One can’t write a weird story of real power without perfect psychological detachment from the human scene, and a magic prism of imagination which suffuses them and style alike with that grotesquerie and disquieting distortion characteristic of morbid vision. Only a cynic can create horror—for behind every masterpiece of the sort must reside a driving daemonic force that despises the human race and its illusions, and longs to pull them to pieces and mock them.
The best weird work of today (and that includes older figures like Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti, T. E. D. Klein, Dennis Etchison, and others) is increasingly read by only a coterie of cognoscenti and not by general public. I’m not sure what can be done about this; perhaps it is only a sign that, as Lovecraft wrote long ago, weird fiction in its essence is really only meant for the “sensitive few.”
It’s clear why reading Lovecraft is paradoxically comforting to those souls who are weary of life. In fact, it should perhaps be prescribed to all who, for one reason or other, have come to feel a true aversion to life in all its forms. In some cases, the jolt to the nerves upon a first reading is immense. One may find oneself smiling all alone, or humming a tune from a musical. One’s outlook on existence is, in a word, modified.
I’d be flattered if someone said that my work is “too weird” for them. I value the uncompliment. I’d ask what they usually liked to read, and try to recommend something that they might like better. Most of what I write is too weird for my mother —which is fine!
I would imagine different people come to these forms of fiction for very many different reasons. It’s the way my mind works. I look at the world, and I see it weird.
“By definition the weird story is based on an enigma that can never be dispelled.…” Semantics aside, the important thing to me in a so-called weird tale is an impenetrable mystery that generates the actions and manifestations in a narrative. A good example is Lovecraft’s favorite weird story “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood.” There’s nothing in the willows themselves that is responsible for the phenomena that menace the two men who stop on an island while boating down the Danube. The willows are only a symbol of some invisible, unknowable force that means no good to those who are unfortunate enough to be caught by bad weather in this atmospheric locale. This force is patently supernatural — or, given Blackwood’s view of nature, preternatural.
Writing is like being in a dream state or under self-directed hypnosis. It induces a state of recall that—while not perfect—is pretty spooky.