BY MICHAEL HIBBARD.
I was eight when I first read “The Call of Cthulhu” and this was the story that shaped my career as a writer. It wasn’t so much about the content of the story as much as it was the writing style. It is apparent that Lovecraft used words as a palette to paint these amazing descriptions of places and things, unimaginable and horrible, as an artist with colors. This was what made me want to write, not for money for fame, but to paint pictures with words.
I began writing very early in my life, fueled for my own love of the metaphor, and the introduction of tabletop role-playing. In 1978, the same year I began reading Lovecraft, Basic Dungeons and Dragons had been released. A friend of mine had purchased that initial box set, and his older brother spent an entire afternoon reading the rules to run an adventure for us. After a grueling hour of creating my wizard character, with his amazingly awful tally of one for my hit points, we beset a goblin-filled module called “Keep on the Borderlands.” A lone goblin attacked me and in one horrible dice role, an hour of character creation was wasted. It took me several days to cope with such a horrid end after only a few minutes of playing, but it hooked me on telling stories.
I began to spin my own tales as a Dungeon Master, weaving in elements of both high fantasy, and the horror I experienced through Lovecraft’s and Poe’s stories. It wasn’t until much later I eventually abandoned the high fantasy aspects of Dungeons and Dragons and moved forward with my own, free form stories of horror, insanity and things that should not be.
Everyone one of the stories that I read, written by Lovecraft, felt like a twisted adventure into the depths of the human mind and existence. And I wanted to impart my own twisted visions of our reality on my unsuspecting players. We do not know what lurks in the darkest depths of our planet. We merely pretend to be in control of our reality, simply because we cannot answer a great many things about our own origins, our purpose or the complexities of our own mind. Lovecraft challenges us, even today, to look at the depths of the oceans with more than a bit of trepidation. He challenges us to define the things that we cannot understand, and test our ability to cope with their existence.
Recently, I was doing research for a story set on an island in the Pacific. We Lovecraftians all know Cthulhu dreams in the underwater city of R’lyeh, deep beneath the tumultuous waves of the seemingly peaceful South Pacific Ocean. But, what struck me, as I dug into the research, was that we have only explored five to seven percent of the oceans of this planet. Water covers seventy percent of the planet, and the deepest depths harbor creatures strangely similar to the creatures Lovecraft describes in his stories. We cannot explore it efficiently with our current technology as it is completely inhospitable to those that dwell on land. It led me to wonder whether Lovecraft knew something about the history of our planet that we did not.
Lovecraft has had such an enormous impact on my writing, that I did not see it until reviewers of my short stories and Waking Dream Series pointed it out. I spent many years working on writing my first book, and after sixteen years of research, I felt comfortable to publish my first novel, “Waking Dream: Devlin.” My intention was to create a mythos of my own, yet not overlap with the master himself, however it is always difficult to not emulate those who influenced you.
He has an ever-growing cult, and his stories have grown in popularity over the years. This in of itself is a testament to the eloquence of his writing style and his profound imagination. Many authors, both famous and other, have built upon his mythos, weaving their own tales of creatures beyond imagination. As such, I am honored to be counted among their ranks. I hope for a day when there are more people writing about the mythos, expanding it, and giving credit where credit is due. I have written and independently published two of my own Lovecraftian tales, “The Case Study” and “The House of the Dead Timbers.” I am happy with their moderate success, but I am a new author, and it takes time and patience to grow a readership. I would like to create a world others can build on, and expand long after I have left this world.
In parting, I would like to say, that the biggest disappointment involving Lovecraft is that the main stream film industry has not done high budget adaptations of his works. Though there have been many excellent B film versions of his stories, they still lack the money to fully depict the grandeur of Lovecraft’s descriptions. In my opinion, the best Lovecraftian film to date is “In the Mouth of Madness” by John Carpenter.
Thank you for listening to my personal experiences with the Lovecraft Effect. You can read more about my books at http://arkangyl.com