Friday, September 20, 2013

All-Monster Action and other madness: An interview with Cody Goodfellow

If you're looking for someone who knows the Cthulhu Mythos like the back of their tentacles at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival this month, you need look no further than author Cody Goodfellow.

Cody Goodfellow has written three novels and two collections - most recently, All-Monster Action - and cowrote Jake's Wake and Spore with John Skipp. His short fiction and comics work have appeared in Creepy, Book Of Cthulhu 2, Cthulhurotica, Over The Mountains Of Madness, A Season In Carcosa, and The Best Bizarro Fiction Of The Decade. As editor and co-founder of Perilous Press, he has published new works of modern cosmic horror by Michael Shea and Brian Stableford. He “lives” in Los Angeles.

We had a chance to catch up with him before the madness begins.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started on all of this? What was one of the hardest things for you to learn as a writer?

Like almost everyone else in this subculture, I discovered Lovecraft in the cusp of puberty, but I had set my sights on writing as soon as I was able to plausibly lie. It's not a career for me, or even a hobby, but a mostly manageable mental illness. The hardest thing is training myself to mislead others into thinking it's my career.

What's your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story?
I've always answered this one with At The Mountains Of Madness, because it so comprehensibly lays out the rise and fall of the aliens who created all life on earth by mistake. It's like an apocryphal answer to Origin Of Species. But as I grow older and less interested in having all the answers and more in mystery for its own sake, it's those small, bright gems of dreamlike secrets like "The Festival" or "The Statement Of Randolph Carter" that I cherish most, because they expand the world beneath our feet and the universe above our heads without painting in all the details.

What's been your favorite creation so far? What was the most unexpected surprise you've found as a writer?
I'm still most proud of my first two books, Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk, because I wasn't just writing a book but attacking it and a lot of genre conventions that I felt had outlived their use. It's a cosmic horror epic with fully developed, dynamic characters and a lot of action, so it flies in the face of what Cthulhu Mythos fiction is supposed to be; and it's a weird tale in the classic sense, in that it fuses different pulp genres to make an unpredictable stew. I think it's possible and commendable to find new ways of exploring the excitement this kind of fiction engenders, beyond the rather formalistic New Weird, and necessary, if we're ever going to find our way back to that golden age when every railroad brakemen had a book of hair-raising pulp fiction in his hip pocket.

What's your advice to recognize a truly exceptional horror story?
It has to take you out of your reality and impose its own mood and atmosphere. Then, once you're completely under its spell, it must make you bear witness to the impossible, the unacceptable, the inconceivable. And it's the all-but-forgotten paradox of our medium that we can, with mere words, create a more immersive illusion than drama, art or even film. Whether it's Lovecraft's own "The Temple," which buries the reader alive at the bottom of the sea (a feat I tried to recapture in my own "Rapture Of The Deep") or Thomas Ligotti's "The Last Feast Of Harlequin" or Caitlin Kiernan's "Onion," which artfully juxtapose our own worn-out, mundane reality with something too terrible to face directly which somehow fills us with a longing more terrible than despair, it has to take you somewhere you probably could never survive with sanity intact... with words. And maybe bring you back...

What's a project you really hope to take on in the next few years?
Aside from assembling a collection of my own Mythos and cosmic horror fiction, I have in my head an enormous alternate historical sci-fi diesel-punk epic that would, in the end, prove very interesting to die-hard Lovecraftians. Every day, that's what I'm fighting towards.

What's you recommendation for first-time readers who want to read more of your work?

Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars is a fine sampling of my short horror fiction; it's dark, surreal and weird. If something more pulpy and crude is what you're looking for, my newest collection, All-Monster Action is a gallery of creature feature stories culminating in a giant monster novella trilogy wherein each installment is an order of magnitude more unbelievably absurd than its predecessor.

What's your favorite music to listen to as you write?

I listen to a variety of instrumental music... anything evocative and richly textured without lyrics works for me. Some things I frequently reach for include Ennio Morricone's scores, drum and bass mixes by Amon Tobin, ambient dub, dubstep an Martin Denny's Hawaiian exotica.

You can visit Cody Goodfellow at and be sure to extend a friendly pseudopod and an "Ia! Ia!" to him at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival!

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