If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sacsser Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.


Monday, January 19, 2015

So, What's New, Edgar Allan Poe?

 Nevermore on Broadway
On January 19, any writer who kills would not be worth her curare-tipped blow dart if she didn’t lift a glass of happy birthday amontillado to Edgar Allan Poe. Very few literary figures have endured like our Goth poet laureate, who is credited with inventing the detective story. In his stories of C. Auguste Dupin, Poe drew the template for an entire genre. Arthur Conan Doyle called Poe “the father of the detective tale” and noted that Poe “covered its limits so completely that I fail to see how his followers can find any fresh ground which they can confidently call their own.”

Yet writers and artists of all kinds continue to find fresh ground not only in Poe’s work, but also in his life story. In a sign of Poe’s uncanny appeal, English teachers tell me that his work is actually read by their teenage students. His stories have been adapted to film and television and his work is celebrated worldwide (this past weekend saw the Poe Festival in Richmond, Virginia).

But many writers are celebrated. Many literary figures have their own coffee mugs and t-shirts, but how many American poets inspire their own line of press-on nails?  NEVERMORE - The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe officially opens on Broadway January 25. Baltimore’s professional football team is called the Ravens in Poe’s honor. People tattoo Poe’s poetry on their shoulder blades.

He has over 3 million likes on Facebook.

Is our enduring fascination with Poe due to the hypnotic power of his poetry? His enthralling storytelling? Or it is because of our obsession with the dark, the macabre?  Do we remember Poe because we never got over the shock of discovering that he married his 14-year-old cousin, Virginia? Is it those eyes, dark, melancholy portals to God only knows what delicious horrors?

Variety just reported that Idris Elba is producing a film based on Mark Olden’s 1978 novel Poe Must Die. In the story, Poe and “bare knuckle fighter” Pierce James Figg join forces to stop a Satanist from finding the Throne of Solomon and unleashing its power on the people of earth.

Like the television show The Following, which is about student followers of a Poe scholar who orders them to kill (seriously, how many professors can even get their students to turn off their cell phones during class?), many modern works miss what is essential about Poe. Contrary to the facile mad genius trope they embrace, Poe was a prodigious talent who didn't just exploit horror, melancholy, and madness but also explored them on the page and endured them in his life. Poe rests in his grave in Baltimore  (or does he?) while his work still chills, captivates, and inspires. His own fever mad passions touch something fever mad within us.

 One of my favorite reviews of Poe’s work is from the Fanpop website. A desperate student writes (and I’ve retained the original spelling and punctuation):

“how would you describe the poem The Raven
i'm trying to write an essay about the poem The Raven By Edgar Allen Poe, and i don't know what to say about it i'm stuck so that's why i came to you guys for help”

Freakoutnow gave the perfect answer: “haunting.”

What do you think accounts for Poe’s enduring, and it seems, ever growing popularity?


James Montgomery Jackson said...

I have no clue why Poe is still so popular. In school we had to read a number of Poe works, so we had exposure to him. And he writes about dark stuff that people are attracted to.

I have a two volume set of his complete poems and short stories and a ten volume set of his complete works.

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Jim, I thought that the early exposure in high school explained it, but more and more I think people/screenwriters are attracted by the superficial gory stuff. Poe's writing is full of gory stuff, for sure, but that's not all there is. I think the current approach to Poe's work is a kind of dumbing down, to borrow your words from yesterday :)

Warren Bull said...

Poe was an original. He invention the fictional detective story. Just about anyone who likes detective stories, will be curious about the inventor at some tine or another.

E. B. Davis said...

I look to Poe when I write suspense/horror. Keeping readers on the "edge of their seats" is Poe's gift. I'll read a passage from "The Tell-Tale Heart," and then try to translate Poe's intensity, sentence structure, and speech patterns into my own work. (Don't tell anyone). I couldn't invent that intensity or dream up the horror, which is often the protagonist's perception of the situation, their physical reactions, and anticipation. He's the master. How could he not be evergreen?

Gloria Alden said...

I'll admit I haven't read his work in years, although I still like the rhythm of his most popular poem, "The Raven" This morning on "Writers Almanac" on NPR, Garrison Keillor talked about him and his early childhood as well as his works became darker after his wife got leukemia and was dying. I'm not a big fan of horror so that's probably why I haven't read much of his work. That doesn't mean I don't value his influence on the path of mystery writing.

Shari Randall said...

Warren, it amazes me to think of all the classical elements of the traditional detective story - the locked room mystery, the gifted but tormented investigator - were, if not originated, were formed by Poe.

Shari Randall said...

EB, don't worry, I won't tell. Poe really does put the reader through the wringer, doesn't he? Scary stuff!

Gloria, I'm going over to NPR to check out Garrison Keillor. I read an article by a Poe scholar who touched on the same theme. Poe's life was one death after another - his mother, stepmother, his beloved wife. His wife got tuberculosis shortly after they married and their years together were essentially years of her dying. It's no wonder that he was consumed by thoughts of death.

KM Rockwood said...

Let's not discount the fact that Poe is required reading in many educational programs. That means that huge numbers of his works are purchased annually, whether the purchaser is a fan or not.

That's not to diminish his appeal (he's one of the classics, and I am fascinated by his work) but to point out that educational expectations can drive an author's apparent popularity.

Ditto people like Shakespeare, Melville, etc.

Kara Cerise said...

I didn't realize that Poe had a cult-like following and that his image inspired a line of press-on nails. I guess the macabre and gruesome captures people's imagination. Maybe Stephen King will have the same type of enduring popularity.

Shari Randall said...

KM, that's true. Most high school kids are, in my opinion, lucky enough to be introduced to Poe. That, coupled with his nightmarishly memorable images and wonderfully evocative language, make him a favorite.

Shari Randall said...

Kara, I just couldn't get over the press on nails! They are awesome! Now I'm going to have to check the internet to see if I can find any Stephen King press on nails…. A very cursory search turned up Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, and Frieda Kahlo nails - No Stephen King though.

Paula Gail Benson said...

What a great post, Shari! I love the Goth Poet Laureate description. I understand Poe had an SC connection and wrote The Gold Bug while on the coast.