Sunday, August 14, 2011

Conjuring A New Book

S. T. shews us ye CAS papers at John Hay Library
One of the really exciting moments of our visit to Providence in October of 2007 was being shewn the boxes of Clark Ashton Smith papers at Brown University.  By coincidence, S. T. Joshi was in Providence at the same time we were, working on the volumes of Smith's poetry that would eventually be publish'd by Hippocampus Press.  Many of the ruled sheets were scrawled over in Smith's handwriting in very faint pencil and looked extremely delicate.  When Derrick brought those three thick, beautiful volumes of verse into print, it was a time of celebration.

Perhaps it is a common occurrence, that many of us come to CAS by way of H. P. Lovecraft.  I probably first read Clark Ashton Smith's weird tales when, in either Ireland or Las Vegas, I bought a second-hand pb set of Derleth's Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.  When I finally return'd to Seattle in 1973, I discover'd Arkham House and quickly bought every in-print title, and I remember there was at least one volume of Smith's fiction in print as well as his Selected Poems.  Reading the three volumes of HPL's Selected Letters then available, one gain'd a sense of Grandpa's admiration for Smith's poetry and prose.  I then found the lovely wee Panther Horror pb reprintings of the early Arkham House Smith hardcovers, and his fiction had a real influence on my own attempts at writing dark phantasy.  The CAS influence has been remarked on over the years by friends and fans who have read my books.  I've paid little tributes to Smith in some of my weird tales, often mentioning him by name, and naming one character in "Your Metamorphic Moan" Klarkson Ash.

A couple of years ago I felt the ache to write an entire book of poetry and prose that wou'd be directly influenc'd by CAS.  Although the idea intrigued me, it was also intimidating.  I have no confidence in my ability as a poet, and I have moftly confined myself to writing in my favourite form of the sonnet.  That was when I thought of Maryanne K. Snyder, my collaborator with whom I wrote a story that sold to Weird Tales and has since been reprinted in The Tangled Muse.  When I first met Maryanne and her charming husband Greg, at a Seattle Gay Pride march, she was writing lots and lots of really excellent poetry.  Gobs and gobs.  She has the soul of a poet, as can be detected when one reads her personal letters or listens to her talk.  And she is a huge CAS fan.  It was the obvious choice, to ask her to write this CASian book with me.  Over the years, her writing time has becoming limited as she pursues an existence as a business woman--another thing at which she is brilliant.  Thus working with her on projects is a sometime-thing, & thus it has been an easy & regrettable habit to keep putting off this CAS-flavor'd collection while I wrote my many other books.

But the time hath come for the CAS book to become reality, and I suddenly feel an amazing energy for conjuring its reality.  That will probably be my main focus once this book I am writing with Jeffrey Thomas, a book perhaps to be called Encounters with Enoch Coffin and to be publish'd next year by Dark Regions Press, is completed, & that will be soon.  Thus I am slowly devouring the wondrous three volumes of Smith's poetry from Hippocampus Press and the magnificent five volumes of The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith edited by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger forNight Shade Books.  & it is indeed a compelling, enchanted realm, the world of Clark Ashton Smith.  I look forward to when I can delve into that realm non-stop, every day, day after day, as I work non-stop on a book that pays this Master of the Weird Tale homage.

1 comment:

  1. There will be a sixth volume of Smithiana from Night Shade Books in late 2011 or early 2012.