Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'm A Mormon

We place my mother into a nursing facility on Tuesday, and one of the results of this is that I won't need to be a stay-at-home, unable to leave my disabled mother alone.  The thing I have missed most from this lack of being able to get out is going to church.  I've been practically inactive for the past two years, and this has made me very sad and frustrated.  I need my Mormon fix.

I was raised Mormon, cos my father was LDS (my mother has never joined the church).  I have Jewish ancestry on my mother's side (this was more obvious when I was a wee kid, above), and was raised in a Jewish neighborhood, and that is why I have, now, such a keen Jewish identity.  As a Mormon kid in the 1950's I was aware that my religion made me different, and this knowing became intense during the 1960's, when I attended high school with a lot of black kids, and the issue of the Mormon's blocking blacks from holding the priesthood was a growing topic during the era of civil rights.

Like most Mormon kids, I was raised with the idea that I'd be going on a mission for the church.  It's like an LDS rite-of-passage.  Some kids begin to save for their mission with their own Mission Fund when they are children (we pay our own expenses while on the mission).  I was sent to Ireland.
Above is me in Omagh, County Tyrone.  What may not be obvious is that I am wearing my plastic vampire fangs, that I wore when working as Count Pugsly at the Jones' Fantastic Museum.  When I wanted to be a real wanker, I would wear my fangs while knocking on doors, standing behind my companion as he made his introduction to whoever answered the door.  Slowly, I would reveal my fangs, and *bam* the door would quickly slam, and my companion had no clue why.  I also spent months knocking on doors in Belfast, where (below) I used to hang out in the sections that were scarred by the violence of the "troubles".
What a drag queen poser I was even then!  Eventually I came home, came out, and was excommunicated from the church for being queer, even though at that time I was yet a virgin.  I stayed away from the church for twenty-five years, became the big punk transvestite freak that used to walk the streets of Seattle in his obnoxious Boy George drag.  Then I had a couple of Mormon missionaries knock on my door.

Now, I've never bad-mouthed the church when I wasn't a member, I just said that I was too extreme to be a member.  I didn't know what I believed about god, if anything.  I went through a big Jewish phase in which I was going to convert to Judaism--this was before I discovered that I have Jewish heritage on my mother's side.  I've always felt a connection with the missionary lads, whenever I saw them in the streets, and so I was happy when they knocked on my door.  I invited them to come and give me the six missionary discussions, but I warned them that there was no way I would ever return to the church.
Above is one of those Elders.  After the third discussion, they challenged me to pray about things.  After they left, I thought, "Oh, what the hell could happen?"  Oy, was I clueless.  I didn't know what to ask in prayer, so my simple question to God was, "Do you exist?"  The answer came instantaneously.  It came like a fucking tidal wave.  I was overwhelmed with presence.  I felt the presence of God, but also of my dead father and grandfather.  My grandfather was the sweet man I have ever know, a true saint.  He accompanied me through the Salk Lake Temple services when I got my endowments just before going on my mission.  I began to shake violently, and there was a flood of tears.  And somewhere, inside me or outside of me, I seemed to hear the voice of God, proclaiming, "I live, the church is true, come home."  People say that I've been brainwashed, but that's bullshit.  I had absolutely no intention of returning to the church, and this "answered prayer" was the last thing I expected.  I was freaked out and annoyed.  I protested mentally, "No no no -- this is not what I want, I can't return to church activity, I'm too far from the church, too much of a freak." 

And yet I knew that I would return.  I didn't know how I would do it, and I knew it wouldn't be easy.  But punk rock has taught me to accept everything about myself, and Oscar Wilde has taught me that "Whatever is realised is right."  I could not deny this supernatural experience of an answered prayer--to deny it would mean I was a hypocrite.  So I began to go to church, and at first it was like stepping into a Twilight Zone episode, it was so far removed from what my life had been for over two decades.  But I grew to love it, and then, two years later, came the happy day of my re-baptism.
I love the challenge of being a gay Latter-day Saint, I love all of the complications and contradictions of such a thing.  I don't want life to be easy or make sense, and thus being a Mormon and queer is delicious.  It's punk rock.  It's my life.  Selah.
[wearing my Ensign magazine t-shirt shewing Joseph Smith]

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

She Spake Too Soon -- my next book to be publish'd by.....

