Monday, June 27, 2011

Banner Year for Mythos Anthologies!

Look ma -- got my name on ye cover!  Just below the magnificent Thomas Ligotti!  

This is proving to be a wonderful year for Cthulhu Mythos anthologies.  I was recently sent the new anthology Historical Lovecraft, but life has been way too chaotic for me to dip into the book yet.  It has been getting rave reviews at Amazon.  The editors also do the free online site, Innsmouth Free Press, a lovely place to read new Mythos fiction.

I am still awaiting my copy of Dead But Dreaming II from Miskatonic River Press, in which a story that took me decades to "realise" -- my sequel-of-sorts to Robert Bloch's "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade," has nigh been publish'd.  The first Dead But Dreaming was an extremely popular book, and I have high expectations for this second offering.

Two fabulous reprint anthologies will be published in Autumn.  I am delirious about appearing in The Book of Cthulhu, forthcoming from those rad kids at Night Shade Books.  The contents is simply amazing.  And of course Prime books will release, in September, New Cthulhu--The Recent Weird, in which one of my better tales, "The Fungal Stain," will be reprinted. 

I'm hoping that all of this is but the beginning of a new vogue in the publication of Lovecraftian anthologies.  Lois Gresh is editing Arkham Nightmares for Arkham House, and that promises to contain many fine new tales some of which will explore Lovecraftian regions.  And S. T. Joshi has an anthology coming out maybe next year, Spawn of the Green Abyss, which contains both reprints and some few brand new Mythos tales.  Joshi is also working with Larry Roberts and Arcane Wisdom Press on a new line of books, Modern Mythos Library, that will publish Mythos novels and collections picked by S. T.  S. T. is also editing Black Wings II and Black Wings III for P. S. Publishing.

It is a great time to be a Mythos writer!  Of my own books, The Tangled Muse from Centipede Press is almost sold out, and that amazes me.  And my September hardcover from Dark Regions Press, Gathered Dust and Others, just went up for pre-sale, and people seem to be quickly ordering the special leather-bound boxed edition.  Many thanx to everyone who has purchas'd my books--you make this groovy life possible, this writing life that is of such mammoth importance to me.  Kisses to all.



Friday, June 24, 2011

I AM PROVIDENCE continues to cast its spell

I stole ye above image from another blog, TENTACLII::H. P. LOVECRAFT BLOG, because it reminds me of how wonderful it is when a box arrives from Hippocampus Press.  Although S. T. brought me a set of I Am Providence when he pick'd me up to drive me to last year's H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu Con, I also purchas'd a set from Derrick as I wanted one for  me upstairs bedroom and one for my work station in ye basement.  I've been reading the book again, slowly, and am nigh half-way through the 2nd volume, and this has had the effect of returning me to add more wordage to my already lengthy review of the volumes at Amazon.  There have been some rather--ungenerous--reviews of the book at Amazon by people who dislike S. T. and claim that he too often intrudes into the story of Lovecraft's life so as to make personal asides.  I find these comments by S. T. always interesting and always adding to the interesting story of Lovecraft's life and Work.  Every page of the book's first twenty-five chapters--every single page--are about H. P. Lovecraft, despite what these morons at Amazon claim.  And it is a story that has compell'd me for decades, the story of a figure who has me so spellbound that he has absolutely alter'd my life, has given me my life!  I initially heard of Lovecraft from reading an issue of the horror film fanzine Gore Creatures that was dedicated to his fiction.  This was in the 1960's.  Then my horror film buddy, Brian, who was into reading weird fiction (I just liked to watch horror films) shew'd me his newly-purchas'd edition of the 1943 Arkham House Lovecraft collection, Beyond the Wall of Sleep, for which he paid a handsome price.  When in high school Brian and I published a one-shot horror film fanzine in which we had a section of tributes to Forry Ackerman.  Somehow I got Robert Bloch's address and got him to contribute a wee tribute to his buddy Forry.

