Welcome to the sixth installment of my “Author of the Week”! Every Sunday, I post about a Weird Fiction and/or Lovecraftian author that I think more readers should know about. If you have suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This week’s author is Don Webb. I asked Don four questions:
Please tell us about yourself — as much or as little as you’d like to say.
I am a Texan from Amarillo, UT graduate. I teach High School English for adults 19-50. I have more short stories published tlshan a human being should, three novels from St. Martins. I am an expert on the Greek Magical papyri.
How and why did you begin writing?
I had had no intention to be anything so silly. It came to pass at Texas Tech a class was offered – “Honors: Writing the Science Fiction Story” – a friend of mine told me that it was an easy A, and being of an indolent disposition I took the class. One could make an A merely by penning a tale. I wrote my first story, “Pages from a Diary” – (What am imaginative title!) It was, as first stories almost always are –an autobiography. The aimless dope-smoking fellow descends into the bowels of the earth and can’t escape the mystery therein. I doubt that I could have made a clearer life-statement, but (of course) I did not know it at the time. Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificandoque Invenies Occultum Lapidem, as my Masonic grandfather would have written. Oh well, there is acid and acid.
My tale, not only gained the approval of some of my classmates (and better still the envy of others), but was duly accepted by a publication. Or so it seemed. You see I had noticed a small advertisement of a new magazine. I sent my tale off, and received a gracious letter of acceptance mentioning that the first issues would contain stories by Dr. Isaac Asimov and Ursula K. LeGuin. Certainly Dame Fortune had smiled upon me and I need not finish school. I contented myself creating little tales and more little tales. Weeks became months and months became an empty larder. Fame seemed slow to arrive, Then at last I called the editor of the magazine . . . and listened to the nice nurse at the mental hospital. My “editor” didn’t have phone or mail privileges anymore.
So like all good Lovecraftian heroes the Mythos brought me ruin and madness as well.
What is it about Lovecraftian horror and Weird Fiction that appeals to you?
When we let the world become predictable we die a little, we become more of a machine. Conventional religion with easy explanations has the same effect as science — it removes that uncertainty that is the basis (the space if you will) that consciousness needs. Without the Weird, there is no space for the pysche to experince itself or the Wonder of the cosmos. It is a spiritual duty to read and write weird fiction. Lovecraft, a materialist atheist, understood the need for imagination, although had no way in his viewpoint for explaining that need. This made his writing have a desperate edge that keeps it fresh and its fandom growing.
Which of your books do you recommend that readers begin with?
Thanks to Don for answering my questions! You can also read a Don Webb story for free: Powers of Air and Darkness, published in issue #22 of The Lovecraft eZine.