March 15th, 1937 – the day of HP Lovecraft’s death. Has any figure influenced weird / horror / supernatural fiction greater than this man? I honestly don’t think so. Even if you don’t know who he is (shame on you!), his themes run rampant throughout much of the horror genre.
I first heard of HPL’s work via Metallica. I was 13 years old, and had just heard Ride the Lightning. The last track – The Call of Ktulu – intrigued me, and so I decided to find out about this ‘Ktulu’. Now, bearing in mind this was back in 1990 and the internet did not exist, I wasn’t all that successful. But I did happen to read an interview with the band that hinted to Lovecraft’s dark works.
At that point, even without reading a word, I was hooked.
I found my first Lovecraft tale in a gothic horror anthology a year later, at the age of 14. Consequently, The Dulwich Horror is one of my favourite tales. I was firmly in my ‘horror’ stage at this point, reading voraciously anything that had a black cover with something lurid painted upon it, but where a lot of the writers I usually read resorted to gore or cheap jumps, there was something genuinely unsettling about Lovecraft’s nihilistic world view – that we are not alone, and that in the grand scheme of things, we just don’t matter. It also appealed to my own obsession with things beyond the normal sphere of human experience – alternate realities, forbidden lore, chaos magick (basically anything ‘weird’, ranging from ancient life to occultism. If it’s weird, I like it) – and I’ve never looked back.
So, if you’ve never entered the weird, unsettling and decidedly purple world of HP Lovecraft: The Complete Works of Lovecraft
… go on. I dare you.