Saturday, March 31, 2012

Not An Editor


I didn't like editing when I did those first three issues of Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, which is why Bob Price had to eventually take over as editor.  It got so boring have to read so many bad Cthulhu Mythos tales, and it filled me with anguish to have to reject submissions by friends when their story just wasn't right for the journal.  I rather wish, now that it is so difficult (next to impossible, actually) to write new weird fiction, that I had what it takes to be an editor.  There are two books I would especially like to bring forth.  One would be an anthology of all original tales of Nyarlathotep.  Price edited a lovely wee anthology of Nyarlathotep tales for Chaosium.


The copy I have has ye title in gold--here I see it in white.  I wonder if there was a second edition, and if it had additional contents?  It's my favorite Chaosium Cycle book.  I would begin my own book with Lovecraft's sonnet from ye Fungi from Yuggoth and then I'd have all-original tales penned exclusively for the book. 

The other book I would love to edit would be an anthology of tales and poems all of which were inspired by Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth.  I would begin the book with HPL's complete sonnet sequence, and then follow with all-original stories.  To my knowledge, there isn't a current in-print edition of Fungi from Yuggoth available. 

I have my own two books, of course.  Some Unknown Gulf of Night is my book inspired by ye Fungi and was publish'd last year by Arcane Wisdom Press.  My collected tales of Nyarlathotep, The Strange Dark One, will be published this fall by Miskatonic River Press.  Still, how I would love to encourage other modern horror writers to spin new tales inspired by Lovecraft's creations.

Of course the greatest image of Lovecraft's Aegyptian works is this:

How I wish I had that on a t-shirt!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Collection of Exquisites


My wireless keyboard stopped working, & thus I am forced to use ye laptop keyboard, which I hate cos it feels so confin'd.  Writing fiction is impossible on the wee laptop keyboard, and you need to really punch the w key to make it work.  I have, all of my writing life, used a typewriter, and I like the feel of a large keyboard.  So I need, in order to write fiction, one of those large keyboard panels, so that I "feel" like I am at a typewriter. 

I order'd a couple of copies of UNCOMMON PLACES  at Amazon because I needed to see the book now and hold it in me paws.  My publishers are often tardy in getting me copies of my books, and Derrick at Hippocampus is attending World Horror Convention this week-end in Salt Lake City and has been busy getting ready, as he is taking boxes of books with him for his table at ye Dealer's Room.  I just had some Senior Missionaries (married couples often go on missions together after their retirement) visit me yesterday, and they reminded me that General Conference is tis week-end.  Gawd, that REALLY MAKES ME WISH I was going to WHC in Salt Lake, as I would love to roam Temple Square when it overflows with hundreds of visiting Mormons from all over the world.  Oh well.  My new book will be at WHC, even if I cannot.

I have a little paranoid habit of having to carefully read my own books once they are publish'd, hunting for those elusive misprints that I missed during proofing.  The typos in the book are my own fault because the texts are taken directly from my Word docs.  I'm finding some typos in "Uncommon Places," the last piece in the book.  They are careless things not easily caught, such as typing "you" when it should be "your"--not caught by spell check cos they are actual words, and not easy to find when I am proofing, at which I am poor as it is.  David and Derrick and I went carefully over the text of the book, yet still......

The book is my second-best, I think.  Combine it with Some Unknown Gulf of Night and you have the finest fiction that I have yet written, probably the finest work that I shall ever create.  There is very little overlap of tales from other books, except for The Tangled Muse, the original works from which are reprinted in this trade paperback.  The spectre of my obsession with Oscar Wilde permeates the book, and for that reason I included two older stories, "The Host of Haunted Air" and "The Zanies of Sorrow."  In "Host" I have a troupe of Tcho-Tcho peoples (invented by Derleth for his Mythos fiction and mention'd by Lovecraft in, I think, "The Whisperer in Darkness."  In my story I have them perform ye danse of Salome from Wilde's dark play.  "The Zanies of Sorrow" is a story in which I try'd to express many aspects of Wilde, how people at first found him utterly grotesque upon first meeting him, but then were charmed by his manner and his talk.  The story's title is taken from the letter that Wilde wrote to Bosie from from prison that is known as "De Profundis", in a section where Wilde is writing about prison clothing:  "Our very dress makes us grotesques.  We are the zanies of sorrow.  We are clowns whose hearts are broken."  I read that and I knew I had to write a story called "The Zanies of Sorrow," I just had to find the story in my imagination.  So I included the story in my new book, which is haunted so by Wilde.

