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Cthulhu Week: A Note from the Editor at Innsmouth Free Press

Posted on August 17, 2010 by Flames

FlamesRising.com is pleased to present you with a guest post from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the publisher at Innsmouth Free Press. According to the “About Innsmouth Free Press” page, this webzine is “a fictional newspaper publishing faux news pieces – lovingly called Monster Bytes – in a Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos universe, as well as original short fiction stories.” Uncover the sordid details behind these Monster Bytes, how Silvia fell in love with Lovecraft’s work, and how you can be a part of this Mythos-inspired ‘zine.

Innsmouth Free Press Issue Number 4Every few months Innsmouth Free Press will get an earnest e-mail from someone who thinks Innsmouth is a real place. Oddly enough, it actually exists, at least in our collective minds.

Innsmouth Free Press is a zine that publishes daily articles, interviews and reviews about all things horror and speculative. Three times a year, we produce a free issue of Lovecraftian fiction. The latest one included stories by Charles R. Saunders of Imaro fame and World Fantasy Award winning author and editor Ekaterina Sedia.

We also write Monster Bytes, which are fake news stories set in Innsmouth. The Monster Bytes are the ones that cause the confused stares. Can you really learn Aklo at the local community centre? Are the Tcho-Tcho a group of refugees who established themselves in Massachusetts? Is there something sinister taking place at the Center for Marine Sciences?

When Paula R. Stiles and I were planning the launch of this zine in 2009, we came up with the idea of the fake news stories as a perfect element for a Lovecraftian publication. They’ve certainly turned out to be very fun because of the collaborative nature of the items.

While Paula and I described the original locations for Innsmouth, and produced the first few Monster Bytes, the stories, places and characters that inhabit Innsmouth have expanded.

Originally, I pictured Innsmouth as a carbon copy of Beverly, Massachusetts, where I lived for a few years. Dyer College is a thinly-veiled version of the college I attended there. However, other writers took the places we had made and ran with them. Mari Ness, for example, created the Center for Marine Sciences and a whole saga of mysterious happenings. Bryan Thao Worra brought the Tcho-Tcho to the state. Amanda Spedding reports on odd happenings around the town every month. She is also responsible for fleshing out our resident crackpot skeptic in town, Caleb McHenry (first introduced in a Monster Byte about the Innsmouth Aquarium bazaar last Christmas), who regularly stands outside public venues with a sign that denunciates whatever event is taking place.

Otherwordly cats, dangerous mushrooms, gardens that have more than just pretty flowers, strange deaths (so many of them!). These have all been the work of curious fans who sat down and wanted to add their mark to the Innsmouth universe.

It’s so fun! If sharing is caring, then we are a very caring bunch. It absolutely thrills us to see a new Monster Byte in the inbox and think, “Gosh, I wouldn’t have thought of that.”

Despite the tentacles, the cultists running around and the fishy look of certain people, Innsmouth is a delightful spot and it’s very real to everyone who writes or reads our dispatches.

I’m not sure why Lovecraft’s stories fascinate so many people. It’s been 120 years since the man was born and his tales of terror from the stars and unspeakable evil still haunt us. Lovecraft was one of the first horror writers I read and he struck a chord when I was a teenager. I felt a connection with the man, which sounds odd considering we are talking about a dude with some bizarre quirks that liked to think himself New England aristocracy and a girl growing up in Mexico. I suppose all teenagers everywhere feel like outsiders sometimes, like monsters or bug-eyed Innsmouth fish-folk. Existential, depressive Lovecraft appeals to the young.

On the flip-side, Lovecraft helped me escape the everyday horrors of a Mexico City that is insane, beautiful and insanely beautiful. It was a key to other worlds, a place where you could chill with some ghouls. I’m very much grown-up by now, but I still like to escape to Lovecraftian towns, to sneak into dusty antiquarian shops stacked with evil books bound in human skin. At the end of the day, when I’m tired and blistering with anger over work, the price of milk or the guy who elbowed me on the eye on the sardine-packed bus, I turn back to Innsmouth, Dunwich or Arkham. It always seems to welcoming, its horrors so well-known, the monsters even friendly.

Lovecraft, paradox of paradox, helps keep me sane. Horror is a refuge.

Before I bid you goodbye, I’d like to mention that we are open to submissions all year round for Monster Bytes, fiction and non-fiction. We are also preparing an Historical Lovecraft anthology.

Won’t you join us in merry Innsmouth and help map its streets? While you’re at it, lets meet at the local pub and toast to Lovecraft’s birthday. Happy Birthday H.P.L., we love you. And Cthulhu too.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 2010

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