Friday, June 22, 2012

Roland Yeomans (and a Tart Begging Mercy)

So Wednesday while Roland was so kindly hosting me, I was supposed to be hosting him, too. Totally my fault. I just didn't have the trade in my head. He'd sent me the blog but had included information about me being a guest and somehow I only processed part of it.

So PLEASE forgive me, Roland!!! Roland is such an incredibly nice man, and it is just somehow what I do... I try to be nice most of the time, but when I screw up, it is with the people I feel the absolute worst about... He also has an AMAZING imagination, something that, as a writer, I am a bit insecure about... I tend to think of myself as more a puzzlemaster, noticing things and mixing them up in an original way. Roland, though, is incredibly creative.

Wee bit of other business... [I posted my intended Girls Just Want to Have Fun Blogfest overnight, if you stopped in as part of THAT, but I really need to make right on this other...]

I am ALSO visiting Talli Roland today:

Anyway, I am HONORED to have Roland here with me today!

Thanks, Hart, for inviting me to your cozy cyber home.  You write mysteries, and I write myths.  Yet, we both dream, both try to answer the eternal questions.

T.S. Eliot wrote that happiness did not consist of goals obtained or griefs lost but consisted of  different visions discovered.

{All the following illustrations are in END OF DAYS and are by Leonora Roy}



What draws us to write?
It is a solitary sojourn. Most of us will never receive world acclaim ...

nor do we expect it.
What then propels us on this journey?

What swept you up when you first started to read for yourself? How often do you find a book which conjures that same spirit within you now?
Not often I would wager.

I believe we write to create that world which spellbound us into reading in the first place. What voices called out to us then?

For me the voices were :
Magic, horror, and otherworld beauty
These three sirens dominated my solitary reading of choice during my high school years. And their voices can be heard in the background of all that I write. Like the three fates, they weave the tapestry of my unconscious muse.

As a young child, I wandered alone into Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY.

In junior high, I joined the League of Five and group reading with BEAU GESTE and DR. FU MANCHU.

In high school, I was alone again in my reading, open to any influence that caught my fancy.
The authors of those years were my unknowing mentors in how to write well. Oddly enough it was an artist who led me in the land where they all dwelt :

Frank Frazetta. And he painted the first road sign on my path to becoming a writer :

When I spotted the cover to EERIE#23 with Frazetta's "Egyptian Princess" in a used book store, I was spellbound. Yes, she was clothing-challenged. But it were her eyes that ensnared me.

From that moment on, I noticed eyes : weary ones , dull ones, evaluating ones, and those who were black windows into the nothingness that lived in the souls of those who possessed them. 

The books with Frazetta's covers taught me my 2nd lesson: 


UNDER THE PYRAMIDS by H.P. Lovecraft (with Harry Houdini)

My hands went into warp speed when I saw the Frazetta cover emblazoned with that title. Frazetta. Harry Houdini. Wow.

I didn't know this Lovecraft fellow, but I had to see what kind of supernatural trouble Houdini had gotten into in his Egyptian travels.
And I wasn't disappointed :
The first sentence : "Mystery attracts mystery."
I was hooked.

Then, came the terrible imprisonment within an ancient, dark pyramid. The clever escape and the final glimpse of horror.

From Frazetta, Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft ... I learned how history can be made alive and alluring ... and supernatural. It is a lesson that stays with me still.


Perched in the used bookstore shelf right next to a Frazetta cover of a Conan novel was the book that was to teach me that prose could be beautiful and evocative without being stale and stiff. I picked up LORD OF LIGHT and read the first paragraph :

Mystery. Evocative imagry. I was hooked.

I became his student -- through his books, his essays, and his poetry.
Some of his words :
"No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words."

"For you see, the headwaters of Shit Creek are a cruel and treacherous expanse."
"Occasionally as an author, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which.
You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the firstplace.
Trust your demon."

What were the voices that beckoned you to write?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

As one who was also inspired by Frazetta's work, I can relate!
And no one wrote horror like Lovecraft.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great post! And an interesting question.

I think Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton, and Elizabeth George were the authors who really made me want to be a writer.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Lovecraft was the master. Stephen King has nothing on him.

Anne McCaffrey inspired me.

Laura Eno said...

