After the announcement of High Seas Cthulhu, I’ve been asked a few times how the book came about. Early on I posted an article detailing the inspiration (Surprise Anthology), so I’ll not cover that here. Instead, feel free to follow the link back to the topic. I’ll skip ahead to the framework of the anthology. (Click on the image or here to follow a link to Amazon.com).
Initially, the premise was based upon a number of tales submitted to Dark Wisdom magazine, and to various anthologies I had edited in the past. When the book started, the underlying premise was to gather stores set between the 1500s and 1850s. At first it looked like easy sailing, but as I gathered more tales, it appeared that the anthology might become overburdened with historical works – in some cases, only loosely connected to Lovecraft and his Mythos. So a change of direction was needed. I invited a few writers, expecting most not to be interested. After all, “high seas” Lovecraftian tales do require specific historical knowledge – it is a mixture of two sub-genres. I anticipated few positive responses.
To my surprise, every writer I contacted seemed interested in the project. There were a few who simply didn’t have the time, so maybe we’ll catch them the next time around. I was delighted to learn that I wasn’t the only one with the unusual interest in the particular angle of Lovecraftian tales. Also, some authors contacted me after word of the project was out, adding to the final list.
The basic requirements, originally, were to write a story that takes place on water with Lovecraftian elements. Fearing the anthology would be overrun with tales of prowling Deep Ones, I asked some authors to avoid the topic. Later, hoping to change the pacing of the book, I tried another tack. I asked some authors for contemporary tales – and some found their way to me. Doing this created variety within the anthology, shifting across times and places.
Of course, the cover artist, Steven Gilberts did much to bring the flavor of the anthology to life, producing the cover long before the body of work was completed (and perhaps inspiring some of the tales in the process).
The final order of tales was a challenge. After much debate, I attempted to assemble the tales by thematic connection and juxtaposition, sometimes using one work to foreshadow another work. Although the references in some tales to similar occurrences in other tales was unplanned, it was very convenient when ordering the stories. And with any luck, a few authors will show up to elaborate on how they developed their ideas. Questions are welcome as well.