April 1, 2019 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)
This week saw the passing of horror author and larger-than-life horror fan WH Pugmire. While I didn’t know them well, Wilum was always kind and supportive, personally and as an author. The outpouring of grief I’ve seen online suggests that my anecdotal observations about them are supported by a lifetime of shared friendships, passions, and wistfully recounted idiosyncrasies which made up a life very much lived on their own terms. I wanted to mark their passing and let folks know about a piece of work, long in development, that might be of interest to those that enjoyed their work.
First, a few table-setting preliminaries…
If you are unfamiliar with them (I believe this was Wilum’s pronoun of choice), Locus Magazine has posted an obituary that covers the major points of Wilum’s career. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database provides a useful bibliography of their many writings.
For a more personal reflection on them and their life, the Lovecraft eZine also organized an online live-chat remembrance of WH Pugmire’s friends and admirers.
My own in-person interaction with WH occurred at Necronomicon in 2013, where I arrived too late for a reading they were doing at St. John’s Churchyard and briefly apologized to him about it. I think WHP said something like “Don’t worry, I’ll be back!” as a comfort. We’ve not had a rendezvous in St. Johns or elsewhere, at least, not yet.
Our online interaction, direct and indirect, was a little more in depth. In 2014 when I was moving forward on the Arkham Gazette #4 I noticed that Kingsport had been mentioned in one of W.H. Pugmire’s stories (“The Fungal Stain“, which I spotted in David Goudsward’s Horror Guide to Massachusetts). Not having a copy myself, I reached out to my circle of writers and friends for more information and Christopher Smith Adair answered the call.
Chris offered to summarized the Kingsport content from the tale so we might incorporate it into a Gazette article. I liked the completed piece so much, detailing the entity in “The Fungal Stain” and its eerie hold on victims, that I suggested to Chris that he might expand it into its own Kingsport-based scenario, which he did to no-less wonderful results.
Chris, ever the professional, also got in touch with Wilum to secure their arcane blessings to use the material from the story, in the magazine, which we were granted. I was looped into the discussion, but didn’t have much more to add than some pleasantries and offer my thanks.
Since our Kingsport issue has been split into two parts (#4 – ‘Dreams’ and #5 – ‘Nightmares’), the main part of Chris’ work inspired by WH Pugmire will be in issue #5, the scenario he has entitled “A Dancer in Sea-Mists and Star-Winds”. Issue 5 will also be dedicated to WHP’s memory. I hope that is something they would have liked.
A element from the story will appear in issue #4’s article about new locations in Kingport: the Pennywhistle Cafe. Here’s an illustration for that article:
(Chris also posted a small, touching remembrance of WH Pugmire I wanted to link to.)
Finally, I should note that I would often turn to videos made by WH Pugmire when I needed to find someone willing to highlight the good elements of a Derleth story as I was putting together entries in my Derleth Country series. While never shying away from Derleth’s failings as an editor (such as slapping HPL’s name on work he had nothing to do with) Wilum managed to find moments of grace and worth in even the hammiest bits of Derleth’s pastiches. If you want to get a better ideas about WH Pugmire the person, take a look at their YouTube channel and see their many facets, like a trapezohedron, blazing in darkness. RIP