Indeed, Wilde's influence utterly corrupted my plans to invent a new setting for future stories, a modern and urban setting.  I was going to try and write a series of New Weird stories.  I had to invent my own New Weird city.  So I invented Gershom, a city of Artistic Exiles.  It was to be so modern.  Yet, when I think of exiles I immediately think of Wilde, and so I invented a recurring character called Sebastian Melmoth, which was the name that Wilde took when he went into exile in France after his release from prison.  And then I based other characters on people whom Wilde knew, and thus my oh so modern city became a queer concoction of fin-de-siecle London and Paris, Victorian up ye arse.  So much for modernity.  My first two tales set in Gershom are also included in ye new paperback from HippocampusPress.

Okay, tis laptp keyboard is pissing me off.  Not even going to bother correcting those two typos.  I may need to go to Office Depot and buy a new keyboard panel, bt that's okay cos the one I have isn't quite large enough.  Hope ye are well, my loves.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gwabryel

My new book, Uncommon Places, is graced with a number of new illustrations by the fantastic Swiss artist, Gwabryel.  Many of the full-colour illustrations will be reproduced in black and white in the book, but they may been seen in colour at ye Hippocampus website page where my book may be ordered.  Gab did a number of new illustrations for The Tangled Muse, and one of them, illustrating "Inhabitants of Wraithwood," will now be reproduced as the new book's back cover.  Amusingly, Gwabryel placed a Mormon temple within my haunted town of Wraithwood (as ye may see in ye painting above)--thus it seems extremely appropriate that Uncommon Places makes it debut at World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City at the end of this month!  I attended WHC in Salt Lake in 2008, and it was one of the most enjoyable conventions I have ever attended.  How I wish I could go this year.  Part of the fun was returning to Salt Lake City for the first time since returning from my LDS mission in 1972.  When I was a kid my dad would drive the family to Midvale, Utah, where we would spend two weeks visiting his family.  I would always take the bus from Midvale to Salt Lake and spend hours at Temple Square.  I especially loved sitting in the wee movie theatre where they showed a film called Man's Search for Happiness.  I hope all of you attending WHC this year will take ye time to visit Temple Square.  Think of me if you do.  The Salt Lake Temple is a special place for me, for I went through it with my grandfather just before flying off to Ireland to preach the gospel.  My grandpa was one of the coolest people I have ever met, a true Saint in every sense of the word.

Shalom.

LDS Cowboy on a mission to save your sorry soul

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thinking of Harold

That's me on the porch of H. Warner Munn's house, the house he built when he moved from New England to Tacoma, Washington.  I had just come out and that was my first attempt to "dress gay," but I don't think I ever came out to Harold.  I had just had a wee love affair with Jessica Salmonson at the time,  and she began to accompany me on my week-end visits to Harold, and he assumed she and I were lovers.  I had read in some small press horror magazine that Harold lived in Tacoma.  He had been a chum of H. P. Lovecraft's when he lived in New England, and Lovecraft delighted in the trips in Harold's car when they drove around hunting for antiquarian New England haunts.  I had just become an obsessed Lovecraft fanboy, so actually meeting one of Lovecraft's pals was intensely exciting!  

There we are in his living room, holding copies of the Lovecraft fanzine that I published in the 1970s.  I used to sleep overnight in Harold's attic room, where he kept his library and had his working area where he wrote new things.  It was up in that attic that he kept his old Arkham House books, his copy of W. Paul Cook's The Recluse in which both he and HPL had some writing, &c.  It was utterly magickal.  Harold became a real father figure to me, and was one of the sweetest men I have ever known.  I was so proud when he dedicated one of his final chapbooks, The Affair of the Cuckolded Warlock, to me.


I've written some few weird tales in his memory, the best of which is in The Tangled Muse and entitled "And Drink the Moon."

Speaking of my Centipede Press omnibus, I've just noticed that most of ye numerous copies available at Amazon have sold!  My thanks to everyone who purchas'd that very expensive book.  All of the new original works that I wrote for it have now been reprinted in my new trade paperback from Hippocampus Press:

I feel that I have been extremely fortunate to have been born at a time when I got to know members of the Lovecraft Circle in their elder years.  J. Vernon Shea became one of my best friends, and Robert Bloch was the man who really inspired me to try writing weird fiction.  Bloch wrote some things for my horror film fanzines in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and then we continued to correspond when I was sent to Ireland to serve my two years as Mormon missionary.  The LDS leaders frowned on my going to horror films (I was obsessed with horror films and had plans to become a horror film actor as a career), and so instead of going to films I began to buy horror anthologies in which Bloch was one of many writers, and that was how I got hooked on horror fiction.  By the time I left to return to the States I had so many horror paperbacks that I had to buy a wee suitcase to carry them all in.  While I was preaching in Omagh, Northern Ireland, I bought my first Lovecraft book:

& I was amazed to see that the book's title story had been dedicated by Lovecraft to by chum, Robert Bloch!  It now feels like destiny, so many threads of fate weaving together so as to produce my eventual future as a weird tale artist obsessed with writing tales of Lovecraftian horror.  Sure has been a great life!

