Monday, September 29, 2014

Burning With A Strange Light: An interview with Jim Wheelock

If you you stop by the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles this year, you'll run into some of the visionaries behind INFERNO LOS ANGELES. We talked with Jim Wheelock who did the art and design for this new book.

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?

I'm the illustrator and designer of INFERNO LOS ANGELES, which is a graphic novel written by Ron Bassilian. It's a 136 page, full color, hardcover book that retells Dante's INFERNO in modern terms. We're both very proud of it. Probably the hardest thing I learned is just how much work is involved in producing a work this big -- there are lost of people in Hell, and you have to drawn them all!

I've also worked doing storyboards for animation and music videos, and on various independent comic projects, including one my earliest horror stories, "One Good Trick". which appeared in the legendary TABOO anthology.

We're selling INFERNO LOS ANGELES in the Mall of Cthulhu here at the Festival, and you can also order it at

What's your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story? 
I'd say "The Whisperer in Darkness". I grew up in Brattleboro, Vermont, which is one of the locations of the story, and when I first read it, it was great to be able to picture the events happening in an area I knew so well. I also really enjoyed the recent film version, where they shot it as it might have been made in the 1930s.

What's been your favorite creation so far? What was the most unexpected surprise you've found when making these creations?

INFERNO LOS ANGELES. The surprise -- and relief -- was that when it came back from the printers, everything had worked.

What’s the biggest challenge for artists interested in creating a Lovecraftian work?

I thinking finding something new in the context of the Lovecraft universe. It's a rich environment, though, so it can be done.

What's a project you really hope to take on in the next few years? Where do you hope to go from here?

I'm hoping to get started on a new graphic novel soon. I'm in the process of writing a couple of projects -- a crime story and a period science fiction story with Lovecraftian elements. I'm not sure which will come out of the gate first. I'm also looking for projects from other sources.

Where else can we find you throughout the year?

I'll probably be at the French comics festival in Angoulême again in January, although not as an exhibitor, and at various U. S. conventions throughout the year. My art blog is at

This year’s theme is “Shadows Over Innsmouth.” Do you think this story has had an influence on your work?

Certainly in terms of mood, and, coming from New England, there's an extra punch to the story for me. I also like Stuart Gordon's film version, DAGON, a lot.

Swimming with Sharkchild: An Interview

Among the new visitors coming to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles is M. Amanuensis Sharkchild, who can be found at, naturally. We caught up with it to ask about their work and their interest in the Cthulhu Mythos:

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?

I began this venture of writing horror fiction just about seven years ago (hard to believe). I would write a short story, narrate it, and publish it through my podcast every two weeks. After a year had gone by, I realized I had enough stories to publish a book. Rather than going through the laborious process of finding an agent and publisher who would put out my work, I decided, without skipping a beat, to do it myself. And that is how The Dark Verse, Volume 1 came into existence.

Being an indie author/publisher is no easy task. I had great success selling my first book, but it was by no means volume-enough to make a living or enough to allow me to continue publishing books. Then I stumbled upon Kickstarter a few years back, which I realized was my gateway to continue doing what I love to do. I’m now three successful Kickstarter campaigns in, with two more Dark Verse books to show for it and a novel on the way!

The hardest thing to learn (and something I’m still learning) is how to manage my time now that I need to both create content and also take care of a business. At times, it gets exceedingly overwhelming. It is often strenuous now to attain the focus—among the myriad of items that must be checked off—needed to do the thing that this was all about in the first place: creating.

What's your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story?

My favorite Lovecraft story, hands down, is “The Outsider.” It’s simple, moving, and a story that I strangely find inspiring. “I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men.” In a peculiar way, I strive to be just such an outsider—an innovator and creator outside the bounds of normal society.

What's been your favorite creation so far? What was the most unexpected surprise you've found when making these creations?

