Author, scholar, and blogger Chris Perridas is currently one of the most prolific Lovecraft historians actively writing today. His popular blog H.P. Lovecraft and His Legacy contains a staggering 2,000 articles and has been viewed by nearly 100,000 people. But Perridas chronicles more than just Lovecraft: he runs concurrent blogs analyzing other literary and biological subjects related to the Weird.

Perridas maintains a grueling daily publication schedule, and he is thus the primary gatekeeper and guru of Lovecraftian media and the masses. We were thrilled when he offered to answer a few questions about his work in a fascinating interview.

LNN: How did you get started with your blog?

PERRIDAS: I started the blog when someone came into my office in 2001 on an afternoon after a long day of business and mentioned he'd just reread Lovecraft. "Hmm," I thought, "that name sounds familiar." I recalled that a biology teacher in High School - about 1970 I guess - mentioned the name, but I wasn't into that kind of thing, so I'd dismissed it back then.

I went to Barnes and Noble that weekend and was surprised there was so little by the man, HPL, but I got a book and read it. Before that I thought, horror, eh. I'd studied ghost stories as folklore, but not horror per se. I had been into sword and sorcery and science fiction as a kid. Never particularly liked horror, though I was a big fan of the Universal Monsters as a kid.

I was immediately hooked on HPL. I saw the folklore element of Lovecraft, and the eerie fantastic writing, and when I got to Colour Out of Space I wondered if he was a chemist, as I am. That got me going. That and the vast cosmicism of the writing.

One thing led to another and before long I'd read most of his fiction, sent off for numerous biographies and other things about Lovecraft, and began to record my notes and some things that caught my interest into Blogger. I knew nothing about blogging, so I asked few people for advice and plunged in. I was startled to see that two or three people were readng the blog back then, and while I had no idea who they were, I thought that there might be some interest in what I was doing, so I tried to minimize the typos, write the best I knew how to do, and let it evolve naturally. I incorporated new tools as they became available, and the most fun is the little Yahoo Group I host. People I read and admired, are now people I converse with regualrly - how cool is that?

My fascination for HPL is less his fiction and more of his mystery of a life. He's a bit of an enigma, as anyone who ever knew him or knew of him will attest. The mystery of how an obscure writer became so entrenched in the lives of other - and perhaps greater - writers is a sociological connundrum as well, and one I decided to pick apart and understand.

LNN: Just so I can be clear, could you please list the diverse projects, groups, and blogs you currently manage?

PERRIDAS: Currently I am associate editor with Arcane Wisdom (publisher Larry Roberts), and a contributor to Dark Recesses.

I host a cordial yahoo group about Lovecraft in coordination with my "H. P. Lovecraft and His Legacy" blog, which I usually refer to as HPLblog.

Mr. Lovecraft has been an important part of my literary life for several years, but I have more interests than that one note. I have a "Weird Beasts" blog to which I post occasional odd scientific and human interest news on how animals interact. I also have begun a "Young Lin Carter" blog of discoveries I've made about his per-1960 life.

I also post occasionally to what I refer to as "The Antiquarian Thread". I have several incarnations, as this is highly experimental at this time. One version is at Blogger, one is at "The Haunt" a forum attached to Horror Mall, and another is at Dark Recesses. As it is a thought experiment about how to educate newer horror fantasy fans to authors who've come before, I don't have a solid definition of how this will work.

LNN: If I were to anoint you with a title, it would clearly be the preeminent Lovecraftian archivist of the 21st century. Your daily, indefatigable efforts cataloging incursions of HPL into contemporary culture are so prolific as to be nearly unbelievable. How much time does it take per day to manage your various projects and do you get help from anyone to do so? What does your family think of the project?

PERRIDAS: I'm uncomfortable with "21st century archivist" or any other title, but that aside, I use the tools Blogger gives and it automatically lets me post at times I select. I peruse Ebay, the auction houses, read through my copious emails, and news feeds and pick out items that appeal to my interests. Most of the time these are the same things that interest the blog readers!

I get moral support from good friends, occasional bits suggested by readers, but I do the blog by myself. All typos are mine.

On a good week, I spend daily about an hour and a half, but it could be 3 hours per day or more. A lot of that comes in spurts. I've seen massive auctions of rare items that I had to sift through and study, do research on their background, and so forth. Those are exciting times, but they can keep me up to 2 AM. Then it's bleary-eyed off to work!

I love getting email, and correspondence from blog readers. One weekend I had over 70 emails to sort through, but that's a bit atypical. Mostly, it's well wishers – lurkers – who tentatively want to confidentially share a story, incident, or item with me. I believe that the isolation of Lovecraftians from one another, and the nature of privacy among collectors, makes the community guarded and cautious.

My wife has little interest in horror, or Lovecraft, and so quietly tolerates my proclivities to acquiring musty old books from the early 20th century. My neighbors, relatives, and friends are equally uninterested so the topic rarely comes up. When it does, they are stunned to realize the number of stories and articles I've published, and the modicum of notoriety I've carved out.

