Welcome to the fifteenth installment of my “Author of the Week”! These articles focus on Weird Fiction and/or Lovecraftian authors 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 Ann K. Schwader. Ann is one of our greatest Lovecraftian poets, and is the NecronomiCon’s Poet Laureate for 2015. She also writes Lovecraftian fiction. You can visit her website here.
I asked Ann five questions:
Please tell us about yourself—as much or as little as you’d like to say.
I’m a Wyoming native now living in suburban Colorado with my husband, a very spoiled corgi, too many houseplants, and a critical mass of books. I’ve got a BA in Magazine Journalism from Drake University (Des Moines, IA) and a MA in English Lit from the U. of Wyoming, though I’m not sure that I’ve put either one to good use. My interests outside of writing/reading include gardening, space, Egyptology – I keep trying to learn hieroglyphs — and volunteering at our local branch library.
How and why did you begin writing?
I can’t remember when I started writing poetry, though I suspect I was in grade school. I started trying to write fiction when I was in my early teens. By then, I was reading mostly science fiction, with some fantasy and horror thrown in. Output pretty much matched input. I started submitting to various magazines when I was in high school, and collected the usual pile of rejection slips – though Seventeen Magazine did take one poem. College and graduate school put a stop to most non-academic writing, though I did keep on with the poetry and placed quite a bit to campus magazines. (Most of this was mainstream, but I eventually recovered!) I took a few creative writing classes, but they didn’t seem interested in what I wanted to do. I also rediscovered Lovecraft, after first reading him in junior high.
I started seriously writing and submitting to the small and pro press in the mid-1980s. My first professional fiction sales were to Aboriginal SF, and the poetry wound up all over the place. I was really happy to discover that Lovecraftian editors wanted formal verse.
As for why I started writing: my parents read to us every night when my brother and I were little, and Dr. Seuss infected me with rhyme and meter. After that, what else could I do?
What is it about Lovecraftian horror and Weird Fiction that appeals to you?
Lovecraftian horror – at least the kind I enjoy reading and writing – has a strong science-fictional component. Lovecraft cared about the science of his time, and used it to full bleak advantage. He portrayed mankind as utterly unimportant to the rest of the universe, and likely to wind up as one more bug on the cosmic windshield. The fact that this particular bug has some complicated mythologies about the windshield is not going to save it.
I’m not sure that I have a firm understanding of Weird Fiction, but what I’ve read of it appeals to me because it’s so diverse. It allows writers to infuse their work with the unknown in any number of ways, and still find an audience. Even in the 21st century, the unknown still gets to us – the more we think we know, the scarier what we don’t or can’t know becomes.
Which of your books do you recommend that readers begin with?
Twisted in Dream (2011, Hippocampus Press). It’s got almost all my Lovecraftian/weird poems – up to 2010, anyhow! – including my SF sonnet sequence In the Yaddith Time and a brand new 12- sonnet sequence, Lavinia, that I wrote just for the collection.
Would you mind listing your books for us?
Poetry collections still in print:
Wild Hunt of the Stars
Fiction collection, out of print but still available:
Anthologies in which I have stories:
Black Wings IV (forthcoming) – “Night of the Piper”
Cassilda’s Song (forthcoming) – “Dancing the Mask”
The Starry Wisdom Library – essay on The Black Rites
Searchers After Horror – “Dark Equinox”
Dark Fusions – “When the Stars Run Away”
The Book of Cthulhu 2 – “Objects from the Gilman-Waite Collection”
The Book of Cthulhu – “Lost Stars”
Rehearsals For Oblivion – “Tattered Souls”
Horrors Beyond — “Experiencing the Other”
Tales Out of Innsmouth – “Mail Order Bride”
The Darker Side – “Twenty Mile”
Anthologies in which I have poems:
A big “thank you” to Ann for taking the time to answer my questions!
(Previous “Authors of the Week”: Richard Gavin, Molly Tanzer, William Holloway, Brian Hodge, Elizabeth Bear, Don Webb, Nathan Ballingrud, Stephen Mark Rainey, Scott Jäeger, John Claude Smith, Livia Llewellyn, Daniel Mills, Gary Myers, Jeffrey Thomas.)