Among the authors joining us for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon is Gary Myers, who's written Lovecraftian work most of his life. As we prepare to converge on the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, this month, we had a chance to talk with him about fear, the mythos, and the dark wisdom we find along the way.
Like so many of Lovecraft's monsters, I'm a survival from another age. I wrote my first Cthulhu Mythos story at the end of the 1960's when I was only 16. It was purchased and published by August Derleth (yes, that August Derleth) of Arkham House, and reprinted by Lin Carter in a volume of the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series (and if you don't know what that is, I don't know what to tell you). My first collection, THE HOUSE OF THE WORM, was brought out by Arkham House a few years later, and I have pretty much been trading on it ever since. I would be hard put to say what the hardest thing I had to learn as a writer was, since it could be argued that I never learned anything as a writer. What I started doing at 16 I am still trying to do at 61!
What's your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story?
I have several favorites: "The Music of Erich Zann," "The Rats in the Walls," "The Colour Out of Space." I realize that these all come rather early in Lovecraft's career, before many of the stories more closely associated with the Cthulhu Mythos. But nowadays I detect a note of self-parody in those later stories which is enough to bump them from the top of the heap.
What's been your favorite creation so far? What was the most unexpected surprise you've found as a writer?
I believe the orthodox answer to that first question is, the last one. As for the second question, I write too slowly and deliberately to be surprised by what I write. But I am occasionally surprised when I finish it.
What's your advice to beginning horror writers to find their voice, especially if they want to contribute meaningfully to the Cthulhu Mythos?
Don't try to systematize the Mythos. That black hole has swallowed up more than a few unsuspecting writers. Do read widely in and out of the field. That is still the best way to learn how to write. Don't write anything so familiar that the readers will think they have read it before. But don't write anything so unfamiliar that the readers will feel they didn't get what they paid for. Does that sound like a contradiction? Maybe it is. I guess you're on your own here, kids. Still, as long as you like what you're doing it's not a waste of time, no matter what does or doesn't come of it. But don't quit your day jobs!
What's a project you really hope to take on in the next few years?
I'm not looking forward to any new projects. But I was saying the same thing only six months ago, and just this week I finished a new Eibon story to have something to read for the festival. So I can't definitely rule them out.
What's you recommendation for first-time readers who want to read more of your work?
Well, it's all out there, all in print. Readers who enjoy more fantastical stuff, like Lovecraft's Dreamlands or Smith's Hyperborea, might find something to please them in THE COUNTRY OF THE WORM. Readers who like their Mythos in a more familiar setting might prefer to give DARK WISDOM a try. The jury is still out on GRAY MAGIC.
What's your favorite music to listen to as you write?
Prose is its own music. Why mess it up?
See you at the festival!