When I went to Ireland to serve as an LDS missionary, I continued to correspond with Bloch; and because my superiors didn't allow me to attend cinema and watch evil horror films, I began to buy books by Bob, or anthologies in which Bloch was one of many writers, and thus I was introduced to names such as Carl Jacobi, August Derleth, Brian Lumley and so many others.  I also went to used bookshops and found Panther Horror editions of Lovecraft's Tales, one of which was called The Haunter of the Dark and other tales.

 And I was intrigued to see that the book's title tale had been dedicated by HPL to my buddy, Robert Bloch.  Finally return'd to the States a total weird fiction freak and discover'd Arkham House the Lovecraft's Selected Letters, and thus HPL's personality engulf'd mine own.  I changed my author's byline, which had been Bill Pugmire, Jr., to W. H. Pugmire, to coincide with H. P. Lovecraft.  I then bought Augie's original edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos and read Lin Carter's A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos, and they convinc'd me that I had to become a famous Mythos writer.  I began to mimic, in my letters, Lovecraft's idiosyncrasies as they are found in his publish'd correspondence (such as typing "publish'd" instead of "published," or typing "antient" instead of "ancient"), and dated my letters 1776 instead of 1976.  Yes, I was utterly under ye Old Gent's spell.  The 1970's were such an intense time to be a Lovecraft fans because the new breed of scholars were beginning to publish their discoveries and opinions.  Then S. T. edited the Corrected Texts Editions for Arkham House, and eventually Derrick began Hippocampus Press.  We have now enter'd ye richest time in the world of Lovecraft Studies, with edition after edition of the Works being publish'd by prestigious Houses.

I have never been able to shake Lovecraft from me, and it has been my perverse attitude that I want to be more and more Lovecraftian as I age, and that I want my focus as an author to be tied to H. P. Lovecraft and his genius.  Gawd, there is still so much more to write!  Lovecraft feeds my Muse more powerfully now, in middle age, than ever before.  I strive to find new ways to express my Lovecraftian ecstasy.  The discovery of my passion for writing my wee prose-poem/vignette sequences has been a beautiful find, and I am utterly addicted to ye form.  I am having four books publish'd this year, 2011, which seems mad but that's how inspirational I find writing the weird eldritch stuff.  It's as much fun as it is work--but it's the work I like best, getting lost in that zone we sink into as writers, where the real world fades away and we become lost in our sense of wonder.  It's the best!

So reading these two fabulous volumes feeds me absolutely.  I love them, every page.  If you can, go to Amazon and write your own review of I Am Providence.  The book deserves all the attention and comment we can give it, be it praise or criticism.  In writing it, S. T. Joshi has done such a service to Lovecraft's memory, Lovecraft's genius, and we who celebrate it.  Selah.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

YE CURSE OF YIG

In a letter to August Derleth, H. P. Lovecraft wrote:  "By the way--if you want to see a new story which is practically mine, read "The Curse of Yig" in the current W.T.  Mrs. Reed is a client for whom Long & I have done oceans of work, & this story is about 75% mine.  Alkl I had to work on was a synopsis describing a couple of pioneers in a cabin with a nest of rattlesnakes beneath, the killing of the husband by snakes, the bursting of the corpse, & the madness of the wife, who was an eye-witness to the horror.  There was no plot or motivation--no prologue or aftermath to the incident--so that one might say the story, as a story, is wholly mine.  I invented the snake-god & the curse, the tragic wielding of the axe by the wife, the matter of the snake-victim's identity, & the asylum epilogue.  Also, I worked up the geographic & other incidental colour--getting some data from the alleged authoress, who knows Oklahoma, but more from books."  

I have not read "The Curse of Yig" for quite a while, as I am waiting to read all of the Lovecraft revisions when they are publish'd in ye two forthcoming annotated volumes from Arcane Wisdom Press.  The first such volume, The Crawling Chaos and Others, is at the printers as I write and should be available in four to six weeks, and in it one will find the fully annotated text of "The Curse of Yig."  However, through my beloved weird sister Sarah and her blog, She Never Slept, and her Facebook activity, I discovered that a film version of the story had been produced; and through Sarah's sorcery I was able to get in touch with the film's producer/director, Paul von Stoetzel, & in to-day's poft I got a copy of the film on DVD. 

