Monday, August 23, 2010

There is nothing wrong with your television set

Actually, I can't figure it out.  I was gonna try to post my vlog with S. T. Joshi here, but I can't figure out how to transfer it from my computer to this blog site.  I did send it to myself as an email.  Oh, well...going back to bed....  You can see the video by clicking on to the title of this blog, however!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

J. VERNON SHEA

That's J. Vernon Shea and Bho Bloch, such snappy dressers!  Among those members of the Lovecraft Circle (people who knew H. P. Lovecraft and corresponded with him) that I came to know when I became an obsess'd Lovecraft fanatic in 1973, Vernon was my dearest pal among yem.  We had a long correspondence and spoke often over the 'phone.  I loved him and miss him still, and often think about him when I am writing my wee Cthulhu Mythos fiction.  Vernon was one of the first to really encourage me in my writing, and although he was too kind to those early tales that I have now discarded, disown'd and destroy'd, he gave me the confidence to try and write weird fiction.  The chapbook to the left was publish'd by Necronomicon Press and I imagine it's difficult to find these days.  Vernon had a story, "The Haunter of the Graveyard," in Derleth's original Arkham House edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.  When the wanker Jim Turner re-edited the book, he ruthlessly dropped Vernon's charming tale from the contents.  I don't think the tale has ever been professionally reprinted, but it should be.  Vernon told me that he was writing it when Augie sent him an invitation to write a new tale for the anthology, and although Vernon hadn't intended the tale to be a Mythos yarn, he changed course midway and, voila!, a Mythos tale were spawn'd.  I've been thinking of Vernon and "The Haunter of the Graveyard" all day because I've been listening to a 1978 recording of a Lovecraftian panel on which Vernon was a panelist along with Fritz Leiber and a very youthful S. T. Joshi.

Well, I've been working on expanding "Uncommon Places."  Its first publication, in the 15,000 word version (there is an earlier 10,000 version) will be in The Tangled Muse at ye end of next month.  Because I am calling my next collection for Hippocampus Press Uncommon Places, I've decided to try and expand the thing by another 10,000 words, and I have a perverse yen to make these final segments rather Lovecraftian.  It came to me that I could write three or more new segments using Vernon's story as inspiration.  I am basing the writing of these new segments on these entries in Lovecraft's Commonplace Book:
[98] Hideous old house on steep city hillside -- Bowen St. -- beckons in the night -- black windows -- horror unnam'd -- cold touch and voice -- the welcome of the dead.
[112] Man lives near graveyard -- how does he live?  Eats no food.
[165] Terrible trip to an ancient and forgotten tomb.

I first envision'd I cou'd tell ye tale in three related segments, but now my imagination is running wild, and I fancy it may take many words to convey ye tale that bubbles in me brain.  Here is ye first segment, just compos'd:

"Uncommon Places" -- Part XX

I never solved the mystery of how my Uncle Silas came to own Elmer Harrod's house in Arkham, but I suspect it had something to do with my uncle's love of campy horror films.  Harrod had a fine collection of such films, as well as his personal home-made films that had been shot in the nearby cemetery.  My uncle used to love to show me those home-made films when I visited him as a young teenager, and I confess they had an eerie appeal for me as well; and I recall how something caught my attention, something reflected in Elmer Harrod's shadowed eyes -- momentary expressions of authentic mental disturbance, bewilderment, fear.  Harrod's fame, such as it was, came from his occupation as television horror host, but I was too young to remember his ghastly make-ups and muggings before his Victorian house on the television screen.  He was less renowned for the books of horror fiction that he had edited for various paperback publishers, short-lived titles with lurid covers, or for his one novel, Underneath the Witch Town, which, as an adolescent, I had found enthralling after having found a box of copies in Harrod's house after my uncle had purchased the building and its contents.  It was the library of the house that really influenced me, for it was stuffed with the horror host's extensive collection of weird phantasy.  I spent summer after summer pouring over those books, and it was under the spell of their authors that I became determined to join their ranks and write horror fiction professionally.  It was while stumbling through Old Dethshill Cemetery that I came up with my pen-name, Deth Carter, for there were many Carters buried in the place.  I had been particularly drawn to the hidden grave of one particular fellow, Obediah Carter; for his long tabletop tomb, dated 1793 to 1887, was decorated with a faded photograph of the elderly gentleman that was beneath an oval of glass that had been fastened to the slab of stone.   There had long been legends that the Carters of Arkham had been tainted with witch blood, and one could well believe it when examining the stern and satanic countenance of Obediah.

