Monthly Archives: January 2014

HP Lovecraft | Horror Feminae by Bea Embers

HP Lovecraft

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear – HP Lovecraft.

It’s no secret that HP Lovecraft, one of the most renowned horror authors of our time, had a long list of fears himself.

Not least of all was an ever present dread of the unknown, wherein lay his Thalassophobia, or fear of the sea – an abhorrence that extended to sea food and the smell of fish. He fed those fears and used them to create the fantastical and bizarre creatures he left behind after his death.

HP Lovecraft did, however, have fears and anxieties many would consider to be irrational, perhaps most interestingly his supposed and often disputed Genophobia and Gynophobia.

Genophobia is defined as the abnormal fear of women and gynophobia as the physical or psychological fear of sexual relations or sexual intercourse and many today believe that, despite his short marriage to Sonia Greene, he suffered from both, perhaps sprouting from his overly anxious, obsessive mind and an overbearing, domineering Mother. She repeatedly told him he was hideous, an opinion which he carried through to later life, and she herself had a history of hysteria, a condition often characterized by overwhelming fear.

We can clearly see that Lovecraft had a tendency to nurture his horrors, revelling in his own madness. He shaped his fear of the unknown to create the Elder Gods and a host of other horrors, his dread of the sea spawning his most famous creation, Cthulhu. So it would stand to reason that, by looking at his works, we would find the same emphasis on women and sexual relations if they were truly two of his fears.

But HP Lovecraft seemed to try and ignore women and sex entirely within his works, regardless of the storyline. Perhaps the best example of this is the unfortunate Lavinia Whateley in The Dunwich Horror. Described as a somewhat deformed, unattractive albino woman, she was mother to the children of Yog-Sothoth, an extra-dimensional creature who impregnated her after being summoned by her father (and perhaps Lavinia herself.) It seems safe to assume that the unholy coupling would get a mention and that Lavinia’s feelings on the matter would be voiced as part of the story.

Nope.

Lavinia doesn’t have much focus in the story, despite having such an important role to play. She, like most of the women in Lovecaft’s works, becomes nothing more than a vessel by which the more important, male characters are brought into the tale. She vanishes without a trace and everybody seems to forget about her.

Some use points like the above to claim that Lovecraft simply had little time for women, seeing them as lower beings (an opinion that wasn’t uncommon at the time), and that, if he had a deep rooted fear, he would have included it more in his works instead of just shoving it to one side.

It’s a widely known fact that many of HP Lovecraft’s opinions were as hideous as the works he penned (he made no secrets of his racism and homophobia) and that women may just have been of no interest to him. He certainly spent his time almost exclusively in male company.

The same is said for his aversion to sex, some going as far to suggest Lovecraft was asexual. He once described the act as: Purely animal in nature and separate from such things as intellect and beauty.

It is worth noting that whenever sex is an important part of his work, death and destruction follow close behind it. In the Dunwich Horror a creature of terrible power is born from Lavinia, trampling people as it ambles along the countryside and in Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, upon discovering an admittedly uncomfortable truth about his ancestry, Arthur Jermyn runs out onto the moors and sets himself on fire.

Although Lovecraft is known for having a fear of pretty much everything, he’s also known for disliking almost everyone who wasn’t a straight, white male, making it difficult to distinguish his fears from his prejudices.

Indeed, in Lovecraft’s case, his fears and prejudices often seem to become so inextricably entangled they become impossible to separate. Perhaps Gynophobia and Genophobia are two more phobias to add to his already lengthy list.

About Bea Embers

“I am an author of melancholy books & poetry for creepy Teens.  My work was included as part of the Poe cottage restoration project. My piece ‘Night & day’ is safely bricked up inside one of the old walls in the Poe cottage. From there I wrote The Girl With Glass Eyes, a children’s horror book with smatterings of poetry throughout.  I’m currently working on my first full-length novel, Ashdown Asylum. I’m a lover of all things macabre, haunting & grotesque. I’m also a nerd for villains. I know they do bad things, but they do them so stylishly.”

Tagged ,

HP Lovecraft | Guest Blogs Needed

I want to run a series of blogs on HP Lovecraft over the next few months and I’m looking for some esteemed “guests” to impart their wisdom on this much-loved and widely-read giant of fantasy and horror fiction.

I read somewhere recently that Lovecraft shuffled off this mortal coil firmly believing that he had been a failure as a writer. I wonder how he would feel about his enduring popularity if he was here today.

If you would like to write a guest post for The Feckless Goblin I’ve put in a few suggestions below but if you want to do something different then please knock yourself out.

In return for your hard work I can offer a short biography and a link to your site/latest novel/a picture of your Aunt Mimi’s feet…whichever takes your fancy.

Guest blog suggestions:

  • A critique of your favourite HP Lovecraft story
  • How HP influences your work/the work of a famous author
  • The life and times of Lovecraft
  • Lovecraft’s take on horror writing

If you would like to submit something then  DM me on @ziggykinsella and I will forward the email address to send it to.

Keyword Combinations for Writing Blogs

keyword combinationsThe use of carefully thought-out keyword combinations can help drive useful traffic to your blog.

The demise of search engine optimization (SEO), where writer’s can improve the chances of getting their blog to the top of search pages using specific keywords, has been greatly exaggerated.

It’s more difficult, for sure. But with a little clear thinking, incorporating keywords and keyword combinations can make a significant difference to the relevant traffic coming directly to your blog from search engines.

The other day, I noticed that one of my blog entries is far more successful than any other. 20 tips for writing the perfect horror story has had around 27,000 views and 32 comments. That got me thinking (I do a lot of that). This is just one blog post, not the whole site. How would it be if all my posts had a similar response?