OH, darling, I can't seem to catch up with meself.  As soon as I publish'd that last blog--

I was certain that my next book would be Bohemians of Sesqua Valley and that it would be publish'd in early or mid-March.  But now Chris at Dark Regions Press has express'd ye hope of bringing out Encounters with Enoch Coffin (written in collaboration with Jeffrey Thomas) late next month.  Thus Larry Roberts and I have decided to move ye release date of the Sesqua book to mid- or late Spring 2013.  Jeff and I are hoping that Santiago Caruso will be able to do the jacket for the Enoch Coffin tome.  Have you seen the daemoniac, magnificent art that Santiago has done for a Spanish edition of "The Dunwich Horror"?  Feast your eyes, my loves:

The initial release of both books will be limited edition hardcovers, although Bohemians of Sesqua Valley will quickly be available in trade pb and digital editions as well.

My pa had this house built when I was five and one-half years old.  I have always loved living here, and it is the only place where I have lived that totally feels like home.  I moved back in with mom about five years ago, as she became disabled and wasn't able to live alone.  Her condition has deteriorated, and she can no longer stand or walk on her own and suffers from intense dementia.  We've found a wonderful nursing home for her to move into and that will probably happen late next week.  We, her children, are going through a myriad of emotions about this.  We know it's for the best, and yet there is that sense of guilt of taking mom out of her home.  Taking care of her has been problematic for me, as lifting her from her wheelchair, out of bed or on/off the toilet puts a real strain on my weak heart.

Being alone, living in a state of complete silence and solitude, is something I've longed for, because such a peaceful atmosphere makes it possible for me to concentrate fully on my work as an author.  And yet Oscar Wilde sagely confessed that "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers."  In the five years that I have lived here, I have written my finest books.  I've written an astonishing number of things.  I end the year by selling a new story to S. T. for his forthcoming Fedogan & Bremer anthology, Searchers After Horror -- a thrilling sale for me, as I have long ached to be in a book from this publisher.  But, more and more, mother's condition is making it difficult, almost impossible, to concentrate on new writing.   So, it will be interesting to see if living in an atmosphere of lonesome quiet will really benefit my writing.  I feel that I have many books inside me, just boiling to spill from my brain through my keyboard.  I have this little fantasy of writing novels, even though every time I've told myself "Okay, you're writing a novel," it has never worked out.

Happy holidays, my darlings, and a prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ARCANE WISDOM PRESS to publish my next book

If you've been watching my vlogs, you'll have seen my videos concerning all of the fabulous books that Larry Roberts is publishing with his Arcane Wisdom Press, including some really sensational anthologies edited by S. T. Joshi, who is also working with Larry on a line of Cthulhu Mythos titles.  Larry published Some Unknown Gulf of Night, perhaps my most unusual book & certainly my personal favourite of the books that I have written.  You can check out Larry's books at his Miskatonic Books site where he also has a fascinating and amusing blog.  (my young cat keeps walking on me keyboard and thus things are kinda messed up here......)  

I had no intention of writing a new book this year, as early in ye year I wasn't feeling so hot.  Happily, this has proved to be far more productive a year than I imagined it would be.  One surprise was writing a new collection, Bohemians of Sesqua Valley.  It's a wee book, under 50,000 words I think; but I had such a great time writing it over ye summer months.  It was fun to really sink into Sesqua Valley and portray new aspects of my fictive realm.  The Contents of the book, as I finalized it, is thus:
1. "In Memoriam: Robert Nelson" (364 words, publish'd in ye Lovecraft eZine)
2. "One Card Unturned" (written in collaboration with my sweet sister,  Maryanne K. Snyder; 9,000 words)
3. "An Ecstasy of Fear" (11,585 words)
4. "Unhallowed Places" (a new prose-poem sequence of 7,845 words)
5. "This Splendor of the Goat" (10,535 words)
6. "A Quest of Dream" (5,000 words)
and then I added the title story of my just-publish'd The Strange Dark One--Tales of Nyarlathotep, whut at 14,000 words is the longest tale I've yet written.  I wanted the story to have a hardcover publication, and it is perfect for a collection concerning bohemians in my haunted valley.  I was then  thinking of writing a sequel to "The Strange Dark One," but I have a feeling the idea may require semi-novel length, as it would concern Simon Gregory Williams infiltrating the Dreamlands so as to rescue a child of ye valley.  

