Wednesday, July 20, 2011

S. T. JOSHI

The first time I met S. T. was at a very early Norwescon here in Seattle.  I don't think he had yet edited the Corrected Text Editions of Lovecraft for Arkham House, but he had already secured his reputation as a Lovecraftian scholar of note.  I had read his letters and essays in zines such as Nyctalops and was quite impress'd.  But it was his editing of the four volumes of HPL's Tales for Arkham House, and then the wonderful edition of Miscellaneous Writings that made me an obsess'd Joshi fan.  To have Lovecraft's fiction in texts that were as close as possible to how Lovecraft wished them to be preserv'd was just amazing and magical. 


One of the really sensational experiences of my life was when my chums Maryanne and Greg took me on a three-week tour of New England and New York in October of 2007.  It just happened that S. T. was in Providence during our four-day stay there, doing work on Clark Ashton Smith at ye John Hay Library.  Above you can see S. T, shewing us the boxes fill'd with Smith's personal papers, with poems scrawled in faded pencil -- and Maryanne is freaking out at the rarity of it all.  Those four days were the moft magical of my life, especially the after-noon during which S. T. took us on an exhausting walking tour of Lovecraftian sites on College Hill and I stood next to S. T. before 10 Barnes Street, holding in me moist palms all three of S. T.'s edited/annotated Penguin Classics HPL editions.  That was the finest moment of my life as a Lovecraftian, and it fill'd me with renew'd determination to write book after book in homage to Lovecraft's genius.


There have been many Lovecraftian miracles in my weary life, but the finest was when S. T. marry'd a Seattle lass and moved to our city.  I was at this time return'd in activity to The Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association, for which S. T. was the acting O. E.  Having him living in the city gave boring Seattle a mystical sheen, and seem'd a sign from Yuggoth that my life as an obsess'd Lovecraftian weird artist was the right choice and one to be pursued with increas'd alacrity.  Still, I was much too shy and anti-social to actually try and visit S. T. at his Seattle home, and the few times I was him was when he did various book signings at University Book Store.


Finally a new miracle arriv'd and Hippocampus Press agreed to publish a collection of my weird fiction, and thus I worked with S. T. as my editor.  It was such an overwhelming experience.  Up until then I didn't have much interference from my publishers with the contents of my work.  I loved being audaciously eccentric, and this is especially evident in Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts, where I got away with much bad writing, weird and archaic spelling influenc'd by Lovecraft's Letters, &c &c.  Knowing that I'd be working with S. T. as my editor instill'd within me an ache to do my finest writing for the book that became The Fungal Stain and Other Dreams.  S. T. was the one and only critic whose opinion meant anything to me; because he was so intimate with Lovecraft's fiction, I felt that he alone cou'd fully understand my work, my author's obsession with remaining an artist of Lovecraftian horror.  The result was that that first book for Hippocampus Press contain'd my best writing up to that time, showcasing a maturity and consistency of style, most of which was the result of working diligently so as to delivery to S. T. an excellent wee book of Lovecraftian tales.


S. T. has worked as my editor on three books, and was inspirational on my delving into the prose-poem form in writing an experimental volume as my second book for Hippocampus Press, Uncommon Places.  I knew that S. T. was a huge fan of the prose-poem form, and that gave me the confidence to approach him and Derrick with the idea of a book that was fill'd with prose-poems and prose-poem/vignette sequences.  I am especially pleased with that book and ache to see it in print.  The fabulous artist, Gwabryel, has been commissioned to illustrate it, and his work has me so excited.  Below is the pen & ink version of his illustration for my vignette, "Cathedral of Death" -- ye final version will be a full-colour rendition.

I am still in awe of S. T. Joshi, but he has now become a close and very dear friend.  It has been so rad to be able to share that cherish'd friendship with the world via YouTube, when S. T. comes to sit before my webcam.  He has promis'd to come visit around ye holiday season, when we will record our singing of Holiday songs.  It shall be an eldritch clamor!


