Tag Archives: She Walks in Shadows

Vale, Howard Philips Lovecraft

HP Lovecraft cameo by Bryan Moore, with Grenadier Miniatures Cthulhu

I originally wrote this for HPL’s 130th birthday, on 20 August 2020, while we were on blogging hiatus. Today is 15 March 2021, the anniversary of his death in 1937, so he is on my mind again.

Vale, Howard Philips Lovecraft, you complicated old soul. 130 years of age and you don’t look a day over strange aeons.

What a slithering mass of contradictions you were. Your views on non-Anglo peoples and cultures were reprehensible, and fill me with more horror than an Antarctic tunnel full of Shoggoth. That outlook infuses your work, poisons it, making some stories unreadable when I first encountered them 35 years ago and trust me they have not improved with age.

But you had kindness in you. You’d write to anyone, mentor anyone, with patience and humour (and occasionally some unfortunate rants). You were the original creative collaborator, cheerfully sharing monsters and forbidden tomes with your chums in the small press and using theirs in turn, killing each other off in gleeful ways.

And the stories… we’re revisiting them again lately, or listening with rapt attention to the readings by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. There’s your voice, written or tapped out one word at a time in your cold and lonely room some ninety years ago, a voice at once confident and anxious, pouring on sensation after sensation by adjective after adjective until I feel trapped, suffocated, desperate to learn what is about to happen and terrified of what I’ll know when I do. Great horror needs conviction and your writing has it, even that ridiculous one about Dr. West.

I am sad that you didn’t get a chance to grow as a person or even into your senior years. You died at 46, an Old Gent before your time (Grandpa to all in your circle), in poverty and terrible diet, with little regard for the quality of your work and never enjoying great success with it. If you could see Cthulhu now, you’d chuckle, in a language we could not read nor speak.

I owe you so much, HPL. I’ve made so many dear friends, global travel, a life’s work of stories I’ve spun in your long dark shadow. You passed on so much to me that I can never forsake you, but you’ll get a scolding from time to time believe me, as should all racist literary uncles.

I’m so pleased to see your visions and horrors told anew by creators who are inspired by your ideas but reject your exclusions. I love the anthologies Heroes of Red Hook edited by Oscar Rios and She Walks in Shadows edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, which give voices to the people you left out of your fiction. I love the work that Mike Mason and Lynne Hardy at Chaosium did to rebalance Masks of Nyarlathotep, a seminal work of roleplaying from the 1980s but which in parts was still a bit too close to your outlook. And of course the towering work that is Harlem Unbound by Chris Spivey, the most unflinching and passionate reply yet. Thus we refute Lovecraft.

So, I’ll raise an ice cream to you Howard, not one from Chauncey’s of Hope Valley R.I. as you once wrote about with great delight to a friend (120 flavours!). In fact it’s a Vegan Cornetto and frankly I’m glad don’t have to hear your opinions on that, but thanks for all that you gave me. I cannot and will not forget it.

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The Blog of Many Covers

This is the story of how books can go strange, far places, change their covers and yet stay the same.

In 2016 I was lucky enough to have a story included in She Walks in Shadows, the first all-woman Lovecraftian anthology, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles of Innsmouth Free Press. If you don’t have a copy of this you can get the e-book by supporting Silvia’s Patreon at the $2 level. Bargain.

She Walks in Shadows

She Walks in Shadows

Silvia started the project because people were wondering about the paucity of female writers being published in Lovecraftian anthologies. You can read her musings on the reasons on her blog page. Two years after publication the stories that stay with me are ‘Eight Seconds’, by Pandora Hope, which shows just how long a mother’s love needs to last, and ‘The Thing in the Cheerleading Squad’ by Molly Tanzer, a terrific retake on ‘The Thing on the Doorstep’. Silvia was a really wonderful editor who has gone out of her way to keep us in touch with the project as it moved through its various incarnations.

My story, ‘Turn Out the Lights’ was a speculative tale on the life of Sarah Phillips Lovecraft, Howard’s mother. The story is available as a free sampleShe Walks in Shadows went on to win the World Fantasy Award for best anthology 2016, edging out Chaosium’s King in Yellow anthology, Cassilda’s Song, edited by Joseph S. Pulver.

She Walks in Shadows was reprinted in America (same stories, different cover) as Cthulhu’s Daughters.

Cthulhu's Daughters

Cthulhu’s Daughters

The anthology has has now been translated into Turkish, and has yet another very cool cover. But, no I don’t know what ‘Golgede Yuruyen Kiz’ means either. I’m assuming it means She Walks in Shadows but Google Translate confidently tells me the word in the middle means ‘Screaming’. So let’s not go there.

She Walks In Shadows, Turkish Cover

She Walks In Shadows, in Turkish.

However perhaps 2019 is Chaosium’s year as they are releasing Sisterhood, edited by Nate Peterson. Sisterhood includes my story, ‘Unburdened Flesh’, a strange tale of a Venetian nunnery during time of plague. It was inspired by the alternative history which we created for Venice in Horror on the Orient Express, and explores the history of the outre Brotherhood of the Skin.


We’re all sisters, under the skin.

I’ve been in quite a few anthologies, but Mark’s favorite cover is from Tales of Cthulhu Invictus by Golden Goblin Press. The collection features stories set in Ancient Rome and the cover is a re-imagining of the classic ending of ‘Call of Cthulhu’ but with Cthulhu menacing a trireme. And for my part, I’m quite pleased with my story too, ‘Magnum Innominandum’, about a patrician noblewoman dealing with a little slave problem. Suffice to say it ends with madness, death, despair and toads.

Tales of Cthulhu Invictus

Cthulhu is not amused.


In other literature-related news, another of my Horror on the Orient Express co-authors is also writing fiction. Geoff Gillan, who masterminded the plot for the entire campaign, has just started self-publishing his own new series, The Man from Z.O.M.B.I.E. This is the undead Cold War spy thriller you’ve been dying to read – just like the lead character.

The Man from Z.O.M.B.I.E.

The Man from Z.O.M.B.I.E.

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