Name: Travis King
Author of: “Dreamlands of Mars”
Geographic Location: Pacific Northwest
Past publications: Print: Waves: A Journal of Literary and Visual Arts; Open Ways. Online: Every Day Fiction; eMuse; Eclectic Flash; another Lovecraftian tale, “The Doom That Came to Yamatai” was published recently at Innsmouth Free Press. Forthcoming: “The Cost of Living” in the charity anthology Farrago, edited by Jennifer Hudock.
What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? Wow, you know, it’s really hard to choose. There’s no way I can pick just one. I really enjoy the tales from his Dream Cycle: “The Doom that Came to Sarnath,” “The Cats of Ulthar,” things like that. They were influenced by Dunsany and have that same sort of lyrical, mythical quality to them, unlike the Cthulhu Mythos itself, wherein Lovecraft mixes fantasy with science and rationalizes the Elder Gods as extraterrestrials.
What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is a scene like that from Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife or a Japanese hentai film, but there’s really a lot more to it than that; my own story doesn’t involve tentacles at all. To me, erotica isn’t just about the sex—not even just about the people or entities involved. It’s about the sensuality to be found in the whole experience, the place and time, the characters’ surroundings. Lovecraft created worlds that mirrored our own in a way, yet were demonstrably different—sometimes subtly, sometimes more overtly. They are worlds that move the reader beyond the rational into the experiential. They offer a full, rich, sensual experience, and that’s the foundation of a good erotic tale.
How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? I don’t remember exactly, but it was on Twitter, that much is certain. Twitter is a great place to hear about contests and calls for submission. I follow a number of publishers, editors, and fellow writers, and through them I come across this kind of news on a weekly, if not daily, basis. I know some people think Twitter’s a fad and don’t see the appeal, but I’ve made many literary connections there, and I feel it presents amazing opportunities for a professional writer to connect with others in the field and with readers.
What inspired your story? It was influenced primarily by the Randolph Carter tales of Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle and by the story “In the Walls of Eryx,” which was Lovecraft’s only venture into the field of traditional science fiction. I was originally going to have it set on Venus, as “Eryx” was, complete with the pulp-era descriptions of life on that planet, but then I decided to stick to the science we know now, and in homage to Burroughs, who also wrote of a man named Carter, I moved the setting Mars, setting part of it in a projected future about 80 years from now and another part in the distant past, when, at least for purposes of the story, alien life was abundant.
What music or movies helped you to write this story? While music and film have influenced some of my writing, this time around they weren’t a conscious contribution at all. I didn’t even have music playing as I wrote it. For this story, I just kept going back to Lovecraft’s original works mentioned above.
How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I have five drafts saved to my hard drive. Most of these were written in the last couple of days before the deadline. I really don’t recommend waiting so long to work on a story unless undue stress and sleeplessness are the sort of thing you find enjoyable.
What is your favorite bit?
She pressed her lips to mine. They were slick with a thin layer of balm and tasted of honey; that erotic fire one feels at the kiss of a beloved partner coursed through my veins, centering in the sensitive cleft between my legs. I kissed back, and after a few seconds, she drew away. I was both astounded by the familiarity of the greeting and saddened that it had to end. Then the man took her place….