Monday, July 18, 2011

"The Tomb of Oscar Wilde"


I had been trying to write a new weird tale for Horror for the Holidays, an anthology being edited by Scott David Aniolowski for Miskatonic River Press.  But writing has been next to impossible since moving my laptop upstairs, to the dining room, so that I can keep a closer look on me mum, who is becoming more and more challenging to watch over.  And so I gave up on writing the new Sesqua Valley story I was working on, a tale of Rosh Chodesh in which Shub-Niggurath is worshiped as part of the Shekinah.  Sadly, I inform'd Scott that I simply couldn't write.  He then ask'd if I cou'd perhaps write a wee sonnet sequence concerning Jewish holidays for the book, & I've had the ache to return to poetry of late, so I said I'd try that.  I wanted one of the sonnets to concern the minor holiday, Rosh Chodesh, the festival of the New Moon.  Dwelling on ye moon always makes me think of Oscar Wilde, because the moon is so often invoked in Wilde's poetry, in Salome and others -- and there is that wonderfully irreverent illustration by Aubrey Beardsley, "The Woman in the Moon."  Thinking of Wilde led me to scan his poetry for mentions of Luna, and this led me to YouTube, so as to listen to readings of Wilde's poetry.  Among the Wilde videos were some shewing visitors to Wilde's tomb ---

and, girlfriend, I was APPALLED!!!  I had no idea that Wilde's tomb had been so marred by graffiti and lipstick kisses.  I did a Google on Wilde's tomb to see if this issue had been address'd and discover'd that ye animal fats in lipstick seep into the monument's stone and does irreparable damage. I knew that I had to address this in a poem or weird tale, and thus I work'd on a new story, bringing in Rosh Chodesh and Shub-Niggurath.

It is always nice when a new story kind of creeps up on one as a surprise of inspiration, especially during a period of writer's block when nothing seems to be working.  I wrote a first draft and worked on it a bit, then sent a first polish to Scott; and then this morning I did a final revision/polish, adding some dialogue that came to me in the night as dream.  I wrote a new sonnet for the tale, which I read last night on MrWilum.  It feels wonderful to have finish'd something new, even though 'tis but a wee thing of merely 1,600 words.  What I really love is now I have a story of that title, so that, in some future epoch, I can assemble a new omnibus of my work and call it The Tomb of Oscar Wilde and OthersYes!

 Nu, I have a new tale in which I evoke poetry and my Jewishness, and in which I pay homage to dear Oscar, the poet whose work I so adore.  Those of you who have The Tangled Muse will have read my prose-poem tribute to Wilde therein -- & it will be reprinted in my forthcoming collection from Hippocampus Press, Uncommon Places, to be publish'd next year.  Maryanne K. Snyder and I have also written a tale of young Wilde and his encounter, in London, with newly-spawn'd Simon Gregory Williams of Sesqua Valley.  The delightful Jason V Brock has accepted that story for a forthcoming hardcover anthology.

Wilde will continue to haunt me as Magnificent Muse.  I've always had a hankering to write my own wee novel inspir'd by The Picture of Dorian Gray.  I may yet do so.

Shalom.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ye Aesthetic Ache

I can't believe what I just did.  I just spent over an hour writing a new blog here, and then I absentmindedly went offline before saving it!  It's all gone!  Arrrrrgh!!!  But that is perhaps a significant representation of my current mental chaos.  My mind is mush.  I cannot concentrate on work, and I am getting desperate.  I did so much writing last year, and I began this year so cocksure that I wou'd continue writing, writing, writing.  I've not completed anything of length this year.  Moving my writing from ye solitary and silent basement to this upstairs dining room, so that I can keep a closer watch on my invalid mother, who requires constant care, has absolutely killed my ability to concentrate on writing.  It's driving me bonkers, because writing is the air I breathe.  I grasp, in desperation, into the air of aesthetic inspiration, for those mad & lunatic & oh-so zany aspects of inspiration that will get me to me keyboard and revive my writing.  I had this insane idea that I am going to write my own version of Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear." but I forgot to write down my ideas for it as notes and nigh I cannot remember my plot!  Curses on my mental chaos & inspidity!  (And I cannot even spell insipidty, and it ain't even a real word anyway . . . . . . )


I've been reading over my copy of my new book and finding all of the stupid errors that have crept in despite brave proofreading.  Bah.  In one place I use the words "transformed" twice in the same sentence.  Then at one place of mass stupidity I typed "personae" (plural) when I meant to type ye singular "persona."  Oy, too hopeless.  But I've been making corrections in my Word doc, and someday when I have another omnibus of my work publish'd the truly Corrected Text of Some Unknown Gulf on Night will be included.  But reading over my book, such a lovely book and so beautifully design'd by the brilliant Larry Roberts, has me reading again my wee paperback of Fungi from Yuggoth & Other Poems, the copy that I held with me as I stood next to S. T. in front of 10 Barnes Street, the house where Lovecraft lived when he penned his sonnets, that charming paperback with its yellow'd pages and those charming illustrations by Frank Utpatel.