Hope y'all who buy the new book enjoy it.  I think it is my second-best book, following Some Unknown Gulf of Night.  My next book, The Strange Dark One--Tales of Nyarlathotep, will be publish'd later this year by Miskatonic River Press.  I've suggested to Tom Lynch that ye book be publish'd in October, I love having books released in October.  The book I have written with Jeffrey Thomas, Encounters with Enoch Coffin, was due out late this year, but I have asked that it be publish'd early next year, so that I can have a book dated 2013.  The first edition will be published as hardcover by Dark Regions Press, completely illustrated.  It is all original work, no reprints, and Jeff has penned some of his finest Lovecraftian weird fiction for the book.  I am particularly pleased with my new novelette set in Kingsport.  The Enoch Coffin book, indeed, may be ye most Lovecraftian book that I have ever worked on.  It is Lovecraftian to ye core.

Hope y'all be having a great week-end.  Season finale of The Walking Dead tonight is gonna be intense.  Shalom, my darlings.  Pleasant nightmares (as Bho Blok wou'd say!).

Lovecraft's Titan Elbow


It has been so difficult to write, and it's beginning to annoy me.  Happily, I think that Robert Bloch and H. P. Lovecraft are coming to my rescue.  I've been wanting to write a Weird Tales type story for a forthcoming hardcover anthology edited by Jason V Brock.  I want to write the kind of story that may have been published in WT and later used in an Arkham House book publish'd by August Derleth.  Arkham House has been my biggest influence as a weird tale writer, because it was from becoming obsess'd with their books and collecting them in the 1970's that guided my path as an author of modern weird fiction. 

My buddy J. D. Worthington, who is working on his first collection of essays for Hippocampus Press, has posted a new Lovecraftian thread at the Science Fiction Fantasy Chronicles forum regarding Lovecraft's "The Unnamable" (pictured above, in a Ballantine pb that contains the tale ).  This got me to reread Lovecraft's story, and that usual addicted and obsessed Lovecraft fanboy in me began to shout, "I wanna write a sequel to this story!"  I've used aspects of the tale in other things, most particularly in my Sesqua Valley tale "Heritage of Hunger."  But I also wanted to bring in the Robert Bloch influence, which weighs so heavily on my aesthetic soul.  Reaching to the nearby bookcase next to the table where I write, I took up my Panther pb edition of Bho Blok's The Opener of the Way in search of Lovecraftian influences, and there I found one of my all-time favourite tales, "The Mannikin."  The story is deliciously Lovecraftian.  My sick brain began to bubble.  Yes, I could begin my tale, which I wou'd set in the late 1920s, in the Arkham graveyard wherein Lovecraft begins his own story.  My narrator will be one Simone Maglore (a tip of ye hat to Bloch's story), who (like Randolph Carter in HPL's tale) is an author of notorious weird fiction.  She is disfigured, having a humped back.  She sits on the cemetery slab with her friend, an Arkham warlock who etches diabolique sigils in ye graveyard dirt, as they speak of the legend of yon haunted house and its attic window.  Simone's hump shudders at one point in ye tale, as they speak of the legend of the thing that haunts yon house, the horned beast that has an appetite for human hearts.  The warlock glances at her back and whispers, "Your twin is restless."

Left alone, Simone wanders to yon house and climbs to its darkened attic, where she finds the shadowy thing, the form without a face.  As she and her warlock chum were gazing up at the attic window from their place in ye necropolis, she thought she detected moving shadow behind the attic window, that window on which the moon reflected its weird amber image in a disconcerting way.  Peering at that window now, she sees that the horned moon is there still--and of course it is not ye moon at all, but the reflection of the legendary monster that has implanted its macabre image onto the window through which it gazed for countless decades.  It was the beast of legend, the thing that was rumored to have an appetite for fresh human hearts.  It hungered still.  Gifted in alchemy, Simone, an Arkham sorceress, a potent necromancer, leads the faceless form to the attic window and weaves the reflected face into its substance.  The hump on her back, that wearisome freak, wails in protest at such sacrilege of Nature.  Simone rips open her blouse, revealing her breasts to moonlight.  The shadowed form tilts to her bare shoulder and the monstrosity that writhes upon it, that hump of flesh that is her tiresome twin.  With black hands, the shadow-thing rips apart the malformed appendage of shuddering flesh and pulls free its puny heart, that organ that is instantly consumed by its new visage.

