Sunday, February 19, 2012

What H. P. Lovecraft and I Have Done for Each Other


That's me at World Horror Convention in Salty Lake City, holding the issue of Weird Tales in which Maryanne and I had the lead story.  This is just one of the intense gifts of joy that came into my life through my obsession with H. P. Lovecraft.  The way I came to that obsession is curious.  As a high school kid, I was obsessed with theatre and convinced that, upon graduation, I would go to Hollywood and become the new Boris Karloff.  The epitome of this obsession in high school came when we staged Arsenic and Old Lace, in which I played the role of Jonathan Brewster, a lunatic who murdered people because his plastic surgeon performed an operation and gave the Brewster Karloff's face.  Boris Karloff played the role in the original Broadway stage production.  But even in my comedic roles, a little bit of Karloff infiltrated the performance, as can be seen below in the photo of me in a high school production of The Fantasticks.


My favorite role in my one year of college was a non-speaking role as a corpse tortured to death in a strange torture chair.  I was off-stage screaming at intervals while the cast on stage were debating if they should save me.  Too late, my bloody corpse is rolled on stage.  The salesman who is pitching the line of torture chairs says something like, "Effective, isn't it?" and tilts my head forward.  The stage blood within my mouth spills out and the audience freaks out at the grotesqueness of it all.  I loved it.

So when I went to Ireland to serve two years as a Mormon missionary, I was obsessed with horror films, but had no interest in weird fiction.  Robert Bloch, who had written a piece on Forry Ackerman for one of my horror film fanzines, continued to write me.  My mission leaders frowned on me going to horror films in Ireland cinemas, and so I began to collect books by Robert Bloch, or anthologies in which Bho was one of many writers.  That's how I got hooked on horror fiction.  I placed my first short story with Space & Time, a small press magazine that is still being published today.  While serving in Omagh, I found a paperback called The Haunter of the Dark, published by Panther.  I was astounded to see that H. P. Lovecraft had dedicated the title story to my buddy, Robert Bloch.

Upon returning to the states, I discovered Arkham House.  Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos enchanted me.  The first three volumes of Lovecraft's Selected Letters got me to fall in love with Lovecraft's personality as presented in his correspondence.  I began to date my letters 1776 instead of 1976, and I used archaic spellings such as "shew'd".  I publish'd a series of Lovecraft fanzines and used my friendship with Bloch to get into touch with other surviving members of the Lovecraft Circle such as J. Vernon Shea.

I was still determined to be involved with theatre, but mostly I wanted to become a famous Mythos writer like my heroes August Derleth and Brian Lumley.  I discovered that one of the original members of the Lovecraft Circle, H. Warner Munn, lived in nearby Tacoma.  I began to visit him every week-end.  He came to the production of The Prince and the Pauper in which I had a wee role, and posed for ye photo below.

Life was interrupted by coming out as queer, which caused me to kicked out of the Mormon Church, and then I became extremely active in the local punk scene.  Eventually, I returned to writing, and my determination to be a writer of Lovecraftian weird fiction never wavered.  It was a common idea that writing Lovecraftian stories for the small press was a phase that young writers went through on their way to becoming professional writers who did their own thing.  I vowed that I would never stop writing Lovecraftian horror, but that the writing of it wou'd become a core portion of my personality.  If I was to be remembered as a writer, I wou'd be remembered as an author of Lovecraftian weird fiction.  I would, as an artist, be audaciously Lovecraftian, over the top.  People would tell me that I should stop "trying to be Lovecraft" and be myself; & I wou'd reply that when I am Lovecraftian, I am "myself" utterly.

I wrote primarily for small press magazines, but over the years they vanished and I lost my market.  Thus I began to concentrate on writing collections of short stories for various small press publishers.  Now, at age 60, I am more obsess'd with writing Lovecraftian horror than ever before.  It is a passion that never wilts, that contains an eternal magick and thrill.  It is the air I breathe.  I have gained more and more confidence as a writer, and I owe it all to H. P. Lovecraft.  When I got the idea to write a entire book that was inspired by HPL's Fungi from Yuggoth, I felt no hesitation or doubt--I knew that I could handle such a project, and that I wou'd do it as well as I cou'd.  The result, Some Unknown Gulf of Night, is my finest book.  When I proposed to Jeffrey Thomas that he and I collaborate on a book of Lovecraftian horror fiction concerning a stranhe New England artist, our own version of Richard Upton Pickman, I knew that I would so enjoy working with Jeff on the book; & it resulted in a book of really original and entertaining tales that are Lovecafian up ye arse.  The more I write Lovecraftian fiction, the more I find ways in which to express myself as a Lovecraftian artist.  HPL is my Sacred Fount.  

Now that I am an antient thing, my lifestyle has settled down considerably.  No longer a punk party girl, going out and being wild, and having to stay home because I moved in with my disabled mother so as to be her full-time companion and helper, writing is the one part of my myriad selves that still fully functions.  It is what I live for.  What I have given to H. P. Lovecraft is a growing library of books that pay homage to his genius, to his Literary Art; what H. P. Lovecraft has given me is--life itself.


3 comments:

  1. Ever think of writing a memoir? It would be very interesting.

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    1. I've lived too long, & to write my life wou'd be too engaging a labor. I'd rather spend that effort on writing new books of Lovecraftian weird fiction. But I have left tidbits of autobiography here and at YouTube, so once I drop dead someone with biographical talent can weave my life story if they so desire. It will be a depressing book.

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  2. Seems like you are controlling the heart thing. I had triple bypass in 2009. I am 62. I enjoy much of your writing and I truly enjoyed the mini bio. BTW, loved your story in Lovecraft ezine.

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