Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ye Lovecraft Circle


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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

To My Elusive Muse


Let me exorcise this paltry woe from out my soul--and fly with thee, oh music of cold starlight.  There, there -- I taste your echo on my liquid eyes, and sigh as vibration sinks beneath that tissue of my orbs to chill my brain with ache of vision.  Ache, ache -- free my palsied mind, let me swim to cosmic night, where freedom rings.  It rings, it rings -- between the spaces of the stars -- as I evoke the cosmic blur that knows my name.  I cannot name the nameless thing, to which I would conjoin, with which I would stalk between the spaces of the stars with poet of Providence.  There, there -- I see the pages of the void, scattered from some Rue d'Auseil in pandemonium of Zann -- yellow leaves like jaundiced masks onto which black ink has wept. 


Don't awaken is my cry -- lead me not to sanity and calm -- Howard, take my hand, tug me to a delirium of dreaming.  Howard, my exorcist, etch your Elder Sign with thumbnail into my brow, wash my dull eyes with wound's bubbling trickle.  Let me see the world through horror.  Haunt the dark there in my skull, plant the phantoms of daemonic euphoria that is the seed of creativity.  Let me taste of ecstasy of Lovecraftian horror, that potent power that feeds my fancy, fearfully.  Teach me, Howard, as only you know how -- to write. 



Friday, September 21, 2012

Creaking Antient Thing


What a strange year this has been, overflowing with unsuspected things.  It began in misery, frustration and defeat.  I hate having heart disease, and I tend to ignore that fact of my physical makeup until I am forced to face it.  There is nothing more boring than being an invalid.  I hunger for life.  The best part of being alive these days is creative vitality--my gawd, so sweet.  Thus, at the end of last year and the beginning of this year I felt depleted of energy; and because I am, in old age, a drama queen, I moaned that this would be a year of little activity.  A huge portion of my misery was from the insane activity I had just passed through, the completion of a number of books.  Now, when I began to write, one's fiction was published in small press magazines, most of which had a circulation of 200, seldom more than five-hundred copies per issue.  The idea of having books of my own was unthinkable; and when those books finally became a reality they were compilations of older work from different decades, all thrown together.  It wasn't until I wrote The Fungal Stain and other Dreams that I built a book, carefully deciding what tales it would contain, then writing new tales that would help to complete a planned structure. 

The constructing of a book became a huge allure--I love it.  The Tangled Muse was my last "hodgepodge" collection, as it had to be because of its nature as an omnibus of what I then considered my finest work.  The first book I wrote of all original short was Encounters with Enoch Coffin, written in collaboration with Jeffrey Thomas--he wrote six of the stories and I wrote another six.  My most exhilarating writing experience came when I was inspired to create Some Unknown Gulf of Night.  That was a six-week journey of intense creativity, wherein I hated having to stop to eat or sleep.  So, coming off the high of seeing new books created and published, the aspect of 2012 being a year of non-creativity due to wonky health was a nightmare that I had convinced myself I had to endure.  I couldn't think like a writer--I could not find that passionate project that so excited me I could not rest until it reached completion.  The idea of not having a book out in 2013 so depressed me that I begged Dark Regions Press to wait and bring out the Enoch Coffin book early next year, not at the end of this year as was originally planned.  I mean--thirteen is my favourite number--I had to have a book dated 2013


And then came the announcement of NecronomiCon Providence 2013.  Oh, darlings, I trembled to the core of my being.  The idea of a Lovecraft convention in Providence had been one of my main fantasies.  It became a keener ache during my four days in Providence in October of 2007.  That city has a special magick that only a devoted Lovecraftian can feel.  All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed with creative ache:  I had to write a new book that would celebrate NecronomiCon.  I wrote that book over the summer months.  And then Fungi magazine asked for an 11,000 word novelette for a special issue they were doing for NecronomiCon.  Almost instantly, I penned my 11,300 word Sesqua Valley version of Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear."

