A Taste of Our Tales

Wondering what each of the stories in Cthulhurotica is about?

* “The Cry in the Darkness” – After Wilbur Whateley’s death, young Mamie Bishop pins her hopes for a happy life on a simple farmhand. He soon discovers his new wife isn’t satisfied at home, and makes her way through the darkness each night to an unspeakable mate.

* “Optional on the Beach at the Festival of Shug Niggurath” – Nyarlothotep was expecting nothing more than a pleasant weekend in a seaside tourist town, but instead finds a charming young distraction.

* “Le Ciél Ouvert” by Kirsten Brown – Five years after the rift opens in the skies above Arkham, the last sane survivor decides to renegotiate her relationship with the abyss, on her terms.

* “The Summoned” by Clint Collins – After Henry Wilcox’s unexpected breakdown, his college friends discover his strange obsessions. Pamela, a young sculptor with a taste for the unusual, uses Henry’s designs to build herself a firm and fleshy monster of her own.

* “The Fishwives of Sean Brolly” by Nathan Crowder – Linda thinks her submissive husband makes a better assistant than a lover, but while she’s distracted by her latest writing project, he discovers the women of his dreams.

* “Between a Rock and an Elder Goddess” by Mae Empson – Dennis has spent his whole life studying ancient texts, searching out mysteries. When he finally finds one, she’s tentacled, seductive, and far more mysterious than he’d imagined.

* “Ipsa Scientia” – Kara finally meets a man whose knowledge of physics is out of this world.

* “Infernal Attractors”  – When sexy Shirley comes to him with a handful of government secrets and a taste for danger, Marc builds a strange machine to win her love.

* “The Descent of the Wayward Sister” by Gabrielle Harbowy – A curious sister with a taste for the underbelly of society comes visiting her wealthy, educated, brother, and finds his secrets are not as well-kept as they should be.

* “Tuning In, Turning On, and Dropping Out at the Mountains of Madness” – Euphoria thought spending in the 70s in Ashland, OR, would be a far-out trip, man. She soon discovers a god among men, and a star in the stone.

* “The Dreamlands of Mars” – Far in the future, a young woman’s life on dry, boring, Mars changes when her father’s mysterious silver key arrives to take her to a greener place.

* “Riemannian Dreams” – An academic’s dreams turn unbearably erotic, and as he struggles to understand their meaning, he receives a pair of visitors who want something more than sex from him.

* “Sense” – A tempting wife and a missing professor fuel this gritty noir adventure through car chases, motel sheets, and betrayal.

* “Song of the Catherine Clark” – Dryden’s been searching his whole life for the mysterious Catherine Clark. When he finally finds the Clark, and her provacative masthead, he discovers the ship’s terrible hunger can’t be denied.

* “Flash Frame” – A freelance reporter in Mexico City discovers a rare art film with mysterious powers. As the film plays, a dream invades the viewers’ lives. The dream is yellow.

* “The C-Word” – Elliot left Anna Waite-Saothwick, and Innsmouth, behind when she broke off their relationship. A massive storm reunites the lovers, but Elliot finds Anna’s connection to the ocean, and Devil’s Reef, is more profound than he’d ever guessed.

* “The Lake at Roopkund” – When Isha’s college roommate at Miskatonic U comes to India for a visit, resentful husband Jaswinder insists on inviting himself to their party, but doesn’t get what he came for.

* “The Assistant from Innsmouth” – In the fall of 1937, a young clerk is sent to catalogue the Whateley estate. He discovers, amongst the strange objects and ornate books, a woman whose presence puts him in a position he didn’t expect.

* “Transfigured Night” – When Vic’s ship crashes on a desolate island, and his friend’s life is lost, he thinks things can’t get any worse. Then he discovers a beautiful dead boy, an underground temple, and what comes after “worse”.

* “Amid Disquieting Dreams” – Jim’s Fisheater has been coming to him, in dreams, for years. The dreams are terrible, filled with blood, fear and death, and eventually, Jim can’t tell the difference between dream and reality any longer.

* “Daddy’s Girl” – Milleu’s father is a half-human, half-tentacled monster, and the family business is a special kind of slave trade. When forced to rush her latest project on account of a deadline, her dark humor pushes her to make a monstrous decision of her own.

Interview: Don Pizarro

Name: Don Pizarro

Author of: “The C-Word”

Age: As Dennis said in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m 37, I’m not old.”

Geographic Location: Upstate New York

Original Hometown, if different: A small ‘burb on the shores of beautiful Lake Erie–which did not catch fire by the way.  That was the Cuyahoga River.

Twitter: @DonP

Website: www.warmfuzzyfreudianslippers.com

Past publications: My most recent are “Sublimation,” Rigor Amortis, October 2010, “Combat Stress Reaction,” Crossed Genres, June 2010, “Intermezzo,” Everyday Weirdness, May 2010, “Tough Love,” Reflection’s Edge, July 2009, “Good for the Gander,” Fantasy Magazine, May 2009

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? Actually, it’s Rod Serling’s adaptation of HPL’s non-Mythos story “Cool Air” for the series Night Gallery — a subject I plan on delving into for a future nonfiction project!

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? I had the image of C’thulhu’s tentacles in various orifices.  Which, because of my lack of familiarity with the Mythos, actually turned me off.  Not that I’m against things in orifices by any means, but the thought of writing “‘Lovecraft’ + ‘Erotica'” required a knowledge that I just didn’t have – at the time.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? Right on the heels of my last “weird erotica” publication, I heard about this other one through the editor talking about it on Twitter.  I guess my eyes were just peeled for anything called <genre-trope>-rotica.

What inspired your story? Having resolved that I wasn’t going to write for Cthulhurotica, I decided it was long past time that I at least found out more about H.P. Lovecraft.  Especially since, several weeks before I heard of the anthology, I’d taken the name “D.P. Lovecraft” for my role as a Non-Skating Official in my local roller derby league.  Anyway, I started by looking up “Deep Ones” on Wikipedia, and then the ideas just started rolling in.  So much for my resolve.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? My soundtrack for “The C-Word”:

  • The New Pornographers, “Failsafe”
  • Eleni Mandell, “Bigger Burn”
  • Manic Street Preachers, “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”
  • Arcade Fire, “Ocean of Noise”
  • Air, “The Word ‘Hurricane'”
  • Cassandra Wilson, “A Little Warm Death”
  • The Blue Nile, “Body and Soul”
  • Genesis, “Domino, Pt. 1 – In the Glow of the Night/Pt. 2 – The Last Domino”

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Three or four, at least.

What is your favorite bit? The point at which the main character, Elliot, starts to get a glimpse of everything he was inadvertently fighting for:

Anna slipped her hand from mine and faced out toward Devil’s Reef.  She cupped her hands and shouted some words I couldn’t understand, but that reminded me of her mumbling last night.  And unless I was hearing things, she was answered, from the Reef, with the most bizarre and disturbing sound I had ever heard.

Interview: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Name: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Author of: “Flash Frame”

Age: Unspeakable. Sorry!

Geographic Location: Vancouver, Canada

Original Hometown, if different: Mexico

Twitter: @silviamg

Website: http://silviamoreno-garcia.com

Past publications: Fantasy Magazine, Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction, Tesseracts 13, Futurismic, Shimmer and lots, lots more

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” ( that’s probably why I am one of the founders of Innsmouth Free Press) and “The Colour Out of Space.” There’s something about evil- glowing meteorites that makes my heart go a bit faster. Non-Lovecraft, I think “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner is very scary. It just creeped the hell out of me and I don’t even understand why. Something about the bizarre constructions made out of twigs.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? Um … tentacles? I am actually very afraid of Cthulhu mixed with erotica, and I’m note quite sure what to expect when I crack open my contributor’s copy, but I think I ended up overcoming my fears because I had an idea that just wouldn’t let go. I’m not sure if the final result is erotic, though. I think of it as deeply paranoid and confused. In a good way.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? Through the magic of Twitter.

