Last Monday I published Islands of the Gulf, Volume Two, the second volume of the second book of my Herbert West trilogy. Ever since I decided to publish the middle book of the trilogy in two volumes, I’ve had niggling doubts, mostly because of the numerical complications. This must be because I am a cataloguer and therefore hyper-conscious of data relating to books.
So I decided to clarify things by writing a short history of The Herbert West Trilogy:
I wrote the first book, The Friendship of Mortals, in 2000-2001. It is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s story (or rather, six serialized stories) entitled “Herbert West, Reanimator.” By the time I finished it, I realized that a sequel was in order, because unlike HPL’s Herbert West, my protagonist isn’t ripped to shreds at the end. Psychically, perhaps, but not physically.
In one of those “why not?” moments, I decided to set the sequel here on the west coast, specifically on a fictional Gulf Island in the waters between British Columbia and Washington State. First I had to get Herbert West — who now called himself Francis Dexter — from New England to the other side of the continent. This was a medium-sized story in itself. Then I had to create the island and the principal characters with whom Herbert/Francis would interact. By the time these interactions played out in 2005, I had a truly huge book on my hands. When I decided to publish it as an ebook on Smashwords, I thought it would be best to issue it in two volumes. Why not two separately titled books? Because the two halves don’t quite stand alone. Both must be read for the complete trajectory.
Besides, the word “trilogy” sounds much better than “tetralogy.” Hence, a trilogy in four volumes.
Book 1: The Friendship of Mortals
Book 2, Volume 1: Islands of the Gulf, Volume One
Book 2, Volume 2: Islands of the Gulf, Volume Two
Book 3: Hunting the Phoenix
Books 1 and 2 are available on Smashwords. Book 3 will appear later this year.