 When I first invented Sesqua Valley, I was a clueless Cthulhu kid who just wanted to write cool Mythos stories.  One project was to write tales that featured the Mythos creatures of other writers such as Frank Belknap Long, August Derleth and others -- and the majority of those stories made up my first American collection, published by Jeffrey Thomas through his Necropolitan Press.  Since then, I have matured enough to see the vast potential of my creation, this supernatural vale.  One of my favorite ideas came from reading H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," wherein Grandpa writes:

"In the tunnels of that twisted wood, whose low prodigious oaks
twine groping boughs and shine dim with the phosphorescence
of strange fungi, dwell the furtive and secretive zoogs;
who know many obscure secrets of the dream-world and
a few of the waking world, since the wood at two places touches the lands of men, 
though it would be disastrous to say where."

I love that, and it helped to explain why night-gaunts and Nyarlathotep were such frequent visitors to Sesqua Valley -- they lived next door in that alternative realm.  I have long wanted to write my "definitive" tale of night-gaunts in Sesqua Valley, and then have that story illustrate the jacket for a new collection.  So, for this new book I wrote "A Quest of Dream"--a wee poetic thing that evokes the dreamlands and their night-gaunts.  The book's artist, Gwabryel (he illustrated my last book from Hippocampus Press), has just sent me the painting that will be the book's jacket.
 I am thrilled beyond measure!

So, I will have two new hardcover collections out in 2013, the above-mentioned book from Arcane Wisdom Press, and Encounters with Enoch Coffin, written in collaboration with Jeffrey Thomas and to be publish'd by Dark Regions Press.  Enoch is a sexy and perverse New England artist (he resembles, physically, the actor Tom Berenger) who has a number of intimate and very Lovecraftian encounters with ye supernatural.  That book has some wonderful interior illustrations by artist Clint R. Leduc.  Here is one of my favorites.

I'm still having a very difficult time writing.  This household is crazy, chaotic, so loud that I cannot concentrate.  Before long, I shall be living upstairs alone, and then, in an atmosphere of silence & solitude, I hope to return to fever'd production, book after book after book.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

I Quake To Tell Thee......

I just got an idea for a new book I wanna write--but...but...

How many blogs have I written, telling y'all about this great new book I'm gonna write, onlie to have the idea wilt and die?  How many times have I announced, "I'm writing a novel!"?  I should be cautious.  Instead of announcing the books I want to create, those books of which I dream and scheme, I should only write about the books that are being actually worked on, or that have been written.

Caution is so boring.  I throw it to ye wind.

I've been reading David West's superb edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets, and as always when I dip into ye sonnets, I feel a wee ache to write more of my own.  I wrote a new sonnet for the story that I just sold to S. T. Joshi.  But -- I want to write a really long sonnet cycle.  My one experience with writing a sonnet sequence, for my book Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts, was unhappy.  I was too experimental, too bizarre, too unfocused -- and many of the sonnets suck death.

So, I was just sitting in my bed, and I had this idea hatch within my haunted brain.  The first 17 sonnets by Shakespeare urge a young man to marry, so as to preserve his intense beauty.  My idea is to write a book-length collection of sonnets that are audaciously tied to Shakespeare's in form and content; but they will be keenly colored by Poe and Lovecraft.  Thus, the first 17 of my sonnets could relate to the beauty of a dead loved one, in the tradition of Poe.  Even if I cannot find my way to further the story into a cycle of 150--or even fifty--sonnets, I'll have that opening batch of seventeen.  Dark Regions Press has been poking me about submitting a collection of poetry to them, and if I could this off it would be perfect.

I love the sonnet form.  Here is my sonnet in memory of Oscar Wilde:

Shakespeare's sonnet sequence ends with his nasty sonnets of lust concerning a "dark lady", and thus I could end mine with the nasty resurrection of the dead one of the opening 17 sonnets, who is now a hungry revenant of doom.  Yeah.  Endless poetic possibilities, methinks.  I shall keep ye posted.  It may be that I will first want to write this idea out in prose form, as a new novelette for the book I am currently working on.  Aye, I could write it out as a weird tale in the Poe tradition.  That may be quite enjoyable.  And that will return me to the tales and poems of Poe.  How delicious.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Anthology Sale

Aye, my sweets, I'm feeling good.  I've overcome my boring writer's block of two months.  You see, I've been writing on the dining room table for the past year, because it allow'd me to be closer to me mum, who suffers from profound dementia and freaks out when left alone.  When her dementia takes over, she becomes very loud, and it is frightfully distracting and thus makes concentration on work impossible.  So about two months ago I moved my laptop into the back bedroom, a small bedroom that was mine when the house was first built and I was around six years old.  The room is filled to overflowing with my books, and there isn't much free space to move around in; & I guess I felt too crowded or whatever, because writing in there was impossible.  Also, I missed the lovely scene from the dining room windows, lots of sky (I especially love the sky when it is overcast and gloomy) and with a wonderful tree across the street that I never tired of admiring.

