A gay, black antinatalist, Isaac Grimalkin isn’t your typical H.P. Lovecraft fan. Back in 1996 Isaac was the sole member of the Dunwich Posse, an experimental Lovecraftian horrorcore hip-hop act that released Harlem Smoke, a groundbreaking album chronicling the gruesome exploits of its titular monster. But when his album began to inspire real-life copycat crimes, Isaac abandoned his musical career at the height of his fame.
Flash-forward to 2015. Once again living in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, Isaac, now 38, has reinvented himself as a Pickman-esque painter of the morbid and the macabre. He wishes to forget his past; but his life gradually takes a hellish descent when an interview with a music magazine resurrects public interest in the Dunwich Posse. Meanwhile, local women are being murdered in a variety of grotesque scenarios that seem directly inspired by the lyrics of Isaac’s old, cursed album. As police suspicion mounts, Isaac begins investigating his family’s sinister history, in search of answers for just who (or what) the elusive Harlem Smoke actually is: an interior quest that could lead to his own annihilation.
Set in a social realist modern-day Providence where paradoxical dimensions of cosmic horror are only a stone’s throw away, Harlem Smoke is a creative re-imagining of the artistic potentialities of the Lovecraftian novel.
James Champagne’s previous works include the novel Confusion (self-published, 2006) and two Weird Fiction short story collections, 2012’s Grimoire: A Compendium of Neo-Goth Narratives and 2015’s Autopsy of an Eldritch City: Ten Tales of Strange & Unproductive Thinking (both published by Rebel Satori Press). His work has also appeared in the anthologies Userlands: New Fiction Writers From the Blogging Underground, Mighty in Sorrow: a Tribute to Current 93 & David Tibet, Marked To Die: A Tribute to Mark Samuels and Drowning in Beauty: the Neo-Decadent Anthology. He was born in 1980 and lives in Rhode Island.