For two years I’ve been attempting to write a novel that has at times not felt like it wanted to be written. In true Monty Python fashion, it sank into the swamp again and again, once after a truly spectacular fire. Twice I thought it was going to have to be abandoned, and at least once during this time I thought about hanging up my writerly hat and moving on to something else. We all do that from time to time, but this was a difficult passage.
Each time the book foundered, though, it eventually arose again, replaced by something a little closer to the mark. I’ve now ported the core story through three genres, winding up with a book that I’ll likely try to sell as literary horror, though with a wink and a polish it could be sold under two other flags. Perhaps funnily, it started life as a literary horror novel, though I’m not sure if it’s the laughing kind of funny.
In two years I’ve written more rough draft, backstory, outlines, synopses, character sketches, and fake documents (it was epistolary at one point) than I care to count. As of this afternoon, version 5.0 has crossed the 10,000 word mark. I have a synopsis, some loose chapter outlines, and a road map to finish before year’s end. I’m more relieved that I can possibly say, and genuinely excited. Bon weekend to you all, and Happy 2018.
My writing year 2017 was pretty quiet, with one new story and one reprint in audio. This marks ten years since my first publication as “J. T. Glover,” with a number of milestones along the way. Have I learned anything since then? Sure.
1. Finish what you start, edit it, and then submit it.
2. Be cautious of anyone who uses the phrase “the writing community.”
3. Read the contract.
4. Words are infinite, but your time isn’t.
5. Reading is often helpful in writing more, both the usual stuff and new stuff, but don’t forget why you love what you love.
6. Listen closely to advice from currently working professionals.
7. Bad behavior is no bar to publication, but the publishing world is only so large, and people will talk.
8. Timely, professional business communication is a good sign.
9. You never know who’s reading your stuff.
10. For every person who extols the virtues of the writing life, three writers are broke, five have day jobs, one has a generous spouse or family, and two are very busy freelancers.
Anything else? Sure, but your time would be better spent on this stuff:
“Picking Up Things Instead of My Pen”
Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living
Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life
Looking for something to curl up with over the holidays? This was a long, strange year, and what I needed most of all was engrossing narratives neither too enamored of their own cleverness, nor stylistically too filigreed. I enjoyed all of the below and recommend them to those of you seeking transportation to another world.
Recently I gave a talk about my engagement with H.P. Lovecraft, as reader, writer, and librarian/scholar. In it, I stated that I’d first read Lovecraft around 1988. While true, this elides an encounter I’d had with the Old Gent four years previously, when I stumbled on a remixed/pop version of HPL in Charlton Comics‘ Beyond the Grave, issue 17.
In the first story of the issue, “No Way Out,” the reader is treated to the tale of Jabez Monchek. The art and writing are of a piece with Bronze Age horror comics, but in rereading the story earlier this year, I was more than a little surprised to see the layers of metafiction laid on top. The character is a Lovecraft stand-in who enjoys reading Lovecraft and is trapped in an ancient house, where he lives his life as writer, painter, and sculptor.
Reader, in the language of Meme, “it me.” Just as I experienced a shock of deep familiarity a couple of years ago when I re-encountered Mercer Mayer’s One Monster After Another, so this year I was stunned to read a comic book story that apparently had something like a fundamental effect on me. I remember picking it from the rack in a tiny beachside grocery store and a vague sort of pleasure when reading it, but nothing like the impact it apparently had on me.
Included in this post are scans of the issue cover and a few panels. I’m unsure who own Beyond the Grave at this point, but apparently the bulk of Charlton IP went to DC Comics and AP Comics. I’d love to see a collected version appear at some point, whoever the owner is. My thanks to Matthew Carpenter, who posted elsewhere about Lovecraft and comics, and inspired me to write this post.
For those who didn’t catch my essay on horror in flash fiction, originally published in Thinking Horror 1, it’s now available in LampLight. Volume 6.1 is currently available in e-book and will soon be available in print. The issue includes the usual array of goodness, and it features Damien Angelica Walters.
Next week I’ll have the pleasure and honor of giving a brown bag talk at the English Faculty Forum at my university (VCU). It will be Wednesday, November 8, 2017. “Aesthetic Experiments: H. P. Lovecraft and ‘Pickman’s Model’ in 1927.” Noon-1:00, in 308 Hibbs Hall. Free and open to the community at large. I’ll be speaking with my “librarian hat” on, although as time goes by, the different hats seem to be increasingly difficult of distinction. This talk is part of a project that I’ve been poking at from multiple angles in recent years, and which is starting to resemble an academic monograph. TBD.
For those finding this site before the talk at VCU and wanting to know more about what I do, the “About” and “Publications” pages linked above should be of some help. The “Weird Fiction Publishers” page is a list of publishers I update occasionally and maintain for my own use and that of the community of weird fiction readers, writers, publishers, etc. If you want an idea of what people look for here, these are some of the most popular posts:
752 views — Anthropocene Ghosts and Other Collateral Damage in Moldova (Spectral, 2016)
519 views — Finding Women in Horror and Weird Fiction
514 views — On the Existence of the Female Tentacle
409 views — The Hugos: Shenanigans & Unpopular Opinions
246 views — Release the Leeches!
184 views — Aickman’s Heirs
147 views — Lovecraft, Joshi, The Head, and Fantasy in 2014 (and 2100)
Last night we watched The Flowering of the Crone: Leonora Carrington, Another Reality. It was weird and good! Interesting blend of archival interview footage, history, and adaptation of one of her stories. It feels older than it is, with some graphical effects that seemed oddly 1990s for a 2009 production. The only complaint I have is that the version we watched (on Kanopy, a streaming platform specializing in art, world, documentary , etc. film) didn’t offer closed captioning, which I almost always use these days. 4/5 girl-faced hyenas.
If you want to know more about Carrington, a multi-faceted artist, there are plenty of image galleries and articles floating around online. Selena Chambers has also just finished a series of read-throughs of Carrington’s short fiction over at Weird Fiction Review, which is worth a gander. My exposure to the female Surrealists has included a swathe of Leonor Fini’s work, with a side order of Tanning, but both the documentary and Selena’s read-though have inspired me (finally) to take in some more Carrington.
My “En Plein Air,” a short story that first appeared in Nightscript 2, will appear in Best New Horror #28. I’m gratified that Stephen Jones liked the story enough to include it in his anthology, and I look forward to it finding new readers. My thanks to C.M. Muller for first publishing it in his fine and darksome anthology, and to the readers who’ve been pleased to encounter it, both in print and when I read it last year at ICFA.
This is probably my favorite story I’ve written about Richmond, with scenes set on Cherokee Road, at the VMFA, etc. While I won’t say too much more about that, I will say that this forthcoming appearance is a validation, not least that the approach I took to the story was fruitful, from the background work to the way I went about the writing. It has resulted in the first instance of any work of mine making it to an annual anthologies, let alone one of such long standing as the Best New Horror series. I couldn’t be happier.