My copy of the Sword and Mythos anthology came in the mail today – my contribution is “Truth Is Order and Order Is Truth,” my second Lovecraftian story after “Red Goat, Black Goat” (and like “RG, BG,” set in Indonesia and published by Innsmouth Free Press, which is awesome).
There are other similarities too. “Red Goat, Black Goat” is named after a Death in June song, “Red Dog Black Dog.” “Truth Is Order and Order Is Truth” is named after a Der Blutharsch song, “VII” off The Track of the Hunted album. It’s a funny story of how I started listening to Der Blutharsch, though – somewhere in my freshman dorm lived a girl who had every single Der Blutharsch album, and due to the wonders of wireless internet and the iTunes technology of the time, I could listen to her music. I was so freaked out and enraptured by them – “III” off When Did Wonderland End? is still one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Both Der Blutharsch and Death in June make music I’d characterize as incomprehensible, cinematic, and dark, which is why they’re major writing influences. It’s music for a Mondo world. Sometimes there are no lyrics, or the lyrics make no sense — the conclusion of the aforementioned “III,” on the other hand, is basically my writing manifesto: “the murder in your eyes, your journey through darkened skies, your adventure in blood and lies.”
I have been wanting to tell the story at the heart of “Truth Is Order and Order Is Truth” for a long time – it’s a story about a very deeply ingrained piece of Javanese folklore, the Spirit Queen of the South Sea (she’s the reason you are not supposed to wear the color green on Java’s southern beaches; certain old hotels are said to have a room “reserved” for her) – but my previous attempts never quite made it to prime-time. In one case, the story was written from the perspective of a human princess who had to compete with the all-powerful Spirit Queen for the love of the young king. Another version told the story from the perspective of one of the Spirit Queen’s handmaidens, who’d run away to try to become human by working in a fish factory. With “Truth Is Order and Order Is Truth,” I finally realized that I had to tell the story from the Spirit Queen’s own point of view, and I had to make her ruthless. Combining her with the ruthlessness of the Lovecraft mythos made perfect sense, and this story that I’d been wrestling with for years finally fell into place.
Here are a few other songs that inspired — facilitated, as you’d say in international development — “Truth Is Order and Order Is Truth”:
- “Blood, Milk, and Sky” – White Zombie [if I ever publish an anthology of stories exclusively about Indonesia, I’d call it Blood, Milk, and Sky. Because we were taught from a young age that the red of the Indonesian flag represents blood, and the white represents purity… and Indonesia is not so much a fatherland or motherland, but literally the “land where I shed my blood.” And that’s called militarism!]
- “Isis” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs [“if they’re still up high, we’ll throw them to the sea/ watch the murder of the wilds to the music of the deep”]
- “Gorgon” – Scary Valentine [hooray for finally being able to find this on YouTube]
- “Serpentia” – Danzig [“my little girl, won’t you shed your skin/ little goddess, why don’t you slither in”]
- “Exterminating Angel” – The Creatures [“swarms of angels come to kill your sons/ and there’s nothing but black holes where the stars should have been… poor little rich thing/ poor little bleeding heart”]