Saturday, November 1, 2014

The New Project

Years ago, I created an alternate universe version of Lavinia Whateley who survived the Dunwich Horror incident and continued to live on in secret. I did a lot of background work for it and even role-played the character here and there, but the actual project never materialized. It got shelved, along with several others, as I tried to focus on two other novels I was revising. I tend to be the kind of person who comes up with too many story ideas to focus on at once, so this was nothing unusual.
"Somebody get me a goddamn drink."

Recently, however, my partner made contact with his long lost (hasn't seen since he was four) mom, and she turned out to be a horror writer as well. We both love Lovecraft, and the idea of co-writing something in the Mythos came up. I did a write-up of Lavinia's alternative history, and the idea took off from there. Right now I am working on the first chapter of a tongue-in-cheek modern Mythos story involving Lavinia, a plucky and very eccentric supernatural investigator, the obligatory horrible cultists, and an escaped pet that isn't exactly a poodle.

Lovecraft lends itself so well to black humor that I'm surprised that it doesn't get that treatment more often. I think the key is to keep that same undertone of doomed-world desolation, and the constant struggle against madness and evil, that exists in the original. You can't just take the trappings and go goofy with it.  You have to use humor, in large part anyway, as a coping mechanism, both for the reader and the characters. You have to portray these characters as living in a darker world than our own--one which may not technically be on the brink of destruction, but has a bunch of crazy idiots running around on it who would very much like to push it there.

My Lavinia, partly out of a deep hatred for her father and elder son, has no patience for doomsday cultists. She is a snarky, embittered, pot-smoking, semi-recovering alcoholic who has made her peace with the fact that the world will someday end, yet has no desire to help the process along. She likes being an obsessively scholarly, slightly batty immortal witch. And even though she has a terrifying side to her, most of the time she just wants to pore over her hoard of occult books, play with her familiar and surf the Net. Unfortunately, as the only Whateley with any conscience or interest in her neighbors, she also has to do things like go out and kill whatever monster has decided to nest in the hills lately. (She then tends to eat or sacrifice them. She's still a quarter Deep One.)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to plowing through this chapter, and it's high time I get back to it. One of the best things about co-writing is that you have someone waiting on the next chapter. That's a great motivator!

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