And now, this month, it's all stopped.  I cannot explain it, except to say that I think it's tied to the increase of physical demands of being my mother's caregiver.  She can neither stand nor walk on her own, and thus she is "dead weight," and trying to lift her out of bed and into her wheelchair, or taking her to the bathroom, has become a gnarly and exhausting job.  I have completely lost my energy, and have spent most of the past two weeks in bed.  This is extremely frustrating because, mentally, I have gobs of energy for writing my next two books, Monstrous Aftermath and Songs for the Comte D'erlette.  The ache, the need, the wanting to write, is there intensely; but the energy has suddenly been sapped.  It makes me feel so unprofessional, to have such little mental discipline.  Yet I realise that this inability is tied to my boring health problems.  It sucks.  I always expect this to happen, which is the reason that when I get the energy for work I write like a lunatic, never stopping, letting it pour out like a geyser. I know the ability to work will return--but it's frustrating having to wait, and having no clue when the ability, the energy, will percolate once more.  I hate being an invalid!  I want life!  And yet, if the ability to work does not return this year, I can still find a sense of calm, a peace of mind, in knowing that I have had a really productive year.  I have many little things forthcoming in soon-to-be-published anthologies. 

Shalom.


Promotional Pimping, Oh Yeah!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Through Haunted Glasses, Darkly


How wonderful that THRILLER episodes are now on YouTube--but I wonder if they will stay there or be removed due to copyright matters.  I spent this morning watching "The Cheaters," based on a weird tale by Robert Bloch.  I've gone through a wee spell of writing sequels to some Bloch stories.  I had been obsessed, for decades, about writing a sequel to "The Skull of the Marquee de Sade," and even mentioned it to Bob.  I simply never found my way into telling my tale, until finally the idea came to me and I wrote it for the marvelous anthology, Dead But Dreaming 2 (Miskatonic River Press, 2011).

I had the idea of writing a sequel to "The Cheaters," when I began work on my collection of Tales of Nyarlathotep, The Strange Dark One (to be publish'd next month by Miskatonic River Press, each tale illustrated by Jeffrey Thomas).  The story was influenced as much by the Thriller episode as it was by Bloch's original story.  I have always been strangely captivated by the beginning and ending of that televised episode.  I loved the idea of the sorcerer working in his hidden lair, his antique desk with its secret drawer, and the fate of an author at ye tale's climax.  Thus my story opens with Sebastian Grimm about to blow his brains out while wearing the spectral spectacles.

"Grimm glanced down at the last page of his manuscript and saw its final word: finis.  Yes, this was the end.  A chill ran down his spine as he reached for the revolver that sat upon the desk, the metal of which was so horribly frigid to the touch.  His fingers raised the tip of the barrel to one of the lenses as the author sought the courage needed to pull the trigger.

"'That won't be required, Grimm,' spoke a soft voice near his ear.  A large hand wrapped its talons around the revolver's barrel.  'It would be a crime to destroy those so alluring spectacles.  Here, let me take them from your face.  My, what expressions swim within your wide eyes!  How wonderful a thing is fear.  It teaches us so many new things, don't you find?  Ah!  Is that the skull that Van Prinn used to hold his goose-quill pen?  Yes, I see the top is bored.  Here's, let's rest the bridge of these cheaters over the gap where once this fellow wore a nose."

Obviously, this is the voice of Simon Gregory Williams, ye first-born beast of Sesqua Valley.  He has found Grimm just in time to halt tragedy and enforce a hunt for -- the second pair of spectacles.  And they find them.

"You see, the frames are composed of a similar kind of metal, but the lenses are black as pitch.  What kind of realm could one possibly view with glass that is so opaque?  The answer, of course, has been delicately inscribed across the bridge -- 'Arcanum' -- the hidden world, a world of tantalizing mystery.  Ludwig Prinn scribbled of such a world in his hysterical De Vermis Mysteriis -- and Van Prinn fashioned these so as to peer into that occult realm."