All three of The Dark Verse books are my favorite creations thus far. So much effort and passion, from my friend John F. Stifter (who does the artwork) and myself, have gone into these tomes. It is an epic feeling to hear how fond people are of them—their appearance, quality, and contents.

What’s the biggest challenge for artists interested in creating a Lovecraftian work?

I can’t say I know the exact answer to this question, but it makes me chuckle a bit because it leads me think about the terrific rise of Lovecraft in popular culture. People create Lovecraft work that is serious, satirical, comical, and everywhere in between—from dark movies to alphabet books. This goes to show the versatility of what you can do with Lovecraft. There truly are no limits!

What's a project you really hope to take on in the next few years? Where do you hope to go from here?

My eyes and imagination are set on creating a tabletop game. I already have one that I have designed that is close to completion and there is another I have been working on that would actually tie into The Dark Verse universe.

While I have been first and foremost an author, in the end I want my name to encompass much more than just books. I will continue to create and, hopefully, with enough support, I will one day be able to make a career of it!

Where else can we find you throughout the year?

I’ll be stationed up at certain conventions throughout the year in Los Angeles and Orange County, but my real home is online. If I release any new products, they’ll be released at and I’m always posting content and interacting with people on Facebook ( Lastly, I have a plethora of book giveaways at, as well as the releases of my new stories, when I get around to writing and narrating them.

This year’s theme is “Shadows Over Innsmouth.” Do you think this story has had an influence on your work?

I’ve read it, but I honestly can’t remember much about that one (it was years ago)! So, if it has influenced me, it would be through subconscious traces lingering in my creative output. I need to hurry and give it another read!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Center for Lao Studies launches new crowdfunding venture to promote Lao cooking!

The Center for Lao Studies (CLS) kicks-off its online fundraising campaign for a new food project, a pop-up restaurant called Lao Lanxang. The pop-up will open once a week in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, starting in November, and serve authentic homemade Lao cuisine. The restaurant project serves three purposes: 1) to educate the public about Lao food and culture, 2) to reclaim food that was previously believed to be something other than Lao, and 3) to create a revenue source for CLS to sustain its operations and programming.

To fund this new project, CLS is launching a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo. CLS is hoping to raise $15,000 through online donations to cover the initial costs of starting and running a restaurant. Donors who support the fundraising campaign will receive different gifts depending on the donation amount they provide, and the donation is tax deductible. Gifts include a CLS T-shirt, free dishes at Lao Lanxang, a personalized menu, and a cooking lesson. The deadline for donations is November 3, 2014.

"Crowdfunding is a great way to reach more people and to get people really excited about the restaurant opening," said Mary Keovisai, Program Coordinator. "Even if you can't make it to the restaurant when it opens, you can still support Lao Lanxang and the Center for Lao Studies through the Indiegogo campaign. With the help of folks out there who want to promote Lao culture and Lao Studies we'll be able to show more people what Lao food is really about."

If the pop-up restaurant is successful, CLS will look to open a permanent restaurant that will provide cooking lessons and training to youth and use the proceeds from the restaurant to fund its other academic and community education programs

For more information or to donate, please visit

The Center for Lao Studies was formed in 2006 in response to a void in Lao Studies at the time. CLS mission is to advance knowledge and engagement in the field of Lao Studies through research, education and information sharing. Today, CLS is an invaluable academic and resource center for scholars around the world interested in Laos and the Lao diaspora.

Necro-Sapien Notions: An interview with Justin White

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival is almost upon us and we caught up with one of returning artists joining us for the festival this year, Justin White of Necro-Sapien Press!

So what have you been up to since the last H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival?

The past year has been great. I had a lot of success at Wonder-Con Anaheim and some of the other big shows but I've also been spreading out to some less traditional venues. For example a couple if months ago I had a booth at a roller derby bout and that was great. It was a cool experience to show my art to a lot if people who otherwise might never have seen it. Another exiting thing that recently happened was I formed a coalition of artists in my area and we held our first group show this past August and it was a huge success. The group is called Artrocity and you can expect some really amazing things coming up in the near future!

