy of Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle a few days ago, so I'll soon have a new Centipede Press box to open up before my webcam, Live On YouTube! Jerad also mention'd that my own Centipede Press omnibus, The Tangled Muse, is about to be printed -- and I won't believe this book is more than a dream until I hold it in my sweaty paw.

So I'm sitting here listening to Gladys Knight sing "Grandma's Hands" and wishing I could write fiction. But I'm too worn out from sitting for hours in Swedish Hospital with my poor old mum, trying to reassure her that everything was cool but it ain't never gonna be cool again.

So who has ye energy to write. I know absolutely that I don't have ye energy to work on my original idea of a 20,000 word novella -- but I am revising an elder tale, "Into the Depths of Dreams and Madness," which had its first publication in my last book. That version is some lame shite. It needs to be extensively revised and expanded and I plan on trying to lengthen it into a 10,000 or 15,000 word novelette -- but not tonight, girlfriend.

So it's a curious time in my life -- that rich combination of the really depressing and the soaring ecstasy of my writing life. It feels groovy to have a new book ready for next year, and Jeffrey Thomas sent me some of the art and it is so awesome, especially the cover. Hopefully I can finish this new book by ye end of ye year, as S. T. thinks he can find a "slot" for it in ye Hippocampus publishing schedule of next year. Coolness, two new books out in 2011. I thought the writing of this new book wou'd be so simple, cos it's bleedin' prose poetry, wee pretty scary things. Nope, to write a really concentrated bit of prose poetry is work, my child, and it demands concentration and rewrite and lots of dreaming.

So ye best thing now, I guess, is to go to bed, put on me headphones and listen to Gladys Knight and fall asleep and dream some sweet sick dreams that may, perhaps, be used for prose poem material.

Good-night, sweet-hearts.
Willy

Monday, June 14, 2010

Arkham House

I am delighted to see that MythosCon now has over 100 attending members, with more to come as I've heard of others who want to attend. One of the planned panels is on THE ARKHAM SAMPLER AND THE ARKHAM COLLECTOR. Arkham House now has two editors, George Vanderburg and Robert Weinburg (at last, another editor at Arkham House who loves Lovecraft!). One of the projects listed as forthcoming is a reprinting of the old Arkham Sampler, and I am so looking forward to it. On this panel at MythosCon the panel will be made up of some of the writers not yet -dead-yet-dreaming who had work published in The Arkham Collector: Walter C. DeBill, Ramsey Campbell, Gary Myers, and many others.

Another new book forthcoming from Arkham House will be by Lois M. Gresh, and she will be attending MythosCon as well. I am really excited about the new activity of this house. I got hooked on reading weird fiction when I was a Mormon missionary in Northern Ireland. I was a huge horror film fan, but my superiors wouldn't allow me to go to cinema to watch Hammer Films (although I did on the sly). One of my pen-pals was Robert Bloch, and so I began to buy Bob's novels and any anthology in which he had a story--many of which were edited by Peter Haining and found in the wee 2nd hand bookshops in Ireland. This is how I was introduced to Derleth, Lumley, Smith, Howard, Jacobi and so many others, the core of those Masters who write for Weird Tales and were a part of the Lovecraft Circle of writers. Thus, when I returned from my mission and began to publish a Lovecraft fanzine, somehow I heard about Arkham House, and I got their four editions of Lovecraft's Works and Derleth's original edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos -- and there was something very special about Arkham House books, they had a kind of mystique, a magical charm. I loved everything about them, and it was (when I began seriously to pen weird fiction) my little fantasy that someday I would write a story for a modern Arkham House anthology.

So you can imagine my intense delight and excitement when one of the editors of the new Arkham House rang me up (from Wisconsin!) and asked if I'd be interested in submitting poetry for a forthcoming revised/expanded edition of DARK OF THE MOON, the magnificent poetry anthology that Derleth publish'd in 1947! I have a cycle of 33 sonnets in my book Sesqua Valley & other Haunts, but most of those poems fail to please me now. Looking over them, I found some few that I still thought well of, some that needed major revision. Then I wrote two brand new sonnets. I called this new wee sequence of nine sonnets "Chants of Passion & Doom," and we shall see if any of them meet with editorial approval at Arkham House. I just read one of the new sonnets on my MrWilum channel. Gawd, how cool it would be, to have my work in an anthology of poetry from Arkham House. But even if, for any reason, the poems don't find favor, at least I have a new edition of weird poetry to look forward to -- and they are rare!

Monday, June 7, 2010

One more tale added to STRANGE DARK ONE

I remember'd that I had one other tale that touches on the myth of Nyarlathotep, "Past the Gate of Deepest Slumber." I consider it one of my weakest stories, although it got an honorable mention from Datlow, and never intended it to be reprinted. Thinking over it again, I saw how I could incorporate into it some of my new ideas concerning Sesqua Valley. In "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," Lovecraft mentions that there are two places where the forest of the Dreamlands touches the earth of our mundane reality. I decided that one of those two places will be within ye haunted woodland of Sesqua Valley, and I touched on this lightly in my new 14,000 word novelette, "The Strange Dark One." I rewrote this other story, renaming it "Past the Gates of Deepest Dreaming," and incorporated a scene in which one of the characters, a woman who is a combination of Sesqua's shadow and the elements of Dreamland, enters into the forest of the Dreamlands and has a wee chat with one aspect of Nyarlathotep. Don't know if it works, but I think it has helped to make a boring story more interesting. The revision came to 7,330 words, so it is a substantial addition to my book of tales of Nyarlathotep. The book will be entirely illustrated by the wonderful Jeffrey Thomas.

Spent all of Saturday with S. T. Joshi and his wife and another rad pal, and it was quite delightful. We went to this forest park that had this one place where there were all of these tree stumps and fallen trees, it looked like something out of Lovecraft, or Sesqua Valley. There was also this amazing green swamp, before which S. T. and I posed for a photo that will hopefully be on the back of my next Hippocampus book -- ye author & ye editor. We visited the house where I used to visit with H. Warner Munn thirty years ago, and then we met Laird Barron and his beautiful & charming wife at Olive Garden, where S. T. presented us with our copies of the traycase edition of BLACK WINGS, which is simply stunning. Laird presented S. T. and I with sign'd copies of his new collection from Night Shade Books, OCCULTATION, which is one of the most magnificent collections I have ever read, an amazing book. Laird is still struggling with the writing of his novel, of which he has about two-thirds completed. The novel will be published next year by Night Shade Books.

S. T. would like me to turn in my next collection for Hippocampus by year's end so that they can try to publish it next year. Most of what I want to write for it are many many wee prose poems, very strange things some of which I have posted here; but I also have that lunatic idea that I am going to write a 20,000 word semi-sequel to "The Dunwich Horror." The book will have as its contents material that is mostly non-Lovecraftian, so I want one huge chunk of writing that is Lovecraftian to ye core. Lots of work to do, thus I am away.