Live! Nude! Tentacles?

Or, what happened when Nathan Crowder read his Cthulhurotica story, “The Fishwives of Sean Brolly”, in public this past weekend. In his own words:

There I was, slated to read something at Foolscap 12, my favorite little literary convention here in Seattle region (specifically in Redmond). I had a 9:00 time-slot, and a raft of impending publications to choose from. What to use to win over a room full of strangers, a few friends, and a few regional spec fic luminaries? Why, how about “The Fishwives of Sean Brolly?”

First off, I warned the audience. “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever written. It’s disturbing. It’s Cthulhu erotica and while there are no tentacles, I feel it only safe to warn you.”

A few people left. Those people are still my friends. Many more stayed. To the best of my knowledge, I made enemies of none of them. Though I was aware of some nervous shifting as I read and a few genuine gasps of something that translated to “That’s not right!”

This was my first experience reading erotica out loud to a room full of people. It was really my first strong erotica story. After a host of grotesqueries and the words “hard on, manhood,” and “erection,” through the course of the narrative, my penis-euphemism meter redlined. I found myself self-editing a brief paragraph towards the climax (no pun intended) when I spied the word “cock.” All things considered, that was really the least of the offences being perpetrated by my story, and I have no idea why I suddenly got coy. But it happened, and I kept going, straight up to the grisly, horrifying, and deeply satisfying (pun VERY intended) end.

I talked to a few of the audience the next day, almost as much to make sure that we were still on speaking terms as to say “Thanks for sticking around for the reading.” That regional luminary I mentioned (but not by name, because I’m coy here as well)? She sat across from me while I read, and I was worried about her reaction. Turns out she enjoyed how the language was used beautifully, to describe something so ultimately horrible and horrifying. And another was still squidged out by the story the next day to the extent that discussing a particular bit provoked a flinch reaction.

All things considered, I couldn’t have hoped for a better debut of my story from Cthulhurotica.


Interview: Nathan Crowder

Name: Nathan Crowder

Author of: “The Fishwives of Sean Brolly”

Age: 41

Geographic Location: Seattle, Washington

Original Hometown, if different: Durango, Colorado

Twitter: @Natecrowder


Past publications: Short fiction — “Fists of Felt” in Byzarium, “Ink Calls to Ink” and “Memory in the Time of Bones” at, “Deacon Carter’s Last Dime” in Crossed Genres and in Crossed Genres Year One, “None Left Behind” in Absent Willow Review, “Frames of Reference” in Close Encounters of the Urban Kind, “The War at Home” in Cobalt City Timeslip, “Kid Gloves” in Thug Lit, “Dancing Tonight! Live Music!” in Rigor Amortis

What’s your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story or other Mythos story? “Pickman’s Model”

What comes to mind when you think “Lovecraft” + “Erotica”? The scene in the movie Dagon when the “local girl” whips back her bedding to show her tentacle legs…her hot, tentacle legs.

How did you hear about Cthulhurotica? The usual suspects on Twitter.

What inspired your story? The fishwives were very, very fringe characters from another unfinished story, crossed with lingering memories of some unhealthy personal relationships that were nowhere near as bad as depicted in my story.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? The soundtrack to the movie City of Lost Children was strangely compelling, and comes to mind when I close my eyes and think of the story.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Three – one specifically to add in more sensory detail to the individual paragraphs, and one to remove a confusing framing device/flashback and smooth it over so it didn’t leave a scar.

What is your favorite bit?

That’s an easy one.

“I’m not a freak. I just know what I like.”

I think that really sums up the core of the character as he reaches that revelation.