There are shadows over Main Street again. Small-town horror has long been a fascination for writers and readers. The bulk of Stephen King’s huge body of work takes place in sparsely populated places, after all. It might seem strange at first glance for Lovecraftian horrors to turn their indifferent and destructive glances on a small town, but I’ve always wondered why they wouldn’t. The supernatural infecting the mundane has always been a fascination of mine. The majority of humans make their way through happiness and sorrow in lives that never range more than a few dozen miles. I have always lived in the state of Georgia and have its red clay in all my creases. In my experience the mundane can be anything but.
It’s a big reason why many of my stories specifically focus on unremarkable people–to show how remarkable they are. My latest story, “Drawing God,” in which an elderly man faces the long and horrific plateau of his life in a tiny Appalachian town, sees the light of day in Shadows Over Main Street Volume 2. The first volume of this small-town Lovecraftian anthology was a big success, and I’m hoping this one will be as well. Editors Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward have produced another fine selection. Look at the table of contents. Those are some great writers examining vast terrors on a smaller scale. Laird Barron starts us off with a brilliant foreword. It’s getting dark and the townsfolk are coming outside to look up at the sky.
One more note on my story: It is meant to be a brother to the more feminine novelette “I Do Not Count the Hours,” which was published last year in The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu. Both take place in different parts of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Both involve vast things in smaller places. And both deal with Lovecraft’s difficult racism. They are similar yet quite different stories in how they dip their probosces in these dark fluids. “Drawing God” is much more direct about it.
There has been a great deal of criticism of Lovecraft in the last few years. Some claim his legacy should be left alone and untarnished at any cost. Others use the lens of Lovecraft’s fiction to pay homage to the author and examine his beliefs and how they informed his work, pushing the genre of Lovecraftian horror and weird fiction forward. Often the former “side” doesn’t get along with the latter. I appreciate the fiction the man gave us. I appreciate even more the cosmic horror influence that rippled out from him–his is one of the largest shadows hanging over all our streets. But the fact of the man was problematic, and fans and critics alike should not forget it even as they enjoy his creations. What better way than fiction to look at the conflict of the man and his work?