Welcome to the fourth installment of my “Author of the Week”! Every Sunday, I post about a Weird Fiction and/or Lovecraftian author that I feel deserves more attention. If you have suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This week’s author is Brian Hodge. I asked Brian four questions:
Please tell us about yourself — as much or as little as you’d like to say.
I’m one of those people who always has to be making something, or else I feel completely stagnant. Written works, obviously — by now I’ve published ten novels, five collections, and coming up on 120 shorter works, with more of everything underway. But it could also be music or photography or just out shepherding the process going on in our garden. I’ve begun drawing, working through the book Drawing On The Right Side of the Brain. It’s always something.
But I have to balance the mental activity with physical, too, or I’d be climbing the walls. I’ve practiced Krav Maga for five or six years, and will be testing for my blue belt in November. I work out pretty avidly, am a big proponent of better living through iron.
It’s probably all rooted in the archetypes I find most captivating, the Renaissance person and the warrior-poet … these approaches to life that found great value in engaging in a variety of pursuits that address mind, body, and soul, and trying to get as far down those roads as you can before your time’s up.
And then there are the days when all I’d rather be doing is streaming movies and playing Xbox.
How and why did you begin writing?
If it’s something you can be born with, that must have been what happened. The compulsion was there as a preschooler, or at least by kindergarten, even before I’d learned the alphabet. I would scribble on pieces of wood left over from my dad’s woodworking, and affix them to trees. I don’t remember what I wanted to communicate, but do recall a strong urgency to do this, and frustration that it wasn’t letters, just a mess of chicken scratches. So I was writing stories by second grade.
What is it about Lovecraftian horror and Weird Fiction that appeals to you?
A: The draw has been there nearly as long as the compulsion to write. I grew up on late night broadcasts of Hammer Studios films, Famous Monsters magazine, things like that, so again, the foundation was laid early. I was in college when I picked up my first Lovecraft collection, one of those Del Rey paperbacks.
I think what the appeal comes down to is the notion of this hidden world operating beneath the façade of everyday familiarity. With Lovecraft, specifically, the scale and scope are so vast, both in terms of time and space. There’s unlimited room for awe.
The mysteries of human origins, lost chapters of history on a geological scale, these leftover remnants lying around … it’s very compelling stuff. Plus I share a fascination for ruins, especially those made of megalithic stones so enormous that we still can’t puzzle out for certain how they were moved or worked with such precision, let alone why these ancient people were so intent on building with stones so difficult to quarry and transport.
But on a smaller scale, one thing I love about Lovecraft’s work is how it fits into this ideal window of time. Scientifically, we were starting to get a handle on a lot of new subjects at that time, and his later work reflects this, but it predates things like interstate highways and the ubiquity of phones and cameras and instant access. It feels as if his geography is a lot more capable of sheltering hidden pockets of high strangeness.
I included a passage to that effect in “The Same Deep Waters As You,” the novella I did for Stephen Jones’s Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth anthology from last year: “It was easy to forget how remote a place could once be, even on the continental U.S., and not all that long ago, all things considered. It was easy to forget how you might live a lifetime having no idea what was going on in a community just ten miles away, because you never had any need to go there, or much desire, either, since you’d always heard they were an unfriendly lot who didn’t welcome strangers, and preferred to keep to themselves.”
Which of your books do you recommend that readers begin with?
There’s enough variety that I’d have different recommendations for different audiences. But for here, it’s pretty easy. I would point toward the things I’ve published recently with DarkFuse: Whom the Gods Would Destroy and Without Purpose, Without Pity are both long, standalone novellas that each in their own way involve mutation and apocalypse. Also, Worlds of Hurt, an omnibus edition that gathers the first interlinked pieces of a mythos I’ve gradually been building over the years. For a full-blown novel, maybe Deathgrip, which riffs on the mythology of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and whose history reaches back to ancient Sumer.