And ye Fungi are casting their bewitchment over me once again, instilling within me that ache to write my own weird stuff.  So it was rather magickal, this morning, when Paul of yog-sothoth.com sent me a wee message providing a link to his audio work in progress -- a superb reading of Fungi from Yuggoth.  My gawd, it is such a fun, a fine, reading.  I am a devoted Anglophile, and to me ye sweetest music of all Time is a British voice speaking the works of Shakespeare or reciting poetry.  Nigh, this is a rough first recording by Paul, and he will refine it before unleashing it onto an Innocent Publick -- but he does more than merely read the sonnets -- he performs them with vocal inflections, subtle yet entirely effective.  It's dead good and I ache to hear ye final version.  But here's the thing:  just as listening to Will Hart's wonderful reading of the sonnets inspir'd ye writing of Some Unknown Gulf of Night, listening to-day to Paul's readings fill'd me with this overwhelming desire to return to Fungi from Yuggoth and write a second book inspir'd by these sonnets!  It's a crazy idea--and I think an irresistible one.  I cannot bloody write, I am so unhappy in this wretched state of writer's block.  I've had to tell two mates that I cannot contribute stories to their anthologies, and that makes me so angry with myself for so lacking professional discipline as a writer.  

So, this new idea is something I can work on slowly, with no writer's deadline hanging over me, something I can work on for the rest of this year and much of next.  A new book of short-shorts or tales up to 3,000 words, each inspir'd by Fungi from Yuggoth.  I think I like this idea a lot.  I grasp at it as a lifeline for my writing in this dreary period of block through which I stagger, moaning in misery.  And if I can then write such a new book, I can offer it to Tom Lynch as my second book for Miskatonic River Press -- and the amazing SANTIAGO CARUSO can illustrate it!  Oh, Shub-Niggurath!!  Ngai!!!!

Great Yuggoth -- look whut ye poftman just brought me:
 
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It is a facsimile printing of "The Lurking Fear" as it originally appear'd in Home Brew, complete with Clark Ashton Smith's slyly erotic illustrations!
My gawd!  If this doesn't put me in ye mood for writing new Lovecraftian weird fiction, nuthin' will.  Come on, Grandpa -- work yr Eldritch Magick!!!!!!!!   Ia!!!!!  Shub-Niggurath!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Soon -- soon -- & it's GORGEOUS!

Larry Roberts sent me the proof copy of my newest book, SOME UNKNOWN GULF OF NIGHT -- and, Great Yuggoth, it's a lovely wee book!  I may be deluded in thinking this is the best book I have yet written -- that may just be my sense of wonder in the way the book came about, as a total surprise of inspiration culled from listening to Will Hart's magnificent readings of Fungi from Yuggoth on his YouTube channel.  I was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to write this book before the end of 2010.  "I'm gonna write this book before I go to MythosCon," I assured myself, not really believing I could do such a thing.  I was possess'd by the writing, more powerfully than I have ever been as a Lovecraftian weird artist, and the writing of the book became the entering of a realm of intoxicated ecstasy that can only be found in the work -- the delicious intense labor that we writers are sometimes blessed with, when we enter that writing zone and nothing else exists.

Each number'd segment in Some Unknown Gulf of Night is my aesthetic response, in prose-poem or vignette, to that number'd sonnet in Lovecraft's cycle of poetry; thus, my segment XVIII shewn above is my "response" to Sonnet XVIII, "The Garden s of Yin," in Fungi from Yuggoth.  Thus, when reading my book, it might be fun to first read the poem in Lovecraft's work, and then read my imaginative reply to it in my wee book. 

The book is now in production and will be shipping in about three weeks.  It is simply gorgeous, beautifully design'd by Larry Roberts, superbly illustrated by the wonderful Matthew Jaffe.  I really do think it might be the best book, in the writing and power of imagination, that I have compos'd.  I am especially fond of the prose-poem and vignette forms, and am thrill'd to have this book out this year, this year in which Centipede Press will be publishing their gorgeous edition of Thomas Ligotti's vignettes, The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales.

There may be some few copies of Some Unknown Gulf of Night still available for pre-order at HorrorMall.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strange New Compulsion

The above image from Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear" is by the wonderful Raymond Bayless, and was for the first of the Arkham House Corrected Texts editions edited by the indefatigable S. T. Joshi.  I've been doing a series of video commentaries on Lovecraft's Tales for my YouTube channel, and in April I discuss'd "The Lurking Fear," a story that I have always enjoy'd.  The tale recently came up in a Lovecraft thread at Thomas Ligotti Online where it was suggested by some that HPL wasn't completely serious in writing the story, because some of the language is admittedly overblown.  I reject the idea that Lovecraft parody'd his style in this tale or in "The Hound" -- reject that idea absolutely.  "The Lurking Fear" is told by a madman who is gradually losing his hold on sanity, and his descent from sanity is mirror'd in the story's wild language and emotional stress.  Right? So I decided I needed to reread "The Lurking Fear" and then I remember'd that there was a link to a two-part audio rendition of it at the too-wonderful Lovecraft eZine, so I downloaded that and have just listen'd to it ~~~~~~~~

& nigh I have a Strange Compulsion . . . . .
I'm gonna write my own version of "The Lurking Fear."  No, for real, y'all.  I know, I know -- it's such a fanboy idea.  Don't care.  My story will be called
"What Lurking Fear"
by
W. H. Pugmire, Esq.
It's gonna have four 2,000 word chapters, and I am going to use the same titles for my chapters that Grandpa used in his tale.  The story will be set in Dunwich and concern one Yannick Martense who lives in a queer mansion atop a high domed hill in Dunwich.  He is visited by the sinister New England artist, Enoch Coffin.  The story will be for the book I am writing with Jeffrey Thomas, a collection of connected tales concerning Enoch Coffin and his intimate relationship with nameless arcane weirdness.  I am totally obsess'd with this idea and even though it sounds comical -- I shall be as utterly serious in my writing of ye tale as Lovecraft was in writing "The Lurking Fear" . . . 

(stop your chortling.....)

Monday, July 4, 2011

CENTIPEDE PRESS SITE HAS A NEW LOOK!

One of today's most remarkable and excellent genre presses is Centipede Press.  Jerad (pictured above on your right) is almost frantic in his desire to publish wonderful book after book.  And now his Centipede Press website has a brand new look -- but I must warn you that visiting it can be agonizing because of all the AWESOME BOOKS HE HAS FORTHCOMING!!!  I mean, My Gawd, The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales by Thomas Ligotti -- a rare book that has been so difficult to obtain!  For this new edition, Ligotti has personally revised all of the works, some of them quite substantially, and he has written a new Introduction for the volume.  Harry O. Morris has provided 11 stunning new illustrations for the book, all of which will be printed in colour.

Then there is Lee Brown Coye: A Retrospective, reproducing the artwork of this master craftsman.  And -- o my gawd! -- KARL EDWARD WAGNER: Masters of the Weird Tale -- edited and with an Introduction by Stephen Jones, additional Introduction by Peter Straub and personal reminiscence by David Drake, and with an Afterword by Laird Barron, over 700 pages of bonny Karl's horror fiction, profusely illustrated.

It has been the high-point of my life as an author to work with Jerad on The Tangled Muse.  His genius as a book designer thrill'd me, as I wanted my book to resemble some tome that had spill'd forth from Oscar Wilde's Yellow Nineties fin-de-siecle -- and Jerad accomplish'd this feat with his expert hand.

The newly design'd site has an Opinion Page for which I have written a wee thing concerning my relationship with S. T. Joshi.  The mighty Laird Barron contributes a fascinating article entitled "The Tiger Stripe," and Dave Roberts contributes a fascinating article on "The Scholar Geek."  New articles from a wealth of writers and others will be presented each month, and Centipede readers/customers are invited to get in on ye action.  I urge you to visit this fabulous site.  Jerad's books are pricy, yet worth every cent.  They are among the finest books of genre fiction being publish'd to-day.

Clicking on the title to this blog will take you directly to Centipede Press -- that Wonderland of Horror!!!!