Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with Author W. H. Pugmire

"Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire has been writing Lovecraftian weird fiction since the mid-1970s. In 2010 he became obsessed with the idea of growing old and dying, and thus he worked feverishly on new books, and thus in 2011 he will have had four books published by Centipede Press, Arcane Wisdom Press, Dark Regions Press, and Miskatonic River Press. In 2012 his second collection from Hippocampus Press, UNCOMMON PLACES, will see publication. He is also a regular contributor to the Lovecraft eZine."


Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

W. H. Pugmire:

I've always written, but in the beginning it was tied to my love of acting. As an LDS kid I used to write little plays for our church Road Shows, and then in high school my buddy and I wrote plays and musical comedies. I didn't begin to read weird fiction until I was a Mormon missionary in Ireland and couldn't attend horror films. I was pen pals with Robert Bloch and so I began to buy his books in British paperback, and then I picked up Lovecraft and others and got totally hooked. I wrote my first "serious" tales in Ireland.

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

W. H. Pugmire:

I attended one year of college. I was a very lazy student and didn't really began to read anything on my own until I got into weird fiction. When I came out as queer I began reading gay writers like Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and this led to an addiction to classic poetry. I was a huge Shakespeare fan as a young actor, and then when I began to seriously writer fiction and poetry I learned to appreciate Shakespeare as an author rather than a player. I am self-taught as a writer and it's taken me an incredibly long time to find my voice and vision.

Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?

W. H. Pugmire:

The work, getting lost inside that aesthetic zone where nothing exists except you and your work, the magic of language, the way your characters take on a life of their own and steal your plot, moving it into directions you could not have anticipated. I hate first drafts because mine are always lousy, but then the magic comes when I polish, and in polishing find new things that were hidden before. I am happiest when I'm writing, when the work flows smoothly. When I'm blocked I feel but half alive.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
W. H. Pugmire:

I began in the age of fanzines, the small press. I never had any intention of having my own books, the idea never occurred to me. Then my buddy in England said he'd like to do a wee collection of my Sesqua Valley stories. Then Jeffrey Thomas published my first American collection through his small press. It felt so wonderful to hold those first books in my hand! That's a thrill that never grows old.


Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
W. H. Pugmire:

After my first wave of writing I decided that my fiction was poor and unoriginal, and I stopped writing fiction for several years. Then in the mid-1980s I got the hankering to return to it, and it's been non-stop since then. If I get discouraged with an editor or publisher these days I just concentrate on the next thing. I have lots of things to work on always, so if one thing doesn't work I have many other things to keep my mind on the writing.


Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?

W. H. Pugmire:

I have no schedule. My time is my own, and writing is my "full-time" job. But I am my Mother's live-in caregiver and sometimes dealing with her or my boyfriend gets me to weary and disgusted that I simply can't concentrate on writing. Of late it has been very difficult to write, I've been working on the same story for two months and it's just crawling forward. But I wrote my one book, SOME UNKNOWN GULF OF NIGHT, in six weeks--the entire book! Zoom! Having a regular schedule where I sit down and produce for five hours a day is impossible.


Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
W. H. Pugmire:

My ideas come from reading, and any book, fiction, biography, philosophy, scripture, can inspire something. I am always returning to H. P. Lovecraft, studying his tale fervently and finding golden nuggets of inspiration each and every time. He is my major Muse.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book Gathered Dust, and Others?

W. H. Pugmire:

It came as a complete surprise. I'm working on a book with Jeffrey Thomas, and he has had books published by Dark Regions Press. So I told him I'd like DRP to publish out book, and when he told Joe, the publisher, Joe expressed interest in doing a book of my own stuff, reprints or whatever. I had a bunch of things that haven't yet been collected in book form, and others that hadn't been published in hardcover; so I selected a bunch of old stuff and did some revision, then I wrote about 35,000 words of new fiction, and that was the book. It's one of my finest collections, really representative of my life as an author, with lots of Lovecraftian items and some few of my more cutting edge queen-punk type things. I'm very excited about seeing it published.