Thus is Grimm whisked off to Sesqua Valley, where he meets a character inspired by Lovecraft's Erich Zann.  Together, three insane figures learn ye secret use of the opaque spectacles, and an Outer God is summon'd forth.  Chillin'!

Harry Townes as Sebastian Grimm

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ye Book o' Klooloo II

gonna spend ye rest o' ye day in bed devouring this tome, & then I'll do a video on it to-night.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Modern Miracle


I'm having din-din with S. T. Joshi this week-end.  The magick of this situation has yet to dull.  I have worshiped the man and his Lovecraftian labors for so many years--and so the idea that he would meet a Seattle girl and move to my hometown is -- it's incredible.  My ego loves it when people dig my books--but as far as real criticism goes, the only critic whose opinion means anything to me is S. T.'s; because he is as obsess'd with Lovecraft as I am, and far more intimate with Lovecraft's fiction; & I feel that to truly "get" my weird fiction, one has to be familiar with Lovecraft.  S. T. "gets" me like no other.

It is no coincidence that, since he has moved to Seattle, my output as an author has increased daemonically.  Working with him as my editor has been a complete and utter joy.  It began when I began to compile and then write new material for The Fungal Stain and other Dreams.  I wanted to give that book a smooth narrative tone, and thus I went back and revised all of the old material, bringing it up to my current fictive voice.  And then I worked so as to write new stories that were lengthier than the thing I usually did.  I wanted to write "real" stories that wou'd impress my fabulous editor.  This then reached its height when Jerad invited me to compile an omnibus of my work for Centipede Press.  With Fungal Stain, I had typed the entire book on an electric typewriter--I had no computer and thus could not use Microsoft Word &c.  I then sent the entire thing to S. T., who had to scan the entire book!  When Jerad agreed to publish The Tangled Muse, S. T. said, "We're not doing it your old way any longer.  Get online and get email."  Thus commanded, I obey'd--and thus my writing life took on new vitality.  It was so much easier to write using my keyboard and Microsoft Word!  I began to type my rough drafts right into ye laptop, whereas before I always wrote them out in longhand.  And then I would print them out and revise, and revising was so easy!  No more typing correction fluid!

My production increased.  I was no longer content with writing story after story--I now began to visualize books.  I no longer wanted my books to be thrown together, a compilation of old things.  I wanted books planned, I wanted them to have themes and smooth narrative flow.  It has become intoxicating, this writing of books.  I love that my next book will have as its theme ye Crawling Chaos--Nyarlathotep.  I love that my next book after that will be a book of entirely new fiction, Encounters with Enoch Coffin, for which I wrote six stories and Jeffrey Thomas wrote the other six.  None of this would have happen'd were it not for S. T. coming to Seattle, becoming my main editor and my homie.  It's a miracle, and I consider myself the luckiest queen in ye world because of it.



Proclaim It To Ye World!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Haunted Mind – Lovecraft, It is Not – Book Review

A Haunted Mind – Lovecraft, It is Not – Book Review

Rest

Just woke up from a relaxing nap, during which I dreamed of Providence.  I have a year to try and improve my health, to get used to exercise and such so that I will have ye requir'd stamina needed to walk ye hills of Providence, to visit the places that so enchanted me when I visited the city in October of 2007.  Haven't been feeling well at all for about a week, and this week-end has been very bad; but I think much of it is exhaustion & depression.  And ennui.  I'm not feeling up to writing, and yet I ache with ye desire to write.  I've sat looking at an unfinished paragraph of ye new story for days, and the paragraph does not get longer.  It just says there, thus:

"His language and his buzzing articulation slipped into my ears, and some weird element of it coiled to my brain, where fluent vision bloomed."

That's it--for days, honey; I can make no progress.  I just sit here and look at the screen for hours.  The window of this wee bedroom (this was my bedroom when pa first had the house built, when I was around five or six years old) is open because this is the room where I have ye one kitty litter box.  At times a faint breeze blows through and moves ye brass wind chime.  Light music in the air.  Trying to ignore the headache.  One of the guys who lives in our basement got a bottle of grape soda, and that stuff tastes better than ever.  I've been drinking too much of his, and so I went and got a pack of grape soda in cans.  I've already had two today--trying to resist can #3.

