Guest Posts

Guest Post on H.P. Lovecraft

When fellow H.P. Lovecraft fan Brandon Engel contacted me about writing a guest post, I was eager to accept.  Lovecraft’s stories are especially fitting during this time of year, as the leaves begin to change and Halloween approaches.

  It takes a unique individual to construct an alternate world ruled by sinister gods who resemble octopuses. And, apparently, it takes several more unique individuals to flesh out that world — to canonize it and to enrich it with their own interpretations of Lovecraft’s work. Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a writer of some note. He will be affectionately remembered by fans for his rich writing style, and his distinct ability to match his keen attention to detail with an artful restraint. Lovecraft would disclose the minute details about the interior architecture of some alien monster-god dwelling, but then when you see the description of the monster, it would be extremely brief and would force readers to evoke their own monsters — which is, ultimately, the most horrifying thing any horror writer can do.

   It was around 12 years ago that a wonderful and fairly comprehensive compilation of Lovecraft’s best known works was released — an omnibus entitled The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories.It features such classic Lovecraft tales as: “The Dunwich Horror”, “At the Mountain of Madness,” and “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

   Unfortunately for Lovecraft, he never achieved the recognition he deserved while he was alive and writing. Even though he was impoverished throughout his lifetime, Lovecraft is regarded by modern readers as a distinguished author of horror and fantasy — one of the strongest fiction writers within his niche from the early 20th century, and potentially one of the greatest horror authors of all time.

     He first started to build a reputation, and make friends within his peerage, in the 1920’s when he started contributing short stories to the pulp magazine Weird Tales. Among his contemporaries at Weird Tales were Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian) and Robert Bloch (the author of Psycho). Among the stories which Lovecraft first published through Weird Tales was The Call of Cthulhu, published in 1928. The story introduced the Cthulhu character, who would become extremely important within Lovecraft’s world. The story is based on the fictional manuscript of a character named Francis Wayland Thurston. Thurston had been investigating the death of his uncle Gammell Angell, a Semitic language scholar, who had written about a strange cult which worshipped a god named Cthulhu, a gigantic sub-aquatic monster who is described as resembling an “octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature…. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings.”

     Lovecraft was relatively unknown during his time, but he did correspond with some fellow fantasy writers and publishers who admired his work, such as August Derleth. It was actually Derleth who coined the “Cthulhu Mythos” to describe Lovecraft’s self-contained world ruled by Lovecraft’s pantheon of strange, Alien gods. Other writers have contributed to the Mythos, creating unique characters, and striving to expand upon the world Lovecraft created. Among the many writers who’ve contributed are Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, and Derleth himself.  

  Lovecraft fans and scholars have attempted to categorize alien entities within the Cthulhu Mythos. In the H.P. Lovecraft Companion, author Philip A. Schreffler divided all the alien gods into two distinct camps: there are the “Outer Ones” living in the center of the fictional universe who we can not reach, and then there are the“Great Old Ones” like Cthulhu who live on earth and are worshipped by deranged cultists.

   Lovecraft’s alien deities predate human beings, and they also have no reverence for humanity. In Lovecraft’s bleak world, the human phenomena of grief, anxiety, and emotion are inconsequential. A beast like Cthulhu would look upon a “mere mortal” in the way that “mere mortals” look upon gnats. We are an inconsequential species in their fearsome eyes.  

    But it’s not just alien god monsters that Lovecraft will be remembered for! He authored some works which dealt with bizarre medical practices, and raised questions about scientific ethics, such as his short story Herbert West Re-Animator which was immortalized in the 1980’s by director Stuart Gordon with his film adaptation Re-Animator. The story followed Herbert West, an eccentric, morally ambiguous medical student who has developed an elixir which reanimates dead bodies. Or his novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, which followed the story of an elite young Rhode Island man who has resurrected a remote relative of his, Joseph Curwen, an infamous wizard who practiced black-magic and was responsible for countless deaths. Not only did Ward resurrect Curwen — he surrendered his very identity to him. Curwen attempts (unsuccessfully) to live as Ward, but his great antiquity works against him. The towns’ folk, believing that Curwen is insane, have him locked up in a mental institution. Roger Corman used the story as the basis for his film The Haunted Palace.

   It is somewhat heartbreaking that Lovecraft never got to fully experience real commercial or critical success within his lifetime. Nevertheless, his legacy lives on, as his terrific body of work still resonates with readers to this day.

Author bio: Brandon Engel is an entertainment blogger with whose chief interests include cult films and classic horror literature. Among Brandon’s favorite authors are Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and Stephen King.

Categories: Guest Posts, Horror/Gothic | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

How to Train Your Demon: Guest Post by Jane Kindred

Today I am delighted to host author Jane Kindred as a part of her blog tour for “The Armies of Heaven,” the third book in the House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy.  My review of the book will be posted later this week.


How to Train Your Demon

While Anazakia, the heroine of The House of Arkhangel’sk series, is an angelic grand duchess, the character I think of as the real protagonist is one of the Fallen. An airspirit named Belphagor, he’s used to being a bit of an outcast both in Heaven and below. In Heaven’s demon ghetto, Raqia, he’s known as the Prince of Tricks, a gambler who rarely loses, and whom no one can catch cheating, though most are convinced he is. In the world of Man, he’s a former rent boy and a tattooed thief who’s done time in the Russian zona. And he also happens to be a gay BDSM top.

