In the Mountains of Madness. The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft

Author: Poole, W. Scott

Publication Date:

September 2016



Original language and publisher

English (USA) | Soft Skull

Territories Handled

World excl. English North America

Territories Sold

Audio (Tantor)
Turkey (Alfa)
World Portuguese (Darkside Books)



In the Mountains of Madness. The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft

Author: Poole, W. Scott


A deep plunge into the Lovecraft-ian dark side. Poole enthusiastically explores how H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) influenced modern pop culture… thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable.Kirkus Reviews

Must reading for both loyal Lovecraft fans and biography lovers. —Booklist

This book entertains and surprises, as with Poole’s decision to write in the first person—he’s a wry and jovial narrator . . . This interesting biography also provides new perspectives on the author’s character that will incense the keepers of Lovecraft’s mythos. —Library Journal

What a wonderful testament to the lasting power and influence of H.P. Lovecraft. —Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom

Lovecraft’s surge in popularity demands new approaches for thinking about the author’s complicated life, his controversial beliefs, and his unprecedented afterlife. Poole’s book addresses all these issues through a discussion that is engaging, insightful, and playful. Readers will especially benefit from the discussion of Lovecraft’s relationships with his mother and with his wife, in addition to his frank and provocative analysis of Lovecraft’s ideas about racial differences. Poole’s grasp of Lovecraft’s life is wide reaching and impressive as is his understanding of Lovecraft’s current place within popular culture. Readers will find it impossible to ignore Lovecraft after this. — Carl Sederholm, author of The Age of Lovecraft

As Poe was to the 20th century, Lovecraft is to the 21st, and W. Scott Poole’s book is his Horrible Holiness’s Gospels, his Revelations, and his Necronomicon, all in one, like some kind of twisted trinity guiding us deep into the mountains of madness. —Grady Hendrix, author of My Best Friend’s Exorcism

How did a little-known pulp author become part of the Library of America?

How did Gawker come to use the adjective “Lovecraftian”  to describe a black cheeseburger in Japan?

Who is this odd author and how has his influence become so prevalent  in so many different aspects of our pop culture?

In the Mountains of Madness interweaves the biography of the legendary writer with an exploration of Lovecraft as a phenomenon. It aims to explain this reclusive figure while also challenging some of the general views held by Lovecraft devotees, focusing specifically on the large cross-section of horror and science fiction fans who know Lovecraft through films, role-playing games, and video games directly influenced by his work but know little or nothing about him.

From a childhood wracked with fear and intense hallucinations, Lovecraft would eventually embrace the mystical, creating ways in which his unrestrained imaginary life intersected with the world he found so difficult to endure. The monsters of his dreams became his muses. Yet, poole insists that Lovecraft was not the Victorian prude who wrote “squishy monster stories for boys.” Rather he was a kind of neo-romantic mystic whose love of the 18th century allowed him to bring together a bit of Isaac Newton with a bit of William Blake in a real marriage of heaven and hell.

More than a traditional biography, In the Mountains of Madness will place Lovecraft and his work in a cultural context, as an artist more in tune with our time than his own. Much of the literary work on Lovecraft tries to place him in relation to Poe or M.R. James or Arthur Machen; these ideas have little meaning for most contemporary readers. In his provocative new book, Poole reclaims the true essence of Lovecraft in relation to the comics of Joe Lansdale, the novels of Stephen King, and some of the biggest blockbuster films in contemporary America, proving the undying influence of this rare and significant figure.


Praise for Scott Poole’s last book Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror:

“Blacklisted for her outré and daring persona, often imitated but never equaled, Nurmi sunk into poverty and obscurity while the reverberations of her creation reaped financial and cultural success. Finally, Poole lovingly gives Vampira her due.” —Booklist Starred Review

“Pop culture critic Poole sure knows a monster when he sees one. He continues his macrocultural exegesis in this microquasibiography and cultural (especially the 1950s) explication of TV’s first and most revelatory horror host… This stone-cold winner belongs in every American studies collection.” —Library Journal Starred Review

“Poole looks at the life and career of Maila Nurmi… against the backdrop of the 1950s countercultural movement.” —Printers Row Journal/Chicago Tribune

“Poole goes to great, and effective, lengths to identify the attempts at social engineering that fostered specious notions of maleness and femaleness in the name of governmental control and selling the American dream. But the most impressive thing (besides his impeccably researched historical insight) is his understanding of Nurmi and her character in that context.” —Delirium Magazine

“Poole, is as concerned with the larger social changes afoot in mid-century America and uses the Vampira narrative to approach the second half of the 20th century from a fresh, and new thought-provoking perspective.” —Charleston City Paper

“W. Scott Poole explores deftly and accurately the history and the politics of both feminism and “the outsider,” the parts of America pushed to the curb but yearning for acceptance, love, and financial success, the “new and shiny” promise of the (supposed) post war era. Poole has done a great job in bringing such a variety of disparate pieces into a singular whole, and this book should be bought and read by anyone interested in the unspoken history of Hollywood, and the darker story of our culture.” —

“[T]his pioneering book is a tribute to the change that Vampira incited and the awakening that so many unknowingly received from her presence.” —Santa Fe New Mexican/Pasatiempo

“Scott Poole has the chops, the Hollywood savvy, and the horror genre’s insider smarts to write a killer book on Vampira. I’ll be first in line to grab a copy.” — Jonathan Maberry, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of Assassin’s Code and Dust & Decay

“Horror hostess, bondage goddess, Charles Addams cartoon comes to life, Vampira was every first-generation fanboy’s wet dream. Scott Poole takes us on an unforgettable ride through the overlapping underworlds of B&D magazines, Hollywood noir, and early political liberation movements that inspired actress Maila Nurmi to challenge a postwar culture bent on stifling women’s choices, bodies, and desires. This book is a subversive masterpiece.” —Sheri Holman, author of Witches on the Road Tonight and The Dress Lodger

“W. Scott Poole’s last book, Monsters in America, was a dazzling work of cultural history: smart, funny, subversive and wildly entertaining. He showed a special gift for playfully saying serious things. His new book is even more wonderful. The life of Maila Nurmi, better known as the late-night TV hostess Vampira, is a great, strange story in itself, but also allows Poole to explore our attitudes about sex, death, fear, and difference. ‘The Lady of Horror’ was famous in the 1950s, but she is a remarkable symbol who connects backward to Poe and forward to Goth. She is as American as the Statue of Liberty.” —Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America

“Vampira is up there with Vincent Price for lovers of the macabre, an icon whose shadow and influence lingers long after death. She’s not only important to modern children of the night for being the first TV horror host, but as the original ‘Glamour Ghoul,’ whose style has inspired generations of Goth Girls to adopt the sexy undead look as their own. But there is more to her story than her ability to look good screaming, and Scott Poole, whose writing on the dark side of popular culture has proven to be some of the smartest, sassiest commentary on American society around, is the man to tell it.” —Liisa Ladouceur, author of Encyclopedia Gothica

Marketing Information

  • Nominated for THE BRAM STOKER AWARD for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction