I’m putting a few questions to Oliver Baer about his contribution to Hell’s Highway,
“To Chael,” which is the latest in Cthulhu Sex Magazine’s Letters to the Editor presented as a stand-alone story for the Hell's Series.
AG: How did you get started as a writer?
OB: The particular path to where I am now with my writing is as maddening as any page of the Necronomicon. It has involved the support of many people in different areas of my life.
I started writing poetry after showing some friends pieces that I thought were unfinished prose or rhyming prose. They liked it and a couple people told me I should write more poetry or consider writing poetic prose (now I think they call it prosetry). I still hadn’t sent anything out to be published, other than in a company newsletter.
This went on for a couple years with a friend or two asking me to contribute something to their zine or magazine that went for three issues or so. I hung out in bars and clubs playing an Exquisite Corpse-like game with people. We used words or sentences rather than drawings. In the meantime, I would write creative messages for my answering machine. One friend mentioned to me that the answering machine messages seemed like the start or part of a larger story to him and would I consider making a story with answering machine messages. This intrigued me so I set about trying to do just that. I’m not sure how far I got with it. I think I finished it but I can’t find all the messages as I only decided to save the written down messages toward the end of the story. The other messages I wrote down don’t seem to be part of the same thing. They were messages utilizing the names of album covers in a creative fashion. The same friend had suggested we collaborate on a story told in letters format. He wrote a letter and I was supposed to respond. It sat on my desk for a while (a few years maybe), a shoggoth waiting to be put to use.
AG: How did Cthulhu Sex Magazine come about?
OB: Many times, after hours we would hang out at a café. It was during one of these late-night sojourns the idea for the magazine that would jump-start the direction of my current writing began. One of the people in this after-hours group suggested that we create a zine that would showcase our creative talent. Thus, was Cthulhu Sex Magazine brought into this world.
I became the editor of the zine at the very beginning by declaring that the first issue was edited horribly. My friend, who did all the work of putting it together, asked if I thought I could do better. I said that I absolutely believed so. He gave me the next issue before it went to press. The magazine proved to be the impetus I needed. I would submit past poems then be encouraged to write something new. These poems would eventually be collected into a book of poetry and photographs called Baer Soul published by a group called Western Independent (which existed in a dimension outside of the space and time of the magazine).
By the fourth issue or so, we were more of a magazine than a zine. I started talking to my friend about the possibility of a Letters to the Editor section now that we were a magazine. I suggested we start it off with the letter story from the guy mentioned above and see if anyone responds. Nobody really did. I wrote a response in an attempt to get people to write in. The people who eventually responded were our friends who we talked to about this idea.
Eventually, I was the only one who wrote letters. So, I decided to turn it into a story. My friend who put everything together, now the publisher, did a similar thing with the forewords and afterwords of the magazine.
AG: Tell us about your latest book and future plans.
OB: The letters, forewords and afterwords are now compiled into a book, Letters to the Editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine thanks to Crossroad Press. It’s a Lovecraftian tale about the sacrifices needed to create a cult following. By the time we had finished the 15th or so issue of the magazine, we wanted to put out a book of the best works of Cthulhu Sex Magazine. We decided that we would need help doing this so we talked to our friends at Raw Dog Screaming Press. They agreed that if we created a company that would publish horror anthologies, something they wanted help doing, we could be an imprint of theirs. Horror Between the Sheets, our best of Cthulhu Sex Vol. 1, became the first book published by Two Backed Books. We went on to publish several other anthologies until we decided to close everything down in 2008.
There is a possibility of another Cthulhu Sex book in the future. There is still a lost volume of the magazine that exists somewhere in a virtual dimension that can only be accessed by the publisher. Whether this sees the light of the bright burny time on this world remains to be seen. There may be non-Cthulhu Sex stories collected into something as well. Then again, there may not be enough sacrifices for that.
And don't forget to pick up your copy of Hell's Highway.