Bibliography

Posted in Bibliography, Gargoyle, Morbidezza, Spectral Realms, terza rima, Thalía with tags , , , , on November 27, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

A listing of my published works and appearances.

2018

Thalía (poetry): Spectral Realms #9 [Hippocampus Press]

2019

Morbidezza (prose poem): Spectral Realms #10 [Hippocampus Press]

Gargoyle (prose poem): Spectral Realms #10 [Hippocampus Press]

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Update 04/17/2019: Satanic Sonata to be in Spectral Realms #12

Posted in Gothic Prose, S.T. Joshi, Satanic Sonata, Spectral Realms with tags , , , on April 18, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I got my response from S.T. Joshi today and he has accepted Satanic Sonata for Spectral Realms #12! Now I can rest easy until issue #11 comes out. I always like to stay one issue ahead so I remain a steady contributor. I’ve got some other things coming up, but I’ll wait till I have more information before I mention them here.

Update 04/11/2019: The Grimoire of the Dark Young, Satanic Sonata, The Fell Fete, etc.

Posted in Averoigne, Black Hymeneal, Clark Ashton Smith, Corporate Cthulhu: Lovecraftian Tales of Bureaucratic Nightmare, Denisse Montoya, Edward Stasheff, Eyvind Kang, HWA (Horror Writer's Association), Mac Randall, Old Burying Ground, Pickman's Press, Prose Poetry, S.T. Joshi, Satanic Sonata, Spectral Realms, The Dark Young, The Fell Fête, The Grimoire of the Dark Young with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Well, I have had lots of stuff going on lately that I haven’t gotten around to mentioning till now. For starters, I asked my old Dark Young brother Mac Randall to write up a little something for the Grimoire of the Dark Young collection and he wrote a lovely tribute. I cannot wait to include it in the chapbook. Now I have to work on putting it together. By the way, in case any of you still care, I am closer to putting out my Black Hymeneal collection. I’m just waiting on my friend Denisse to make a few minor adjustments to accommodate a new afterword I just gave her, then she has to do the cover art, then we should be good to go.

Next up, I have recently completed a rewrite of my old prose poem Satanic Sonata which I wrote back in the 90s when I lived in Seattle, WA. Inspired by the avant-garde violin piece Universal by Eyvind Kang, I wrote it in 3 “movements”; the first, a prelude incorporating a real life scene I’d witnessed of preschool children running amuck in an Old Burying Ground in Cambridge, MA; the second and third parts describing a fantastic scene featuring devils and doomed souls. I am rather fond of the original, but it just wasn’t up to par with publishing standards, so I rewrote it. I think it is a lot more refined now. I shall be sending it soon to Mr. Joshi over at Spectral Realms for consideration.

Last, but certainly not least, I got a couple of messages this week from editor Edward Stasheff of Pickman’s Press. Apparently, they are putting together a collection of stories set in the imaginary province of Averoigne, for a Clark Ashton Smith tribute. Somehow, they came upon my story The Fell Fete, and they want to include it in the anthology. I asked around on Facebook and I did some research on line and they appear to be legit and I even got an endorsement in regards to their professionalism from one of the authors on their roster. I have agreed, tentatively, to allow them to use it, but I need to review the contract they sent me before I sign over any rights to anything. Their collection Corporate Cthulhu: Lovecraftian Tales of Bureaucratic Nightmare has decent reviews on Amazon.

I am excited, because their payment offer would be the most I have gotten thus far for one of my pieces and it would qualify me for affiliate status in the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association). I am currently only an honorary member.

Cece Harpy

Posted in 5th Annual H.P. Lovecraft Birthday Party, Cece Harpy, Gina Denham-Gill, Phoenix New Times with tags , , on April 5, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Back in 2015 I won a statuette of a baby-faced harpy in a trivia contest during the 5th Annual H.P. Lovecraft Birthday Party. Our picture was taken for the Phoenix New Times, then I took her home and placed her on a night table where she has gathered dust for the last few years. I recently decided that both she and my raven statuette, which I have named Quietus, should have a place in my cubicle at work. So I dusted them both off and brought them in.

During a chat with my co-workers I mentioned that I had a pet harpy at my cubicle and that if anyone cared to visit they would be welcome. I even shared the New Times pic so they could see her. Most ignored it but I did get some interesting responses. One co-worker asked if she was created by the artist Gina Denham-Gill. I confessed that I had no idea of her origin since I had won her in a contest. My co-worker shared Ms. Denham-Gill’s etsy page (https://www.etsy.com/search?q=littlemsshriek), and I must say that I see a resemblance in her work.

I was also asked by a few if she had a name. I said that I had not named her as of yet, but was open to suggestions. My co-worker, Savannah came up with Cece, and I thought Cece Harpy had a nice ring to it. Savannah then asked for a photo of her for reference so that she might do a portrait of her. I did one better and brought Cece to her desk. The resultant drawing was much more than I had hoped for!

Cece Harpy by Savannah.