What have been some of your most popular items, and what are you looking forward to presenting this year at the festival?
Probably my most popular item from last year was my "Crawling Chaos Tavern" print, which will be returning this year. The biggest surprise, sales wise, was how popular my "Imperial Metal" pieces were. They are a set of three prints that combine various characters from a certain Sci-Fi movie series with Heavy Metal album art from the 80's. Those were a big hit.

This year I will have several new prints including a piece I am finishing up right now just for this years festival. It's titled "Offshore" and it very much channels this years theme. I'm am also working with a very cool company called Blackbird Bows to put some of my art work on to new products and merchandise.

What's been inspiring you lately?
Personally my biggest inspiration this year has been my family. Last October my wife and I became permanent legal guardians of my 12 year old niece and we also have a two year old daughter. I really want them to see that if you work hard and believe in yourself you can spend your life doing what you love. And that you should never give up and never listen to those who just want to raise themselves by knocking you down.

What's the toughest part of making a truly Lovecraftian piece?
The toughest part about making a successful Lovecraftian (one of my favorite words by the way) piece is mood. I think I mentioned this last time we talked but what I love about H.P.'s work is his ability to create the most foreboding atmosphere and then completely submerge you in it. His sense of horror isn't about a knife wielding maniac or a psychopath in a clown costume. It's about your own fear eating away at your sanity. The monsters in his works have already defeated you long before you see them. I try to capture that in my Lovecraft themed pieces. I don't think I fully have yet but that's ok it's just motivation to keep trying.

When are you most satisfied with one of your creations?

Honestly I am rarely satisfied with a piece I'm working on. The hardest lesson for me as a professional artist was knowing when to be finished with a project. Sometimes the more you push for perfection on a single piece the further from it you are in the end. My biggest sense of satisfaction is seeing fans reactions to a piece they love. When a stranger is as excited to see a piece of art as I was to create it now that is truly satisfying.

What's the strangest dream you've had lately?

For whatever reason I rarely remember my dreams. The last one I do remember was a couple of weeks ago. In my dream I was sitting down for a haircut (I haven't had a haircut in 5 years or so). So there I am in the barbers chair and the second he makes the first cut I realize it's a huge mistake and I jump up in a panic and run out. I woke up sweating and my heart pounding. Needless to say I won't be cutting my hair any time soon.

This year's theme is "Shadow Over Innsmouth". What's the big lesson of that story for you?
The main lesson I always take away from "Innsmouth" is you can not run from what you are. You can use it, channel it, but the more you hide from it the more devastating the result will be when it finally catches up to you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

History, Horror and H.P. Lovecraft: Checking in with the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society!

One of the perennial festival favorites of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles is the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, who've been the madbeings behind the first Call of Cthulhu movie, adaptations of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," "The Whisperer in Darkness," and more. We got a chance to ask them a few questions before they arrived:

So what's the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society been up to for the last 12 months?

It was a very Witchy year for us at HPLHS. We produced the music video for "No Turning Back," one of the songs from "Dreams in the Witch House," the Lovecraftian Rock Opera from our friend and colleague Mike Dalager and his very talented international team of musicians and performers. Our fantastic cinematographer David Robertson took time out of his busy TV schedule to shoot the video here at HPLHS headquarters in February, with some elaborate miniatures built with the assistance of Fred Manchento and Jason Voss shot in March, and Dave edited the video as well. We were delighted to bring the video to the HPL Film Festival in Portland. We're screening the video in San Pedro, and the miniature house will be on exhibit in the lobby.

We also released two episodes of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre, "Herbert West -- Reanimator" and "The Dreams in the Witch House." It was very interesting to give "Witch House" two very different adaptations, each telling the story in its own way.

And we were happy to contribute the foreword to a new book that's just out from Writer's Digest Books, Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance your Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction by Philip Athans.

