With the happy news that “An Interrupted Sacrifice” is going to be in Historical Lovecraft, I now have two stories to be published in 2011 anthologies which feature the Moche civilization of Pre-Columbian Peru. The other publication is “Vessles of Clay, Flesh, and Stars” in In Situ.
I’m trying to reconstruct in my mind how I discovered this culture. It was definitely the fruit of web searching for an ancient culture that regularly depicted tentacles in their mythic art. Once I found the Moche, though, there was so much more to absorb and enjoy. Their rulers drank the blood of sacrificial victims. They had an Octopus god and a Spider god. They had no written language, and instead recorded their story through pictures through vivid paintings, primarily surviving on pottery and metalwork in their rich tombs which rival King Tut. Everything we know about them is a story that researchers have created that incorporates the symbolism of their art and other clues about their society.
Much of their art is gold. It’s hard not to see a Lovecraftian pre-cursor in gold headdresses and masks depicting tentacles and other sea creature references.
The two stories that I have written use the same set of historical facts about the Moche to describe very different explanations for their beliefs and pantheon. Both are definitely Lovecraftian, but also faithful to details about the Moche, their beliefs, their art, their society, their economy, and their geographic region.
What particularly differed between the stories for me, as a writer, is that one is set in modern times with historical researchers (In Situ) — a setting I am very comfortable describing. The Historical Lovecraft story, on the other hand, is set in Pre-Columbian Peru. It had to be written from the perspective of a member of that culture with all the challenges of a secondary world story in which I need to transmit information about how the society works but only as a person inside the society would naturally think about a given detail, and only using language that they would use. This was new ground for me in my writing, but I hope that readers will enjoy what that challenge created.