I was so impressed, that I had asked Savannah to take a shot at illustrating my latest chapbook, Phantasmagorie, which shall contain some of my most recent prose poems. She said that she was very interested and so I gave her some print outs of Morbidezza, Rosaire, and Vampire Vigil for starters. I don’t want to say much more so as not to jinx it, but needless to say, I am thrilled and cannot wait to see what she comes up with!

H.P. Lovecraft’s “In the Vault” (1925).

Posted in Angus Scrimm (actor), Arkham House, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, In the Vault (1925), Phantasm (movie franchise), The Dunwich Horror and Others (Arkham House), The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

“Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft” by H.P. Lovecraft (2008, Gollancz).

Rummaging through boxes in my closet I found two story collections I’d been looking for as long as I have been at my current residence (6-7 years): The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales by Edgar Allan Poe, and Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft. I was so excited because most of my good books are packed away in boxes at present. I flipped through the Lovecraft book and read his early tale “In the Vault” (1925), which was one of the first tales I read of his some 30+ years ago in the Arkham House collection The Dunwich Horror and Others. At the time it really made an impression on me, but as I became more familiar with his work and was inundated with his Cthulhu Mythos it became lost in the back of my mind and I could only recall bits and pieces of the plot, the title long forgotten and even at one point confused with “The Tomb” (1922).

The Dunwich Horror and Others by H.P. Lovecraft (1988, Arkham House).

If you haven’t read it, here is a synopsis from Wikipedia:

George Birch, undertaker for the New England town of Peck Valley, finds himself trapped in the vault where coffins are stored during winter for burial in the spring. When Birch stacks the coffins to reach a transom window, his feet break through the lid of the top coffin, injuring his ankles and forcing him to crawl out of the vault.

Later, Dr. Davis investigates the vault, and finds that the top coffin was one of inferior workmanship, which Birch used as a repository for Asaph Sawyer, a vindictive citizen whom Birch had disliked, even though the coffin had originally been built for the much shorter Matthew Fenner. Davis finds that Birch had cut off Sawyer’s feet in order to fit the body into the coffin, and the wounds in Birch’s ankles are actually teeth marks. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Vault#Plot, retrieved 03/24/2019]

Reading it now, I admire his ability to invoke the charnel atmosphere and his macabre invention, but having worked in a mortuary, however briefly, I know just how heavy corpse-laden caskets can be and I doubt that George Birch, the drunken protagonist of this gruesome tale, could have stacked four of them so easily, if at all (unless, of course, he was like Angus Scrimm‘s “Tall Man” from the Phantasm movie franchise). One of my first nights on the job a coworker almost lost his fingers lowering a no-frills travel casket into a crate when they got caught between the box and the crate. He was a big guy and there was another big guy on the other end (I was assisting on the side, guiding the casket into the crate). In the “real world” the drunken underhanded undertaker in Lovecraft’s tale would have perished in the vault with the disgruntled resurrected cadavers of his former clients… Just sayin’.

And that having been said, although it’s no Dunwich Horror, nor it does it feature any of the tropes and characters he is famous for, it is a fun creepy tale to read on a chilly autumn evening.

 

Galad Elflandsson’s “Tales of Carcosa” (2018)

Posted in Ace Books, Copper Toadstool (magazine), Cyäegha Press, Dragonbane (fanzine), Galad Elflandsson, Graeme Phillips (editor), H.P. Lovecraft, How Darkness Came to Carcosa, Robert W. Chambers, Steve Lines, Supernatural Horror in Literature (essay), Tales of Carcosa, The Black Wolf, The King in Yellow (1895) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Tales of Carcosa by Galad Elflandsson (2018, Cyäegha Press).

A while back I did a review on the dark fantasy novel The Black Wolf (1979), by Galad Elflandsson. Mr. Elflandsson saw my review and contacted me starting a correspondence which has been both genial and edifying. Although he has been out of circulation in recent decades, he has continued writing albeit for the most part he has abandoned his Fantasy roots. Even so, he was recently contacted by someone (presumably editor Graeme Phillips) over at Cyäegha Press about some stories he had written which appeared in various fantasy and horror themed journals back in the late 70s and early 80s, like Dark Fantasy, Dragonbane, and Copper Toadstool.

Dragonbane #1 (1978) in which first appeared the story How Darkness Came to Carcosa.

The stories in question were of a specific ilk, focusing on the themes and characters that originated in the book The King in Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers, later incorporated by H.P. Lovecraft into his mythos and augmented upon by subsequent mythos authors. Galad Elflandsson was one such author. According to his afterword, he picked up a copy of the 1965 Ace paperback edition after reading Lovecraft’s rhapsodic endorsement in his benchmark essay Supernatural Horror in Literature. Apparently it left an impression on him because he eventually wrote his own cycle of tales set within the purlieu of Carcosa.

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers (1965, Ace Books).

