Tag Archives: H.P. Lovecraft

Women in Horror: J.Y.T. Kennedy

horror, dark fiction, Canadian writers, dark fantasy

Danse Macabre, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick, also has one of Kennedy’s stories.

Today’s highlighted Canadian author for Women in Horror Month is J.Y.T. Kennedy who writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, of varying levels of darkness. Her novel, Dominion, might be described as tragic fantasy. Her most recently published story is “Fingernails,” about the Norse goddess Hel,  in the Danse Macabre anthology, a collection of stories featuring death as a character.

J.Y.T. KENNEDY

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I tend not to think of myself as a horror writer, but I am drawn toward the darker, weirder side of the imagination, and this comes out in my writing. I also perform as a storyteller, and find that scary stories are some of the most fun and challenging to tell. I haven’t mastered transferring that skill to print all that well yet: my written stories tend to be more weird than scary. I can frighten people much better in person.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

female writers, Canadian horror, dark fiction, Danse Macabre

J.Y.T. Kennedy

Mortality, despair, choices that go wrong.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I like the old fashioned notion of the connection between terror and the sublime: the idea that we can be uplifted by confronting the darker side of things. There is a feeling in some of the more science-fictional horror, such as that of H.P. Lovecraft, of being face to face with the universe, and with the terrible realities of our place in it. I also have a fondness for monsters, which started early in life. As a child, I was fascinated by the tale of Medusa, and saw nothing contradictory in sympathizing with both her and the hero of the tale. I still don’t tend to think in terms of good guys and bad guys: I enjoy writing characters that have a dark streak, but have little interest in outright villains.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

women's rights, equality, sexism, women in horror, fiction writing, horror

Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

I see less inequality in the writing scene than in, say, the film industry, but I can’t say I keep track of statistics.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

I write quite a bit of fantasy, and find that it is challenging to write female characters in societies which I feel are believable for the early periods I am aiming at. Having been raised among people who, for the most part, believe in the equality of the sexes, I find it strange to think for what a small period of history this has been the case, and how many women there still are in the world for whom it is not the case. At the same time I think we sometimes underestimate just how strong and resourceful women of traditional cultures can be. It can be empowering to show women succeeding in traditional male roles, but too much of that can actually lead to us not valuing things women do within a more typically female role. I think perhaps the best thing we can do as writers is to try to show women in all their marvelous, and sometimes terrible, variety.

women in horror, viscera organization

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Publisher Highlight: Innsmouth Free Press

Innsmouth Free Press is a Canadian small press that specializes in dark fiction of a particular gothic or Cthulhian vein. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is looking for public funding through the fundraising site Indiegogo, for an anthology called Sword & Mythos. They hope to pay professional rates to the authors. That’s only .5 cents per word. It’s not a lot and speculative authors don’t get rich even on that amount. There are 5 days left to hit their funding goal of $5,000 and they’re still $1,000 short.

Innsmouth has been going for a few years and the well-laid out site offers reviews of books, comics, TV shows, movies and anything gothic, dark or Lovecraftian. H.P. Lovecraft was a writer who created the Great Old Ones and Cthulhu.

I’ve only been in one anthology Candle in the Attic Window, with a reprint poem but I’m impressed with the quality of cover art. If you wonder about the tentacled Old One in the future, then there’s Future Lovecraft. I have friends who hate mushrooms but did you ever dream of what an intelligent or malicious fungus might do? Then there is Fungi. Innsmouth’s website is lush with imagery and interesting information.

Check it out, maybe by a book and if you have a few spare bucks, donate to the Sword and Mythos fund and you’ll get a few goodies

Innsmouth Free Press, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, gothic, fantasy, mythos

Sword and Mythos needs your help to pay pro rates.

in the long run.

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Artist Highlight: Andy Tarrant

samian ware, pottery, art, ceramics, Trespasser Ceramics, artists, clay

Trespasser Ceramics Samian Ware (I love this piece)

I met Andrew Tarrant years ago and he was already making truly awesome pottery. A graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design, it looks like he hit the ground running and has been a successful enough artist to make a living and support his family. He teaches from time to time and then works on his wares.

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A jar made with sprigs of Andrew’s design.

Andrew Tarrant’s Trespasser Ceramics blends old and new. There is an obvious love of the medievaland ancient art that influences his pieces, whether, Celtic knotwork, green men, Venus of Willendorf, Roman figures or other historical elements. But he blends his pieces with other designs, which can be fantastical or just different. He has made teapots with a gear design, and other steampunk inspired pieces. While he does mostly vessels, he has created one of a kind pieces such as busts that incorporate sprigs.

Sprigs are a mold designed ornamentation that can then be made over and over and applied to the thrown pot. This is one of the signature elements of Trespasser Ceramics. He also uses the clay with a wash and specific applications of a shinier glaze, as evidenced in these pictures.

teapot, steampunk, ceramics, Trespasser Ceramics, art, clay, pottery

Andrew’s steamed teapot blends elements of steampunk in clay.

