A variation of the following short statement accompanies the novella, The Curse of Jaxx, and was written by the story’s author to explain its dedication to the early-20th century writer, H.P. Lovecraft.
I have been a fan of H.P. Lovecraft since my late teens. I first came across the word “Lovecraftian” in Stephen King’s novel, The Stand, when I was about 13 and had no idea what it meant at the time. But a few years later, my friend Dale showed up in front of my parents’ house on his Harley and pulled out a collection of Lovecraft’s collection of short stories. “You’ve got to check this out,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
The collection was called The Doom that Came to Sarnath. The cover was powder-grey and white, and featured a staircase of stone set between sentinel lines of painted skulls and wound up a mountain to a single cloaked figure standing beside an altar with a skeletal hand raised. He is in the midst of some great, dark ceremony and is about to commit a sacrifice. The image was disturbing but gripping, to say the least.
My first year in college was not the best time of my life. I had moved boldly from New York to Virginia, where I knew no one and promptly, out of fear, made no effort to get to know anyone. Instead, I began writing—poetry and short stories at first—and read a lot, including more Lovecraft. I found his tales of the monstrous Cthulhu, of secret cities, of the vengeance of horrific creatures against their oppressors and of dark gods, reflected my feelings of social isolation and my not-so-great self-image, and stirred imaginative yearnings for times and places other than my own.
Since then, my life has had its share of turns, both good and and bad. My last three years in college were great (I had a fantastic group of friends), I studied modernist literature in graduate school and I now have a satisfying career outside Washington, DC. Yet, despite the many trappings and responsibilities that cling to someone entering middle age my imagination has not died. I recently picked up H.P. Lovecraft for the first time in several years and found myself spellbound once again by his weird tales of cosmic creatures, of subterranean secrets and blasphemous practices.
Horror writers such as Lovecraft and Stephen King can be polarizing, to say the least, in the hallowed calls of academia. During my years at Fordham University, I studied Joyce, Austen, Hemingway, Hobbes, Foucault, Rousseau and other writers who belong, unequivocally, to the canon. My professors urged me to pursue my PhD, and I was tempted to, but ultimately I decided to move from New York to Washington, DC. Despite many years of academic learning, I retained in my literary mind a loyalty toward those aberrant voices that speak of the dark corners of our lives, of fears, concerns, unspeakable feelings…of all that is not well to speak of in polite society. I have already written a more routine novel about a Border Patrol agent, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, which is contemporary, and reflects my long love and interest in literary fiction.
But the novella, The Curse of Jaxx, restores my interest in darker worlds. For many years, I have carried in my mind the image of skeletal creatures ascending a castle wall at the edge of a violent coast and overpowering a line of sentries who have stood on watch since time began. Now the curse driving this image had been revealed. The story has been written and vengeance will prevail.
It was great to return to the darker realm, to the space where Lovecraft first impressed me and where I expect to return again at some point. I have already written the first scene from another long short story called Under the Sea, and so who knows where that shall take me.
Please comment below if you are familiar with or like H.P. Lovecraft, or if you simply are a fan of horror fiction.