Keith here. What follows is a guest post by Paul McNamee. Normally I wouldn’t intrude but I wanted to include a link to Paul’s blog. Now here’s Paul.
(First, thanks to Keith for the guest spot on Adventures Fantastic.
I am here promoting the new anthology, A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY: Tales from the Lands of Lovecraft. The book is currently available in print from Amazon, and we all hope an ebook is soon to follow.)
Honestly, I don’t remember exactly when or which Lovecraft book I read first. It was the “old days,” the latter half of the 1980s. I was in college. I was interested in horror – mostly by way of Stephen King. And I still had an interest in fantasy – mostly by way of J.R.R. Tolkien.
There was no world wide web. In those days, I never knew what books were coming out. I would wander – mostly in the scifi/fantasy section of the bookstore. I would grab what jumped off the shelf at me.
The Del Rey editions of Lovecraft’s work were appearing on the shelves. The Michael Whelan art certainly caught my eye.
I believe it was THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH first. It collected tales that were more dark fantasy. But there was enough horror there to pique my interest in that vein, too.
I probably read another volume, possibly THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH. Again, it was slanted more toward the fantastic but contained horror tales as well.
But shortly thereafter, I read THE LURKING FEAR.
While “The Lurking Fear” remains one of my favorite Lovecraft tales, there was another story in that collection that really sold me on Lovecraft.
“The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”
“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” has every element you expect in a Lovecraft tale. There are degenerates, dark histories of smugglers and sorcery, a looming inheritance of “tainted” blood and evil, Old Ones, Deep Ones, shoggoths, Dagon and – decades before the Kolchak or the X-Files – a government raid and cover-up under the cover story of busting a bootlegger ring.
For such a self-contained story, it is rich with elements and spawns its own Lovecraftian sub-genre. How many Innsmouth specific anthologies and novels are out there? I haven’t counted, but there are plenty.
On top of all that – Innsmouth was a Massachusetts coastal town. For all of Lovecraft’s association with Providence, Rhode Island, many of his tales are set in fictional Massachusetts locations – Dunwich, Arkham. As a lifelong Massachusetts yankee, the thought fired my imagination. I was familiar with many of the basis towns and areas. Salem. Central and western Massachusetts – locales for “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Colour Out of Space.”
The folks up in Maine had Stephen King, but I had H.P. Lovecraft.
There was no turning back.
I eagerly consumed every Del Rey edition that came out. I found books at my local town library that contained stories not in the Del Reys. I read L. S. deCamp’s biography of Lovecraft, which was also available at my town library.
At one point, I borrowed THE DARK BROTHERHOOD AND OTHER PIECES from the library consortium just to read the essay on New England “megalithic” sites that might have inspired Lovecraft. I even went exploring for some of them. (Sad to report, I am a poor navigator – or many have been rolled over by lumbering trails and development.)
Yes, the lands of Lovecraft had me captivated for quite a while. I drifted later, but they were always in the back of my mind. Now, I have returned to A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY. But how that return came to pass is a subject for another post.
“When a traveller in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork at the junction of the Aylesbury pike just beyond Dean’s Corners he comes upon a lonely and curious country.” –HP Lovecraft
Horror can lurk in the most unlikely places: from the secluded cottage to the teeming metropolis. Lovecraft knew that terror could be rooted in the geography of a place as much as in an uncaring cosmos or a man’s soul. In these 17 brand new tales of chilling Lovecraftian horrors by leading authors, discover new lands of terror. Learn the truth about the glories of Y’ha-nthlei and what really happened to Erich Zann. Discover the fate of Tillinghast’s monstrous machine and do a deal with Nyarlathotep down in the byways of Mississippi. Sometimes that lonely farmhouse, brooding silently in its isolation, can be more terrifying than forgotten monoliths on an uncharted Pacific island.