W. H. Pugmire Bio
Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire (May 3, 1951 – March 26, 2019) was a writer of horror fiction based in Seattle, Washington. His works typically are published as W. H. Pugmire (his adopted middle name derives from the story of the same title by Edgar Allan Poe) and his fiction often pays homage to Lovecraftian lore. Lovecraft scholar and biographer S. T. Joshi has described Pugmire as “the prose-poet of the horror/fantasy field; he may be the best prose-poet we have,” and “perhaps the leading Lovecraftian author writing today.”
Originally published mainly in small presses, Pugmire produced a steady stream of book collections beginning in 1997. His stories as well as published in magazines and anthologies such as The Year’s Best Horror Stories Weird Tales, The Children of Cthulhu, The Book of Cthulhu, and many more. The Tangled Muse, a major retrospective of his work, was published in 2010.
Early Life, W. H. Pugmire Biography
Born May 3, 1951, to a father active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Jewish mother, Pugmire grew up in Seattle. Pugmire served as a Mormon missionary in Omagh, Northern Ireland, where he corresponded with Robert Bloch and first began writing fiction. Pugmire stated that after returning from his Mormon mission he came out as gay to the church, was given psychiatric treatment, and requested excommunication which lasted for about 25 years. Pugmire’s lover of many years, Todd, died in his arms from a heroin overdose in March 1995. In the early 2000s, he reconnected with the church and was rebaptized, but only after telling the church’s leadership that he would be a “totally queer Mormon, but celibate.” He described himself as an eccentric recluse, “the Queen of Eldritch Horror,” and a “punk rock queen and street transvestite”.
Furthermore, When a student at Franklin High School and into circa the 1970s he played vampire “Count Pugsly” at Jones’ Fantastic Museum in Seattle He worked in various theatrical capacities, sometimes appearing at parties as characters including ‘Count Pugsly’. In the documentary film, The AckerMonster Chronicles!, about Forrest J Ackerman, Pugmire described how he was influenced by Ackerman’s magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland and showed the audience the issue in which his photo appears in ‘Count Pugsly’ makeup. Issue #69 of Famous Monsters of Filmland featured a dedication to Pugmire: the cover feature was Lon Chaney Jr.’s vampire in London After Midnight, who inspired the look of Pugmire’s Count Pugsly. After treatment in a cardiac unit, Pugmire died in Seattle on March 26, 2019.
Writing work from W. H. Pugmire
After returning to the United States from his Mormon mission in 1973, Pugmire begain fiction and Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft. In a press release for one of Pugmire’s books, it is said that Pugmire’s discovery of punk rock “saved his soul and gave him a new fictive voice.” Strongly influenced by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, many of Pugmire’s stories directly reference “Lovecraftian” elements (such as Yog-Sothoth of the Cthulhu Mythos). Pugmire was quoted as saying that his goal as a writer was “to dwell forevermore within Lovecraft’s titan shadow.”
Moreover, Pugmire’s major original contribution to the Cthulhu Mythos is the Sesqua Valley, a fictional location in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and his equivalent of the Arkham/Dunwich/Innsmouth nexus which features in many of Lovecraft’s New England stories.
Originally published mainly in magazines and anthologies from small press imprints such as Necropolitan Press, Delirium Books, and Hippocampus Press, Pugmire produced a steady stream of book collections beginning in 1997. The Tangled Muse, a 456-page retrospective of his work, was published in October 2010 by Centipede Press.
Furthermore, Pugmire also edited the magazine Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, which ran from 1988 to 1999.
Moreover, Robert M. Price has described Pugmire as “the Oscar Wilde of our time … the most revered and beloved figure in the Lovecraftian movement today.”
Pugmire’s writing style has been described as “richly evocative” with a “distinct homoerotic theme or undercurrent that is neither gratuitous nor inconsistent but rather genuine and often central to characterization and storytelling. Author Laird Barron has described him as “an important figure in the fields of modern horror and the weird”. Editor and scholar Scott Connors has written that, stylistically, Pugmire “owes as much to Oscar Wilde and Henry James as to HPL and Poe, creating a truly unholy fusion that defies academic boundaries between ‘mainstream’ and ‘genre’ fiction.” Publisher’s Weekly, reviewing Pugmire’s Uncommon Places: A Collection of Exquisites, said that “Readers with an appetite for the weird and the decadent will find Pugmire’s next work a rich confection etc,.”
Lovecraftian authors and editors Robert M. Price and Joseph S. Pulver have remarked favorably on Pugmire’s writing. S.T. Joshi, writing in his scholarly analysis of Mythos fiction, “The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos”, notes that “Pugmire’s volumes… contain some of the richest veins of neo-Lovecraftian horror seen in recent years.” However, Joshi has been more critical of Pugmire’s nonfiction writing, proclaiming “no one takes him seriously as a critic.”
Selected anthology and magazine appearances
- “Whispering Wires”, Space and Time #20 (September 1973; as “Bill Pugmire”; first published story)
- “Pale Trembling Youth” (with Jessica Amanda Salmonson), Cutting Edge (Doubleday, 1986); reprinted in Year’s Best Horror Stories XV (DAW Books, 1987) and Horrrorstory Vol. V(Underwood-Miller, 1989)
- “O, Christmas Tree” (with Jessica Amanda Salmonson), Tales by Moonlight II (Tor Books, 1989)
- “The Boy with the Bloodstained Mouth”, The Year’s Best Horror Stories XVIII (DAW Books, 1990)
- “Delicious Antique Whore”, Love in Vein (HarperCollins, 1994; Eos, 2000)
- “The Night City” (with Chad Hensley), The Darker Side (Roc Books, 2002)
- “The Serenade of Starlight”, The Children of Cthulhu (Del Rey Books, 2002)
- “The House of Idiot Children” (with Maryanne Snyder), Weird Tales (January/February 2008)
- “Inhabitants of Wraithwood”, Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror (PS Publishing, 2010; reprinted as Black Wings of Cthulhu, Titan Books, 2012)
- “Some Buried Memory”, The Book of Cthulhu (Night Shade Books, 2011)
- “The Fungal Stain”, New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird (Prime Books, 2011)
- “The Hands that Reek and Smoke”, The Book of Cthulhu II (Night Shade Books, 2012)
- “They Smell of Thunder”, New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird (Prime Books, 2015)
- “Into Ye Smoke-Wreath’d World of Dream”, Cthulhu Fhtagn! (Word Horde, 2015)
- “A Shadow of Thine Own Design”, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu (Robinson, 2016)
- “In Blackness Etched, My Name”, Black Wings V (PS Publishing, 2016)
- “To Move Beneath Autumnal Oaks”, Black Wings VI (PS Publishing, 2017)
Jese Bal born Nov 9, 1982, is a novelist and poet. He has published novels, volumes of poetry, short stories, and drawings. His works are distinguished by the use of a spare style and have been compared to those of Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino.