The Morning Horror

A disturbance entered my consciousness. A slight tremor, a rumbling behind the veil of everything, followed by the whispering sound of scurrying movement across a cold floor. I shiver, and an unnameable fear started to run through my body and soul–what cosmic horror was approaching?

A low mumbling of unspeakable origin sneaked into my ears and snaked its way into my mind, forcing its way deeper inside, probing its way deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of my consciousness.

A moan escaped my clammy mouth, and in desperation I tried to turn around, turning my back to the dark menace.

For a few seconds–an eternity of bliss–it worked. All was silent, nothing stirred in the world.

Then the scurrying movement across the cold floor started again, this time more insistent and approaching even faster. The mumbling became a slurred, incomprehensible jumble of word-like sounds penetrating my ears’ defenseless softness. The glimpse of a bright, dress-like cloth materialized, followed by the ghost of a warped head-like shape with sharp teeth and eyes cutting through everything and a mouth shaping sounds out of the emptiness surrounding me–at first staying outside my comprehension and feeding my growing horror–then–words started to enter my consciousness, resembling something like understanding–

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaadaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiyyyyyyadddwaaaaaaaaaaaaaakeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuppppp…

Hi dad! Wake up!”

My eyes looked at the little, innocent face of a girl not even two years old, standing next to the bed, a smile on her face and pointing at herself.

“Look! Cute dress!”

Yes, very cute. I couldn’t help smiling. My daughter showing me how cute her dress was, before her mother was to take her to the daycare. Very cute. My smile widened.

Seeing this she smiled even more, and we embraced.

To some people this probably would indicate a cosmic horror, but to me it turned out to be Life itself.

And when she and her mother was out the door I sighed, got off the bed, went into the kitchen to brew myself a hot steaming cup of coffee, looking outside and watching the approaching winter’s sun and the steam from the frosty ground in the garden probing the world awake one more time.

I sat down with the coffee, trails of bliss entering my nostrils, and turned on the computer.

Time to write my blog.

Advertisements

Subterraneans & Reviews

These days I am wrapping up much post production work related to the Danish short story publication, De underjordiske (tr. The Subterraneans) by Thomas Strømsholt, the first hardcover from my small press. I really like how the final product has turned out–nice wrap-around cover (some copies in the first shipment are marred by cutting errors, but that is being taken care of), fine quality of the hardcover itself, and with, if I do say so myself, quite fine typesetting and design inside the book.

I have high hopes for it, and I wish for it to succeed. For financial reasons? Sure. The main reason, though, is that I wish the author success. In fact, I really hope that this can be his springboard to something bigger. He is such a talented writer, and he deserves as much success as possible, more than I can give with my press. Of course, much of this will likely depend on reviews.

Reviews. Ah, such a simple, easily understood word, but oh so elusive to get in real life. There are times when I think it is the small press’ equivalent to the will-o’-wisp playing in the dangerous swamps. I know, of course, that reviews for books in the… hm… shall we say specialized genres?… are difficult to come by. That goes everywhere in the world. It certainly does in Denmark.

Let me clarify: I have been fortunate. All my books have received reviews, and I am grateful for that. The Danish ones, however, still have not managed to go beyond the review in fan-based publications (online or on paper). A kind of review that is very important, and for which I am truly grateful. My first English publication, Eldritch Horrors: Dark Tales (hplmythos.com Vol. 1), was granted Honorary Mentions in Ellen Datlow’s splendid collection, Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 2 (see e.g. http://ellen-datlow.livejournal.com/257854.html if you don’t believe me), something I consider quite an honor. My first publication in English? Wow!

Now, of course, in Denmark we don’t have such high-profile “Best of” publications. It is a much, much smaller market. No surprise there, since there are only about 5 million people in Denmark (yes, that’s true). So you can imagine how tiny the market is for specialized genre literature, in actual sales numbers. It is to be expected. Nonetheless I hope that Strømsholt’s collection will manage to break the mold, and receive a review or two in more established papers. It is less of a specialized collection than what I have published before (less Lovecraft, if you will), with far fewer edit errors etc. than ever before, and is probably the most beautiful book I have produced so far. Oh–and the stories are simply great! Mesmerizing, strange, chilling. Strømsholt is not “only” a weird tale writer, he is, at heart, a poet. (A dangerous word nowadays, yeah, I know; but one can always hope, right?) And the collection is, at the same time, the most “mainstream”-like book from my press. So, if nothing else, this book has the best chance of being reviewed in some of the established venues here in Denmark, compared to my other publications.

I hope so. The author deserves it. And, trust me, the readers out there, who just haven’t heard of him yet, deserve it.

Next book in line from H. Harksen Productions is the second hardcover from my small press, Hex Code and Others by John Mayer. Mayer was a friend of noted horror writer, the late Karl Edward Wagner, and this is the first time stories by Mayer see print. To some extent this too can be said to be less specialized than what I have so far published in English. Yes, there is a certain Lovecraftian and, especially, Cthulhu Mythos element in the novella story, “Hex Code,” but it is much more than a Mythos pastiche… In fact, it is not a Mythos pastiche at all. No, it is a loving tribute to pulp fiction, action stories, weird tales, horror tales and classic writers in those genres. Not to mention: A darn good story in itself. One that also gives you food for though. The short stories in the collection are not very Lovecraftian at all, but are homages to those genres–and, btw, Wagner plays a role in one of the stories.