The tales as I found them, are entertaining although not as fast paced as his novel, The Black Wolf. Knowing his personal writing, I could recognize his penchant for focusing on the human experience. The Exile in particular has a focus on social/class issues and the inner world of the protagonist, Henri. In fact, many of the tales herein seem almost like a mixture of existential literature, and Fin de siècle decadence with a soupçon of horror thrown in on occasion to remind one that these are dark fantasy tales after all. As with The Black Wolf, I would have liked a bit more of a macabre atmosphere maintained throughout, but that is just a personal quirk of mine. I think my favorite story was the opening tale, How Darkness Came to Carcosa, which apparently delineates the origin of the King in the Pallid Mask, and I especially liked the few poems which are scattered throughout the book alongside fitting illustrations by Steve Lines.  Over all, it is a highly enjoyable read, and one does not necessarily need to be familiar with the extended mythos built around Carcosa or The King in Yellow to enjoy these tales, but it wouldn’t hurt going in knowing the reputation behind the forbidden play and the significance of the Yellow Sign.

The book appears to be a limited run, my copy being #8/50 numbered copies, so if you see it, grab it!

 

Update 03/22/2019: Dimas Akelarre

Posted in Dimas Akelarre, S.T. Joshi on March 22, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I just received a polite rejection notice from S.T. Joshi for Dimas Akelarre. His assessment was that it was too dense and had too many obscure references in several languages (incl. Spanish, Basque, and Latin). It was not my actual intention to be obscure or (let’s face it) pretentious, but I can understand his critique and take it seriously. He suggested I try to keep things a little simpler and I will keep that in mind moving forward. I think I shall bench Dimas… until further notice.

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)

Posted in Amicus, Frankenstein, Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), Hammer Horror, James Mason (actor), Jane Seymour, John Polidori, Mark Maddox, Mary Shelley, The Vampyre (1819) with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Spanish poster for Frankenstein: The True Story.

As I am sure I have mentioned before, I have been a life-long fan of all things Frankensteinian. Growing up I watched any movie or TV show that featured Mary Shelley’s monster. Over the years there have been a few that professed to portray the definitive faithful adaptation of the influential novel, but none have truly depicted the story as it was written. One such production is the two-part TV miniseries Frankenstein: The True Story (1973).

Add for 1st episode, presumably, from TV Guide.

Adapted by novelist Christopher Isherwood, it does portray events and characters from the 1818 novel not usually portrayed in other filmic adaptations, but it still takes several liberties with the story. One of the biggest changes was the inclusion of Dr. Polidori, who seems to be a stand in for the character Dr. Pretorius, from Universal’s The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Dr. John Polidori, in reality, was Lord Byron’s personal physician and traveling companion, and he was present during the fateful evening at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva in Switzerland when 18 year old Mary first conceived of the grisly tale which has fascinated scholars and fans of macabre and fantastic fiction for centuries. Polidori, only 21 at the time of the celebrated soiree,  was hardly the gaffer portrayed by English actor James Mason. He is known nowadays mostly as the author of The Vampyre (1819) “the progenitor of the romantic vampire literary genre” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein#Composition, retrieved 02/21/2019).

John William Polidori, by F.G. Gainsford (floruit 1805-1822), given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1895. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_William_Polidori#/media/File:John_William_Polidori_by_F.G._Gainsford.jpg retrieved 03/05/2019).

It’s been decades since I read Ms. Shelley’s novel so I couldn’t quite cite specifics, although there are some obvious ones which bear mentioning. For starters, the role of Victor Frankenstein’s boyhood friend Henry Clerval (played by a young David McCallum, a/k/a “Ducky” from the TV series NCIS) who for some reason in the mini series is the instigator for Victor’s experiment and the source for the creature’s brain. In the novel, he is just a good friend who is later murdered by the creature. There is also the creature itself who in the miniseries starts out as a handsome young man then deteriorates into a gnarly walking corpse. The biggest change I think is the bride, who in the novel never gets created. In the mini series, she is created using parts from Agatha, daughter of the blind man the creature befriends. The bride here is played by actress Jane Seymour, who looks stunning and plays the bride as a rather coquettish, bourgeoning femme fatale. Her death scene is the one bit that stuck in my head from when I first saw it as a boy on it’s original run.

Jane Seymour as Prima (the Bride).

Overall, I can tell what the makers of Frankenstein: The True Story were going for, but I think they missed their mark by a longshot. They had an all star cast but the script was weak and some of their plot choices are befuddling to say the least. There are some interesting ideas and images, however, and I can now watch it will a little less antipathy than I was wont to in the past.

DVD for Frankenstein: The True Story.

 

Apparently, the fanzine Little Shoppe of Horrors The Journal of Classic British Horror Films, which specializes in Hammer Horror, Amicus and related Gothic Horror films, featured an in depth article on the making of Frankenstein: The True Story in their 38th issue. The artwork by Mark Maddox is quite striking.

Detail from artwork for The Epic Untold Saga Behind Frankenstein: The True Story by Mark Maddox for Little Shoppe of Horrors #38.