What inspired your story? Several things. I was remembering what it was like being a journalist in Mexico City. I am a third-generation communications gal. My grandfather was a radio announcer during the Golden Age of radio, my parents both worked in radio, I worked at a newspaper and I married someone who studied journalism. This is a genetic ailment. But it does tend to give me lots of background on different time periods and how journalists worked in those times. For “Flash Frame,” my direct inspiration was a conversation I had in the 90s. I was meeting a friend who was a freelancer at the time, and he asked me if we could stop to pick up his paycheck for a story he had done for a magazine. The magazine we picked up (and I think his story) was about the cheapest prostitute in Mexico City. We ended talking about a large porno cinema, Cine Teresa, which had been a high-class “ladies” cinema back in the 50s. You know, one of those luxury movie palaces. I love old movie theatres and I kept thinking about journalists and movie theatres, and our conversation about the Teresa. Around this time, I also had a bizarre dream about a “yellow woman” and I decided to use her.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? I don’t listen to much music, to be terribly honest. I am very unhip, in that sense. But I did have a movie in mind. Caligula, to be specific. The bizarre film that gets screened in my story was inspired by that movie, and also some of the sword-and-sandals flicks I watched when I was a kid. There was always something sexy about those movies, even if the production codes of the time didn’t allow them to show too much. It was a way to get past the censors. I mean, Hedy Lamarr is sooo awesome in Samson and Delilah. We don’t give a crap about the good girl. We want Hedy to dance in her pseudo-Arabian Nights outfits and seduce Samson, damn it!

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I don’t rewrite. Does that sound awful? I fix things as I go along, which sometimes makes it a longer process. I also felt if I thought too much about this story, I’d chicken out and never write it.

What is your favorite bit? I like the opening line:

The sound is yellow.

Interview: Jennifer Brozek

Name: Jennifer Brozek

Author of: “The Sexual Attraction of the Lovecraftian Universe,” an essay

Age: 39

Geographic Location: Seattle, WA

Original Hometown, if different: Military Brat. Didn’t have one. But I was born in Alaska.

Twitter: @jenniferbrozek

Website: http://www.jenniferbrozek.com

Past publications: Quite a few. Most recently “Family Duty” to M-Brane SF, “Eulogy for Muff” to Apexology: Horror, “Shanghai Vampocalypse” Savage Worlds RPG book, “Swallow It All” to Rigor Amortis. To see more publications, please go to: http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/bibfiction.html

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? I really like the language and imagery of “Nyarlathotep.” The “Cats of Ulthar” amuses me in ways it probably shouldn’t. But “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” is one of my favorites. It is gothic, gloomy and just wonderful.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? Tentacle porn and insanity. Really, “Lovecraft” and “Erotica” don’t seem like they should go together and yet they do, and I wrote an essay about that.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? Probably like most of the people in the book – Twitter.

What inspired your story? I was chatting with the editor about how wrong the concept seemed but how, upon further examination, there are a number of reasons for it to be. Then I pitched an essay about the topic and it got approved. Thus, “The Sexual Attraction of the Lovecraftian Universe” was born.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? None. I prefer to write in silence. Ok. That’s not true. I referenced a movie in the essay (The Dunwich Horror) but I did not watch it while working on the essay. Mostly, I re-read a number of Lovecraft’s works to back up my opinions. Also, I discovered that I did better writing about Lovecraft at night.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Two.

What is your favorite bit?

The stories H.P. Lovecraft told were not ones that incited arousal or encouraged promiscuity between mortals, mortals and servitors or mortals and the Old Ones. And yet, Cthulhurotica is not the first book that explores the sexual nature of this universe. There are other books (anthologies and novels), roleplaying games, movies and even (dare I mention it?) Lovecraftian porn. At first blush, this seems incomprehensible. However, after taking a closer look at the issue, the reason for the link between Lovecraft’s creation and erotica becomes clear.