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 around the world 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 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 Obediah Carter rotted, 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 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 a giant 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 direction of my uncle's upraised limbs, into which the vines penetrated.  Uncle Silas did not regard the camera as he muttered, "More, more -- my arms are hungry."

I could watch these films but once, and then I stored them away and tried to forget them; but the memory of their images haunted my dreams, and I knew that the only way I could expel them was to use them as fictional fodder.  Thus it was that I composed my first novel, Beneath Arkham, the publication of which brought me a modicum of fame and fortune.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy 120th Birthday, E'ch-Pi-El

I am spending to-day lost in Lovecraft, studying his weird fiction and ye entries in his Commonplace Book as I add an additional 10,000 words to my prose-poem/vignette sequence, "Uncommon Places." Each entry of the work is inspir'd by one or several entries in Lovecraft's Commonplace Book. I wrote the first 10,000 word version of the work for the revised/expanded edition of Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror for Mythos Books. When it become apparent that I needed to add wordage to The Tangled Muse (to be publish'd next month by Centipede Press!), I added an additional 5,000 words to ye sequence. I am calling my next collection from Hippocampus Press Uncommon Places, and thus I have decided to add yet another 10,000 words to the work, bringing it up to 25,000 words.

For the first of the new segments, I am using the following sections from HPL's Commonplace Book:
[52] Calling on dead -- voice or familiar sound in adjacent room
[53] Hand of dead man writes
[54] Transportation of identity

I am also incorporating Lovecraft's letter of November 16, 1916 to Rheinhart Kleiner, found of page 3 of Dreams and Fancies, which begins, "In January, 1896, the death of my grandmother plunged the household into a gloom from which it never fully recovered." I want to make these additional 10,000 words of prose poems and vignettes extremely Lovecraftian, and this demands that I submerge into Lovecraft's world by pouring over his fiction, his poetry, his letters, his biography. It's wonderful to be doing this on HPL's birthday!

Can't remember if I mention'd that I finish'd, after three decades of trying, my wee semi-sequel to Robert Bloch's "The Skull of the Marques de Sade," having finally written it as a Cthulhu Mythos tale for ye anthology Dead But Dreaming II, to be publish'd by Miskatonic River Press. I wasn't certain if the story was much good, but the publisher seems to have enjoy'd it, for he has just asked me to write a new collection of Cthulhu Mythos tales for the press. I will begin work on that new book next year, and I plan to set the stories in Lovecraft Country, writing new tales of Kingsport, Arkham, and perhaps my first tale set in Innsmouth. My very useful tools in the writing of this new book will be the gaming manuals published by Chaosium, with their wonderful maps and atmospheric studies of Lovecraftian localities.

Also next year I plan to finally work on writing my first novel, in collaboration with ye magnificent Maryanne K. Snyder. Mare and I have spent the last couple of years collaborating on lengthy weird tales, the first of which, "House of Idiot Children," was publish'd as lead story in an issue of Weird Tales.

