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It Turns Out Someone WILL Publish A Humorous Cthulhu Mythos Story

April 1, 2023
Cthulhu is watching you!

There aren’t many opportunities to publish Cthulhu Mythos short stories. Somehow, Cthulhu missed out on the pass given to tales about vampires, zombies, and sentient computers. I blame the drippiest of H.P. Lovecraft’s writing. It can be a lot of fun for a reader, but it must be a bit much for an editor.

Everyone listened, and everyone was listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed Its gelatinous green immensity through the black doorway into the tainted outside air of that poison city of madness. — H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

So anyway, in 2016 I wrote the drippiest Cthulhu Mythos story I could — “The Shrieking Horror.” Publication was foremost in my mind. The story, written specifically for a humorous Cthulhu anthology, was promptly rejected by it.

I don’t write a lot of short stories. For the ones I finish, I try not to give up on them. That’s because in order to finish writing a short story, I have to love it, and I can’t give up on something I love. Plus, writing this one was a ton of fun. The story is about turn-of-the-century variety show performer Lavinia Honeytrap, her Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and her insomniac infant Hereward, who has just stolen an ankh destined for Miskatonic University.

The story moldered in an active portion of my hard drive as I failed to find other places to submit it. Getting a humorous Cthulhu Mythos story published is even less likely than getting a horror version of the same out into the world.

It’s easy to see Cthulhu all around if you know where to look. 

In a fit of early 2022 procrastination, I re-read the story. It turns out that in the original, a Great Old One’s voice was very much like that of the Guldaxramian children. Those slimy tots made their debut in my Clarkesworld story “A Heist in Fifteen Products from the Orion Spur’s Longest Running Catalog.”

Procrastination combined with amusement. I rewrote “The Shrieking Horror” with the hopes I could do a better job than I had in 2016. I could never do as well as Esther Friesner’s “The Shunned Trailer,” my favorite humorous Cthulhu Mythos story, but I could still try! 

I metaphorically shook off a document I’ve been cobbling together the last few years. That electronic repository of the most profound truths is something I like to call “How to Write Funny.” It reminded me to reach for the most outrageous words and sprinkle the story with intolerable alliteration. The rule of three was not to be ignored. I punctuated paragraphs with phrases like “larcenous proclivity” and “mephitic mush.” The amount of time I spent trying to find scene-perfect Shakespeare quotes for Mr. Prattle the parrot was not insubstantial. 

Color me currant with joy when JayHenge Publishing said they wanted the story for their anthology, which is not only 411 pages long, but also available on Amazon Kindle. Another victory for silliness! w00t!

If you don’t admire the cover art below, Great Cthulhu will know, and you will be sorry. 

Cover for The Nameless Songs of Zadok Allen & Other Things That Should Not Be edited by Jessica Augustsson

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