LNN: You mentioned that, "My fascination for HPL is less his fiction and more of his mystery of a life." This is actually something I hear from many of the long-standing figures in the world of contemporary Lovecraftiana. What then, beyond mere fandom, is the significance of Lovecraft and his ideas for you? More specifically, what have you discovered after all these years of study about "The mystery of how an obscure writer became so entrenched in the lives of other--and perhaps greater--writers" and how has it impacted you?

PERRIDAS: When I first crossed paths with Lovecraft, I enjoyed his sophisticated language, his blend of horror and weird tale themes, but mostly his use of folk lore and scientific structuralism to convey realism. It's similar to my own thought process, and this is precisely what turns many people off about Lovecraft. He's often tagged as having adjectivalism. Even in his own day people wondered at his relatively stiff way of writing and lack of characterization.

However, as I've tracked his trajectory through the shadowy corners of history, Lovecraft is more of a "feeling" or an "idea" than a person or of his writing. His close friends alternatively adored and wondered at his posing as an old man, at his oddities, and at his erudition. This next metaphor might easily be misconstrued, but Lovecraft's life is a miniature of what occurred with Jesus as the end of the 2nd century neared, or perhaps Socrates – other names could be used, but these will suffice. His powerful presence, his attempt to master the weird tale, awed his contemporaries and inspired a generation of young men who sought to continue that legacy. However, times changed as 1940 came, and scientifiction trumped horror fantasy splitting the modern weird tale into factions.

If Poe was our John the Baptist, and Lovecraft our weird tale Jesus, then August Derleth was our Paul. Larry Roberts and I have written that Derleth was singly important – for better or worse – to carry that legacy. By most accounts, he was bullish and spent every dollar and wrote every book with the single purpose to keep Lovecraft in print. Time and again, I've found obscure pulps and pamphlets in English and Spanish that have the unmistakable hand of Derleth – often he appears side by side with Lovecraft. After Derleth's death, we must honor Mr. Joshi and Robert Price who worked so hard with many colleagues to keep Lovecraft alive into the 21st century.

Yet, the concept of Lovecraft today, I believe, has morphed into something beyond the factual. There have always been small elements that equated Lovecraft's horror with other sociological peripheries that incorporated cabalism. Lovecraft used it himself in his stories.

In the social consciousness, 80 years of Lovecraft has merged with Fortean ideas, and some ideas of Aleister Crowley, and has become some amalgam that one might compare to Gnosticism, if we continue the Christian metaphor. Derleth had a stranglehold on Lovecraft's copyrights (the canon), and that has relinquished with dagonbytes and the advent of the internet. That, and the proliferation of all sorts of Lovecraft inspired fiction – much very good and other not so good, we are on the cusp of entering an era where the real Lovecraft may be completely pushed aside. Mainstream Hollywood has discovered Lovecraft, and what might be termed unhindered Lovecraftploitation.

For me they mystery of Lovecraft consists of how his life of elitism was shattered and thrust into the lower middle class of Providence. His reaction to that coupled with other family traumas made his zealous as a missionary. Others see Lovecrafty as a nihilist or a cosmicist. I see him as trying to find his way. Through every literate venue he could find he propagated a blend of Edwardian Naturalism and elitism. Lovecraft is the hero of all his stories. In many of them, the central character is thrust into an unknown world and while roughed up, emerges essentially changed – translated – into a new creature. This metamorphosis is somewhat akin to salvation. However, what saves is the preservation of key essentials of civilization, literacy, and the fact that the character has spent years reading certain texts, holding onto certain concepts, and resisted change by barbarous outside forces.

The population of Providence doubled between 1880 and 1910 (276,000 to 542,000) and was nearly 700,000 at his death. Many of these were minorities and immigrants, and they had to have traumatized the citizens of College Hill. Before we throw stones at Lovecraft's racism and ethnicism, we need to examine our own traumas when we see hordes of immigrants coming across our borders, and experience psychosis of terrorists around every suburban tree. His life, in microcosm, is our life today. Is it any wonder he idolized the Romans – who experienced their own Visigoths.

LNN: How does your background in science affect the way you read and interpret Lovecraft and how did it influence your own personal fiction as part of the Terrible Twelve?

PERRIDAS: When I began to write, I discovered a group formed by R. J. Cavender called the Terrible Twelve. He had a brilliant concept: Gather together fledgling writers to expand the borders of horror. However, his loose reins and a room full of Apersonalities generated both light and heat. From that cauldron emerged many names you will soon hear about – Sarah Berniker, Fran Friel, Boyd Harris, Bailey Hunter, and so many others. We mercilessly critiqued one another, and explored weird mixes of Bizarro, Horror-eroticism, metafictional, vulgarian, bloody stories, and things that are yet to have names. Many were never published – who would dare? – it was challenging, fun, and an experience of a lifetime.