What can we look forward to at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival this year from the HPLHS?

We have another new episode of Dark Adventure nearly ready for release: "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs." And we're also working hard on a new addition to our series of monographs from Miskatonic University Press. It's about the curious sea shanties of Innsmouth, Mass., and in addition to a fascinating and scholarly booklet on the subject, it will come with a recording of 14 actual Innsmouth sea songs as performed by the Miskatonic Men's Chorus. Also look for more Dark Adventure, new prop replica items, and maybe another book project!

What were some of the popular items you had from last year? Did the attendees surprise you with what they liked?

We've attended the festival in San Pedro every year. We love the crowds that come to the Warner Grand, and they enjoyed the CD and collector vinyl editions of the rock opera "Dreams in the Witch House." Mike brought Alaine Kashian, who stars as Keziah Mason, and other members of his team. I can't say we were surprised they were popular, however, because they're great!

Next year will mark ten years since the release of your classic, Call of Cthulhu. Will we see any special celebrations or re-releases in 2015?

We're talking about doing something along those lines, but haven't nailed down the details of any such plan. It's amazing to think that it's been ten years, I'll tell you that much.

Visit the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society at:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pickles, Fhtagn and Portals: An interview with James Knouse!

James Knouse wheres many hats including being involved with the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and unleashing the madness that is "Cthulhu Pickles". We had a chance to talk with him about his inspirations, deep ones, and more.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get inspired to present Cthulhu Pickles? What was one of the hardest things for you to learn about the process?

I grow peppers in my spare time here in Lompoc, California. Growing peppers and other "wicked plants" is a sorta stress release from my daily jobs of running my Media Production company Walking Kind of Bird and organizing the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

I had at one time about 60 different varieties of peppers growing and as you can imagine when harvest time comes I am swimming in peppers. So my wife suggested that we make pickles using one of her recipes. So we did and Wicked Pickles was born. Being an organizer of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in LA and recognizing the serious need for pickles I created Cthulhu Pickles.

What's your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story?

"Memory." It is the most perfect short story ever. Although I am very partial to "Herbert West the Re-Animator." Something about WW1 and the dead coming back.

Will we see even more Lovecraftian pickle or pepper options in the future?

Yes you will. Right now I am working on the "Deep Ones Sea Salts" as well as mixed drink options for Cthulhu Pickles. When you are at the Whale and Ale or Grand Vision for the Prayer Breakfast ask for a "Bloody Cthulhu with Extra Deluxe Tentacle Spears" in it.

What’s the biggest challenge for artists interested in creating a truly Lovecraftian work?

That is a tough one... Since I am a movie guy I will stick with movies... Artists should always stick with the basics of film making first and have a good script. After that focus on your skills as a film maker. Making a good film first is key and if you are true to Lovecraft, Lovecraft will come through in the end I think.

What's a project you really hope to take on in the next few years? Where do you hope to go from here?

Making the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival Los Angeles the best of it's kind anywhere. LA has more to offer than any other city on earth. Also the weather is nice :)

Where else can we find you throughout the year?

You can find me running my production company in Lompoc. I specialize in launching businesses digitally online so spend my time photographing, and making commercials.

This year’s theme is “Shadows Over Innsmouth.” Why do you think this story touches so many people almost a century later?

Everything that washes up on the beach has a story.

I wanted to pick “Shadows Over Innsmouth” as a theme because of the idea of being trapped in an unknown place with people unknown. San Pedro is a cool oceanside town and the first time I visited I thought of the Shadow Over Innsmouth... Every street in San Pedro led to somewhere new and strange. I thought visiting folks would dig that idea as much as me.

Catching Up With Arkham Bazaar: Cinema, Cthulhu, Cults and Dreams

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon is returning to Los Angeles on September 26-28th! One of the vendors making their eldritch return is Arkham Bazaar, which specializes in Lovecraftian film and audio, Cthulhu gifts, T-shirts, Uncanny art and sculpture, and other Oddities. Their wares run the gamut of Weird tale authors like H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Clark Ashton-Smith, Robert W. Chambers, and Robert E. Howard.

