Let’s get the unpleasantness out of the way. There’s a new book in town called The Dark Rites of Cthulhu and I strongly suggest you buy it, if not in glorious paperback form, then as a Kindle edition. Hell’s teeth, shell out for a special edition and you could have your very own shoggoth beermat, something you never knew you needed until I just mentioned it.
I opened with this subtle sales pitch not just because I have children to feed, nor that I would really like to publish another book, but because I believe that my editor, Brian M. Sammons, and I have tapped into a rich vein that has been somewhat overlooked in this (some might say) Lovecraft-saturated landscape.
It cannot be denied that the cold climes of R’yleh have never been hotter. Mythos-based novels and anthologies have been materializing with the regularity of jellyish monstrosities drawn to a resonator, the well-received TV drama, True Detective, teased elements from The King in Yellow, which was a huge influence on Lovecraft’s own writings, and now rumors abound that HPL himself will pop up in a planned Houdini biopic.
This led me to a couple of conclusions. One, there would be a built-in audience for my planned book, and two, I would have to make my book stand out from the crowd. This is why, when Brian pitched his ‘dark magic’ angle, I leapt at the chance to pursue it.
A great many of the books in the market at the moment deal with the physical conflict between humans and the Elder Gods, and rightly so. The very nature of cosmic horror lends an epic quality to even the shortest of tales and hugely entertaining anthologies abound that place the Mythos in historic, contemporary, and even futuristic settings.
However, the idea of a collection of stories that dealt with the more magical aspects of Lovecraft’s tales, smaller, more intimate stories that explored the consequences of humans meddling in powers beyond their understanding, appealed to me.
Here was an opportunity to expand upon the varying manifestations of sorcery and magic in Lovecraft’s tales, whether it took the form of the more mathematical conjuring described in “Dreams in the Witch House,” the Hermeticism of “Charles Dexter Ward,” or the more traditional dark arts described in “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Thing on the Doorstep.”
My editor and I knew from the outset that we wanted to read stories that addressed the instigation of monstrous events, rather than the events themselves, and to this end we stipulated that the stories should focus on the books and potions, sigils, incantations, instruments, and ceremonies that are mishandled and abused in a questionable thirst for knowledge.
The guidelines also suggested that the authors consider adding a ‘Hammer-esque’ tinge to their stories, as I wanted the book to echo the luridly pulpy tales I grew up with, reflected in my design for the book cover. Brian reached out to an extraordinary roster of authors, resulting in a ‘dream-team’ for my first publishing outing (see below) and the resulting collection of stories turned out to be as eclectic as I’d hoped, ranging from procedural investigations into dark occurrences through apocalyptic visions and tales of obsession to other-worldly tales of treachery and naivety.
As flagship publications go, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and I hope that, if you do take a dip in the infested waters of The Dark Rites of Cthulhu, you’ll have a grand old time, before you rise, kicking and screaming, for a large gulp of fresh air.
The Dark Rites of Cthulhu features new short stories from; William Meikle, Jeffrey Thomas, Robert M. Price, Glynn Barrass, Ed Erdelac, Brian M. Sammons, Don Webb, John Goodrich, T.E. Grau, C.J. Henderson, Pete Rawlik, Sam Stone, Tom Lynch, Scott T. Goudsward, Christine Morgan, and Josh Reynolds.
Available to buy at www.AprilMoonBooks.com
Neil Baker is the publisher of April Moon Books. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.