Great Yuggoth!!!  This is, quite simply, one of the finest adaptations of a Lovecraft weird tale to cinema that I have ever seen.  It is brilliant and effective in every way.  It has been my opinion that films that stay as true as possible to H. P. Lovecraft's original stories are the films that work best, because they have the genius of Lovecraft as their foundation.  This is one of those rare films (such as Bryan Moore's excellent Cool Air and ye HPLHS's magnificent The Call of Cthulhu) that have as one of their major strong points their keeping Lovecraft's story as the basis for their cinematic effort.


There are some quite wonderful additions.  The actress pictured above, Amy Schweikhard, opens the film as its initial narrator.  Thus is Lovecraft's original male character transform'd.  She sits in a chair and begins to speak Lovecraft's language.  The dialogue is taken directly from the text of Lovecraft's story, and it is perfectly performed.  But this woman is not just a figure inthe story -- she is the story's "alleged authoress," Zealia Bishop (& what a delightfully appropriately Lovecraftian name this authoress has!).  Miss Schweikhard's delivery is so good, so effective, and has the immediate effect of instilling into the film an atmosphere of weird mystery.  She is utterly convincing, in the way she sits, the look on her face (which is almost a lack of expression that, underneath, churns a volcano of emotion).  The change of character gender works very well, especially when Lovecraft's original line, uttered by Doctor McNeill, "You've done remarkable work for a man as young as you seem to be..." becomes "You've done remarkable work--for a woman--as young as you seem to be." 

Production is solid and everything contains a sense of authenticity.  The lower lair of the asylum's seemingly deserted region is atmospheric and prepares one for the sight of the horror, that which has been kissed with the curse of Yig.  The creature is shewn to us just enough, and as the narrator quotes the actual lines of Lovecraft's description, "It was absolutely hairless, and its tawny-looking back seemed subtly squamous in the dim ghoulish light. . . . Around the shoulders it was rather speckled and brownish, and the head was very curiously flat.  As it looked up to hiss at me I saw that the beady little black eyes were damnably anthropoid, but I could not bear to study them for long", that is exactly what is shewn on the screen.  It is Lovecraft's offspring of Yig superbly and perfectly realised.  We do not see it overlong, just as it is not further described in the story. 

One of the weakest element in low budget film productions is poor acting.  In this department, this movie excels.  Everyone gives extremely good, at times brilliant, performances. Tim Uren is excellent as the doomed Walker Davis, a male character who, in true Lovecraft tradition, faints when overwhelmed by terror and horror.  Minor roles are handled with finesse, with Conor Timmis giving an exemplary performance in his few moments of dialogue.  One character that has been added to Lovecraft's story is a an "Okmulgee Man," portrayed magnificently by Kurt Schweickhard.  This wholly successful character is similar to that of old Zadok Allen in "The Shadow over Innsmouth," and he is so good he almost steals the show. 

The invention of that "Okmulgee Man" is but one of the wonderful and perfect aspects of the topnotch screenplay by leading player, Tim Uren.  The script is flawless, with many moments of brilliance.  Again, it tells the story almost exactly as Lovecraft penned it -- but I do not think it is a simple matter to accomplish this in a screenplay.  It takes thought and effort and keen knowledge of Lovecraft's text, and then it takes an understand of the film medium to thus convey a work of prose into an effective and fascinating film.

Music score is provided by Scott Keever, and wow is it wonderful.  It is not intrusive, and it absolutely adds to the mood of the film.  When the music needs to unsettle, it is subtly weird.  When the narrative introduces the Davis couple the music becomes delightful folksy (a poor word to describe the music at this portion of the film).  Keever himself appears with his fiddle in some scenes.