Nu?

I'll be having dinner with S. T. and the gang on Saturday.  We're meeting at a restaurant, so he won't be here to record a new video interview, alas.  I hope to have copies of my new book from Hippocampus Press to pass around to pals.

me in my teenage years, working at ye JONES' FANTASTIC MUSEUM at ye Seattle Center

Friday, March 2, 2012

Something Strange Yet Welcomed


There's me and mum with S. T., Mary, Maryanne K. Snyder and Leo our three-legged cat.  I love our living room, crammed as it is with mother's Asian collection.  She used to love dragging dad to second hand stores and local yard sales in search of Oriental junk.  The living room is cozy, especially at night when mom is in bed and I have the room to myself, reading Shakespeare or Lovecraft by lamplight as I sit in mother's armchair.  I'm doing that more and more, just sitting and reading and living as quiet a life as possible.  I still have my bad days when I am so weak that I can barely move, especially if for some reason I've had to go out into the cold weather.  I don't mind having to live the life of an invalid--I joke that I am far more of an eccentric recluse than Lovecraft ever was.

Mentally, I often confuse myself.  I seem so unstable, always flying from this emotion to that, plotting some new thing and then feeling instantly bored with the idea.  I lack mental and emotional foundation.  Perhaps that's just part of being an artist, I don't know.  I've spent the first two months of this year trying like hell to work on new books, determined to write and so depressed because the writing simply won't happen.  But this week something rather queer has happened.  My newest book has just been published by Hippocampus Press.  I have had book after book published these past fourteen months.  And all of a sudden I feel worn out by my activity.  I hate the feeling that my books have to compete with each other for readers, cos who can afford to buy them all?  Gathered Dust and Others is supposed to come out as trade pb and ebook this year, but that won't happen until all of the hardcovers are sold, and I have this feeling that sales for the book have died.  I have one more trade pb due out this year, The Strange Dark One from Miskatonic River Press.  Two books a year is more than enough, I think.  Because 13 is my favorite number, I really want a book out next year -- 2013 -- but I sure as hell don;t want to have to work my ass off writing a new book this year.  I wanna be lazy.  I want to spend a year sitting in bed, reading and listening to music and dreaming about cowboys. 

So I have begged my publisher to wait and bring out my next hardcover, Encounters with Enoch Coffin, early next year, and my co-author, Jeffrey Thomas, is cool with the idea.  That way I can have a 2013 book published that is already completely written.  And I can chill this year and not feel the need to produce a new book.  It's weird, I feel almost oppressed by how insanely active I have been as a writer.  Well, the reason for that activity was insane -- I was convinced that I would die last year from complications with congestive heart failure, as my friend Joyce died, who was half a year older than me.  Convinced that I was headed for quick extinction, I worked like crazy to get a bunch of new books written, compiled and off to publishers.  Now it seems likely that I'm gonna be around for a while, so I can relax and stop being a drama queen. 

I don't want to have to feel like I need to complete a new book for two or three years.  I want there to be a long break between Encounters with Enoch Coffin and whatever my next book will be.  I want to spend two years working on the book I am writing with Jessica Amanda Salmonson and make it a really special, rad book, grim and ghastly and decadent.  I am so thankful to everyone who has bought my newest books, especially those who paid for the expensive hardcovers.  I want, for a while, to give your wallets and credit cards a breather.

I have ideas for the next few books I want to write, the need to write, the desire to produce, is still keenly felt.  I just don't want to have to think about publication, deadlines or any of that stuff for a long long time.  Writing in this household is extremely difficult because of everything that makes creative concentration next to impossible; but if I just take my time and write now and then, when I feel rested, when this madhouse is quiet -- in a year or two I'll suddenly find myself with enough material for a new book.

I like this month, March.  It has some sadness attached to it, because it was on March 15th that my beloved boy, Todd, died in my arms after choking to death on bile produced by nasty street smack.  And it was on March 15th, too, that H. P. Lovecraft died, going to his death with the conviction that he had failed as a writer and would be forgotten.  But with the sadness of those deaths also comes the promise of Spring and warmer weather, which I now need due to ill health.  I want to be able to go for walks around the block, or drive to Seward Park and walk along the forest paths, without cold weather making such a thing impossible. 

Many thanks to all who have ordered the new book.  Friends on Facebook have already gotten their copies; I have yet to get any of mine.  That always kills me, the author should be the first one to get copies of their own book, right? 

Be well, my darlinks.

with my high school girlfriend, Valerie McBeth, with whom I loved doing scenes from Shakespeare