I finish'd my ear-trumpet tale, & I actually like it far more than I thought I wou'd.  Mike Davis will eventually publish it in ye Lovecraft eZine, and I'll probably put it into my Derleth-inspir'd collection in 2014.  I actually thought I'd have that book--Songs for the Comte d'Erlette--at least two-thirds completed before the end of this year, I've been writing things so quickly; but if this lethargy and such continue, it will be a while before I can return to steady concentration and ye flow of work.  Gawd, I love when the work flows! 
 
Oh oh--what did I do now.  How do I undo this?  Um, let's see if this works---- Yes!!!  Ha ha!  A pox on you, techno-hoodoo, I'm larning!

So, I guess I'll stare at that wee paragraph for another hour--maybe something will worm out of me skull.  Then I'll return to bed and read some more Derleth, so that I can get his tone for the prose of this new book.

Shalom, sweets chums.  If I am inactive here for a while, know that I am in bed,m resting and dreaming about cowboys.


Two hours later:  and I have added significantly to ye paragraph!  Oh, joyous evening.  

His language and his buzzing articulation slipped into my ears, and some weird element of it coiled to my brain, where fluent vision bloomed.  When I looked again at the daemon, it seemed that I saw him through a wall of mist and shadow.  I gazed at his eyes and saw that they had caught the amber glare of the single bulb above us that lighted the room.   Again, I heard the mocking wind at the window.  Stepping away from the daemon, I went to the door of his shop and pushed it open.  Storm contorted the world.  It bent trees and shook frail buildings; it swept litter along the lanes and dark clouds against the sky.  I watched a gull try to soar against the current of the wind.  Walking away from the building, I stood in the center of the vacant street as litter and particles of debris were tossed at my face and stung my eyes.  What did all of this remind me of?  I had known a recurring dream, of a different kind of storm and of the specks of desert sand that wind flung into my eyes.  In these visions I stood beneath a vaulted sky, alone in a city of antique pillars.  The scream of storm passed through the city, howling between its numbered columns as I shrieked in accompaniment.  My hands lifted so as to shield my eyes from sand, and in an instant I knew naught but darkness and impenetrable silence.  I awakened in my dark chill room, my flesh moist with sweat.  When I raised my hands so as to rub sleep out of my eyes, my fingers came away stains by particles of sand.

Ah--nice to have just a bit of flow.  Ideas for the tale begin to crystallize.   The dealer-daemon will assist ye bloke in using the weird wee book to find, through outre vision, the city of pillars.  There the daemon will take on a more monstrous form, and his/its voice will blend with the sound of strange and distant storm, that desert wind that, when it howls, sounds like the singing of one thousand insects.  Very Lovecraftian.  Okay, nigh to bed, cos I'm bloody exhausted.


Monday, September 3, 2012

BOLLOCKS!


Someone in Darkness
an unfinish'd Sesqua Valley story by
W. H. Pugmire, Uninspir'd

The beast came to me at midnight, as I assumed he would.  I had been on a two-month excursion to Europe, with most of my time spent with an alchemist acquaintance in Italy, and I had returned with a fascinating little book and an unusual relic.  I had enjoyed myself to the full--knowing that, due to my advanced age, this was likely to be my final trip abroad.  I did not mind that this was so.  My parents brought me to Sesqua Valley eighty years ago, when I was but a child; ending my days within its fantastic shadow was a happy thought.  And as long as the beast remained among us, my days would not prove uneventful.

"Agatha Norris--welcome home.  I would have come sooner, but I have been away, to New England."  I had not heard him enter my abode, but I had sensed his presence in the room, as I became aware of his peculiar odor.  He smelled of the valley, a pungent sweetness that was quite outre compared to anything in the outside world.  I had been absent from the valley long enough that the smell affected me potently, as it disturbs those outsiders who first encounter it.  I turned and nodded to him as he leaned against the wall near to the French windows through which he had entered my cottage.  Beyond the tall windows I could see the moonlit garden that spread behind my residence, the sight of which inspired me to walk past the beast and out into the moonlit patch.  The perfume of the blooms was a thing that some of us outsiders to the valley used so as to counter the syrupy nature of the Sesquan air.