As in the middles ages, Andy would be considered a master of his guild. His work is clean, precise and yet whimsical and beautiful. I aim to own a piece when I can afford it. His art ranges from beads that you can buy off of his site to large urns that are several feet tall. The art evinces both a feel of the ancient and mystical and of future bizarreness.

Lovecraft, Cthulhu, Trespasser Ceramics, art, horror, clay, pottery, Andrew Tarrant

What dark mysteries lie ahead in Andrew Tarrant’s studio as Cthulhu takes shape?

He is working on some mysterious new piece and from the sprigs he’s designingCthulhu will be involved. Cthulhu, for those who do not know, was created by writer H.P. Lovecraft and is revered by fans of horror and industrial metal alike. I’m sure everyone will be interested in seeing what this master artist comes up with.

You can check out Trespasser Ceramics at his website or on Facebook to see what he’s up to. And if you happen to be in Calgary, you could take a class from him or find his work in the local galleries. Anyone who owns a piece made by Trespasser Ceramics cherishes it for the unique and wonderful art that it is.

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Cthulhu Who?

Last Friday I went to Cthulhupalooza, thinking, why not? Let’s try something new. Although I know of Cthulhu I can’t say I’m on intimate terms with it…him. But what, you’re asking, what the heck is a Cthulhu? Pronunciations differ but “kathooloo” is the most common. “He” is an Elder God or perhaps a Great Old One and is the creation of H.P. Lovecraft who was writing at the advent of the fantasy/horror genres.

Lovecraft doesn’t seem to have been a particularly healthy person and his parents were both committed for different forms of madness, brought on by a syphilitic disease in at least his father. Lovecraft wrote in the same style as his predecessors of the gothic age, Mary Shelley, and especially Edgar Allan Poe who was a strong influence on his writing. Cthulhu was created in the 1920s and though one of many “unspeakable horrors” has gained much fame and cult following after the fact. Cthulhu is often portrayed as greenish, with tentacles dangling from its mouth, great batlike wings at its back and talons gracing its hands. He is a god so alien that humans barely matter and Lovecraft’s writing is rife with the insignificance of the mere human mortal in the great scheme of things.

I don’t know if I’ve ever managed to read a complete Lovecraft story. Even for his time he wrote in an archaic style and I’ve found it very hard to drag myself through the prose. But…being a writer of science fiction and fantasy I know of the mythos and I know of the beast. Many of the stories describe the indescribable horrors in long melodramatic, as only gothic can be, prose. Often the writer has read an ancient book, maybe in Sumerian and the horrid tales work an insidious change and captivation on the mind.

So, when I was invited to Cthulhupalooza II on Facebook I decided what the heck. There were to be short films, a couple of bands, a few tables of geek paraphernalia and a burlesque act, Little Miss Risk being sacrificed to Cthulhu. I went with two friends and we dressed up in semi Victorian clothing. Only a few people were dressed likewise with the majority in jeans and heavy metal hoodies. The venue was the Rickshaw, an old theater in Vancouver’s E. Hastings St. Not the best area of town and I had a vague recollection that the Rickshaw hosts heavy metal bands. It was the scariest part for me because I’m not a heavy metal person.

The venue had a stage and theater seats. We missed the short films so I don’t know if they were snippets of Lovecraft inspired stories or not. Scythia, the self-titled folk metal band was funny, at least with the head banging, hair tossing antics and the lead singer changing his accent from German to English between songs. If there were discernible words I couldn’t tell but that might have been issues with the acoustics or the way of heavy metal bands because when Darkest of the Hillside Thickets came on stage they were just as incomprehensible. In between these two bands they showed films of…bands including Hillside Thickets. So we saw them in film and live and probably could have avoided both. I never thought I’d see head banging, heavy metal fans just sitting in seats, or doing that thing that I call the zombie adoration of standing  on the dance floor (not dancing or head banging) in front of the band. I also never thought that heavy metal would be…well, boring. But it was. I’m no connoisseur but I didn’t find the tunes that catching. Not like Cthulhu would be. Who knew that Lovecraft attracted heavy metal? Maybe it’s all that doom.

An example of the kitschy cult of Cthulhu

The “bar” consisted of a motley mix of canned beers, rum, vodka, Jack Daniels and one or two other elixirs. They only had white wine to which I said, “Cthulhu wouldn’t drink white wine! No red?” When I asked if the rum was dark I was told it was white, to which I replied, “Cthulhu wouldn’t drink white rum!” Oh well. We did see the burlesque act and I regret that we missed the first dance. Little Miss Risk came out dressed in 1930s style reading a great tome, the ones that lure the reader into a Stygian nightmare they cannot escape. She did something so one eye looked closed and one was open but nearly white. Creeeepy. As she crawled onto the Cthulhu altar, wearing the ubiquitous pasties, furry tentacles appeared and writhed; then she stood and spit green blood.

The burlesque was well done and the best part and I’m sorry I missed the earlier one which might have made the $15 price almost worthwhile. Still, we did have fun and found it an amusing, if limited in events, mini-con. As it was, we escaped the creeping horror…or boredom… and went back to my place to drink wine as Cthulhu would.

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