Interview: Maria Mitchell

Name: Maria Mitchell

Author of: The Song of the Catherine Clark

Age: 27

Geographic Location: Petaluma, California, USA

Twitter: I share some of Lovecraft’s aversion to modernity.

Website: While www.innsmouthfreepress.com is not my website, it’s the website of my publisher, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and my editor, Paula Stiles; it’s definitely my favorite website to write for, and so it’s the best place to find me.

Past publications: Innsmouth Free Press, Absent Willow Review, Fried Fiction, Ethereal Tales, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Yester Year Fiction.

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? The Strange High House in the Mist”.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? I think of what a great opportunity this is to romance a new edge of historical evil.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? I heard about the anthology from the interview of Carrie Cuinn conducted by Innsmouth Free Press.

What inspired your story? I have always been interested in the vanishing of the passengers aboard the ship, Mary Celeste, in 1872 and have always hoped to channel some of that “ghost ship” energy into a new mystery.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? I compose music for piano and about three years ago I composed and recorded a raw, short, dark, piano instrumental piece I titled Song of the Catherine Clark. It begins on the triad g sharp, c sharp and e natural: my favorite dark, minor chord. I always wanted to take the feeling of that music and translate it into a story.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I re-wrote the story many times, but since I tend to labor over paragraphs one at a time instead of doing the wise thing and just drafting multiple versions, I really don’t remember how many versions there were.

What is your favorite bit?

“I am the memory of man, or rather man’s desires. I am Lilith, Ia, Ishtar, Venus, the many guises that man has given me. I am older than the Earth. I was here before.”

Interview: Constella Espj

Name: Constella Espj

Author of: “Ipsa Scientia”

Age: 35

Geographic Location: Las Vegas, NV

Original Hometown, if different: Nashville, TN

Twitter: @alphabete

Website: http://alphabete-noir.com

Past publications: I was once published in a little indie magazine called Unoriginal, whose editor actually pen-named me.

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? “The Shadow Out of Time” is my favorite Lovecraft story, because I love the more intellectual horror of the Great Race of Yith making use of other creatures’ bodies for their studies.  I can’t deny that I would love to find myself at their library, even though the end result is typically Lovecraftian.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? The first thing that came to my mind was “squamous tentacle sex under a gibbous moon” but once I managed to stop thinking about that I thought that it seemed like a brilliant challenge.  The two ideas seem so distant and dissonant to me that I honestly had not thought of it before I heard of this anthology.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? On Twitter!  One of the writers I follow kept mentioning it and eventually my curiosity took over from there.

What inspired your story? I have a friendship with a very smart man who could probably talk to me all day about physics and I would simply listen and ask him questions.  My story is a pretty extreme fictionalization of the dynamics of our relationship.  Without this friendship, my story would not have come into being.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? I listened to a lot of Sorten Muld, which is a Danish folk-electronic group.  I cannot understand the lyrics to their songs so they don’t distract me.  An added bonus is that I know what their songs are about (folklore set to lush music) but since I don’t speak Danish I got to feel a little of how my characters feel, this sense of knowing what something is but not being able to grasp it.  I also listened to “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors because it’s kind of a nerd love song.  Rounding out the selection is this “Zalgo Invocation” I found on YouTube.  Zalgo is a sort of Lovecraft-esque…corruption meme and the invocation is plenty creepy and atmospheric.  I emphatically do not recommend listening to that while in the dark and/or home alone.  At all.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I did about eight rewrites.  This is actually the most revision I have ever done on a story and wow was it a learning experience for me.  The story I ended up with, while the same in spirit, is definitely not the story I started out with.  Characters appeared and disappeared, there were changes of location and a lot of changes in transitions.  The ending had about six different incarnations.

What is your favorite bit?