Was I missing something important?

I have mostly relied on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, which have thriving writing communities, to drive traffic to my site. It works up to a point, but I wondered whether I was losing out in not properly optimizing for search engines.

Keyword combinations have value

What is search engine optimization (SEO)?  Simple: It’s using keywords in your site text to get you to the top of the search engine listings. So, when someone types in “writer’s blog” you appear on the first page (if you’ve done your job properly). There are no prizes for coming on the second page here. It’s first page or nothing.

The problem is that all the good words in SEO are taken and have been done to death. That means it is difficult, well-nigh impossible in some cases, to get to the top of the search engine listing for one of those keywords which have high volumes of searches every month. Too many sites have got there before you.

That’s where keyword combinations come in. Most content SEO nowadays is about finding keywords that, used together, bring enough relevant traffic to your site, combinations that haven’t been so over-mined that you stand a chance of getting on that front page.

And, if you look hard enough, there’s a good few still out there.

You should find keyword combinations that have a small but significant usage. For instance, the search term “e books” has over 4 million searches on Google per month. You won’t have a chance of making it to the top of the listings for this keyword. Horror, writing, short, story keyword combinations, however, give me first page billing with a cumulative search of around 2,000 per month.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

By careful choice of keywords you could be driving a significant amount of relevant traffic to your site. And the important bit here is “relevant”.

Google Adwords help you find keyword combinations

How do you find out whether these keyword combinations are worth the effort? Google Adwords provides a free keyword search tool. You can type in all sorts of combinations and it will give you the number of searches per month.

How do I use keyword combinations?

As a simple rule of thumb, once you’ve selected your keywords you need to incorporate them into your blog entry. Use them in the title, and the first few lines of the blog and the last few, and don’t forget to put them in the tags.

Be careful not to overuse throughout the text so that it sounds like you’re spamming and don’t be afraid to give the blog a tweak every so often to see whether that makes a difference to your page ranking.

Be warned: This is not a cure-all panacea. Search engine optimization doesn’t happen overnight and you may not always succeed. Check your search terms every so often to see how you are doing.

So, to recap: Remember, my search engine listing was for just one blog entry. Imagine if I can optimize, say, another ten posts on my writer’s blog. That would make a significant increase in relevant traffic.

And we all love people visiting us don’t we?

A useful article on SEO keyword searching for writer’s can be found on Rachel Reuben’s YA fiction site.

If you have any useful comments or tips for optimizing your writer blog, then please share in the comments section below.

The Subconscious Mind and the Power of Writing

augmented reality

The subconscious mind is often seen as the powerhouse of writing creativity but should you let it run amok unchecked?

The other night, I was watching an interview with a writer I’ve never heard of who said he sat in front of the fire waiting for his subconscious to “spew forth” a story. Ray Bradbury, the master himself, also professed to allowing his subconscious to run wild.

For him, it was the only way to write.

The subconscious mind is often credited with holding all that is true and creative in us humans, a febrile pit of evils and faery princes that do battle somewhere down in the oily backwater of our existence.

For us writers, it is credited with the gradual but sometimes thunderous emergence of our underlying creativity. It is the muse. It is the mythic. It is the unknowable and unthinkable, briefly popping to the surface to see what life up here, in the real world, is like.

Some things I would rather remained hidden have recently vomited colourfully out from my supposed subconscious. Quite vile things really. The sort of thing that makes your eyes water and your heart beat faster and the walls close in around you.

I should write about that? What about this? Sweet Jeeezus in Heaven, you’re not going to include that miscreant thing and let everyone in the world read it? Are you?

My conscious self takes these perverse and crippled things of the night, sifts, semi-rationally, through them and says: Best keep that one to yourself boy. No need to let that little baby out to see the light. Good god, man!

Don’t let the rest of humanity see it!

A filter for the subconscious mind

And therein lies the problem with the subconscious mind. The conscious. It’s my filter, see. It deletes, and rewords and shortens, and buries, stretches and twists, like an over-zealous editor to my soul, until the darkness has been turned light, the unfathomable fathomable, making me more mainstream and acceptable.

It’s such a shame.

I am beginning to think that this editor of my darkest, inner thoughts has become more than a little fervent. It likes the control and it’s got used to it over the years as I’ve tried to hone my skills as a writer. It’s got used to my subconscious slinking back with cowardly bows to the treacly slopes of Never-Never Land, where it gurgles and wretches and finally binds with new, more miscreant thoughts.

And hopes for escape.

“The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.” Ray Bradbury Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity Third Edition/Expanded

I wrote an article recently about writers who plot and those who fly by the seat of their pants. I was putting forward the hypothesis that plotting is the best way forward. I was trying to convince myself  this was the proper way to write, that more of my conscious should govern, and that I shouldn’t just sit at the keyboard and merely “begin” without a clue of where I was going.

A mistake, I think.

I’m not a natural plotter. I believe, deep in my heart, that it is no damn fun. And writing should be fun, shouldn’t it? You should be able to whisk yourself away into new, previously undiscovered worlds and ridiculously sublime ideas, and devilishly unpopular creeds and cruel and unusual demises, frightening reflections of what you truly are and, with reckless abandon, bathe in them.

In fact, it’s not that I’m no natural plotter, it’s just that I hate plotting.

I detest it.

It’s not the kind of writer I am.

So I think I’ll let my subconscious mind run riot for a while and see how it goes. If you hear of me being taken off to the insane asylum, see grainy pictures of me bumbling disconsolate around my padded cell, then you’ll know things did not go well.

But then I may surprise you, and produce something really worth reading.

Do you have trouble balancing your subconscious mind with the conscious? Let the Feckless Goblin know in the posting box below.

Tagged