A new novella

Yesterday, after over four months of work, I finally completed my portion of “In the Gulfs of Dream,” a story I’m collaborating on with W. H. Pugmire for our forthcoming weird fiction collection from Dark Renaissance Books, Spectres of Lovecraftian Horror.  “Gulfs” began as a very good short story of about 9,100 words that Wilum sent me in early April.  His tale, which is set in H. P. Lovecraft’s alternate dimension, the dreamland, was complete and masterfully crafted as-is and didn’t need any help from me, but Wilum suggested that perhaps I could find a way to expand upon it.  I read his manuscript through several times and decided that it was so tightly structured there was no graceful way I could add to any part of his story without damaging what he had already created, so I took a different approach.  I found several places where his narrative could be broken into discrete sections.  These are points where a character enters or leaves, or there is a change of local setting within the  dreamland region.  Then I created a whole new story of my own using different characters from his, that takes place in other parts of the dreamland, simultaneously with but separate from his story.  While I make some passing references to his characters, at no point do they all meet up and interact in one scene, although there was always that potential.  I attempted to weave my story into his, to intertwine the two narratives so as to form one larger, broader story encompassing all of the characters.  I also attempted to counter-balance his highly unusual characters, who are supernatural beings largely concerned with the metaphysical state of their souls, with my more mundane characters who are simple human beings with normal human concerns.  My main character is one who plays a minor role in our recently published Lovecraftian novella, The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal (Dark Renaissance Books.)  In this new story, the reader learns more about this complex female character — the sensitive inner person hidden below the surface of her flinty public personality.  I really love this character —  Penelope Armitage — and had a great time writing about her again.  I think my contribution to this new story is strong, in that it deals with her troubled past and her unresolved emotional issues.  Wilum is pleased with our new story and thinks readers will like it, and I certainly hope he’s right.  The story grew and grew as I worked on it and now it’s about 20,400 words, just qualifying as a novella.  We previously wrote another collaborative short story for the same collection, titled “The Stairway In The Crypt.”  That one took me three months to write my part and ended up being 9,200 words long.  As with “Gulfs,” “Crypt” began as a perfectly good, complete, well-crafted story by Wilum alone.  He suggested that I add something at the very beginning — action that would proceed his story — something that might add more mystery to what he’d written.  He had some ideas for my setting, which I very much liked and used.  Basically, I went back in time and wrote the “back story” to his tale, designing my part so as to logically lead up to what later happens in his narrative, while hopefully adding emotional depth and complexity to what he’d already written.  Wilum’s fiction practically drips with raw emotion, so this was quite a challenge, but I believe I succeeded.   The completed tale draws upon ideas found in works by Lovecraft as well as Poe.  I had always wanted to write something loosely based on Poe’s poem “Ulalume” and this turned out to be the perfect vehicle for that.  We also tapped into Poe’s short stories “The Masque of the Red Death” and “Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,”  as well as his poem “Annabel Lee,” and Lovecraft’s short story “The Unnamable.”  “The Stairway In The Crypt” is intended for inclusion in Spectres of Lovecraftian Horror, although our editor hasn’t yet accepted it for that.  With these two collaborative stories and several individual short stories from each of us, we are done with the book, unless the editor passes on some of the work previously submitted, or on this new short novella.  Later, we want to write a sequel to The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal, but that book is still in the very early stages of planning, and so far we don’t even have a bare bones plot for it — just a notion of what the feel of the book should be, and some of the characters we might use.  We want it to be a totally different story from Rebecca Pascal, although some of the characters from Rebecca Pascal will also appear in this sequel.  The action in our new novella “In the Gulfs of Dream” takes place between the end of the first novella and the beginning of the sequel, which will be either a longer novella or a full length novel.  I feel very lucky to be working with Wilum Pugmire on all of these collaborations.

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About David Barker

David Barker is the author of two works of weird horror fiction written in collaboration with W. H. Pugmire: The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal and In the Gulfs of Dream & Other Lovecraftian Tales (both books were published by the now defunct Dark Renaissance Books, but copies are still available from Dark Regions Press.) Barker and Pugmire also collaborated on a Lovecraftian horror novel, Witches In Dreamland, which will be published by Hippocampus Press, possibly in late 2017. Recently, his stories and poems have appeared in Fungi, Cyaegha, Spectral Realms, The Art Mephitic, The Audient Void, The Indiscriminate Mixture and on Shoggoth.net. He has a short story in the weird fiction anthology, Nightmare's Realm, edited by S. T. Joshi and published in 2017 by Dark Regions Press. He also has published several works of horror and bizarro fiction as Kindle ebooks, including the bizarro zombie novel Dead Guys in Packards. Together with Jordan Hofer, David Barker has written two nonfiction books about UFOs and alien abduction: Little Gray Bastards (published in 2016 by Schiffer Publishing) and Unidentifiable Flying Objects (due in Fall 2017 from Schiffer.)
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