Okay, my ducks -- back to work!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ponderings

I have tentatively begun what I hope may be a sequel to "Inhabitants of Wraithwood," my story in S. T.'s Black Wings anthology. S. T. once hinted that he thought I could write an entire novel situated in Wraithwood, but I prefer the idea of a collection of novelettes, if indeed such a book is possible. This new novelette seems interesting and the few hundred words of opening that I have hold my interest with suggestiveness -- yet there are so many things I have wanted to write and express'd an interest in writing that, now, seem beyond my feeble capabilities. The thing that keeps me from writing, the physical and mental exhaustion, is rooted in my home life; & I was just reading the Norton Critical Edition of Kafka's The Metamorphosis, whut publishes extracts of letters in which he whines about those things that interrupt his writing. I moved in with my mother two years ago (or is it three years? time is not easily measur'd in this existence of day-to-day writing & trying to write), because her weakened condition, her constant falls, &c, make it impossible for her to live alone. We now have to hire professional at-home care, & this will be good for me because it will give me more freedom for coming down here to the basement where I write my books without my constantly listening for mother's movements. I'll be able, I hope, to fully concentrate on writing, to lose myself within the work, such a delicious affair.

So, I'm working on what I propose to be a 9,000 word sequel to "Wraithwood," and the completed story will be one of the original pieces in my forthcoming Hippocampus book, Uncommon Places. I also want to add an addition of ten-thousand words to the title piece of that book, which is a 15,000 word prose-poem/vignette sequence with each segment inspir'd by entries in Lovecraft's Commonplace Book. I was just scanning over Lovecraft's notes that compose his Commonplace Book in S. T. Joshi's Miscellaneous Writings Lovecraft volume that was publish'd by Arkham House, and I have found a number of entries which inspire new dreams & nightmares that I think I can spill forth onto paper. There are now already two different versions of my sequence, "Uncommon Places," the first having been written for my revised/expanded edition of Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror that was supposed to be published by Mythos Books -- that version of "Uncommon Places" was 10,000 words. I then added another 5,000 words for the version that is to be publish'd next month in The Tangled Muse, my omnibus from Centipede Press. Because the Centipede Press edition will be limited to 150 copies, I am reprinting most of its new original contents in the next Hippocampus Press collection, whut I am now calling Uncommon Places -- & it struck me that, since I am using the sequence as the book's title piece, it wou'd be well to lengthen it againe by 10,000 words. That would bring my Hippocampus Press book up to, I think, around 70,000 words, a good size.

I lack the kind of discipline that a writer needs to be an absolute professional. That I have completed as much work as I have under the conditions in which I am living is, for me, a miracle. I have a profound determination to write book after book until I am either gaga or dead. This aesthetic compulsion deepens the older I grow. I want, when I die, to leave behind me a solid body of work. This zeal for production is something I got from reading the Life and Works of Henry James -- my gawd, that man lived to write! When I was working on revising everything for the Centipede Press book, I fancied that I was working on my own New York Edition of my oeuvre, scanty though it be. The combination of growing older, ill health, and a perverse home atmosphere hath slow'd down my fictive work to a depressingly paltry output. Hopefully, bringing in some professional help to be with my mother will free me and restore the energy that hath ebbed from me, enabling me to produce produce produce. That is my soulful prayer, to whatever Things may hear such.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thank You Greggie!

My friend Greg came over and spent hours repairing the computer. He installed Windows 7, getting rid of Vista, so I need to learn new computer tricks. He was able to save all of my documents. There are some weird things still that I must learn how to figure out, but all in all I am back to normal. Basically, I have email again and Microsoft Word, so I can still use the laptop as my source of creativity and now get seriously to work on finishing UNCOMMON PLACES for Hippocampus. Hope to see many of y'all at ye Lovecraft Film Festival.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Computer Weirdness



Something weird is going on with ye computer. It's affecting my email, which I cannot access. My adobe plugin has crashed so I cannot do videos at YouTube. I think I must have accidentally downloaded something called Security Tool and it is telling me that all of these things are trying to get my credit card info, that I have 26 worms or some such thing. I think this Security Tool is a scam and I cannot figure out how to rid my computer of it. I can still come here, I can still access Facebook, so I can still communicate with y'all, but I have no idea when I'll be able to have my email running again. That's not a real bummer cos I don't need email except for sending my new book to S. T. Joshi, my editor at Hippocampus Press. So I may just do without email for a few months unless some buddy who understands computer hoodoo can come figure this thing out. Nor can I remember where I put my main computer disc with which I cured my laptop of one major virus that completely killed my laptop. I thought I had it down here, but I've just rearranged my books and may have moved the milk-crate "shelf" where I placed the disc.

