You’ll notice that although my yarns reach out into the nameless abyss, they always take off from the springboard of a realistic setting. Poe has his haunted regions nameless, and peopled by mysterious beings with unknown pasts—but I make mine minutely typical of old New England, and give my characters (by implication and sometimes in detail) characteristic New England genealogies. I don’t weave dreams absolutely out of nothing, (i.e., out of material wholly in the subconscious) but need the spur of some actual scene or object or incident to set me off.
DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend Maurice W. Moe, Lovecraft explains why, despite the example of his idol Poe, he prefers to use a realistic setting in all of his weird stories.
CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Maurice W. Moe.” 26 Mar. 1932. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and James Turner, vol. 4, Arkham House, 1976, pp. 31-3.
Derleth impressed me tremendously favourably from the moment I began to hear from him personally. I saw that he had a prodigious fund of activity and reserve mental energy, and that it would only be a question of time before he began to correlate it to real aesthetic advantage. There was a bit of callow egotism also—but that was only to be expected; and indeed, a boy of his age would scarcely have been normal if he hadn’t had it. And surely enough, as the years passed, I saw that the kid was truly growing. The delicate reminiscent sketches begun a couple of years ago were the final proof—for there, indeed, he had reached what was unmistakably sincere and serious self-expression of a high order. Nor did it take long to see that this was the real stuff, and not any mere flash in the pan. He kept it up—naturally, spontaneously, and without effort—and the various fragments began to fit splendidly into a larger organic unity. There was no disputing that he really had something to say—which is true of woefully few prolific and often cultivated aspirants—and that he was trying to say it honestly and effectively, with a minimum of the jaunty hack devices and stylistic tricks which went into his printed pot-boiling material.
DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend Donald Wandrei, Lovecraft describes his impression of August Derleth and his writing.
CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Donald Wandrei.” 2 Nov. 1930. Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters. Edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, Ohio University Press, 2000, pp. 252-3.