We had a chance to talk with Gwen Callahan about what's in store this year!

It's been a year since we last checked in with Arkham Bazaar. What have been some of the highlights for you from the previous year?
This year has been pretty exciting! In October, we did a Best of The HPLFF night at the Hollywood Theatre, and in April we put on the 19th Annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon here in Portland. We marched in Portland's rose festival Starlight Parade dressed as cultists, and heard a few people shouting, "ia! ia!" along the parade route! Throughout the year we have been busy creating new products - like our Vintage style tin signs, new t-shirt and work shirt designs, a limited edition book of Dreams in The Witch House, which we partnered with Mike Dalager to include a full cd of the DITWH Rock Opera with it. We just finished up San Diego Comic Con where Mike joined us to help promote the album, and GenCon where we got to see a lot of amazing mythos themed games being released.


You're returning to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles. What were some of the popular items you had from last year Did the attendees surprise you with what they liked?

It's always a bit of a whirlwind at the festival, but people always seem to like the work shirts that we do with our Lovecraftian designs, and the limited edition glassware that we have made with our designs on them. We have a fantastic glass artisan who etched each glass by hand. We are particularly excited because we have some new designs and glasses for this year's festival!

What can we look forward to this year from Arkham Bazaar?

We will continue to create new designs to put on shirts, posters, and other wearables, and find unique items to put on the website. One of our missions is to create and find unique Lovecraftian items to bring to the fans. The thing we are most excited about for 2015 is the 20th Anniversary of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon in Portland. We already have a few fantastic guests lined up for that!

What's been some of the Mythos news exciting you lately?

There are a ton of great new books coming out. We were particularly pleased that the IndieGoGo campaign for She Walks In Shadows (the all-woman anthology of HPL inspired stories) was funded. Huan Vu and Jan Roth - the filmmakers responsible for the amazing "Die Farbe" successfully raised funds to make their next film, "The Dreamlands," which is already in production and looks amazing! We are beyond excited that this is going to happen, and can't wait to see it!


What do you see as some of the toughest challenges in bringing forth a Lovecraftian vision from the Cthulhu Mythos?

There are so many great things being produced across all genres - film, fiction, games, art, apparel - I think the greatest challenge is keeping things fresh and original. How do you build on Lovecraft's foundation without just copying or mimicking?

What's the strangest dream you've had lately?

Brian dreamt that we were doing a Cultist ritual at DragonCon, but everything was going wrong. We forgot the robes and no one knew the chant! I am pretty sure that this stems from the anxiety of putting on two film programs in the next month! We are doing another "Best of the HPLFF" night on Oct 4, and Zompire: The Undead Film Festival Oct 11-12. I know that they will both be fantastic, but there is a lot of work leading up to it.

This year, the theme is Shadows Over Innsmouth. What was the big takeaway lesson from that story for you?

"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" explores themes that were quite pervasive in Lovecraft's fiction. The concept of the "other" tying in with xenophobia, the idea that there are things we can't see or understand just below the surface, that we are not necessarily in control of our own destinies, and that ultimately, our biggest fear might not only be the intrusion of the other into our own being, but that we might also embrace the change from our familiar self towards the other, as does the main character of Innsmouth.

Be sure to visit Arkham Bazaar at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival or go online at:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Catching Up With Rick Kitigawa! Deep Ones, Neckties and Strange Dreams

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival is warping into Los Angeles soon! Among those coming to the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, California from September 26-28th will be artist Rick Kitigawa, returning again from San Francisco.

His work delighted and horrified the festival attendees who discovered him lurking in the depths of the Warner Grand Theatre the last time. Unnaturally, we caught up with him to see what's been happening to him since...

It's been a year since we last checked in. What have been some of the highlights for you from the previous year?