His “boy,” Vasily, is a gruff, burly firespirit with flame-red dreadlocks, scruffy muttonchops, and spiked piercings down the sides of his neck, who can light a cigar with his tongue. But underneath Vasily’s rough exterior is a very sensitive soul.

Their “courtship” generally consists of snide remarks and angry growling on Vasily’s part, while Belphagor pretends to be insensitive and callous until Vasily blows his top. The inevitable fight between them ends in Vasily’s reluctant submission, which he rails against and pretends to hate—until he doesn’t.

When I first created these characters, I had no idea they’d be lovers, and I was equally surprised to discover their kinky inclinations. Belphagor has a particularly strong “voice” in my head, and when I let him stand back and describe Vasily in his own terms, it immediately became apparent what kind of relationship they had. It also became apparent that Vasily wasn’t gay; he was bisexual. Which is how he and Belphagor and Anazakia end up as a family, and how Vasily becomes the father of the last scion of Heaven.

But I can’t deny that the BDSM scenes between Belphagor and Vasily were my favorite to write. My only worry was that readers wouldn’t get their consensual nature. My editor, in fact, expressed concern at first that it might turn readers off, recommending that I soften those scenes up a bit. I pushed back on that particular edit, because I felt the intensity of those interactions was crucial to Belphagor and Vasily’s story. And then along came Fifty Shades of Gray, and suddenly BDSM was the “it” thing. By comparison, my story is relatively tame.

As deeply as Belphagor loves Vasily, and as intense as their connection is, in the final book of the trilogy, The Armies of Heaven, Belphagor takes a bit of a detour on his way to soliciting aid for the future queen of Heaven. In taking command of a platoon of Virtues, an order of angels known for their purity and modesty, Belphagor has the opportunity for the first time to train one of them as a willing submissive. It’s a challenge he can’t pass up and one that will have a profound affect on him—and on the fate of Heaven itself.



To celebrate the release of The Armies of Heaven, I’m giving away prizes to three different winners on my blog tour: a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble or Amazon, a complete set of print books of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, and a collector’s edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen illustrated by Vladyslav Yerko. Just enter via the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the post. This giveaway is international.



About the author:

Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

You can find Jane on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and on her website.


About The Armies of Heaven, Book Three of The House of Arkhangel’sk:

In Heaven, all hell has broken loose…

Full-scale war has broken out in Heaven, and Anazakia must embrace her destiny, leading an army of Virtues into battle against a Host of enemies to restore the House of Arkhangel’sk.

Furious with her for putting her trust in the angel who has done them all irreparable harm, Vasily tries to ignore his growing resentment, while Belphagor returns to the world of Man with a cadre of beautiful androgynous Virtues to restore the sundered alliance between the Fallen and the gypsy underground. Without their help in enlisting the terrestrial forces of Grigori and Nephilim, Anazakia’s Virtues are hopelessly outnumbered.

But there are more things in Heaven and Earth than any of them have dreamt of, and those they cannot see will mean the difference between victory and losing everything.

The Armies of Heaven is available now at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Powell’s Books.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Guest Posts | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

New Header, and Guest Post from the Artist

My new blog header is finally finished.  I wanted something more reflective of my personality that expressed my love of fantasy and Russian literature.  I love how it turned out!

The artist (my younger sister) prepared a guest post for me about her concept and vision.  To see more of her work, visit

This is Krill. He is the dragon that you see picture. Since he’s going to be hanging out for a while, or at least hopes to be, I’d like to spend some time helping you to get to know him.

First and foremost, while he may look cute, he is a ferocious dragon who will roast anyone who dares mock him. (No, really, he will, he assures you. Those are not puffs of accidental smoke when he coughs, nor is fire ever lacking when he wants it, he promises.)

Krill loves coffee. If you give him coffee, he will be your best friend. He’ll even stick his long, forked tongue into your cup to make it *his* cup of coffee. I mean, you don’t want it after he’s licked it, right? Right?

Like a kitty, Krill likes to be petted. He likes when you rub his head right behind the horns, or massage his back riiiiiiiight after where his wings connect to his body. Oh, and don’t pull his tail. Yes, he is very much like a kitty. A very ferocious kitty that can puff smoke and flame. And that drinks coffee.

He also likes books. This is why he lives with Grace, whose own book collection rivals that of a library’s. What he really likes to eat is books. Of course, he swears he’s not going to do this. Those bite marks are not his. Nope, definitely not. Those must be the boyfriend’s. The kitty’s. The dog’s? What do you mean she doesn’t have pets? They have to be somebody’s!?! Krill is innocent! He swears no book eating! He swore to it when he moved in!

…Krill might have eaten that book. It just smelled so good, the smell of fresh printed pages, brand new ink, exciting adventures! He just couldn’t help it. He likes manuscripts too! Especially handprinted ones, but those are rare and valuable, so he tries to only eat paper ones, ones that have already been reviewed and edited, yes, yes those ones.

And he loves old books also! They just smell so wonderful! He promises he can live to smell these ones only, that as long as he has coffee he will never, ever take a bite out of them!

Mama Matroshkya, while keeping her own kids in line, is rolling her eyes. She does not believe Krill. Krill knows she does not believe him. Even though Krill would never eat something like Mama Matroshkya, she’d taste bad. Not like fine paper or coffee!

Krill would like to stay here for a long time. Because the books just taste so- he means, smell so good! And the stories! Oh yes, he is very, very happy here. Krill is quite a happy dragon. A very happy, ferocious, fear-inspiring dragon. Oh yes.

Categories: Guest Posts, Other | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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