So many weirdos have added fuel to the burgeoning XPULVER controversy, that we felt compelled to restore a little sanity. So here, reproduced in full, is our brief interview with Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., conducted only days ago, to assess his mental and emotional state prior to crating him up for transport to these United States for an appearance at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & Cthulhucon–San Pedro, April 29-May 1. This interview will also appear in The Daily Lurker program handed out at the fest…
Few dark stars in the weird horror genre shine brighter or burn stranger fuel than Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.. From his novel debut, Nightmare’s Disciple, he has doggedly pursued a passionate human urgency into the clinically detached modern horror scene, and restored a rhythmic dynamism and a reverence for the conjuring power inherent in WORDS(!!!!) to a field largely overwhelmed by the influence of cinema. Making the most of the brief-but-tranquil interval between feeding and smoking out the Beast, we posed a few questions to try to get into the head of the man who went to Carcosa way before it was cool.
Your unique stream-of-consciousness prose style seems to draw as much upon musical and poetic influences as literature.
Music is my heroin, and I read more poetry than fiction, true, so yeah, I’m bent that way. I like film, a lot, but it’s not me. Film looks, I feel. I feel music, I feel the poet’s pain, or their wonderment, or rage, or the weight of their crown. So, no, no films in my head (excepting my “Carl Lee and Cassilda” trilogy). Places/events, X’s on maps, I see one and just start walking toward it. Can’t plan the walk, as there may be detours around a corner you can’t yet see, or you may bump into someone leaving their abode and suddenly you’ve turned right and are in a divebar having watered-down drinks w/ a woman (with an ass that could start a revolution) who tells you she has an OUTthere pad in Dimension Z… and she has a cure for yer ills. The teXt goes where it wants to go. Screams or cries, as it wants. It’s all JAZZ, improvise as you go. It’s all about FELT! !!
You’ve also said that your passion is crime fiction, and particularly David Goodis, but you seem to write exclusively weird horror. How has crime fiction schooled what you do, and/or how you do it?
Ah, crime. Dreams and downs. LOTTO tix and losers that can’t spell S.O.S. Wine, women, and FUCK YOU for thinking you could get ahead, or get out alive. Crime fiction told me what’s true. Showed me my city, and its sisters. The city is grey, it’s hard, it HUGE… and yer nothing, less than zero—COSMICISM anyone? The city is a character, not a place. It provides the oxygen. It tells you what’s on the menu and if you get to eat today. It decides where the stop lights are and if there are any detours on the route you were planning on taking.
Goodis, Himes, Spillane, Ellroy, Vachss, dozens of others, they put it plain, they’re jazzy, expressionistic, the pain comes slashing off the page. Reading crime since I was 12, it got in deep and when I began to write, it’s what came to the page naturally.
Loved Bloch and Poe and Crime as a teen. They were all dark, and the Crime/Weird fit, to me, seemed as normal as a broken window in an abandoned factory.
I have penned 3 straight noir tales, no weird in them, not a whiff. One day, I’d like to do a noir novel, no weird!
You’ve written a few dozen stories using Robert Chambers’ King In Yellow cycle, and edited two anthologies of Carcosa fiction. What is it with you and the King in Yellow, anyway?
12 years old, 13, Bloch and Poe set me up for MADNESS. They scared the hell out of me, w/ “Tell Tale Heart”, “ACoA”, and Norman and Jack the Ripper. I was a book kid, a library kid, I lived in books, they were my car, my wings, my teachers—books were the true power in the universe. At 16, along came Chambers with his madness. WHAM, a book w/the power to drive you mad. Add the mystery of the King in Yellow play, the allure of long ago and far away, and what’s behind the mask, damn, I was hooked! 45 years later, I still am.
See? Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy. America, open your hearts and your medicine chests!