This may be Mayer’s first publication of stories. Quite an impressive first collection, if you ask me. But for many years he made a living as painter and illustrator, and to also have him illustrate the collection is a treat for all who enjoy weird tale drawings. Just you wait, just you wait…

Don’t believe me? Hm. I think I just might add an illustration from the book later this week…

I don’t know if Hex Code and Others will be reviewed by established papers and venues. I hope so, and will try to make it happen. The author deserves it, and here too I think that there are many readers who deserve it; who would appreciate a reviewer bringing their attention to the kind of book that exists most of the time below the surface, below the radar, of many a reader. We, the weird tale afficionados, know this to be true–we know that most people, even if they occasionally appreciate a genuine thrill down their spine, don’t realize that there are publications beyond the million-selling bestsellers from the Big Houses that dominate the bookstore’s shelves. Because, let’s face it, that is the existence most weird tale publications have:

They are subterraneans.

But in November 2010 another of the denizens will break through, demanding attention…

Update Soon: hplmythos.com

A few days ago I updated H. Harksen Productions’ Danish site. The next website update is, of course, the English site, hplmythos.com (see link to the right), which is in serious need of an update. That will happen later this October.

The update will feature some “behind-the-scene” updates (new page names to click on), but also more meaty ones–such as more & far better information for all the books you can purchase on hplmythos.com. I say “all”–because you will also be able to read about future publications already in the pipeline. For late 2010 and 2011.

Oh, there will also be submission guidelines for Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities, the second volume of hplmythos.com!:-)

Stay tuned. Things are stirring in the darkness again…

Another Blog, Another Horror?

So this is it, finally. A new blog from me, Henrik Sandbeck Harksen. My old one (almost identical in title) died almost two years ago. Time for a resurrection–and a move to a new address, with new clothes. And quite a facelift. After all–we can’t have things smelling too much of death around here, can we, horror buff blog or not?;-)

For now I will only write a brief Introductory Remark, to set out the most basic groundrules I set up for myself here on this blog. If you plan to read this blog in the future it is good for you to know, and in any case it is rather important for me to know (and remember!).

I am publisher of the H. Harksen Productions small press, with a particular (some would add, “and peculiar”) interest in all things Lovecraftian. Most of my publications are either Lovecraftian or in the Cthulhu Mythos vein. Yes, as you can see I divide the Mythos from the Lovecraftian. I will probably say a word or two about it here, but for now let’s just say I belong in the camp of people who think that is the most correct way of seeing things. I do not, however, say that there can be no satisfying read from a Mythos tale. I certainly think there can be–and that is one of the reasons I also look for stories with dread tomes and tentacled, eldritch monsters, and not just philosophically bended tales of dread, where existential bleakness drips from every page.

I relish in both kind of stories. As a reader as well as publisher.

This blog will be a soapbox where I speak up on all things relating to my publications, and where, from time to time, you can read interviews with authors, illustrators, and hopefully also a variety of other colorful people with a deeply felt fascination and love for the weird tale and H. P. Lovecraft.

It will also be a blog where I simply share my thoughts on writing, editing, typesetting, reading, the publishing industry, music, hobbies (yes, I do have other hobbies than publishing horror stories, believe it or not), philosophy (my main interest in HPL actually lies there), Android, so-called “real life” etc.

You get the picture.

I realize, of course, that as of this writing I do not have many readers (close to none, I guess), but I hope that I write something that may turn out to be interesting to you–and I look forward to reading your comments, and engage in discussion. In other words, I have a hope that the “you” I am writing to soon turns out to be a real person sitting in front of a computer screen somewhere else in the world, and not an imaginary “you”;-)

I will write something on this blog at least once a week. No later than on a Monday. Sometimes short updates, other times longer posts. Just like other bloggers’ writings it will be mostly “shooting from the hip” posts, so errors will sneak in from time to time; more so since I am not a native speaker or writer of English.

I am Dane and live in Denmark. I publish books for the English/International market as well as for the Danish market. Books for the latter market are, not surprisingly, in Danish. I know that most Danes can read English quite well (and write it well enough), so most of this blog will be in English. It is the Internet, after all, where borders no longer matter–and English is the new International Language. However, when a post is pertaining to a subject that is somehow specifically Danish it will be written in Danish. Examples of this: When I write exclusively about a new, Danish publication or an interview with  a Danish author (unless he has also published Internationally, of course, in which case English would make most sense to use). I have a suspicion you will quickly discern when that is the case…;-)

Anyway, that was it for now. Coming up: Words re. the latest Danish publication, De underjordiske (yeps, that’s a Danish one, hehe), by Thomas Strømsholt, and Hex Code and Others by John Mayer, as well as the non-fiction, A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos by John. D. Haefele–two publications that will break through the dark and enter the world in the near future.

In the Lovecraftian Ways,

Henrik

P. S. Forgive the meager links, categories etc. to the right here on the blog. I am new to WordPress, but I will add relevant matter, piece by piece, as the blog starts to crawl into a real, hideous life-like state of being…