Lots of fun stuff happened since last year! Besides starting up a small art education company (, I've also started teaching business for artists at the Academy of Art University here in San Francisco and have loved it thus far! I also self-published a collection of my short horror fiction and my paintings called "From the Darkness Creeps". It was a pretty crazy yet fun process and you can pick up your copy at the fest or under the "Publications" section of my online store at

You're returning to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Los Angeles. What were some of the popular items you had from last year? Did the attendees surprise you with what they liked?

I think the big seller for me was my brand-new-at-the-time Cthulhu screen printed necktie (which wasn't a huge surprise). It will definitely make it's return this year, and I'm experimenting with a glow-in-the-dark version, but it's still early to make a call on whether it'll be viable or if it'll just end up causing those seeing it to go utterly mad.

What can we look forward to this year from you?

This year I hope to have that glow tie, but I'll have my new book "From the Darkness Creeps," as well as hopefully a new print or two. I'm also working on a new monster tie design or two, which will most definitely be inspired by the mythos, if not a direct reference to it. I also have this neat new screen print I plan on bringing down of a creepy queen bee.

Who's been inspiring you lately?

I recently got to meet some of the creative minds behind Zerofriends (Alex Pardee, Dave Correia, and Jon Way$hak) down at Comic-Con this year, and while they've always been artistic inspirations, seeing how cool they are as people was also pretty inspiring. Otherwise, I've sort of been fueling my creative inspiration from my co-workers (who are badass printmakers) at the silkscreen shop I run.

What do you see as some of the toughest challenges in bringing forth a Lovecraftian vision from the Cthulhu Mythos?

I think the biggest challenges in keeping the Lovecraftian vibe as a visual artist is holding back on just painting tons of creepy monsters. While they're an integral part of the mythos, I always think that Lovecraft was more about implied cosmic horror and it's always challenging to try and build that atmosphere of fear and terror without going too nuts with the monsters.

When are you most satisfied with a piece?

A successful piece for me means that regardless of it's commercial appeal I'm super stoked for painting it. Usually this comes when I sort of tap into the muse and just improvise something - when I plan stuff out too much I think I end up borrowing too much from other artists and it ends up diluting the process of creating.

What's the strangest dream you've had lately?

I usually don't remember my dreams, but recently I dreamed that I was competing on a Korean variety show that I watch called "Running Man," but I was competing against these ten-foot-tall hulking monsters with jet black skin and no faces. Perhaps the stars are coming into alignment...

This year, the theme is Shadows Over Innsmouth. What was the big takeaway lesson from that story for you?

The big lesson for me from the story is that if you just go mad from encountering Lovecraft's world, you're probably pretty lucky. It's a lot better to be human and go crazy then find that your part of the mythos.

The idea of an inescapable lineage is one that totally fascinates me (my other favorite story is "Rats in the Walls"), even though I totally do not believe that we're tied to our genetic history. Maybe it's because I don't agree with it in real life that the idea that one's bloodline can be so epically horrific and life-changing is so fascinating in fiction.

Visit Rick at:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2014 Elgin Award Winners Announced for Book and Chapbook of the Year

The Science Fiction Poetry Association announced that my 2013 book, DEMONSTRA received the 2014 Elgin Award for Book of the Year. Helen Marshall's collection, The Sex Lives of Monsters won first place in the Chapbook category.

This award is given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association to recognize the best full-length book and chapbook of speculative poetry published in the previous year. The Elgin Award is named after the founder of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, Suzette Haden Elgin.

DEMONSTRA was published by Innsmouth Free Press in 2013. The Sex Lives of Monsters was published by Kelp Queen Press. This year 22 publishers had books nominated, including 21 full-length collections and 9 chapbooks.

The second place award for full-length book went to Unexplained Fevers by Jeanine Hall Gailey from New Binary Press. Third place went to Dark Roads by Bruce Boston, published by Dark Renaissance Books. In the Chapbook category, second place went to The Edible Zoo by David C. Kopaska-Merkel, and third place went to Joshua Gage's Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, published by The Poet’s Haven.

