Mythos Creature Spotlight: The Ghoul


There was one thing called “The Lesson”—heaven pity me, that I ever saw it! Listen—can you fancy a squatting circle of nameless dog-like things in a churchyard teaching a small child how to feed like themselves? The price of a changeling, I suppose—you know the old myth about how the weird people leave their spawn in cradles in exchange for the human babes they steal. Pickman was shewing what happens to those stolen babes—how they grow up—and then I began to see a hideous relationship in the faces of the human and non-human figures. He was, in all his gradations of morbidity between the frankly non-human and the degradedly human, establishing a sardonic linkage and evolution. The dog-things were developed from mortals!

Pickman’s Model, H.P. Lovecraft

Surpassed only by the Deep Ones among Call of Cthulhu RPG minions, Ghouls are truly a Keeper favorite. When the Investigators dare to get on a boat, or shamble through the mid-morning mist of Innsmouth, send a Deep One. When the Investigators go skulking around subterranean caverns, or prowling around cemeteries at night, well, a slavering pack of Ghouls cannot be far behind.

These creatures originate in Arabic folklore where they are called ghūls. Ghouls dwell in burial grounds, and are eaters of the dead, a trait which they maintain throughout western fiction and roleplaying games, including the Lovecraft mythos. In Arabic folklore, they are sons of Iblis, the chief of the evil Jinni. In Lovecraft’s fiction, their origin is perhaps even more sinister, for they, as the quote above describes, are humans twisted and mutated by some dark and ancient means, known only to ghoul-kind.

I like to recommend Pickman’s Model to first time reader’s of Lovecraft’s stories for two reasons: it is short, and it gives all of the creeping dread that is so emblematic of Lovecraft’s fiction. And, like The Outsider, it has a bit of a twist at the end, one whose horror is not at all diminished if you happen to see it coming.

via Daily Prompt: Ghoulish



All Hallow’s Read: Something Wicked This Way Comes

All Hallow’s Read is a relatively new tradition begun some years ago by your favorite author and mine, Neil Gaiman. While at first glance, those two words, “new” and “tradition” may seem to sit as uneasily together in a sentence as do “silent” and “scream”, it is nonetheless true that all traditions do begin somewhere. Halloween is a tradition, and someone, long ago, who felt the need to feel their pulse quicken as the year drew to a close, who burned to look mortality in its grinning skull face, and thereby rend the veil between the visible and the unknown, started it.

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9 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Inner Young Writer


NaNoWriMo 2017 is just around the corner, and I find myself approaching it with a different process than in previous years. This process is a refinement of writing advice I’ve gathered over the years. I find myself wishing that I’d started using these techniques a long time ago, so that today I’d be better at them. Yes, of course, I had to travel the road I traveled to get to where I am today, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have some guideposts along the way?

Of course we all wish we could go back in time, and share our experience with our younger selves. So, why not? As writers, we get to live inside our imaginations. Let’s imagine that we’re somehow able to go back in time and sit down with ourselves, those young writers brimming with imagination, innocence, and naivete. I’m talking about past versions of ourselves anywhere from a few years ago, back to the first time we sat at a typewriter, or tried to draw a comic book with a crayon on printer paper. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to think up their own advice. Here’s mine:

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