Interview: K. V. Taylor

Name: KV Taylor. Katey or Kate is better, though.

Author of: “Transfigured Night”

Age: 30

Geographic Location: Arlington, VA

Original Hometown, if different: Wellsburg, WV

Twitter: @taylorkv

Website: http://www.kvtaylor.com

Past publications: Short fiction with Morrigan Books, Graveside Tales, The New Bedlam Project, Reflection’s Edge, and several other fine publishers – full listing is here (http://www.kvtaylor.com/welcome/publications/).

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? The Rats in the Walls, definitely.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”?

1. Rats–wait, no, that’s not sexy.

2. Tentacles! Wait, no, everyone will do tentacles. (Are tentacles actually sexy? Hm.)

3. Ah, sex is creepy, Lovecraft is creepy, it’s a match made in R’lyeh.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? I saw the link on duotrope initially, but was shy about subbing until I read more and more on twitter and the website.

What inspired your story? I was re-reading some Lovecraft and ran across The Temple. I love the journal-style first person horror Lovecraft did, how he lent a specific feeling to each of his narrators through it. Really drags me into their madness. He went a little overboard with the whole Stoic WWI German thing on that one, but it’s still scary as hell. And he made it such a point to note that the dead guy who dropped the little idol was beautiful…

What music or movies helped you to write this story? It’s named after the piece that helped me– Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht. It’s disturbing enough to give me goosebumps, but it’s always beautiful. Seemed like a good vibe for Lovecraftian erotica.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Surprisingly few, since I obsess over that kind of thing; but it’s a simple story, so it was easier than usual not to step in it too badly. It was the edit from Dagan Books that really made me think it was any good. Ah beautiful editors, you make writers look good in spite of ourselves!

What is your favorite bit?

“I either need to jerk off more, or throw myself into the ocean and get it over with.”

A Taste of Our Tales

Wondering what each of the stories in Cthulhurotica is about?

* “The Cry in the Darkness” – After Wilbur Whateley’s death, young Mamie Bishop pins her hopes for a happy life on a simple farmhand. He soon discovers his new wife isn’t satisfied at home, and makes her way through the darkness each night to an unspeakable mate.

* “Optional on the Beach at the Festival of Shug Niggurath” – Nyarlothotep was expecting nothing more than a pleasant weekend in a seaside tourist town, but instead finds a charming young distraction.

* “Le Ciél Ouvert” by Kirsten Brown – Five years after the rift opens in the skies above Arkham, the last sane survivor decides to renegotiate her relationship with the abyss, on her terms.

* “The Summoned” by Clint Collins – After Henry Wilcox’s unexpected breakdown, his college friends discover his strange obsessions. Pamela, a young sculptor with a taste for the unusual, uses Henry’s designs to build herself a firm and fleshy monster of her own.

* “The Fishwives of Sean Brolly” by Nathan Crowder – Linda thinks her submissive husband makes a better assistant than a lover, but while she’s distracted by her latest writing project, he discovers the women of his dreams.

* “Between a Rock and an Elder Goddess” by Mae Empson – Dennis has spent his whole life studying ancient texts, searching out mysteries. When he finally finds one, she’s tentacled, seductive, and far more mysterious than he’d imagined.

* “Ipsa Scientia” – Kara finally meets a man whose knowledge of physics is out of this world.

* “Infernal Attractors”  – When sexy Shirley comes to him with a handful of government secrets and a taste for danger, Marc builds a strange machine to win her love.

* “The Descent of the Wayward Sister” by Gabrielle Harbowy – A curious sister with a taste for the underbelly of society comes visiting her wealthy, educated, brother, and finds his secrets are not as well-kept as they should be.

* “Tuning In, Turning On, and Dropping Out at the Mountains of Madness” – Euphoria thought spending in the 70s in Ashland, OR, would be a far-out trip, man. She soon discovers a god among men, and a star in the stone.

* “The Dreamlands of Mars” – Far in the future, a young woman’s life on dry, boring, Mars changes when her father’s mysterious silver key arrives to take her to a greener place.

* “Riemannian Dreams” – An academic’s dreams turn unbearably erotic, and as he struggles to understand their meaning, he receives a pair of visitors who want something more than sex from him.

* “Sense” – A tempting wife and a missing professor fuel this gritty noir adventure through car chases, motel sheets, and betrayal.

* “Song of the Catherine Clark” – Dryden’s been searching his whole life for the mysterious Catherine Clark. When he finally finds the Clark, and her provacative masthead, he discovers the ship’s terrible hunger can’t be denied.

* “Flash Frame” – A freelance reporter in Mexico City discovers a rare art film with mysterious powers. As the film plays, a dream invades the viewers’ lives. The dream is yellow.

* “The C-Word” – Elliot left Anna Waite-Saothwick, and Innsmouth, behind when she broke off their relationship. A massive storm reunites the lovers, but Elliot finds Anna’s connection to the ocean, and Devil’s Reef, is more profound than he’d ever guessed.

* “The Lake at Roopkund” – When Isha’s college roommate at Miskatonic U comes to India for a visit, resentful husband Jaswinder insists on inviting himself to their party, but doesn’t get what he came for.

* “The Assistant from Innsmouth” – In the fall of 1937, a young clerk is sent to catalogue the Whateley estate. He discovers, amongst the strange objects and ornate books, a woman whose presence puts him in a position he didn’t expect.

* “Transfigured Night” – When Vic’s ship crashes on a desolate island, and his friend’s life is lost, he thinks things can’t get any worse. Then he discovers a beautiful dead boy, an underground temple, and what comes after “worse”.

* “Amid Disquieting Dreams” – Jim’s Fisheater has been coming to him, in dreams, for years. The dreams are terrible, filled with blood, fear and death, and eventually, Jim can’t tell the difference between dream and reality any longer.

* “Daddy’s Girl” – Milleu’s father is a half-human, half-tentacled monster, and the family business is a special kind of slave trade. When forced to rush her latest project on account of a deadline, her dark humor pushes her to make a monstrous decision of her own.

Interview: Justin Everett

Name: Justin Everett

Age: 49

Author of: “Cthulhurotica, Female Empowerment, and the New Weird”

Geographic Location: Philadelphia, PA

Original Hometown, if different: Sand Springs, Oklahoma

Past publications: My research consists of two major areas.  The first—the one that brings in the paycheck—is writing program administration.  In this area I have two college textbooks and a number of book chapters and journal articles.  However, my true love and passion is Science Fiction and Fantasy.  That’s why I got into the teaching gig in the first place.  Increasingly, I have focused my work on social Darwinism and the early pulp period, particularly 1915 to 1940.  My major interest lies in two writers:  H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.  I also research the writers these two corresponded with or influenced, including Clark Ashton Smith, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, August Derleth, and Fritz Leiber, to name a few.  I am also interested in more recent reinventions and continuations of the mythoi created by these writers, including new mythos tales, movies, internet sites, comics, game worlds, and of course, Cthulhrotica.

A few years ago I began to realize how little critical attention had been given to these writers and began to fear that they might fade from literary history, so I decided to do something about it.  (There is some professional critical work on Lovecraft, but virtually nothing on the other writers.)  I began by contacting the Robert E. Howard Foundation and the Popular Culture Association.  Each year I give presentations on Howard and Lovecraft at various PCA meetings, and have given a talk at the Howard Days celebration in Cross Plains, Texas.  I have recently created a new “area” within the PCA for Pulp Studies, for which I am the chair.  If anyone is interested, I am accepting proposals through December 15 for the Pulp Studies area for this year’s PCA in San Antonio, Texas.  The call for papers can be found here: http://www.pcaaca.org/areas/pulp.php

I am currently working with my research partner on the first work of professional literary criticism on Robert E. Howard, tentatively titled More Than Human:  The Evolutionary Heroes of Robert E. Howard.  This book will focus on the influence of social Darwinism and the eugenics movement on forming Howard’s concept of the barbarian hero.  One chapter of this book will focus on the Howard/Lovecraft relationship and their “civilization/barbarism” debate.  I have also been solicited to put together a “collected edition” on Pulp Studies.  Any proposals submitted for the PCA conference will be considered for inclusion in this collection of essays.

I also write about Star Trek.   Book chapters can be found in The Influence of Star Trek on Television, Film and Culture and Draculas, Vampires, and other Undead Forms:  Essays on Gender Race and Culture.  I would also like to write about Doctor Who, but in the midst of my day job and my Pulp Studies work, it is hard to see where I might possibly squeeze that in.

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? My favorite is probably Robert E. Howard’s “The Black Stone,” because it brings together the intensity and physical action of Howard with the sense of deep time and neo-gothic atmosphere of Lovecraft.  While Lovecraft was a great atmospherist,  his stories are frequently static.  Howard’s stories are thick with plot and action—I like to compare reading a Howard story to skateboarding downhill in heavy traffic—but sometimes lacked the intricate layering that Lovecraft achieves.  If I were to choose a Lovecraft story, it would be a toss-up between “The Music of Eric Zahn” and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.  The first story has good pacing, excitement and action; the second great layering.  The deeper reality, and horror, is revealed as they layers are carefully peeled away.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? The very novelty of the concept aside, what exited me the most about this collection was the potential to create emotional intensity along the opposing poles of arousal and horror.  Attempts to bring these together in other works usually do not go off very well—one needs only remember the film Species as an example of what can happen when this is done badly.  Howard sometimes brought these elements together in his stories, but he could only go so far.  The reason I think the potential is so great—when done well—occurs when the object of arousal becomes the object of horror.  At such a moment the reader experiences what the Greeks called anagnorisis—roughly translated, “recognition.”  In Greek tragedy, this was the moment when the protagonist’s whole world changed, such as when Oedipus realizes that he has married, has sex with, and had children by his mother.  His former attraction for his wife becomes sudden revulsion and horror.  While Lovecraft certainly utilized anagnoresis in his stories,  he didn’t create the kinds of scenarios present in many of the stories in this collection, where the object of arousal suddenly becomes the object of horror, often at the moment just before death.

What inspired your essay? I think what interested me most about the stories in this collection was the recurring theme of female empowerment.  In many of the tales in this collection, the story comments in some meaningful fashion on male/female relationships (though female/female and male/male relationships are certainly addressed in a number of the stories).  They do this by inverting subliminal assumptions about patriarchy and the dominance of men over women.  Between the stories, the common narrative goes something like this:  A man enters a relationship with a woman and assumes a position of dominance.  The woman, who is aware that she is more powerful than the man, nevertheless pretends submission up to a point.  At the right time she asserts her power over the man.  At this point anagnorisis occurs, and the man’s perception of the world, as well as of himself, is suddenly changed.  This recognition results either in rejection of the new reality (which may result in terror or madness), acceptance of the new reality as submissive to the female, or rejection with action.  None of the tales in this collection cover the full range of this narrative, though many of them illustrate some portion of it.  Taken as a whole, the collection illustrates the full arc of this narrative.  This is particularly fascinating to me, because it reveals a subconscious narrative that may be a part of the understructure of universal narrative strands that make up those tales we call myths.

What music or movies helped you to write this essay? As a part of this process I watched several H.P. Lovecraft adaptations and documentaries.  When I write I always listen to light Classical as a sort of calming ambient background music.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I wrote this draft in two sittings.  I revised as I went along each time.  The second day I spent several hours in revision mode after the whole was completed.

What is your favorite bit? I think the end, where I felt my ideas coming together.  I had formulated several threads, and had woven them throughout the essay, but until the end I wasn’t sure I would be able to bring them together.  In the end it worked out fine:

What these stories confront . . . are the social rules and the enclosures that govern our lives and prevent us from engaging in behaviors that are at once enticing and self-destructive.  As the roles and relationships of men and women have changed since Lovecraft’s time, what these stories permit us to do is question the limitations placed upon us by marriage, gender-identity, gender-dominance, and even pair bonding itself.  This does not mean we should surrender those rules of conduct, but we should enter a discussion about them and confront our own long-buried fears associated with issues of sex and power.

Interview: Kirsten Brown

Name: Kirsten Brown

Author of: “Le Ciél Ouvert”

Artist of: The Brides of Tintalos

Age: 29

Geographic Location: Atlanta, GA.

Original Hometown, if different: Philadelphia, PA.

Twitter: @unknownbinaries

Past publications: Essays in ‘Women’s Voices in Magic’, Immanion Press, and ‘Lilith, Queen of the Desert’, Knickerbocker Press.

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story?: In The Mountains of Madness, though I am far more of a fan of works in the vein of, than the writing of the man himself.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? Tentacle porn, because part of me is forever fifteen and prurient. Also, courting the Jungian Shadow and the unknown. Transformation.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? Twitter, gods help me. It’s a terrible, terrible addiction. Or a support group for the self-employed and creative, depending on when you get me.

What inspired your story? I tried to write something that went with the art I also have in there, but it took its own direction. And something in me has always had a bit of a thing for the trickster and shapeshifter that is the Crawling Chaos.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? No movies, really. I don’t sit down at home and watch DVDs often. Music, though…Lots of experimental noise and dark ambient stuff; 15 Degrees Below Zero, Navicon Torture Technology, Wäldchengarten, Derek C.F. Pegritz as Nyarlathotep. Also, lots of Ego Likeness, a gothy-industrial outfit who will get my ass moving on just about any task at hand.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? It’s hard to gauge. I don’t rewrite from whole cloth often. I excise chunks, replace them, shuffle things around, sometimes endlessly.

What is your favorite bit?

“…there is a sense of surface tension to it, like the darkness, the nothing in it is pressing on the sky and threatening to rupture. I am transfixed, breathless, I am a needle seeking a very strange compass, a crystal glass resonant to this, and I have no idea how long I stand there.”

Interview: Don Pizarro

Name: Don Pizarro

Author of: “The C-Word”

Age: As Dennis said in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m 37, I’m not old.”

Geographic Location: Upstate New York

Original Hometown, if different: A small ‘burb on the shores of beautiful Lake Erie–which did not catch fire by the way.  That was the Cuyahoga River.

Twitter: @DonP

Website: www.warmfuzzyfreudianslippers.com

Past publications: My most recent are “Sublimation,” Rigor Amortis, October 2010, “Combat Stress Reaction,” Crossed Genres, June 2010, “Intermezzo,” Everyday Weirdness, May 2010, “Tough Love,” Reflection’s Edge, July 2009, “Good for the Gander,” Fantasy Magazine, May 2009

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? Actually, it’s Rod Serling’s adaptation of HPL’s non-Mythos story “Cool Air” for the series Night Gallery — a subject I plan on delving into for a future nonfiction project!

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? I had the image of C’thulhu’s tentacles in various orifices.  Which, because of my lack of familiarity with the Mythos, actually turned me off.  Not that I’m against things in orifices by any means, but the thought of writing “‘Lovecraft’ + ‘Erotica'” required a knowledge that I just didn’t have – at the time.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? Right on the heels of my last “weird erotica” publication, I heard about this other one through the editor talking about it on Twitter.  I guess my eyes were just peeled for anything called <genre-trope>-rotica.

What inspired your story? Having resolved that I wasn’t going to write for Cthulhurotica, I decided it was long past time that I at least found out more about H.P. Lovecraft.  Especially since, several weeks before I heard of the anthology, I’d taken the name “D.P. Lovecraft” for my role as a Non-Skating Official in my local roller derby league.  Anyway, I started by looking up “Deep Ones” on Wikipedia, and then the ideas just started rolling in.  So much for my resolve.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? My soundtrack for “The C-Word”:

  • The New Pornographers, “Failsafe”
  • Eleni Mandell, “Bigger Burn”
  • Manic Street Preachers, “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”
  • Arcade Fire, “Ocean of Noise”
  • Air, “The Word ‘Hurricane'”
  • Cassandra Wilson, “A Little Warm Death”
  • The Blue Nile, “Body and Soul”
  • Genesis, “Domino, Pt. 1 – In the Glow of the Night/Pt. 2 – The Last Domino”

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Three or four, at least.

What is your favorite bit? The point at which the main character, Elliot, starts to get a glimpse of everything he was inadvertently fighting for:

Anna slipped her hand from mine and faced out toward Devil’s Reef.  She cupped her hands and shouted some words I couldn’t understand, but that reminded me of her mumbling last night.  And unless I was hearing things, she was answered, from the Reef, with the most bizarre and disturbing sound I had ever heard.

Interview: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Name: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Author of: “Flash Frame”

Age: Unspeakable. Sorry!

Geographic Location: Vancouver, Canada

Original Hometown, if different: Mexico

Twitter: @silviamg

Website: http://silviamoreno-garcia.com

Past publications: Fantasy Magazine, Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction, Tesseracts 13, Futurismic, Shimmer and lots, lots more

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” ( that’s probably why I am one of the founders of Innsmouth Free Press) and “The Colour Out of Space.” There’s something about evil- glowing meteorites that makes my heart go a bit faster. Non-Lovecraft, I think “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner is very scary. It just creeped the hell out of me and I don’t even understand why. Something about the bizarre constructions made out of twigs.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? Um … tentacles? I am actually very afraid of Cthulhu mixed with erotica, and I’m note quite sure what to expect when I crack open my contributor’s copy, but I think I ended up overcoming my fears because I had an idea that just wouldn’t let go. I’m not sure if the final result is erotic, though. I think of it as deeply paranoid and confused. In a good way.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? Through the magic of Twitter.

What inspired your story? Several things. I was remembering what it was like being a journalist in Mexico City. I am a third-generation communications gal. My grandfather was a radio announcer during the Golden Age of radio, my parents both worked in radio, I worked at a newspaper and I married someone who studied journalism. This is a genetic ailment. But it does tend to give me lots of background on different time periods and how journalists worked in those times. For “Flash Frame,” my direct inspiration was a conversation I had in the 90s. I was meeting a friend who was a freelancer at the time, and he asked me if we could stop to pick up his paycheck for a story he had done for a magazine. The magazine we picked up (and I think his story) was about the cheapest prostitute in Mexico City. We ended talking about a large porno cinema, Cine Teresa, which had been a high-class “ladies” cinema back in the 50s. You know, one of those luxury movie palaces. I love old movie theatres and I kept thinking about journalists and movie theatres, and our conversation about the Teresa. Around this time, I also had a bizarre dream about a “yellow woman” and I decided to use her.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? I don’t listen to much music, to be terribly honest. I am very unhip, in that sense. But I did have a movie in mind. Caligula, to be specific. The bizarre film that gets screened in my story was inspired by that movie, and also some of the sword-and-sandals flicks I watched when I was a kid. There was always something sexy about those movies, even if the production codes of the time didn’t allow them to show too much. It was a way to get past the censors. I mean, Hedy Lamarr is sooo awesome in Samson and Delilah. We don’t give a crap about the good girl. We want Hedy to dance in her pseudo-Arabian Nights outfits and seduce Samson, damn it!

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I don’t rewrite. Does that sound awful? I fix things as I go along, which sometimes makes it a longer process. I also felt if I thought too much about this story, I’d chicken out and never write it.

What is your favorite bit? I like the opening line:

The sound is yellow.