I was thinking last night about all the times Mary and I have visited the various H.P. Lovecraft sites in Providence. Here we are with Nicholas Kaufmann, Dave Thomas, Charles R. Rutledge, Paul Tremblay, and Alexa Antopol at the entrance to the John Hay Library at Brown University, which houses all of Lovecraft’s papers and manuscripts and correspondence.
Good morning. My name is Brian Keene and this is the 263rd issue of Letters From the Labyrinth — a weekly newsletter for fans of my work. Previous issues can be found here.
My reminiscing about our various excursions into HP Lovecraft tourism comes from two things.
The first is that Mary, myself, my ex-wife, and my parents attended my youngest son’s holiday band concert on Friday night. It’s the first school event like that we’ve al attended since the pandemic started. My ex-wife and I went to his home football games earlier in the year, but we sat atop a hill, far away from the mostly unmasked crowd. Friday night was different. The five of us sat in a crowded auditorium. I sat between the girls, and my parents sat on the end. We all wore our masks, and I would estimate that about 45% of the other attendees were masked, as well. That’s less than half, but also surprisingly high for this area where education and jobs are substandard, and Facebook conspiracy theories run high.
The problem was the darkness. There, in the dark auditorium, when the band would pause between Christmas songs, a singular stillness settled over the crowd, and that was when you heard the coughing. Not from one sick person, either. No, this was coughing in surround-sound, coming from all directions. Rumbling, phlegmatic, dry — the quality of the coughs ran the gambit. Some of them were undoubtedly smokers, or the common cold. Others were most likely Covid.
We left after the band was done and the choir came on (because he’s not in choir and thus, was backstage for the rest of the night). I ran Mary and my ex-wife back to my ex-wife’s house. Then I came back to the school and waited for the event to be over. And by waited, I mean I waited outside in my car, with the window rolled down, because it was sixty degrees last night. My son texted me when the show was over, letting me know he was on his way out to the car. While I waited, I watched the people emerging from the school, and I listened to their coughing. My son got in the car, took off his mask, and took a long, shuddering breath. I knew exactly how he felt.
Then I took my son home, and found that — left alone to their own devices — Mary and my ex-wife had swapped pants. Seriously. They were sitting on the couch together, grinning that powerful, secret, knowing grin that only women can manage, and wearing each others pants, and that — dear reader — was just too weird for me, so my brain checked out for the rest of the night. And that was nice, because then I wasn’t thinking about the pandemic.
But I started thinking about the pandemic again on Saturday, thanks to this Tweet by Charles R. Rutledge.
This made me laugh hard, because I’d forgotten all about it. A bunch of us did indeed visit H.P. Lovecraft’s home one year, on one of our Lovecraft excursions, and we’d taken two cars. If my memory serves, I was driving my car, accompanied by Mary, Rio Youers, and Bev Vincent. And we left before the others did. And as we passed by the house, I saw them all still standing outside and I rolled the window down and yelled that. And much laughter was had by all.
I miss that. I miss my friends. I miss having adventures. John Urbancik and I were talking last week about how nobody describes themselves as an ‘Adventurer’ anymore. In the 1970s, when we were kids, there were actual adventurers — people whose job was going around the world and exploring things and having adventures. Thor Heyerdahl. Jacques Cousteau. Evel Knievel. These days, John and I were hard pressed to come up with any modern adventurers, other than ourselves, or maybe James Cameron or Richard Branson. But those two never invite the two of us along on their adventures into space or to the bottom of the ocean.
I miss having adventures, and I miss my friends, and given that Covid has already taken a few of my friends away from me, and given that Covid has also prevented me from seeing other friends who passed from non-Covid things, I’m beginning to wonder how many more friends will be gone before we get to have adventures together again. Because this pandemic?
This pandemic is just getting started…
We are in this for the long haul.
Anyway, here’s some more photos of me and my friends at various Lovecraft sites.
Here’s Mary and I at Lovecraft’s grave.
And here are James A. Moore, Paul Tremblay, Charles Rutledge, Mary, Alexa Antopol, and Nicholas Kaufmann in front of Lovecraft’s house, about 45 minutes before the drive-by Charles mentioned in his Tweet. Charles was the only one of us with quarters, so he was plugging the meter.
On another trip and another year, here are Mary, Bev Vincent and myself at The Shunned House, and the house itself.
The look of joy on my face in this next photo is because the curator of the John Hay Library just brought out Lovecraft’s manuscript for “At The Mountains of Madness” and I got to see it and smell it and breathe it in.
Here’s anther pic from inside the library. Charles Rutledge, Paul Tremblay, Dave Thomas, myself, Mary, Alexa Antopol, and James Moore, along with the curator.
Good times, with good friends.
I hope we get to have adventures again.
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Not much to report, work-wise. This past week was spent still typing away at PROJECT CASTLE and THE RISING: MORE SELECTED SCENES FROM THE END OF THE WORLD, as well as the second draft of SUBMERGED: THE LABYRINTH, Book 2. This coming week it will be more of the same.
