Kírk Barrett’s “A Bedtime Story” appears in the Summer 2009 fiction issue of Innsmouth Free Press. Kírk recently moved to the coast of North Carolina. His fiction took 3rd place in the 2008 Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story Contest, and he currently has a Southern Gothic novel submitted to several agents and publishers. He is a chief interrogator at a kitty Gitmo prison where he specializes in the stretching-purred stress
position. His website is awaiting a long-overdue update, so until then, he could be found on Facebook.
How did you become interested in writing Mythos/Lovecraftian stories?
“The Colour Out of Space” was the first Lovecraft story I read, but what lured me into wanting to write weird tales was the world-alterations HPL created. Taking our world of
consensual-reality and twisting little things here and there. Placing Arkham in an non-specific place outside of Boston, and Dunwich somewhere “the hills rise wild,” these were fragments of Grandpa’s brilliance. Too often in fictional world-building *everything* is done so precisely, everything is accounted for. Lovecraft allowed for
the sort of discrepancies that our world has in it. That was very attractive to me and my idea factory.
Regardless of anyone belief as to whether or not the Necronomicon was a book before Lovecraft placed it in his stories, the fact that there is even an argument concerning the validity of it is a testament to the power of creating a fiction that is solidly linked to the “real world” while at the same time ambiguous enough to allow for our own imaginations to fill in the gaps of information. That entire fear of the unknown being more powerful that than the known.
What was the inspiration for your story?
When I was 17, I had dinner with Allen Ginsberg after he gave a reading. He lambasted some poetry I showed him, telling me that command of language doesn’t mean anything when you don’t have something to write about. He quoted William Carlos Williams to me: “No ideas but in things.” I didn’t begin to understand what that meant until some years later.
At the time “A Bedtime Story” was written, my wife and I were hoping to move to the cost of North Carolina (which we did a few months later), so there was this romantic image of having a place near the beach and writing these wicked little stories after dark. Combine that with a long-time fascination in the Mythos-laden songs of Blue
Öyster Cult, and there’s some fertile ingredients for a story.
A class I was in proposed a twenty-minute exercise one day to write something about a voodoo doll. This was the “thing” that led into the tale. Twenty minutes later the story was written pretty much as it stands now. A few images and phrasings were tinkered with, but it was an instantaneous aesthetic outburst that happens just often enough to
make me think the next story will appear in the same manner. Of course, my muse is fickle, and rarely lets me see the entire thing at once.
If you were a Mythos monster, deity or character, who would you be and why?
I think Nyarlathotep is the most obvious choice, and Yog-Sothoth would be a great candidate because of the destruction-quotient. But my choice is, relatively, far smaller and more insidious: I’d be a formless spawn of Tsathoggua. I think I’d enjoy dispatching intruders to the cynical toad-god’s lair.
I used to play Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu RPG, and the first time me-as-a-player was ever really freaked out by a “monster” was encountering the formless spawn. My character was horribly killed, of course, and several city block of the town above their subterranean lair was destroyed. Cthulhu role-playing sessions, like a lot of
mythos-stories, rarely end better than that…