I heard movement behind me as the creature followed me out into the garden.   "I've been back for over one moth, beast.  To what do I now owe this singular visitation?  You've rarely paid me any attention in all my years of residence."

I did not look at him as he sighed.  "I heard that you were visiting a would-be sorcerer in Italy.  That's such a magnificent country, so overflowing with elder ways and esoteric secrets.  I am, of course, curious about anything you may have gleaned in matters of necromantic art -- although I cannot consider this chap you stayed with as profound in learning."

I could not help but laugh a little at his words.  "You censor everyone, Simon, who has grown weary of you and your ways.  Andreas simply has no current need of you after the antics of your last visit.  He says that you pilfered a book from his library."

The beast discarded the accusations with an irritable sniff.  But then he smiled.  "Yes, his library was sensational.  Andreas has a talent for sniffing out the obscure thing.  Of course, he more a collector than a magus--preferring to sit in his comfortable chair and read the formulae that he would never utter.  Tsk."

"He does have a knack for discovering the fantastic thing," I agreed, as I rummaged into the deep pocket of my dress and fondled the small red book sequestered there.  "We visited an innocuous shop that sold old furniture, where there were some few antique pieces.  We came upon this extraordinary thing, a combination bureau and bookcase, whimsically painted.  The seller had no idea of its age or worth and allowed us to plunder it.  The doors to the bookcase portion had been sealed shut, you see, impossible to open with bare hands.  Andreas sensed something, his instincts had been aroused, and so he took out that rather large ritual dagger he is never without and used it to pry open one of the doors.  There was a loud splitting of wood as one of the doors cracked open, a noise that so alarmed the seller that Andreas hushed him by producing a large wad of bills with which to purchase the piece.  And there it was, on the topmost shelf, the thing that has caused my companiuon's eyes to burn with fever--that marvelous old book.  He snatched it and sniffed it and hooted with joy, and then he grabbed my hand and led me from the place as the seller hooted behind us for not taking the purchased bureau."

I paused in my story as Simon Gregory Williams glared at me with silver-hued eyes.  Shrugging, I produced the book and tossed it to him.  "Aha!" he exclaimed.

"Alas, no.  The book is in cipher, and we couldn't crack it.  That it is some kind of alchemical journal, some necromantic diary, is obvious from some of the diagrams drawn.  He's read widely of such things, although not as widely as you, of course.  The text is inscrutable."

"Oh, but I have seen something similar to this, in the correspondence of a chap named Joseph Curwen, from Providence.  He corresponded with many European alchemists, often in cipher.  Perhaps..."

"Well," I responded, "I have no use of the book.  Perhaps it will amuse you.  Consider it a present from an Italian friend."

He almost hummed with delight.  "I'll do just that."  He then peered at the moon and sneered.  "But this lunar ambiance is too severe and sane.  I've just purchased some ancient candles composed of the hide of a hanged witch.  Their dancing light will be the perfect radiance in which to study this wondrous thing.  I shall withdraw to my tower.  Good evening, Agatha Norris."

* * * * * * * * * * *
Okay, my stomach hurts and I am unwell.  I simply cannot go on for nigh.  I shall retire to my bedchamber and sleep with my wee kitten, and then I will return and type the rest of this tale that shall never be completed--by me, at any rate.  Shalom.
 I cannot believe it!!  I had almost the entire story typed, and then I pushed the wrong button or something and entirely lost it!!!  Bollocks!!!!  Two hours of labor entirely lost.  Okay, fuck this.  I'm going to go ahead and complete the writing of my story and then submit it to Mike for publication in ye Lovecraft eZine.

Saturday, September 1, 2012