Why Carnacki?


Today, I’m please to present a guest post by author William Meikle.  Here’s a brief bio from his author page at Amazon:

I’m Willie, a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with ten novels published in the genre press and over 200 short story credits in thirteen countries, the author of the ongoing Midnight Eye series among others. My work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies.

Recently, Meikle has written a number of new stories featuring Hodgson’s supernatural detective, Carnacki.  The often irritable ghost hunter has remained one of Hodgson’s most enduring creations even recently appearing in issues of Alan Moore’s graphic novel series, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

In this essay, Meikle explains why he decided to write new stories of this unique character.

Why I wrote Carnacki: Heaven and Hell

I’d love to have a chance to write a Tarzan, John Carter, Allan Quartermain, Mike Hammer or Conan novel, whereas a lot of writers I know would sniff and turn their noses up at the very thought of it.

Most of the aforesaid characters are trademarked and off-bounds for writers without paying licensing fees. Carnacki however is fair game.

Nowadays there is a plethora of detectives in both book and film who may seem to use the trappings of crime solvers, but get involved in the supernatural. William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel (the book that led to the movie Angel Heart) is a fine example, an expert blending of gumshoe and deviltry that is one of my favorite books. Likewise, in the movies, we have cops facing a demon in Denzel Washington’s Fallen that plays like a police procedural taken to a very dark place.

My interest goes further back to the “gentleman detective” era where we have seekers of truth in Blackwood’s John Silence, Sherlock Holmes… and William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki.

Carnacki resonated with me immediately on my first reading many years ago. Several of the stories have a Lovecraftian viewpoint, with cosmic entities that have no regard for the doings of mankind. The background Hodgson proposes fits with some of my own viewpoint on the ways the Universe might function, and the slightly formal Edwardian language seems to be a “voice” I fall into naturally.

I write them because of love, pure and simple.

It’s all about the struggle of the dark against the light. The time and place, and the way it plays out is in some ways secondary to that. And when you’re dealing with archetypes, there’s only so many to go around, and it’s not surprising that the same concepts of death and betrayal, love and loss, turn up wherever, and whenever, the story is placed.

The ghost story is no different in utilising the archetype of the return of the lost from the great beyond, but a good one needs verisimilitude.

If the reader doesn’t believe wholeheartedly in the supernatural element, even if only for the duration of the story, then they’ll be looking for the Scooby-Doo escape, the man in the mask that means everything before was just smoke and mirrors. To pull off a good ghost story, you need to get past that, and engage the reader at an emotional level.

The best stories allow us to overlay our own fears and nightmares on a backdrop provided by the writer. Some people are terrified of dark corners, others of sounds, others still of silence. A mixture of the primal fears in the story will have readers constantly looking over their shoulder, and almost afraid to reach the end. For me, that’s what makes a good ghost story.

I also love exploring the Occult Detective sub-genre, in the Midnight Eye Files stories, in this series of Carnacki stories, and with Sherlock Holmes in REVENANT, and a series of short stories. I intend to write a lot more of it, and that will definitely mean more Carnacki to come. THE DARK ISLAND novella in this collection is a focal point for Carnacki — in it he has learned that the bounds of his research are much, much wider than he had previously thought. That’s going to give me plenty of scope for further stories and explorations.

William Meikle does a stand up job here of capturing the tone of the original stories. – British Fantasy Society

This version of Carnacki seems a bit more voluble than the one I remember, but horror stories of this type generally assume a more relaxed and intellectual air than most modern ones. It’s a style of writing that I appreciate, and miss. – Don D’Ammassa

You may notice while reading that Carnacki likes a drink and a smoke, and a hearty meal with his friends gathered round. This dovetails perfectly with my own idea of a good time. And although I no longer smoke, witing about characters who do allows me a small vicarious reminder of my own younger days. I wish I had Carnacki’s library, his toys, but most of all, I envy him his regular visits from his tight group of friends, all more than willing to listen to his tales of adventure into the weird places of the world while drinking his Scotch and smoking his cigarettes.

***

William Meikle’s collection of new Carnacki stories, CARNACKI: HEAVEN AND HELL, is available from Dark Regions Press at:

http://www.darkregions.com/books/carnacki-heaven-and-hell-by-william-meikle

It is also available from Amazon as a Kindle e-book at:

http://www.amazon.com/Carnacki-Heaven-and-Hell-ebook/dp/B0045UA7E0/ref=la_B002BMOP0G_1_24?ie=UTF8&qid=1343413791&sr=1-24

Meikle’s Amazon Author page is at:

http://www.amazon.com/William-Meikle/e/B002BMOP0G/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1343412756&sr=8-2-ent#/ref=la_B002BMOP0G_pg_1?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB002BMOP0G&ie=UTF8&qid=1343413832

Meikle has also written a Hodgsonesque novel called THE CREEPING KELP which is also available for the Kindle.

I highly recommend his books and his website at: http://www.williammeikle.com/

–Sam Gafford

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