When I was sixteen years old, like anyone new to Lovecraft, I sought out everything the man and his contemporaries in the Lovecraft Circle had written. I made weekly rounds to nearby bookstores, new and used, hoping for anything new to read. See, this was before the mainstreaming and widespread use of the internet, before easy access to Lovecraftian canon (sort to speak), when a hope for something, anything, “new” by the Great Old Gent was understandable, even if not realistic. Each bookstore had a request to contact me if anything new came in.
So when Waldenbooks called that they had something that might interest me, I was there screaming “shut up and take my money!” before the nice clerk was finished speaking. What I got was Chaosium’s The Shub-Niggurath Cycle anthology. Chaosium, for those of you not in the know, make the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. That RPG is a reason a lot of us nerds even know who Lovecraft is. They were keeping the torch lit when being a Lovecraft fan wasn’t so cool, when Cthulhu was just a misspelled word in the title of a Metallica song. Being a neophyte to the genre, some of the names in the table of contents I recognized but quite a few I didn’t. Those names I didn’t recognize, well those were people who were not contemporaries with Lovecraft who were keeping his ideas alive through their own works. Something clicked in my head. If these bums can do it, a bum like me can too! Not to imply that any of those fine writers were bums in any sort of way, but you get the point.
Fast forward almost two decades, filled with girlfriends, a marriage, a divorce, a kid, lots of sex and alcohol. I hit my thirties and I’m arrogant enough to think that people will actually want to read the crap I’ve written. So I start taking this writing thing seriously. At 31, I make my first sell (that ended up being for an anthology that folded. I’d re-sell the story at 33…in the fun So Long and Thanks for All the Brains anthology). Then, a few months ago, I see call for an anthology. An anthology I really want to be in. The writer thing is done, idea, draft, stress over the edits, hover the mouse over the SEND button, re-check the manuscript, hover over the mouse-button again, have a really stiff drink, have another, then send the story. As you can guess, I barely made the deadline.
A short time later, I hear from the editors. ”…we’re pleased to inform you that we’d like to accept “The Flute Players” for the anthology.”18 years after the Shub-Niggurath Cycle made me realize I can do this too, three years after my first sell, I’m back where it started.
Soon, my story “The Flute Players” will be appearing in The Edge of Sundown, an anthology of Western horror stories, published by Chaosium.