This year’s ICFA was a delight to attend, and on many counts! As always, I met many interesting scholars, writers, editors, and good folks of various fields, as well as connecting with old friends and laying devious plans. My academic paper was well received, the panel involved a productive and wide-ranging take on Weird Tales and weird fiction, and my reading seemed to go over well.
I’m not going to say much more about the conference here, as I’m writing up the event for another publication (more about that down the road). James McGlothin captured his experience nicely, if you want to take a look, over at Black Gate. Here are a few pictures…
Early a.m. panel on WEIRD TALES, featuring (L to R) Sean Moreland, moi, Jeffrey Shanks, Tracy (May) Stone, and GoH Nike Sulway. Photo by Dierk Gunther
Words & Worlds Prose Reading, with Doug Ford reading his “Pig Feast.” Readers included Derek Newman-Stille (out of frame), Regina Hansen, Gina Wisker, Doug Ford, and moi. Photo by Jenna Jarvis
And finally, I got an awfully nice response from no less than Michael Arnzen on the story I read. I don’t think the conference could have had a better end:
ICFA 39 is almost here! I meant to post about this weeks ago, but the days ran away from me. Really looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues old and new. I’m doing a few things this go-round…
Thursday, March 15, 2018 8:30-10:00 a.m., Oak
(HL) Panel: Weird Tales and the Evolution of Weird Fiction
Moderator : Sean Moreland
[I’ll be a panelist at 8:30 in the morning! The horror, the horror!]
Thursday, March 15, 2018 10:30-12:00 p.m., Maple
(HL/FL/SF) The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovecraft
Chair: Andrew P. Williams
[I’ll be giving a paper during this session — “Lies, Damned Lies, and Eldritch Statistics: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Lovecraft’s Literary Reputation.” Warning: there will be charts.]
Saturday, March 4:00-5:30 p.m., Vista B
Words & Worlds Prose
Host: P. Andrew Miller
[Long-running ICFA group reading series, in which I’m delighted to be included.]
For any RVA-ns, or Richmond-adjacent folks, this Sunday (February 18th) I’ll be participating in a group reading with a bunch of local authors. It’s going to be noir and broken hearts, and it starts at 7:00 p.m. at McCormack’s Irish Pub.
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.