Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ye Zanies of Sorrow

Ye above illustration for "The Zanies of Sorrow" is by Gwabryel, and appear'd in my first book from Centipede Press, The Tangled Muse (2011). Ye original version of ye story was 4,980 words. I have just completely rewritten the tale, changing it dramatically, and this new version comes to 4,900 words. It's been an important story to me because the original version was in no way Lovecraftian--being a product of, to my mind, pure Pugmire originality; so perhaps it was a slight mistake, in this new version, to include a sentence such as:

"We had ancient scroll that teach the summoning of Iog-Sotot, the Outer One who, through dreaming, instructs in raising of dead matter"

a slight wink to this same practice in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The wee reference fits, so what ye hell? The first half of the new version is pretty similar to ye original; but the second half of the revision is absolutely alter'd--and to my mind, improv'd. 

There are some who will read this and sigh in annoyance. "There he goes again, revising his old work." It has been my habit, more in ye olde days than nigh, to continually revise my short stories. I think there may be five different versions of "The Hungry Place". I rarely revise the stories that I've written in ye past decade because I'm satisfied with how they read. But those early yarns--gawd!! I once thought that SESQUA VALLEY AND OTHER HAUNTS was a good book--but the last few times I've try'd to read it, honey, I have cringed. When I originally wrote those stories, I suffer'd from Lovecraftian-affectation-up-ye-arse, and I wou'd use in my fiction some of the grammatical eccentricities Lovecraft used in his correspondence. I thought I was being so rad--when, in fact, I was being stupidly unprofessional. That's why, when many of those early tales were reprinted in The Tangled Muse, I revised/rewrote them, so that the book wou'd have a smooth narrative tone throughout, and as an attempt to "fix" some of the poor writing in the original versions of those tales.

I really like whut I've done with "The Zanies of Sorrow"; I feel it is now much improv'd, and I look forward to including this new version in some future collection.

a wonderful painting by Gwabryel--it was poorly reproduced in black & white in my book UNCOMMON PLACES.


  1. Gwabryel's art very much goes hand in hand with your visions. I love the artwork on your Sesqua Valley Mythos stories. How I would love to see a complete up-to-date Sesqua Valley compilation! ...Penguin, are you listening...? Happy Yule tomorrow! G. ;-)=

  2. Hooray! S. T. Joshi will be publishing this new version of "The Zanies of Sorrow" in his new as-yet-unnamed journal of weird fiction.