Ten Years Ago, I Reanimated Herbert West

I’M reposting my very first blog post from May 2010, originally titled “Herbert West, Reanimated.” Because I started blogging as part of my self-publishing project, it made sense to begin by introducing my book, which at the time was on the brink of being published.

Shown below is the original cover image, created by moi, with my husband and a neighbour as models. Four years later, I replaced it with the professionally designed version in the featured image.

The Friendship of Mortals has received some good reviews (and a few others as well) in the past decade, and the ebook just happens to be available for free (at the Smashwords store only) during their Authors Give Back sale until May 31st, 2020.


In one of my books of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, (The Tomb and Other Tales, Ballantine edition, 1970) there is a chronological list of HPL’s works, with check marks by the ones I had read.  Notably unmarked is “Herbert West, Reanimator,”  written in 1921-1922.  It was published in a magazine called Home Brew as a series of six horror stories.  In his biography of HPL, L. Sprague De Camp refers to them as “perhaps the most forgettable ” of all Lovecraft’s stories.  Despite this dismissal, I was delighted finally to run across them in 1998.

While it’s true that Herbert West exemplifies some of HPL’s faults as a writer, notably overuse of adjectives such as “hideous” and a coarseness of plotting, I found the story intriguing.  It struck me as an outline for something bigger.  The two main characters, Herbert West and the nameless narrator, begged (in my mind at least) to be fleshed out.

Why would anyone want to reanimate corpses?  Why would anyone remain a close friend of someone who was always looking for really fresh corpses to reanimate, even to the point of creating them by means of murder?

This is the question about any “mad scientist.”  Is he evil or merely mad?  Is his friend stupid and credulous or simply loyal?

In the fall of 2000, two years after I read Lovecraft’s story, I began to answer these questions about Herbert West. I ended up several years later with a hefty trilogy. of which I am about to publish the first book, The Friendship of Mortals, as an ebook.  By the time I post here again, it should be available on Smashwords.com, technology permitting.

31 comments

  1. Nearly done, Audrey…

    I’m using your story as incentive to re-train my writerly mind to treat my characters with courtesy and genuineness. When I come to examine my people, I’m reflecting back on your characters and how I remember them. For I can remember them given your excellent treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking back, it must seem pretty amazing to have found the passion, the time, the persistence, and the energy — both creatively, and physically — need to answer your question with a 600K+ word story. An impressive achievement. I wonder where that passion came from. That might make for an interesting blog post someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an obsession. Some authors become totally enmeshed with their characters. I look back a bit wistfully at that time, because I certainly didn’t have to push myself to write. It’s a lot harder now. It would make an interesting post if I could come up with some plausible reasons that weren’t too embarrassing.

      Like

  3. Congratulations! As you know, I think it’s a fantastic book.

    Also, while the current cover is definitely more polished, your original one has its charms. There’s a feeling of intrigue and mystery to it; like I’m a passer-by on the streets of Arkham, eavesdropping on a furtive conversation about unsavory goings-on in the potter’s field.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have to admit that I don’t like horror, never have, but I loved your Herbert West stories, precisely because they were about interesting people don’t extraordinary, even ‘hideous’ things. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually find it impossible to write horror; I tend to get diverted by the characters. And I don’t care for explicit horror (gore, sex, tentacles, etc.). To me, the pinnacle of the art is to hint at the unthinkable to the point that the reader’s imagination does the job of scaring them. And you are one of the uber-exclusive Herbert West Series Fan Club. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s the BC Provincial Legislature building masquerading as Miskatonic University. I could probably do a better job on the font and image-massaging features now. In fact, I’m tempted to try it and see…

      Liked by 1 person

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