The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival is almost here! Well, two months away, I guess, but it feels real close. How I look forward to it! I feel an intense need to surround myself with Lovecraftians and discuss HPL, the Mythos, writing weird fiction, &c. Oh, my friends, I need it bad...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

S. T. Joshi: Novelist!


Had a great time last night at the Joshi's, where Leslie and S. T. entertain'd Greg Lowney and myself. Great food, wonderful discourse, and books books books (I came away with a sign'd copy of H. P. Lovecraft: A Comprehensive Bibliography (University of Tampa Press, 2009). Before we ate, S. T. was buzzing to tell Greg and I his Big Secret. He took out a trade pb novel, a hardboiled detective novel called The Removal Company by J. K. Maxwell, & then with dramatic tone of voice declaim'd: "I am J. K. Maxwell, and I want you to tell the World!" Nu, hello World -- Joshi is writing novels. He is delighted, at last, to be a fiction writer. This first novel has been published by Borgo Press (affiliated with Wildside Press), and there are two more novels completed. He had no extra copies, but I have order'd one and I'm looking forward to reading it! The first chapter and other portions may be read at Amazon.com, and his afterword, or notes on the book that inspir'd the novel, are so in the manner of S. T. Joshi scholar/critic that I don't think his secret wou'd have remain'd a secret for long. Greg, who has set up and is running S. T.'s updated website, has been commanded to create a new exclusive website for J. K. Maxwell! So spread the news, World!

We spoke of the news that James Cameron has been rumor'd to be working as producer of del Toro's film production of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. S. T. has edited a selection of weird tales by Arthur Machen for Penguin Classics, for which del Toro has written a preface or Introduction; & while they were working on this del Toro hinted to S. T. that he wanted to hire Joshi as a consultant on the film. Whether this will actually happen will be interesting. I've suggested that S. T. appear in the film as Gedney, the bloke who is found dissected by the Great Old Ones -- very fitting for this scholar who has so dissected the life and mind of H. P. Lovecraft. We sat and ponder'd on the significance of a big budget movie based on this magnificent work by Lovecraft and how such a film could easily change entirely Lovecraft fandom as we know it. This could be the event that signals, absolutely -- the stars are right!

I have finally finish'd
a new story, the first thing I've been able to complete in two month's time. It is called -- um, oh hell, I forgot the title and can't remember where I put my print-out. It is a story that I have been trying to write for about twenty-five years, a sort of sequel to Bho Bloch's "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade." I mention'd to Bho, in the late 1970's or early 80's, that I was planning on writing the thing, and he seemed amus'd. It just never came together, until last week. It's not a great story and may not be a good one, but oh babies it felt so good to finally write the dang thing and thus exorcise it from mine own skull, where it has been kicking for over two decades. I sent the semi-polish out to some few friends, but then I revised it one last time before I submitted it to Kevin Ross for Dead But Dreaming II. I had try'd to stress the point that the spirit of de Sade had debauched the narrator and had him use the phrase "your clammy cunt" to the woman he had just murder'd; I reconsider'd that and changed it to "your clammy vortex." There were some other stupid mistakes, like my different spellings of Marquis, both of which were erroneous, that had to be changed, and a few other points. If Kevin doesn't want to use the tale, it will see it's first publication in my forthcoming book from Hippocampus Press,Uncommon Places.

My illustrated hardcover omnibus from Centipede Press, The Tangled Muse, will be publish'd in late September. My publisher, Jerad, will be sharing a motel room with me in Portland, Oregon for this year's H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, where I will be shewing off this omnibus with as much excitement and wonder as S. T. shew'd last night when speaking of his secret life as Novelist!

Shalom.