“Later, after their goodbyes, Kara was too excited to sleep. Everything Jake had told her was swirling in her head. Her heart was pounding and she was panting. Her fingertips traced the curve of her breasts, the plane of her belly, the angles of her hipbones. She giggled softly to herself, remembering how she’d told Jake that the Navier-Stokes equations made her think of navels and strokes and soon the fabric of her panties was like spacetime, curved to the density of her desires.”


Interview: Matt Marovich

Name: Matthew Marovich

Author of: “Sense”

Age: 30

Geographic Location: The Bay Area, California

Twitter: @MattMarovich

Website: http://twopens.wordpress.com

Past publications: In 2007 I sold my first short story, “Reflections,” to The Edge of Propinquity (www.theedgeofpropinquity.com). Earlier this year I sold a work of short short fiction, “Tilling”,  to Blood Bound Books for their Seasons in the Abyss anthology.

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? “The Music of Erich Zann”.

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? Tentacles. Horrible, horrible tentacles.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of Lovecraft’s work, a fact that is well known to my friends based on the number of Cthulhu Mythos-themed gifts they give me. A friend of mine who is also a writer sent me a link to the call for submissions page. I was intrigued.

What inspired your story? I’m not certain where the inspiration originally came from except for the fact that I really like the idea of private detectives, especially in the early 20th century.  I know that when I originally thought of the general idea for “Sense” it was going to take a much more humorous, less-serious approach (while still having the same ending) with the title of “If You Love Me Let Mi-Go”. I decided against that title, partially because my friends are fond of throwing things at me when I pun.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? I don’t really like to listen to music when I write but I did spend a lot of time listening to songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and other similar artists while I was thinking up this particular story.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Three, I think?

What is your favorite bit?

We both came, wordless screams of pleasure and release pouring from us, mine chasing hers. I collapsed sideways, half on her, half off, and sleep fell immediately across us like a shroud.

I can still feel her body, how soft she was against my side, the clean scent of her hair, the musk of our sweat and sex. I can still feel her breath stirring the hairs on my chest. That’s what I want to remember.

Interview: Clint Collins

Name: Clint Collins

Author of: “The Summoned”

Age: 59

Geographic Location: Northern Virginia

Original Hometown, if different: Lexington, Kentucky

Past publications: Story in “Under the Fang,” a Horror Writers Association anthology published by Pocket Books (paperback) and Borderlands Press (hardcover); story in the “Lilith Unbound” anthology published by Popcorn Press; poetry in “Vampyr Verse” published by Popcorn Press.

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? It has to be the cornerstone of the Cthulhu mythos, “The Call of Cthulhu.”

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? The gentle, whispering slither of a cool tentacle under clean sheets.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? From that excellent markets newsletter, “Duotrope’s Digest.””

What inspired your story? In “The Call of Cthulhu,” sculptor Henry Wilcox is delirious and his friends in the Fleur-de-Lys Building (an actual place in Providence, RI) come to his assistance upon hearing his cries. I wondered what would happen if someone went into his room afterwards. What would they discover? How would they be affected? The story focuses on an impressionable artist who finds Henry’s stunning sketches when she enters his room.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? None. I am enough of a procrastinator that if I turned on any music I’d probably still be listening. I invent enough distractions of my own without inviting them.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? That is hard to answer as I continually re-read and rewrite from the very beginning. If I am happy with a paragraph, I move on and build from there. I have to say it is an ongoing process.  By the time I finish I’ve read it many times.

What is your favorite bit?

She led me to her work desk and handed me a very detailed drawing in pencil.  “Richard, take a look at this? What do you think?”

Of course, it was Henry’s monster, though much better imagined and executed, and, therefore, all the more revolting.

Interview: Travis King

Name: Travis King

Author of: “Dreamlands of Mars”

Age: 31

Geographic Location: Pacific Northwest

Twitter: @travisking

Website: http://rexscribarum.wordpress.com/

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….