Cyril van der Haegen, The Birth of Cthulhu
Do you know how sometimes you get strange ideas by looking at your surroundings and by associating things that have seemingly nothing in common? somehow, your creative Muse manages to invent something new with a bric-a-brac of objects, sounds, smells, colors or words.
I was trying to imagine how H. P. Lovecraft ever managed to invent such a massive universe and instead of deep and intensive researches in Libraries and Museums, why wouldn’t he just put things together at the dinner table? Now imagine a scene where Howard is at home, eating some sea-food spaghetti while reading some encyclopedia on fish, bats and other magazines. Suddenly, a light bulb pops at about 100 watts and he puts it all together:
Squidhead + tentacles + batwings + fishbody = Cthulhu
Though an interesting idea this may be, it has no grounds in reality. Lovecraft loathed seafood, he abhorred the stench of fish and felt physically sick whenever he would pass through a fish market. It is highly unlikely that Lovecraft created Cthulhu one night by having squid for dinner much less that he could afford squid for dinner in the first place; his diet usually consisted of low-budget meals like vegetable soup with crackers. It is theorised that Lovecraft’s diet and subsequent malnutrition caused his death by small intestine cancer.
The most logical explanation would be that his inspiration was borne from disgust of all things seafood, his literary heroes (Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, Guy de Maupassant and Alfred Tennyson) and his main source of inspiration: his dreams, or nightmares. This would allow him to write such vivid descriptions of rotten fish or the horror of the Deep Ones in such a convincing manner in, for instance, the short story “Dagon”, or his novella The Shadow over Innsmouth.