Paul Campion and I got a bunch of production notes back for the film version of THE CAGE. We ae trying very hard to keep this “in development” rather than “in development hell”.
I optioned out URBAN GOTHIC this past week, and with that, it now becomes my most “optioned out novel that never ends up getting turned into a film”. This is the fifth time I’ve optioned the movie rights for that book. Maybe this time will be the charm. I also have a Zoom meeting next week about DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN (which, at one point long ago, was under option by Scott Derrickson, but never got developed). That seems to be the story of my career — everything gets optioned, but only a handful actually get made.
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Thunderstorm Books reports that the signed, limited edition hardcover of TERMINAL began shipping last week nd will continue shipping this week.
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EL ALZAMIENTO INTEGRAL is a new Spanish-language omnibus that collects THE RISING, CITY OF THE DEAD, THE RISING: DELIVERANCE, and DEAD SEA (even though the latter isn’t part of that series). You can download it to Kindle via Amazon US or Amazon Spain.
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Because you demanded it — CLICKERS II: THE NEXT WAVE by J.F. Gonzalez and myself, is now available in audiobook, narrated by Chet Williamson. Click here to start listening. I’m not going to post the cover, because I just bombarded you with a bunch of pics, and the audiobook cover is the same as it is for the paperback and other editions.
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But I will show off the cover for the sixth book in the Clickers series — CLICKERS NEVER DIE — which will be out in hardcover shortly from Thunderstorm Books, and in paperback, ebook and audiobook next year from Crossroads Press.
The hardcover also contains an Introduction by me.
This takes place in its own continuity — a reboot, of sorts. But a clever reboot with lots of Easter Eggs for longtime fans. The novel is set during World War Two, and it is absolutely bonkers and brilliant. Seriously. Stephen and Wile did a fantastic job of capturing what made Clickers so special and beloved by its legions of fans, and I can’t wait for you all to read it.
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CURRENTLY LISTENING: Extraterrestrial Live — Blue Oyster Cult
CURRENTLY WATCHING: South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid
CURRENTLY READING: The latest issue of The Fortean Times
I’m loving the two South Park: Post Covid specials. Genuinely the best thing I watched this year. And this latest episode, with the revelation of what happened to Butters as an adult, and the final fate of Cartman… it’s so chillingly dark. Great writing and voice acting, fun premise, and some of their most blisteringly brutal and funny and spot on social commentary they’ve ever done. I suspect Trey and Matt’s version of the future is more closer to the real thing than any of the science fiction classics. Denny’s Applebee’s Max, indeed…
I guess things will return to “normal” now, but I do hope we see these adult versions of the characters again, because I loved every moment with them.
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On the latest episode of DEFENDERS DIALOGUE, my co-host Christopher Golden reminisces about working with Gene Colan on Marvel's Blade, and then we discuss Giant-Size Chillers issue one, featuring Dracula and the debut of Lilith! Available for free wherever you listen to podcasts and via this link.
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Spike has finally made peace with his three new little siblings, and now plays with them and show them some affection and lets them tag long with him.
Stripe likes warm tea. He watches while Mary adds the milk and the Splenda, and then he waits patiently for it to cool down. Then, the moment her back is turned, he thrusts his entire face into the mug and laps up as much as she can before she catches him, at which point she has to pour the remainder into the sink and make a fresh mug. And then the dance begins anew.
Dallas, meanwhile, has taken to drinking out of the fish tank. He then tries to give me affectionate little fish tank kisses, which is as revolting as it sounds.
(And they have plenty of sources of fresh water, which are all changed daily. I don’t know why these two prefer tea and fish tank water).
Bubbles continues to be too smart for her own good, opening doors and studying how everything works. This week, I caught her trying to hook her paw under the refrigerator door in an attempt to open it.
Outside, Josie continues to live peacefully and in comfort. My neighbors leave for Florida this week (where they spend their winters), so on Friday, my neighbor gave me all of the cat food she had on hand for Josie. While we were talking, we figured out that Josie has been splitting her time between the box shelter on my front porch, and a small crawlspace beneath the neighbor’s hot tub, which stays at a toasty 70 degrees all winter long.
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Congratulations to Wes and Katie Southard on the arrival of their son. Born Friday night at 7:38pm, seven pounds and twelve ounces. All three are doing great! Mary and I have been promised babysitting duties, so I’m looking forward to that.
This, of course, would be a really good time to buy a book by Wes and financially support the family. I recommend CRUEL SUMMER (paperback, audiobook, and e-book here), or if you’ve read that one already, then I recommend THE FINAL GATE (co-written with Lucas Mangum and available in paperback and ebook here).
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And that’s a good note to end things on this week, I think. A bit more positive and uplifting than the newsletter’s start. I hope that all of you have a safe and happy holiday season. Maybe you can download CLICKERS II on audiobook and listen to it while on the way to your grandmother’s house.
I’ll see you back here next Sunday!
I think of Forrest Galante as an adventurer. The guy who hunts fir nearly extinct animals. I have his book. I should read it!
I really appreciate you giving a shoutout to The Final Gate. That was fun to work on, and Wes is a great writer.