DEMONSTRA also features the art of Vongduane Manivong. Her art has been exhibited in galleries across country and national events, including the Symposium of Lao History at the University of California-Berkeley, the National Youth Leadership Council’s first Urban Institute, and the Cultural Heritage Exhibition at the Laotian Community Center of Rhode Island. 

Helen Marshall is an award-winning Canadian author, editor, and doctor of medieval studies. Her debut collection of short stories, Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications, 2012), was named one of the top ten books of 2012 by January Magazine. It won the 2013 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer and was shortlisted for a 2013 Aurora Award by the Canadian Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her second collection, Gifts for the One Who Comes After,was released in September 2014. She lives in Oxford, England. 

The SFPA was founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science fiction poetry. The association has nearly 300 members internationally.

Thank you everyone, for your support!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Marsh Eyes, Madness and Rock Opera: An Interview with Mike Dalager

Music and horror often collide, and the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival will be no exception. Among those coming to the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, California from September 26-28th will be Mike Dalager, the visionary behind the ambitious musical, "Dreams in the Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock Opera."

We had a chance to catch up with him to discuss his methods, madness and the macabre and more.

You can visit the Witch House yourself at:
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first become interested in the work of H.P.Lovecraft?

I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii in the late 1970s and early 80s, the son of parents who really nurtured my interests in art and music. My dad was in the Navy and out at sea quite a bit, and when he was away I had an uncle who used to take me to watch science fiction and horror movies, rated "R" stuff that I was way too young to be watching.

Mom never knew that both my dad and uncle were exposing me to John Carpenter's THE THING and Ridley Scott's ALIEN well before my teens. Both of those movies have Lovecraftian roots, and I grew to love the genre without even knowing that H.P. Lovecraft was the man behind it all. It wasn't until 2004 when I was cast in Sean Branney and Andrew Leman's silent movie adaptation of THE CALL OF CTHULHU that I began to truly familiarize myself with the works of HPL. He's now one of my all time favorite writers, and I gravitate to his section in the bookstore whenever I go, hoping to find something I haven't read. I've still a ways to go in his catalog!

What's your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story?

The first story I fully read was "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and it left a big impression on me. With my Hawaii roots, I naturally enjoyed the tale's seaside setting and the concept of humans evolving back to life's aquatic beginnings. The idea of living beneath the sea certainly has a romanticism about it, and with a childhood spent half on land and half at the beaches and harbors of Oahu, I felt more like a Deep One than the story's human protagonist, Robert Olmstead. It remains my favorite HPL story by far.

What inspired you to take on Dreams in the Witch House as a rock opera? Was it difficult enlisting others to help you in this undertaking?

As soon as I read "The Dreams in the Witch House" in 2011, I couldn't help but envision theatrical pictures in my mind. I had spent nearly 20 years performing on stages around the world, touring on Broadway National Tours and internationally in Stockholm, Sweden. That span of time fully devoted to performing led to a desire to produce, and after producing a string of small Musical productions in Stockholm, I felt it was time to aim for something big and ambitious. I had built a great relationship with a small Recording Studio in Stockholm called Platform Studio, founded by two extremely talented and genuine friends, Anders Ringman and Chris Laney. Both Anders and Chris are well known music producers in Sweden, with nearly twenty years in the business.

With Sweden's healthy Heavy Metal and Rock scene and own history of epic folklore, I knew that my pitching a Lovecraftian Rock Opera wouldn't be scoffed at. The contrary occurred, and Chris Laney brought in a legend in the Swedish Music Industry, Lennart Östlund of infamous Polar Studios. He's worked with recording industry giants Led Zeppelin, Abba and Genesis, to name a few. 