I watched this amazing Lovecraftian film spellbound, and then I read the story and that spell was enhanced.  The language of the film is Lovecraft's.  The story is Lovecraft's.  But Lovecraft has been perfectly realised and evoked within a medium that has rarely done him justice.  The Curse of Yig, quite simply, is one of the finest Lovecraftian films ever produced.  I cannot praise it highly enough.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eldritch Bookmarks & S. T. Joshi!

Those who pre-order the fabulous new anthology Dead But Dreaming II from Miskatonic River Press will receive the above fabtranulous bookmark sign'd by moi!  Pretty damn cool.  This bookmark is printed on sturdy card stock and is quite lovely.  Order your copy of this book this instant!  One side of the bookmark shews Dead But Dreaming II, while the other side shews ye magnificent Jeffrey Thomas cover for my first book from MRP, The Strange Dark One--Tale of Nyarlathotep.  The photo of me is from an Eldritch Queen moment at MythosCon.  My eyebrows were painted on unevenly, but oh well, some girls just need help.

Had a lovely time with our local gang, who descended upon mother and me with laughter and Thai food.  It was a really great time, the highlight being a 15 minute interview with S. T. Joshi that I recorded on YouTube and then posted on my Facebook page.  S. T. discusses many forthcoming projects and was quite delightful.  We couldn't get him to sing on camera, as has been requested by many of his fans; but I just got an email from him saying he does want to please his fans and thus S. T. wants to get together around ye holidays and do a video of Holiday Songs!  Stay tuned!!!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SOME UNKNOWN GULF OF NIGHT is nigh..........!


Larry Roberts sent me ye signature sheets for Some Unknown Gulf of Night yesterday, so as soon as I sign and return those, ye book will be published.  The hardcover edition sold-out in pre-order, & I want to thank all of ye who order'd it.  It was so great -- Larry hired a for-real proofreader to work on the book, and I think it will thus be completely free of misprints!  A miracle!  Yuggoth, how I hate proofreading.  I went over and over the proofs for The Tangled Muse, wanting so for my Centipede Press book to be error-free.  Then I decided to reprint the title story in my forthcoming collection from Dark Regions Press, and Jeffrey Thomas worked with me as editor on that book -- and he found THREE typos, all my fault, that were in the story and they were reproduced in the Centipede omnibus -- arrrgh!

Writing Some Unknown Gulf of Night the a magical experience.  I have long wanted to do something inspir'd by Fungi from Yuggoth and always assumed it wou'd be a sonnet cycle of my own.  But my sonnet sequence in Sesqua Valley & Other Haunts so dissatisfies me that  I am not encouraged to try my hand at another such thing.  Then my buddy Will Hart recorded the entire sonnet cycle by Lovecraft and posted his readings on his channel at YouTube, CthulhuWho1, and as I listen'd to Will's superb reading of HPL's sonnets I was inspir'd with the ache to write a prose-poem sequence based on ye Fungi.  Ye may have noticed that I am totally obsess'd with writing these prose-poem sequences, and the idea of doing an ENTIRE BOOK of them made me dizzy with contemplative ecstasy. 

So I set to work.  I told myself that I would have the thing finish'd before I left for MythosCon.  My work would be a poem-by-poem aesthetic "commentary" on Lovecraft's sonnets.  I listen'd to Will read sonnet #1, took notes on words that should recur in my piece, and then typed ye initial version straight into Microsoft Word.  Then I read it aloud and polished/revised.  I didn't want to make too many changes, I didn't want the thing to be over-polished.  Lovecraft wrote his sonnet cycle in less than two weeks.  I wanted Some Unknown Gulf of Night to be a work that issued from my cracked brain quickly, smoothly, almost as stream-of-conscious writing.  So for my first sequence I used words and images from Lovecraft's first sonnet.  HPL's first three sonnets told a connected tale of sorts, and thus my first three prose-poems would do likewise.  I sent each sequence to Will for his evaluation, and his enthusiasm for the project fed my flame.  Then I began sending them as I wrote them to my buddy J. D. Worthington, one of this era's finest Lovecraft critics.

