I began to read Lovecraft when I was an LDS missionary in Ireland, due to my correspondence with Robert Bloch, who I got to know when he wrote a wee thing for one of my horror film fanzines. When I returned home from my mission, all plans to revive my filmzine were quashed by my growing obsession with E'ch-Pi-El, fueled by my discovery of Arkham House. I had to do Lovecraft fanzines instead, and that got me hooking up via correspondence with those surviving members of the Lovecraft Circle. Some of them became close chums, such as J. Vernon Shea and H. Warner Munn (Munn lived in nearby Tacoma, and I began to visit him every week-end). I was just beginning as a writer of weird fiction, and everything I wrote was fannish crap; yet still these wonderful writers made me feel like I belonged, and they encouraged me to write.
One of the coolest of these cats was Fritz Leiber, who I got to meet when WFC came to Seattle in 1989. We had corresponded years earlier and he had sent me one of his pb collections. Now, thanks to Ross E. Lockhart and The Book of Cthulhu II, I am finally in an anthology with Fritz -- Ross has reprinted the amazingly cool story, "The Terror from the Depths." There is something special about Leiber's Lovecraftian weird fiction--he is original, and yet he gets it right -- there is an authenticity to his Lovecraftian work. He has shewn that he understands HPL with his essays on Lovecraft's fiction, many of which have been collected in a fantastic book, Fritz Leiber and H. P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Dark (Wildside Press 2003), edited by Ben J. S. Szumskyj and S. T. Joshi. The book collects the letters that E'ch-Pi-El wrote to Leiber and his wife, and also Leiber's Mythos tales and essays on Lovecraft.
I feel so fortunate in having met and corresponded with so many of the Lovecraft Circle. Harold Munn became a real father-figure to me, and was one of the sweetest gents I have ever known. It was so powerful an experience, for me the obsessed Lovecraft fanboy, to sit with Harold and listen to his memories of meeting with Lovecraft. And I have such fond memories of my long and gossipy phone calls with Vernon Shea, who became one of my dearest friends even though we never met face to face. I was one lucky Lovecraftian child, and this may sound strange and overly deluded, but I honestly feel like I a part of a new Lovecraft Circle, a second generation of writers linked to our beloved Muse of Providence.
|Vernon Shea & Bho Bloch|
|Harold Munn & Wilum Pug|