March 3rd, is the birthday of Arthur Machen, author of that seminal work of horror, THE GREAT GOD PAN. Machen was a huge influence on Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. REH, in fact, practically wrote sequels to a couple of Machen’s stories about ‘little people’.
Something few people know though, is that THE GREAT GOD PAN was the original major influence for BLIND SHADOWS, the first novel in the GRIFFIN AND PRICE series, by James A. Moore and me. Jim and I were kicking around ideas for our crime/horror novel, and we started talking about Machen’s story about a young woman named Helen Vaughn, who is actually the progeny of a human mother and something from ‘outside’. The mother, lobotomized as part of an experiment, has ‘seen the great god Pan’ and bears his child. Of the story, Lovecraft said, “No one could begin to describe the cumulative suspense and ultimate horror with which every paragraph abounds"
We wanted to take the idea of someone who looks and seems human but isn’t, and build on that. Thus, the secret origin of the Blackbournes, that family of backwoods meth dealers from the outer dark. There were, of course, many other influences, including HPL and REH. The two that get mentioned the most are the most obvious, Karl Edward Wagner and Manly Wade Wellman. All of those are there, but in the background, peeking through the reeds down by the dark river, lurks the great god Pan.