My personal fiction explored blends of ghost lore, science fantasy, and eroticism. In most of the stories, a regular person experiences a drive by horror and that person must come to terms with his repressed sexuality and examine his own strength of character and will to survive.

LNN: More specifically, for better or for worse, Lovecraft's recent rise in fame has been accompanied by a vigorous dilution of his ideas as they have expanded to genres and mediums well outside those he originally intended. To the purists, this is lamentable. To others, it's wonderful. What impact do you think things like The Adventures of Lil' Cthulhu--which, for the record, I think is fantastic--have on Lovecraft's image and reputation? What do you think are some of the benefits and costs of this diverse application of the mythos and his ideology?

PERRIDAS: It's been about a century since Lovecraft began to write seriously. His letters are the bulk of his career, each one preening his correspondent, and proselytizing his beliefs upon them. Often his stories attempt the same thing, but they aren't obvious unless one compares his letters with his stories. There is a term, historicity, that compares what actually happened with what was perceived to have happened by a particular audience or society. Lovecraft's Mythos was a hodge-podge and playful expression to engage his colleagues in exploring the concept of how our minds deal with the concept of 'alien'. He selected vermin to represent these outside forces. In reality, he probably conceptualized Portuguese, Italians, and other minorities as rats, frogs, crabs, octopus. He was specifically repelled by seafood, so that was a choice of vermin he used a lot. However, when that fiction is divorced from the life of Lovecraft, how does one propagate the Mythos.

Today we sort of have a blend of Cthulhu-mythos, Fortean, magic, and National Enquirer stuff emerging into new horror fantasy art forms. This is the wonder of the horror genre, in my opinion. It's fluid. Writers take our deepest cultural fears – which change with each generation – and deconstructs them, demythologizes them, and then re-mythologizes them into new expressions. We don't recognize this as its happening, and often horror and humor are two sides of the same coin. In the past it's been Spike Jones or Mark McLaughlin poking us, or Poe, Lovecraft, Jackson, or Ligotti terrorizing us. We have our own writers doing this now, but they're too close to us. They're still working word magic. (My bet is on Brian Keene right now!)

Complicating matters is that 20th century society morphed images and words together in complex forms. Lovecraft's world had movies, but he was primarily moved by words on a page. That world is gone, and our literary expressions must be encased in sound, visuals, and words – words still being the most essential element of that expression.

LNN: What are your plans for your various projects in the near future? Will we see even more blogs and groups from Chris Perridas in the coming months and years, or is there a consolidation planned in the works?

PERRIDAS: I have a demanding full time occupation, and I moved into writing as a stress reliever. However, that avocation has now picked up its own dynamic. I'm now 53, and since I do everything myself I am faced with some difficult choices.

I still plan to continue the HPLblog, but now that I've exceeded 2100 posts and it’s taken on an encyclopedic and indexed form, I'm struggling to know where to go from here. Barring some new revelations at auction houses, most of Lovecraft's trajectory has been sketched in my blog posts. I have almost every year of his life and subsequent chronicled by some publication, and a fair portion of his friends, followers, and notable fans documented. I'm proud that some of them are now acquaintances. Readers of the blog hang on and let's see where 2010 takes us.

I have wanted for some time to write several serious articles. First is whether Lovecraft was a spy for Houdini. I want to write up an overview of the importance of Adolphe de Castro as a Jewish leader and significant literary figure. HPL's comments have misled some folks, I think. I'd like to publish an essay on the dynamism of young Lin carter's life prior to 1960. Those who only know his from his fiction have missed a significant influence in the fantasy field.

I have a few experimental blogs that have not yet had enough of my attention. The first is "Weird Beasts" that I'm attempting to define. My intention is that we are about to experience a sense of chock and awe as a society. We barely know the alien life forms on our own planet, and yet we are suddenly faced with millions of planets that are teaming with life so utterly alien – yet utterly familiar – that we will be hard pressed to absorb it all. That's something I'm trying to convey.

I have another experimental blog that I hope will chronicle the splintering and transition of the "weird tale" into scientifiction (later science fiction) and 20th century horror. Unsung heroes such as Sam Moskowitz, Forest Ackerman, and dozens of other amateurs who later became professional writers, essayists, and editors are nearly forgotten. However, they kept the faith of "Antiquarian Thread" and passed it to us despite the onslaught of the Atomic Age science fiction and it's morphing into science fantasy.

I have tentative plans for an electronic magazine, to continue to work with the team at Dark Recesses, and to work with Larry Roberts at Arcane Wisdom. The question for me is how much time will I have to actually execute these ideas and tasks.

I get occasional grumblings that I've overstepped the line by capturing images and putting them up for viewers on my blogs. I always apologize when that happens, but by and large there seems to be an accommodation that this is a resource that is enjoyed. I make no profit from this – not that I object to making profit, I just am not clever enough to come up with a plan to do so.

Visit Chris Perridas' voluminous archives:
The H. P. Lovecraft And His Legacy Blog

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