Fantasy artwork can hold an entire world in one picture.
Like Diane, Anne McCaffrey and her dragons have been a big influence on me.

Karen Baldwin said...

Poe! His words not only spoke to me as a kid, but stoked my writer demon. Maybe it was all the melancholy. But now my demon is my muse, and she likes humor.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

My inspiration are from the elders, John Steinbeck. I love everything he wrote.

Nice post, guys.


Hart Johnson said...

Great post, Roland! I think my first things that sucked me in were horror and thriller. The horror I couldn't put down--Stephen King and Peter Straub (and through Straub I found Lovecraft, too), but it was Sidney Sheldon who made me think I might be able to write books. I can't generate that horror stuff well, but the conspiracies and manipulation of a thriller I still aspire to (though I write more suspense and mystery)

Thank you, friends for stopping in!

Southpaw said...

I'm with Em-Musing - Poe.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I need to come back and reread this post. So much... Love it!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

You were inspired by Frazetta, too? How cool!

Homer's Ulysses and Doyle's Sherlock Holmes gave me hope that with my mind alone I could conquer the troubles ahead.

L. Diane:
There is a documentary on Lovecraft that would intrigue you, but my mind just won't cough up the blasted title!!

I have a signed Michael Whelan print on my wall of one of her dragons. Beautiful artwork does take me away, too, Roland

I, too, loved Poe as a child. In fact, I have him as a rival to Victor Standish for the hand of Alice Wentworth in the appropriately named THE RIVAL!

For me, it is William Faulkner. So of course I used him as an actual character in the 1920's New Orleans in RITES OF PASSAGE. My tip of my Stetson to him.

Thank you for having me. No worries about the mix-up. Life has a way of happening at its own pace. Sidney Shelton was it? We all unique beginnings to our dreams, don't we? Your interview at Talli's was great as usual. I give it a link on my post today.

Did you see that recent movie about Poe with John Cusak? Was it any good?

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I am so happy you enjoyed my post. I worry about boring folks. I hope you liked the illustrations. Didn't Leonora Roy do a magnificent job?

Johanna Garth said...

So true, we write to recreate that amazing experience of falling in love with a book.

Roland asks a good question and I'm not sure I have a good answer about what voices beckoned me to write...but I'm sure I'll be thinking about it all day long.

Hart Johnson said...

Holly-I love Poe. I should study him with more intent.

SA-it's great, eh?

Roland-glad this worked out!

Johanna-those are the best questions, huh? The ones that stay with you.

Unknown said...

Roland, what a wonderful post. You know already that I am a fan of yours and I love that visual art helped shape the writer you are today. I do not honestly know which voices were the loudest and encouraged me the most when it comes to writing. Like you I am fascinated with mythology, adore Lovecraft, King, Hemingway...the list goes on... but I think Tolkien probably screamed the loudest.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Yet, if we wrote like Tolkien now, no publisher would have us ... too lyrical, too long to take the reader to the action. Your constant support means more than my words can convey, Roland

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Hart is right, and I'm glad that I was a catalyst for reflection. Of course, the jerk that pulls in front of us without his turn signal is also a catalyst for reflection, too! LOL. Hopefully, I am a better catalyst!!

Gwen Gardner said...

I'm embarrassed to say I don't know any of those authors, but I do recognize the similarity in prose between you and Zelazny! I love the illustrations in color, too. It's funny I can't remember who I read as a child, but I did read avidly. Always loved me some ghosties, though, combined with a mystery! And that's what I write. Loved your story, Roland:)

Maurice Mitchell said...

Frank Frazetta's artwork is unmistakeable. Great for inspiration.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Thanks, Gwen:
Both for your lovely comment and your visit to my blog. All of us remember such different things from our childhoods. I was a lonely bookworm so books were my only friends and playmates.

Isn't Frazetta's work inspirational? I love the documentary on him, PAINTING WITH FIRE. Thanks for visiting and chatting, Roland

Talli Roland said...

Hi Roland! Hi Hart!

I am constantly amazed by Roland's creativity. Talk about a way with words!

Deniz Bevan said...

What a neat way of detailing your influences, Roland! Mine was Tolkien, of course, and through him, all the other Inklings. Though I don't really write fantasy - yet...