Personal Blog: Getting into a Cthulhu Groove

¦ Dialing in from the Arnolfini ¦

Supping coffee and watching the tail end of Bertha’s butt swing through the city. The long period of weeks of endless warm sunny weather came to an end in dramatic fashion this weekend, with heavy squally rain lashing the country (remains of hurricane Bertha). I was in London and watched a downpour come in so suddenly, and with such force, that a crowd of people sitting outside a cafe eating alfresco abruptly got up and ran as if a dinosaur had just arrived to eat them – food, luggage (tourists) and other items just abandoned so people could escape  the fury. And a few minutes later, glorious sunshine. Hmm, like an average day in Bergen.

It’s been quiet few days.  Very little actual writing.  Some marketing.  Some fleshing out of the plot structure for Broken FuryOakfield, first draft, is finished and waiting for me to start editing. Sunder Gloom and Rise of the Iconoclast are sitting comfortably on the back burner.

Friends from New York are visiting England so I went to London to spend a couple days there with them. I do love London, such an epic city to spend time within.  My friends have rented the house of a certain Earl and Countess of [...] who rent their place out to people willing to pay the price tag. When I got to Notting Hill and saw the place I thought I had walked into a movie set. Five floors of space and luxury. The Countess used to be a fashion editor for Vogue magazine and now focuses her creative energy on interior design – it really shows, the place is incredible. Very Bowie and Deneuve. Think 1983!  I took a shed load of photos but have a 2 months backlog on images I am working through so I will write them up in a separate post.

catherine deneuve in scene from The Hunger (1983) very intelligent and sensual vampire movie also featuring David Bowie

Catherine Deneuve (1983)

Back to Bristol and a friend from Spain came over to visit me and my lady.  Sharky Bones McCoy. Only a short trip unfortunately.  Spent the end of one night hunkered down on blankets in the Sky Bunker, clutching whisky in cut crystal glasses and listening to an audio story:  H.P.Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror (featuring Yog-Sothoth) – a really excellent production that weaves theatrical radio-style performances between scenes of pure narration.  Spooky, tense and ultimately spine-chilling when the horror itself begins to unfold across the tangled landscape of Dunwich.  Side note: back in 1999 I drove up to Boston from New York, and then plunged westwards, using the map included in Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu product to try to pin point where I thought the region of Dunwich might be.  I found it. Round topped hills and deep plunging ravines, isolated creeks and strange grottos. All that was missing was the rings of stones. Fantastic experience.  A few years later I went to the Catskill Mountains for some more Lovecraft-in-Nature. 


David J Rodger in Catskill Mountains

Next morning, Sharky and I sat in the living room with pots of strong coffee and watched Cthulhu (2007).  Directed by Dan Gildark and written by Grant Cogswell it borrows heavily from H.P.Lovecraft’s Shadow over Innsmouth.  I don’t believe it ever set out to actually recreate that story.  The movie has some really bad reviews (it scores less than 5 out of 10 on IMDB) and I can totally relate to why so many people have an issue with it, but I really really like the movie. There is an angle to the story around the main character’s sexuality that helps to unsettle mainstream audiences but also makes sense within the context of the essential story: what do these people really want from him?!  For a movie that didn’t come out of a big studio, I would say they did decent-enough job – and they totally nail the feeling of oppression being trapped in a small town where something very wrong is taking place beneath the surface.  Of course, I want Guillermo del Toro to hurry and get on with At The Mountains of Madness and see what a big budget adaptation of Lovecraft will look like – so long as the creative team can fight off the asshats who will demand a love interest and happy ending (both mutually exclusive to H.P.Lovecraft).

Movie poster for Cthulhu (2007)  Directed by Dan Gildark and written by Grant Cogswell

Movie poster for Cthulhu (2007)

New novel covers. One polished gem.  When the Guardian reviewed one of my novels – The Black Lake – the feedback was really excellent, warts and all.  Two issues raised were inherent to me being very much a one-man band – namely the covers needed to be better and the editing could be improved upon.  A few weeks ago I commissioned a designer called The Sprezz to come up with 12 new covers and a consistent brand – I met him in London this weekend, good progress and I am very excited by the look he has come up with.  Last week I recruited an editor to polish up Dog Eat Dog to a diamond shine.  A lot of people said Dog Eat Dog could be / should be a best-seller but my current position in the market place counts against me  – indie authors still have to fight off a certain stigma despite rafts of five-star reviews.  So anything that helps the book gain even a little bit extra traction is a good thing.  Polishing it up and giving it a new cover as part of the general overhaul may see it accelerate ahead in sales, or may make no difference what-so-ever – time will tell. I am looking at this as an experiment. Getting this done is all a few months away still but I will drop a note here when ready.

That’s it!


Photolog: Magical Vistas of Jesus Mound

And my 28 year friendship with a tree…

Dark Fantasy author David J Rodger in Jesmond Dene

David J Rodger…and friend

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE: Walk down into the depths of the Dene and then clamber up to the far side, where various ridges provide panoramic views – and sometimes glimpses of Jesus Mound. Large houses set in their own islands of greenery.  The magnificent church tower of St George’s that has always held such fascination and appeal to me, and which I used in the Hasturian weird tale “The Corrupt Moon“.

Walk along one of the many paths up there and you’ll find my tree. A tree I have been coming to ever since I was 16. Just to stand there and place a hand on its surface and feel like maybe it was aware of me. Good energy. Beautiful. And all these years later, I am still coming to Newcastle, and I still take the time to go there in times of happiness and times of strife and grief. A good place to be.

If you know some of the long abandoned historical structures of the Dene you might recognise some of the inspiration the artist Kenn-Ole Moen had for the front cover of the RPG Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur. With its deep glens, dense forest foliage and spooky quarries the Dene is also the inspiration for my addition to H.P.Lovecraft’s Dreamlands – Jarlequin Mound, used in the Cthulhu for Kids illustrated short – “Cloudy Head”,  a story I read to about 20 adults one New Year’s eve, and had the delightful experience of each of them coming downstairs the next morning to excitedly tell me they had dreamt of Cloudy Head.

The Corrupt Moon & Cloudy Head

 The Corrupt Moon and Cloudy head are both available within the short story anthology Songs of Spheres –

David J Rodger – DATA

Personal Blog: Oakfield, first draft finished

¦ dialling in from Newcastle Airport ¦

I flew 320 miles to spend a couple of days in my new favourite cafe in the world. The Wild Trapeze.

I got exactly what I wanted.  Some business.  A lot of chill out.  Had an email from an editor of a Japanese Cthulhu Mythos fanzine wanting to commission me to write something small but original for them. Nailed it in a day and 3 coffees.    Also met up with my man of PR angles and great Ideas, Mr Floyd Hayes who is over from New York on a visit.  Big thunder storms overhead. He and I walking around Jesmond Dene. Storm breaks  and starts spilling heavy rain through the trees.  Found sanctuary in the beautifully renovated Dene House, now a suave hotel. 4 pints of a local ale later, we’re drifting through the high-humidity and dense mist that as the storm refused to move away entirely.  Took some photos. Jesmond Dene, special place for me.

David J Rodger - Science Fiction Thriller Author in Jesmond Dene Newcastle Upon Tyne

David J Rodger – Jesmond Dene


Now waiting for the skylanes to carry me back home.  Bristol. Although being here 3 times in the last 5 weeks, Newcastle is feeling a lot like a home from home again.  Those who know me will be aware of the closure I have been through recently, meaning this place is no longer filled with ghosts and painful memories.  This is a good thing.

I finished writing a new novel last week. Oakfield. Sitting in the Arnolfini cafe.  First draft. Typed the last words. Stopped. Stared. Had that weird feeling you get when you realise there is nothing more to write. It is done.  Of course, now comes the big edit. Great feeling to have this one finished. Oakfield is a piece of work that has taken 25 years to bring to this point. Significant then.

Life is going through a swirl of change. So it feels. Old traumas resolving themselves. New opportunities opening up.  Had an interesting encounter last week which I splashed across Facebook:

I freaking love life. One minute you’re dealing with crap and the next moment you’re sat next to a character and you realise the full flavour of humanity. I went out for sushi tonight solo. Waiter tried to wedge me in between some folks. I said, nah, I like that open space over there. Grabbed the seat. Few minutes later another solo sits next to me. Tattoos all over, including one on his face. Interesting vibe. We get talking. Bang. Life story. Incredible. Hyper interesting. He appreciated the fact I referenced the Hindu Sunwheel tattooed to his forearm and did not ask the dumbass question about Swastikas. American accent (from Bermuda) but with posh English accent (boarding schools and a house in Tetbury), racially diverse with strong colonial background – we spoke openly and frankly about perceptions. Just, truly, a character. Somebody I could literally drop into a novel and say, go for it, do something, make a mess. It’s not what you know. It’s who you know. And who you meet.” 


No contact since. Don’t expect it but you never know how the various threads of life can weave together ahead of the next horizon. People you meet now and are incidental can become pillars of the future past.

Had a great session of Yellow Dawn last night with the usual suspects. Much horror and tension. Always fun to see their faces shaped by a helpless grimace.  You can read the write-up here.

Been getting some pleasing feedback from folks on The Social Club recently. Here’s one (click to read). I’ll post a couple more next week.

That’s it!