I wrote the thing in six weeks.  It was like being hypnotized.  Reality ceased to exist.  I could not eat or sleep, I had to write this thing.  I've never had such an experience as a writer, it was awesome.  And the finish'd result, to my mind, is what I consider my finest book.  But, girlfriend, I'm partial.  It feels rad to have a new book that is all-original, no reprints.  I think that was a key factor in it's selling out in pre-order. 

The illustrations by Matthew Jaffe are so wonderful, so perfect.  The book design is simply amazing, it's going to be a beautiful book of high aesthetics and poetry.  With luck, it will be released in a fortnight or so.  I itch to hold it in my paws.

Kisses to all, my darlings.

Monday, June 6, 2011

GATHERED DUST & OTHERS hardcover edition.

Gathered Dust and Others will have a hardcover edition limited to 100 copies, as well as the special boxed leather-bound Deluxe 13 edition limited to thirteen copies.  The book will be officially announced by Dark Regions Press tomorrow--Tuesday, 7 June 2011--and Joe will probably then begin to take pre-orders.  I don't expect this hardcover edition to sell out in pre-order as Some Unknown Gulf of Night did, but who knows?  I am extremely happy and grateful to have a third hardcover edition of my fiction offered this year!  There are those who dislike trade paperbacks and prefer to collect an author in hardcover, and small press limited edition hardcovers are often such lovely books, beautifully produced.  Most of the reprints in this book have not been available in hardcover.  Of the new works, the title story is a new Lovecraftian novelette set in Arkham and serves as sequel to J. Vernon Shea's "The Haunter of the Graveyard," a tale that Vernon wrote for Augie when Derleth was editing ye original Arkham House edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.  Another long new story, "Depths of Dreams and Madness," is set in Sesqua Valley in the 1920's and has, among its characters, H. P. Lovecraft's sinister artist, Richard Upton Pickman and Robert E. Howard's mad poet, Justin Geoffrey.  The book features one of my weirdest, most perverse vignettes, "Let Us Wash this Thing," and a new Lovecraftian prose-poem sequence, "These Deities of Rarest Air."

Gawd, how I love Wayne Miller's superb jacket painting, above, and the lettering which is tainted by graveyatd debris!  Jeffrey Thomas served as the book's editor and has supply'd a rather remarkable Introduction.

Click on ye title of this blog to be taken to the Dark Regions Press website, where the book will be announced in their newest newletter and probably be availablefor pre-order.  We expect a late-Summer release for the hardcover.  After all hardcover editions havesold out the book will be available as trade paperback and ebook.

Thanks!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wayne Miller's Jacket Painting for GATHERED DUST

I have been exceptionally lucky with my illustrator's for my books.  My first book for Dark Regions Press will be Gathered Dust and Others, and the remarkable Wayne Miller just completed his stunning jacket painting for the book.  The scene depicted is from the collection's title story, a new tale set in Arkham that is a sequel to J. Vernon Shea's "The Haunter of the Graveyard," a story that Vernon wrote for Derleth when Augie requested a tale from Vernon for the original edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.  I have always loved Vernon's tale and wanted to write some kind of sequel to it as a memorial to our friendship -- of all of the members of the Lovecraft Circle who knew and corresponded with HPL, Vernon was my dearest friend. 

Here's are a couple of relevant portions of my story that explain the scene in the painting above:

# # # # # # # # #
I found, during my first two months of residence in Arkham, that Uncle Silas had gained a curious reputation in the town, for it was whispered that he never ate, was never known to shop for groceries or dine out; and the fact that he was often seen haunting the abandoned cemetery at night gave way to gossip of vampirism and other such nonsense.  It was when I discovered my relation's own home movies that I learned how uncanny truth can eclipse the wildness of paltry rumor, for Uncle Silas had followed Elmer Harrod in the practice of being filmed within the wild confines of the haunted burying ground; but where the horror host had brought in a film crew to record his outlandish behavior among the tombs, it seemed that my uncle's was a one-madman's crude operation.  On one spool of film he had recorded himself dancing among the rotting stone slabs and speaking the most outlandish gibberish I have ever heard, in what must have been a language of his own invention.  He seemed almost to chew his lips as he drooled and muttered a name I could not make out.  I found a film that showed him reclined on the slab beneath which Obediah Carter slept, and the dim electric light that he had somehow been able to set up caught to perfection the weirdness of his facial distortions, with which he mimicked the actual visage of the dead sorcerer.  The most disturbing images that I found, however, were caught on the three spools that showed my old relation twitching before the unwholesome tree on which he had ended his life.  On one spool of celluloid he is shown wrapping the tree's pale vines around his arms and ankles and then pirouetting like some deranged puppet; and it was disturbing to see how the old withered tree, in the uncanny light, took on the semblance of a gigantic bestial claw that curled its grotesque distended digits in night air.
# # # # # #
My uncle's experiments with filming seemed to incorporate some kind of trick photography near the end, for on the last spool of film he is shown in close up, dangling from the vines of the tree, vines that resembled cloudy veins through which a dark substance flowed in the direction of my uncle's upraised arms, into which the vines had penetrated.  Uncle Silas did not regard the camera as he muttered, "More, more--my arms are hungry."
# # # # # # #
I wrote the initial version of this story as segments in the addition to my prose-poem/vignette sequence, "Uncommon Places," the additional 10,000 words of which will be published next year in my second book from Hippocampus Press, Uncommon Places.  The sequence is a series of segments that are all inspir'd by entries in H. P. Lovecraft's Commonplace Book, and the entry that ispir'd the above scenes in my tale is Entry #112:  "Man lives near graveyard--how does he live?  Eats no food."

I really look forward to the publication of this first collection from Dark Regions Press.  It will be my first ebook, and there will be a trade pb edition.  There will also be an edition in DRP's Deluxe 13 series, limited to thirteen copies in hardcover and slipcase.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Little Better


I used System Restore and things are a bit better -- although some times when I am on the Internet I am suddenly removed from it for no apparent reason.  Other weird things are happening.  I'm still getting fake scam "warnings" about malicious malware that tell me to click on this and then all will be repaired.  Bogus.

Life has been exhausting and really depressing.  Mom is getting weaker and weirder, took her in to the hospital on Sunday and found out that her dilantin levels were high and toxic.  Brought her home yesterday but need to take her to her main doctor today.

Been having such a difficult time trying to get into the writing of my new book, one that I am writing in collaboration with Jeffrey Thomas.  It will be a series of stories concerning a sinister New England artist, Enoch Coffin.  Jeff has already sent me his first two stories and is close to completing a third!  I've yet to complete one page of my first -- although I found a new beginning that I think may now work.  I asked Jeff to work on this book with me because he had been dejected by the way that S. T. trashed Jeff's Lovecraftian tales in The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos -- to the point where Jeff was determined never to write another Lovecraftian tale.  I've seen S. T.'s critiques have this kind of reaction on other writers that he trashed and I wasn't about to tolerate its effect on Jeff, who is simply a wonderful weird artist in fiction and illustration.  So I feel that my efforts have been successful and Jeff's stories are superb Lovecraftian tales.  But I really like this initial idea of my own and hope I can find my way into the telling of it.

Part of my distraction is that I've moved my writing from the quiet, dark and secluded basement up to the dining room, so that I can be near mom, who sits in an armchair just behind me.  I need to keep more of an eye on her and not leave her alone for hours when I am down working on a new book, I get lost in that writing zone and time and ye world become nonexistent. 

Anyway, I am determined to get back to work.  And soon -- oh, soon, soon -- my very finest book, Some Unknown Gulf of Night, will be releas'd, & the joy I shall then experience will inspire gobs of writing energy, I know.

Shalom.
--willy