Once Chris, Anders, Lennart and I got to work building the Rock Opera, I approached Sean Branney and Andrew Leman of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, whom I worked for at the time. I had already produced a highly unique music product with them, the parody album, "Ogham Waite - Live at the Gilman House Lounge", which had been received quite well by the Society's fan base, and as soon as I played a couple of raw sample tracks developed for the Rock Opera, Sean and Andrew were in and all systems were a go. From then on, it was all about continued development, momentum, project enthusiasm, financing and tenacity.

Over the project's 2 year production period, I was obsessed to drive the project home to conclusion no matter what the challenge, and there were many along the way. Passion projects don't find the finish line without some pain along the way. It was all worth it.

What's been some of the Mythos news exciting you lately?

I'm most excited to see Kevin McTurk's newest Lovecraft inspired puppet film, THE MILL AT CALDER'S END. He just released a teaser trailer for it, and it completely blew my mind. Your readers can view the trailer at this link:

What do you see as some of the toughest challenges in bringing forth a Lovecraftian vision from the Cthulhu Mythos?

I'm no expert on the topic, but I think the primary challenge is in fleshing out Lovecraft's conceptual realms and transforming them into the physical. Reading Lovecraft requires imagination and commitment, because he mainly provides a framework for his visionary horror. The reader is tasked to fill in all the voids. Whether Lovecraft did this intentionally or unintentionally, no one knows, but I've often wondered if Lovecraft himself was so horrified by his own dreams that he didn't dare fully explore and re-experience them through his writing. He provides bits and pieces, and in a sense, the reader becomes the protagonist behind the protagonist, puzzle-piecing the horrors together. It's a fully interactive experience, and that's what I've grown to appreciate the most. Lovecraft builds a movie in my mind, and he's taken me to alien lands like no other. How to translate those realms for others to experience via an extension of the Mythos is the uncracked code, and no one has totally nailed it yet because the Mythos is so personal to each reader. Music, however, offers a listener a similar experience in interpretation as literature does.

Listening to a Lovecraft tale becomes an interactive experience, allowing one to build pictures in their mind. Melody, dynamic, and the emotional power of a singer's interpretation allowed "Dreams in the Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock Opera" to melodically marinate in the Mythos in a powerful way. The mind's eye is quite capable at building Lovecraftian realms, and music has the power to paint ultra vibrant pictures.

What's the strangest dream you've had lately?

We've got a really amazing intellectual property lawyer attached to the Rock Opera named Heidy, and I recently had a dream where I met with her in a public place and in the middle of the meeting I realized I was only wearing boxer briefs. I thought deeply on this and decided that the root of the dream was my reflection on how exposed one feels by taking huge risks. This project took everything I had, even my last pair of pants apparently.

This year, the theme is "Shadows Over Innsmouth." What was the big takeaway lesson from that story for you?

I'm of mixed ethnicity, born on a very unique place on earth in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Growing up I was surrounded by half-breeds like myself, exposing me to numerous cultures, languages and traditions on a daily basis. It can be argued that "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" is a reflection of Lovecraft's fears of the time and place he lived. Exotic looking people most likely intrigued him, whether he admitted it or not. I guess it can be argued that I've got the true Marsh eyes, having a mother from the Philippines and a Swedish-Norwegian father from Minnesota. From my perspective on life, the takeaway lesson for me is that as time passes and cultures merge, the world will become Innsmouth and we'll all have the true Marsh eyes.

In the fine lyrical words of my Gilman House Lounge alter ego, Ogham Waite, "When you've got the true Marsh eyes, rejoice a little."

Saturday, September 06, 2014

“I Am the Horror Community”: An Interview with Laos’ First Lady of Horror, Mattie Do

A few months back, Australian magazine Monster Pictures did a great interview with Mattie do: “I Am the Horror Community”: An Interview with Laos’ First Lady of Horror, Mattie Do worth checking out to see some of her perspective and experience as she prepared to go into the filming of "Dearest Sister". Well worth a read to get some perspective on the issues we presently face in Laos and abroad.