Deirdra: I'm always fascinated by people who can write horror, probably because I'm so hypervigilant and startled easily. What got you interested in horror? Do you have lots of nightmares? Do you have to write your books with the light on?
W. H. Pugmire:

I've always loved and identified with monsters. My interest in horror began when I was a kid who loved horror films and bought FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. Discovering H. P. Lovecraft and becoming obsessed with his work gave me that ache to become a famous modern Mythos writer. My own dreams and nightmares are pathetic muddles of my past and present life, in which I am always frustrated and doomed by stupidity. They are never magical or mysterious. When I write fiction, I seep into the realm of my imagination and the real world ceases to exist, lights on or no!

Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

W. H. Pugmire:

None. I may send something I', working on to a pal, or to my patrons, but I am so individual an artist that I would never let people read something I'm working on so as to give me guidance. I need to do my own thing exactly in the manner I wish to do it. Then I offer it to a publisher. I don't write for any market. My core readers are other Lovecraft freaks, and they tend to enjoy what I do.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

W. H. Pugmire:

Authentic homage to H. P. Lovecraft in works that are perversely mine own, that are infested with my depravity and ecstasy.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
W. H. Pugmire:

I need absolute silence and solitude, and that's one reason that the writing is so difficult now, because I have neither.


Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
W. H. Pugmire:

I dwell on my stories before I write them, dreaming over and over again the plots, the language, &c. I use specific influences, so if Baudelaire is my current influence I read his letters and poetry and literary criticism related to his genius. If I am writing a tale set in Arkham I read HPL's tales set therein.


Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
W. H. Pugmire:

Writers like Henry James, Oscar Wilde and H. P. Lovecraft, and their serious approach to writing as an art form. I want my tales to be works of beauty, in language and imagery. Although they must entertain, they must also be serious works of Literature, as far as I am able to create such a thing.


Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?

I began with Shakespeare, first as an actor and then as a poet. His magical language, his characters--everything about his Works is glorious and feeds my Muse. Henry James is my favorite writer of fiction, because he was brilliant, original, strange and poetic. Becoming obsessed with his fiction really affected my own narrative voice. Oscar Wilde has been highly influential. As an author, I want most to be identified with H. P. Lovecraft, and if I am known at all or remembered, it must be as a Lovecraftian.

W. H. Pugmire:

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

W. H. Pugmire:

My main hobby these days is recording my weird vlogs on YouTube. I used to love delving into the punk and drag scene here in Seattle, but now that I am sixty and housebound I never go out. I miss it frightfully at times.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

W. H. Pugmire:

Be patient and be cautious, they are a lot of scam artists out there. Be always working, so that when you have one story finished and in circulation you are deep into the creation of another. Remember that most editors are clueless and never let rejection affect you personally.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

W. H. Pugmire:

I'm working on a book of stories about a sinister artist, Enoch Coffin, with Jeffrey Thomas, and it will be published next year by Dark Regions Press. I'm working with Maryanne K. Snyder on a book of tales inspired by Clark Ashton Smith. Then I begin work on a new Mythos collection for Misklatonic River Press, and on a revised/expanded edition of FREAMS OF LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR for Mythos Books.


Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
W. H. Pugmire:

The best thing to do is check my blogspot, "A View from Sesqua Valley," or follow my vlogs on YouTube. My books are alos easily obtained at Amazon.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
W. H. Pugmire:

Just many thanks to my readers. It's because of them that I can life this life, and I would be nothing without them. Selah.

5 comments:

  1. Great Interview Dierdra. I'm honored to be sharing a couple of TOC's with Brother Wilum.

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  2. Great interview! By the way I love your blog layout!

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  3. WEll done interview. Interesting person to learn more about and you asked topic questions to answer what I wanted to know too.

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