In a guest post to this blog, Oliver Baer tells us of how he came to write his addition to Hell's Heart:
“Down and Out Under R’lyeh” is one of the letters to the editor from Cthulhu Sex Magazine. The Letters to the Editor was an idea born initially to get feedback from our readers. It did not succeed in producing the feedback we wanted. So, I proceeded to write the letters as a story.
This part of the story is from a group of letters from a translator to the publisher of Cthulhu Sex. The translator was hired to relay messages to and from the unspeakable horror in the basement that is the editor. She is locked in there with it. Her story is not a pleasant one. After escaping from the basement, she is taken in by some people who seem to want to help her. She is pregnant with the creature’s child and they offer to take care of her. This letter is meant to be her relation of a tale they tell her to calm her, a lullaby of sorts. It does not really calm her. It is also the introduction of the midwife/guardian of the child to be born.
In creating this, I was trying to come up with an idea of what to do with the translator once she escaped and was out in the world. I could not have her wandering around pregnant especially since I introduced another character that helped her escape. I knew where I wanted her to end up but the question was how to have her report that.
I decided to go to a bar I frequented to think things through. As I was talking to one of the bartenders, an attractive brunette, she said that I should write a story about her. I told her that I was currently writing for the magazine and wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a character in an erotic horror story. She said, “Why not?” I said I’d see what I could do. I knew about the bartender’s life from previous conversations. She was in her 20’s and had been diagnosed with MS several years before. She was an aspiring actress during the day and, at the time of this letter, she had started going out with a guy who played darts at the bar. They fell in love and got engaged.
As I sat there thinking about what to write, the other two bartenders, a blonde and another shorter brunette, decided they wanted in as well. Once I started talking about the details of what they wanted me to do to them, the blond seemed less interested to the point of her saying just don’t do anything too nasty to me. The shorter brunette started suggesting ideas. I let her know the ones I liked but said that I could not promise anything.
I thought about it for about a week and decided that the letter would be a story within a story. I made the aspiring actress bartender the main character of the story within the story and then fit in various pieces from previous letters so it would be continuous with the rest of the letters. I even utilized the short brunette’s ideas in some fashion.
I went into the bar on a Saturday evening. I sat in a corner and started writing. It flowed onto the paper as the bartenders poured drinks for me and the other patrons that trickled in. After I was done, I realized that I had not put the other bartenders into the story. I had no idea how I was going to do that. I stopped writing, went to play darts and hang out with people.
Over the next week, I thought about how to get them in there. It seemed to me that I should include all of them so that it did not seem like I was playing favorites. At the end of the week, I had figured it out.
In the story, which included an actress whose name was Nelly Lynne Glennticus (a combination of the bartender’s actual name and her betrothed’s) is brought back from the dead and transformed into a reptilian creature. I modified the other bartenders’ actual names and wrote them in as previous failed attempts with this transformation. I ended the letter with the idea that the midwife/guardian of the child to be born would also be named Nelly Lynne. When I submitted the letter to the publisher, he decided that since it was a story within a story it should have a title unlike the other letters.