I had the pleasure of beta reading this novel and thoroughly enjoyed it!
Almost everyone is familiar with Edgar Allan Poe. At one time or another, we’ve probably read one of his short stories, even if it was in tenth-grade English where “The Pit and the Pendulum” was required reading. How many, however, are familiar with HP Lovecraft, a man who was influenced by Poe and in the Twentieth Century, became his equal in writing tales of mystery and imagination?
Lovecraft was a New Englander, a sickly child who grew into an introspective man. He wasn’t breathtakingly handsome but neither was he unattractive, just fairly ordinary in appearance. He married, did well as a husband, but eventually divorced, seeming to flourish more in a single-household, more isolated and less social atmosphere. During his lifetime, he kept up a correspondence with several aspiring teenaged authors, most of whom, because of his mentoring, later became well-known themselves. (Do the names Robert Bloch and Robert E. Howard ring bells?)
HPL, as he’s general referred to, authored stories often set in the harsh surrounds of his native habitat. They centered around a group of beings older than Time, tossed out of their own dimension into ours where they were bested by enemies and imprisoned on our world. The setting was in and around the towns of Providence, RI, and Arkham—which some readers may recognize as the name of the Asylum where the Joker and many another criminal pursued by Batman eventually ended incarcerated. With the aid of human servants, these “Great Old Ones” occasionally escape their bonds and wreak havoc on the unsuspecting New England countryside.
I was introduced to Lovecraft during my teenage years through a single story “The Dunwich Horror” in an anthology entitled Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, which I received as a gift for my twelfth birthday. This story was later made into a movie tsarring Sandra Dee and Dean Stockwell but like the screen adaptations of most of Poe’s stories, Lovecraft’s tales don’t translate well, since they rely on a good bit of atmosphere and description of the characters’ mental states rather than physical action.
Later in life, I had the privilege of living next door to a Lovecraft scholar. He had a library consisting of hundreds of books on Lovecraft as well as translations of his stories, in German, French, even Japanese. He graciously allowed me to borrow some and read them. Initially, I didn’t know what a honor I was being given until his wife commented, “You really rate. He doesn’t let anyone touch those books.”
Of course, I, being who I am, immediately began to weave my own pseudo-Lovecraft tale, thinking along the lines of…why did the Great Old Ones center themselves only around New England in our part of the world? In other stories, they exist in England, the Middle and Far East, in abandoned cities, deep jungle valleys, or high, frozen mountain peaks. Why couldn’t some of them have traveled further South on our continent and found disciples among the southern population?
New Orleans would seem the ideal spot. I decided to make my haven for Cthulu and his ilk the islands off the coast of Georgia.
And thus I came up with the idea for A Bit of the Dark World…
…of a young man fighting his heritage while ambiguously accepting it…a foolish young woman reveling in the attention she receives from him…and a doctor genetically imbued with the truth about the island off the Georgia coast, fighting to prevent the disaster he envisions…
There’s sex in it so I doubt if HPL would wholeheartedly approve, but perhaps he might at least give me an agreeable nod for the general tone of the novel as well as the way I’ve portrayed his creations.
A Bit of the Dark World—the title is a quote from Rudyard Kipling’s The Phantom Rickshaw—is now available from Act Books.
Visit with Toni at: http://www.tonivsweeney.com