ROBERT E. HOWARD to
CLARK ASHTON SMITH,
dated July 23, 1935
Dear Mr. Smith:
I'm ashamed of my long delay in answering your letter, but I assure you it was from no lack of interest. Since writing you last a number of things have combined to interfere with my correspondence: a month I was forced to spend in East Texas, during time I did no writing of any kind; a journey to Santa Fe, New Mexico; and a number of shorter trips to various points in West Texas, and the necessity of catching up on my fiction work which accumulated during the time spent on these trips, all caused me to get away behind on my letter-writing.
But I have, as always, followed your work in Weird Tales. I very much enjoyed "Dark Eidolon", "The Last Hieroglyph", "The Flower Women", and the splendid poem: "Dominion". I am not exaggerating when I say that I do not consider that I ever read a finer poem than that. I'd give my trigger-finger for the ability to make words flame and burn as you do.
I've been concentrating on adventure stuff recently, trying to break into that field permanently. I've made a start, with yarns published in Action, Thrilling Adventures, and Top-Notch; got a couple of covers designs in a row with Top-Notch and am toiling manfully to become a regular contributor. Sent a three-part serial to Wright yesterday: "Red Nails", which I devoutly hope he'll like. A Conan yarn, and the grimmest, bloodiest and most merciless story of the series so far. Too much raw meat, maybe, but I merely portrayed what I honestly believe would be the reactions of certain types of people in the situations on which the plot of the story hung. It may sound fantastic to link the term "realism" with Conan; but as a matter of fact--his supernatural adventures aside--he is the most realistic character I ever evolved. He is simply a combination of a number of men I have known, and I think that's why he seemed to step full-grown into my consciousness when I wrote the first yarn of the series. Some mechanism in my sub-consciousness took the dominant characteristics of various prizefighters, gunmen, bootleggers, oil field bullies, gamblers, and honest workmen I had come in contact with, and combining them all, produced the amalgamation I call Conan the Cimmerian.
Lovecraft tells you are doing some impressive work in carving, using dinosaur bone; I envy you your splendid variety of talent--artist, poet, author, and now sculptor.
With best wishes.
Robert E. Howard