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My Influences by Ville Valo

Lovecraft, Poe, Argento and more: ville on the key cultural heroes that shaped him as an artist...

We had hundreds of books in the house when I was a kid. My dad was an avid antiquarian – he used to buy old newspapers and old books, though not necessarily expensive ones. Most Finnish books aren’t super-ornate or leather-bound, but they could still be beautiful. He just loved to buy random books about all sorts of subjects.

I think my introduction to horror was when I was about 12, when a Finnish guy translated the works of HP Lovecraft. We had some collections of his short stories and novellas, and the first ones I can remember reading are The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward (1927) and At The Mountains Of Madness (1931). Then I got the omnibus of all his works when I was about 15, and it took me seven years to be able to read it without a dictionary in my lap.

In the Finnish translations, the language was so archaic, there were so many adjectives even native English speakers would find it tough. The cool thing about Lovecraft is the fact that he’s never too graphic. It’s more about unspeakable horrors and stuff that’s so ‘out there’ that he can’t even write it, and that makes the imagination do most of the work, which makes it all the more powerful.

There’s no emotional content in his books whatsoever, it’s all about the protagonist who goes crazy in the end. There’s no romance, no proper conversation – his writing’s very to-the-point and almost dry, in a way. But then again he’ll explain the architecture of a city down to the square millimetre. They’re really crazy stories, and the sentences are so fucking long, it takes ages to get that shit into your head! It was Kafkaesque, Franz Kafka being another great writer I got into as a kid. Then, after that, they translated all these pulp horror stories from the 20s, more of the ‘weird fiction’ that Lovecraft was such an important influence on. All I knew when I was a kid was that I loved that horrific stuff. That was my introduction to the fantastic, I suppose.

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