When I thought about what would work best for another post about Nevermore, I thought maybe I should write about why I wrote the book, and a little bit about myself for those of you reading here for the first time. I’ve written a lot about Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe in the short time it’s been available, but when I thought about why I wrote it – I realized there was at least one reason I had not yet touched on.
I can’t resist a mystery. I was led to this story by things I discovered researching an earlier novel, and one of the things that I discovered I realized had been bothering me for a very long time. One of my favorite poems is The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s dark, tragic, a tale of loss and pain – and at it’s core, there is a mystery. Who is Lenore? Research on the subject turned up a number of remote possibilities, but nothing even close to a definitive answer.
Why the raven? What does the bird symbolize? We know that Ravens are psychopomps – that they help to usher the souls of the living into the next world. We’ve seen The Crow – and those dark birds are magic. Whose spirit did Poe write about? His wife was on her deathbed. His parents were dead. Even the girl for whom he wrote his first love poem died. There is no sign, however, of a Lenore and Edgar was a talented poet. He didn’t need to make up a name to play for the rhyme.
I decided to play one of my favorite games as an author. “What if it happened this way?”
I intended this story to be a short flashback in the next volume of The DeChance Chronicles. My main protagonist, Donovan DeChance (who also has a raven – Asmodeus) met Poe long ago near The Great Dismal Swamp, and he hinted about that in Kali’s Tale, book IV of The DeChance Chronicles. I expected to do a short rundown of that meeting and move on to the story I had plotted in my head, but Edgar and Lenore had other ideas.
So I wrote a story of The Great Dismal Swamp. I added a poet with a dying wife, an artist named Lenore who was compelled to release the images of spirits she saw trapped in the trees and water, stones and walls around her, a crow named Grimm, and – a surprise even to me – a revised fairy tale from The Brothers Grimm – who actually wrote a story titled “The Raven” long, long ago.
I wrote Nevermore because I wanted to be a part of something old, and wonderful. I wanted my own dream of what might have happened in that place, so long ago, to join with the stories of and about Edgar Allan Poe. I wanted to write more about The Great Dismal Swamp, which is near my home and a place I dearly love. I wanted, in short, to tell a story, and I hope you’re going to read it – and love it.
I’ve been writing for what seems like forever. My first novel was published in 1987- it was the Star Trek Voyager novel Chrysalis – but that was not the first I sold. My first truly original book was a novel titled This is My Blood– which is sort of a cult classic. In that novel, I played that game for the first time – What if it happened this way? – and I did that by writing excerpts from the Book of the Gospel According to Judas Iscariot, and by suggesting that when Christ was in the desert, he was tempted with one last thing – a woman – Mary Magdalene, a fallen angel raised by Lucifer. Instead of tempting him, she fell in love and wanted to return to Heaven.
In that novel I also wrote about Lilith, vampires, and a lot of other things. It is still probably my most popular novel. What if is definitely still my favorite game. Here is a short excerpt from Nevermore.
“The room had a small chest of drawers along the side wall, and he carefully unpacked and stored his clothing. Next he pulled out the book he was reading, a novella titled Carmen, by Prosper Mérimée, and his worn copy of Children’s and Household Tales – or – Grimm’s Fairy Tales. He set these aside almost without thought and drew forth a thick sheaf of papers bound in a ribbon, his pens, and a small bottle of ink. He glanced at the window. Through the curtains he saw that there was a light. He placed the ink, pens, and paper on the table that rested against the wall beneath the window and pulled the curtain aside curiously.
To the right, along the back of the building and on toward the tavern, only the moonlight shone down to illuminate the trees lining the near side of the Intercoastal Waterway. To the left, however, at the very corner of the building, flickering lamplight danced outside the window of the room adjacent to his.
What had the tavern keeper said? Miss MacReady? And the boy, Tom? “She’s up all hours…”
It seemed that it was true. Edgar smiled. He was no stranger to late nights. He sometimes believed he would be unable to write at all if it were not for the long hours between dusk and dawn, when the world quieted, after a fashion, the light flickered, the paper took on a yellow lamp-light hue, and his imagination wandered. He thought of his desk, and his home – and that brought him to thoughts of his wife, Virginia, and her failing health.
He turned abruptly back to the chair and opened a side-pocket on his bag. He pulled free a large, silver-plated flask and carried it to the table. The wind was picking up outside, blowing in from the south. Trees swayed, and the roaring throaty breath of the storm teased along the walls and through the slats of the roof. It was a proper night for writing, and only the words – and the whiskey – could draw him up and out of the cloud of despair that was his constant traveling companion.
Virginia was always on his mind. Theirs had been a troubled relationship from the beginning, their familial ties, and the girl’s age, but he’d seen something in her – some fragile beauty – that completed him. Now – having filled the hole in his heart, she withered, and he felt the pain like a fist squeezing the light from his world.
If only she’d listen to him. If only the things he knew – the things he could do – could ease her pain. There were curatives – elixirs – potions and charms. He knew he could restore her health, but she would not allow it. Not at what she considered to be the cost of her soul. Not if it meant becoming part and parcel to the powers that swam through the darker recesses of his mind. It was likely that she had trouble deciding if he were evil, or simply mad.
He knew that, despite her wishes, he could save her, but if he did, she would hate him. She would not be happy, and making her happy was all that he craved. Instead, she died, and he drank, and he wrote and he prayed that when all the smoke and dust had cleared that something of worth would remain.
A dark shape dropped through the light from the MacReady woman’s lantern. Edgar walked to the window, glanced out, and actually smiled. He unfastened the sash and lifted the window a crack. The scents of blooming flowers and impending storm wafted in. He lifted the window a bit farther, and with a hop, a large crow landed on the windowsill, then dropped into the room with a thud. It sat glaring at him for a moment, and then, as if satisfied in some way, began to busily and noisily preen its feathers.
“Good evening, Grimm.” Edgar said with a slight, mock bow. “And it is good to see you too. Perhaps I shall groom my mustache while you are busy, as a show of camaraderie?”
The bird glanced up at him, and then continued working over its tail feathers in complete indifference.
Edgar closed the window and took a seat at the table. He arranged his papers carefully, gathering those he’d written the night before on top of a larger stack of blank sheets. He always began by re-reading what he’d just finished. It served as a quick pre-edit, and it dropped him back into the story with a fresh ‘reader’s’ perspective of the work.
“Perhaps,” he said conversationally, “I shall write a story about a bird – a great black one who is too often inattentive. Grave things might happen to such a creature, don’t you think?”
The crow didn’t even bother to glance up at this. Edgar chuckled, and turned to the pages before him. He had meant to write a story of romance and intrigue, but as he read, he saw that – once again – the melancholy that served as his muse had taken over and driven dark spikes between the pages. It was clear that one lover must die at the hand of the other, and that the mystery would depend on the circumstances. The young man in the story was quite mad – as was so often the case – mad and absolutely brilliant. Misunderstood. Lonely.”
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE