Sunday, September 29, 2013

My forthcoming novel about Lovecraft

Monday sees my new book coming out. It's a very short novel or a novella in which horror writer H. P. Lovecraft is the main character. The book, simply called Haamu ("Ghost"), with the subtitle Kertomus Hollywoodista ("A Tale of Hollywood"), is a case of alternate history: in the book, Lovecraft didn't die from cancer in 1937. After he's been miraculously cured, he decides he's had too much of horror stories in his life, sells his house and library and moves on to Hollywood where he desperately tries to break as a screenwriter. He's living in a beat-up hotel and writes pulp stories but in different genres than before (crime, romance, even mainstream stuff) and tries to keep up his letter writing, mainly with Clark Ashton Smith.

The book is fragmentary and shows us glimpses of Lovecraft trying to write and earn his living. There are also some scenes on a desolate block where Lovecraft finds a dead mole. There are also some real-life Hollywood characters, mainly other writers from B-studios, but also director Edgar G. Ulmer whom Lovecraft meets at a party. There's also Earl Peirce Jr., who's also trying to work in Hollywood and comes up with an idea he tries to sell to Lovecraft. Some of the scenes in the book are more surreal and some of them may seem like Lovecraft is hallucinating, and he's not at all times the most reliable narrator. There's no horror in the book, though, and it has no supernatural elements. It's not a genre novel.

What's the idea behind the book? The vision of Lovecraft working in Hollywood has been with me for years. I think someone suggested it almost ten years ago at the Fictionmags e-mail group where I once was an active member (still am, but not a very active one). At the time, the writer (I can't remember who it was) suggested Lovecraft might've worked in Hollywood already in the early twenties, but I decided to make this an alternate history, set in 1941. (One book that had some influence on how the novel turned out was Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, her novel on Hollywood that I read prior to starting work on Haamu.)

But there's still something I can't really explain in the book - in my own book! Doesn't art exist to make you wondrous? I'm sure many Lovecraft aficionados will tell me that my Lovecraft isn't the real Lovecraft, and I'm sure they're right. There are of course things that I decided should be according to how he was in real life, but then I also decided I don't have to act as if this was the real Lovecraft - after all, he's gone through a sickness that was supposed to kill him. His writing style has changed drastically, but that came also because I didn't want to emulate or parody Lovecraft's unique style - there are comments on this in the text. There are also subtle hints he's not really alive, as if this were a dream, but I won't give anything away.

The cover for Haamu is by Aapo Kukko, a young graphic artist. He's a very capable guy. Coming out from Turbator, Haamu has a very small print run, so be sure to grab it! Any foreign agents reading this? (Insert smiley here.)

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