So, as an experiment, on a hunch, I moved me laptop back to ye dining room table, to see if the change would get me back to writing.  The results have amazed me.  S. T. Joshi sent an invitation to write for a new anthology he is editing for ye revived Fedogan & Bremer.  The anthology will be called Searchers After Horror (the first words of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Picture in the House").  I've longed to be in a Fedogan & Bremer anthology, I so love their books, so I worked diligently on a new Sesqua Valley story last week, bringing much of its suggested imagery from Lovecraft's tale.  I wrote the story especially quickly--I think I was utterly starved to finish a new tale after two months of nothing--and it spilled from me so easily.  I cannot understand the psychological trick that rules what makes it possible for me to write, why moving from a cramped small room to a specious dining room makes any difference whatsoever.  If felt wonderful, as you can imagine, to be able to get lost in the creation of a new work.  The story, entitled "An Element of Nightmare," came to 3,630 words; S. T. accepted it for publication this morning.

S. T. Joshi and the gang will be here this Friday, December 7, to bring me & mum some Thai food and do a YouTube video promoting new things.  I just got my contrib. copies of WEIRD FICTION REVIEW 3 and it is outstanding.  I'll be sure to get S. T. to give us details on the Clark Ashton Smith collection that he is editing for Penguin Classics.

I suddenly feel gobs of writing energy, and such elan is best spent working on a new book.  My idea to write a short story sequel to my tale, "The Strange Dark One," has been set aside, because I think the idea may require novel-length rather than novelette length.  I want to begin serious work, full-time work, on the book I am writing with my old Lovecraftian chum & editor, David Barker.  He's written a number of Lovecraftian tales that I felt needed to be collected; & it came to me that I'd like to write around ten new Lovecraftian stories and then publish them with David's as a collection, similar to the book I co-wrote with Jeffrey Thomas.  Because I want the tales be be dead Lovecraftian, I have decided to base each one on some specific tale by HPL.  Thus, I brought down my mammoth and weighty volume of Grandpa's Works publish'd by Centipede Press in their Masters of the Weird Tale series.  I open'd to ye first story, "Dagon," and instantly rejected it as a source of inspiration.  It did not sing to me, you see, and open my imagination evocatively.  Thus I turned to ye book's second story--"Polaris."  The full-page illustration opposite ye tale's first page is quite disturbing.  I adore being disturbed.  I read the story and was immediately enchanted with its tone, its prose-poem language.  Yes, this will do.  I found my copy of the Hippocampus Press book, Primal Sources, by S. T. Joshi, & read his essay therein concerning "Polaris."  I then remember'd that the amazing new Lovecraftian critic and dear chum, J. D. Worthington, had a splendid essay in the newest issue of Lovecraft Annual:  "Sources of Anxiety in Lovecraft's 'Polaris,'" a wonderful essay that I've already read twice.  I read it again to-night, & it has inspir'd some of the points on which I want to touch in this new story.  This is my new "thing" as a writer -- I don't quite understand why, but I'm digging it.  It's taking a story by H. P. Lovecraft and writing my own "take" on it.  I've written my direct sequel to "The Hound" and my own version of "The Lurking Fear."  The story that I just sold to S. T. is heavily influenced by "The Picture in the House."  I think my next story will be my own strange "version" of "Polaris." 

Reading J. D.'s essay brought a shocking realization to mind: E'ch-Pi-El wrote "Polaris" almost one century ago.  It shocks me to realize that, because H. P. Lovecraft feels so present to me, modern and relevant.  To remember how long ago those early tales were written is weird indeed!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Now On Kindle!

May be order'd from or, eventually, at Amazon (where the trade paperback copies keep selling out too quickly...)
Tales of Nyarlathotep
W. H. Pugmire, Esq.
Miskatonic River Press 2012