Saturday, 19 January 2013

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe

Reviver owes its existence to Edgar Allan Poe, born 19th January 1809.

I was browsing the web at work (it was lunchtime!  probably!) and someone pointed out there were entries in Wikipedia for specific dates, and you could find out if you shared your birthday with anyone interesting.

Mine came up with Dolly Parton and Edgar Allan Poe.

I'd been browsing because I was hunting for a story idea.  I'd joined a creative writing course run by Peter James, back at the tail end of 2004.  This was just before Peter's first Roy Grace crime novel had been released, and he was still best known as a horror writer.  At the end of the first class, he set homework for the following week: write the first 250 words of a scary novel, introducing your protagonist and a murder weapon.

I had a week to do it, but after four days I was still blank.

Once I'd found the birthday connection, I read Poe's Wikipedia page.  As I did, two of his stories, which I'd read years before, collided in my brain.

The first was The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.  Here we have Monsieur Valdemar, on the point of death;  a friend, with an interest in mesmerism, asks permission to mesmerise Valdemar to see what happens.  (Clue: not happy stuff.)  When it was published, some actually took it to be a true account.  That gives me goosebumps.

The second was The Murders in the Rue Morgue, widely considered to be the first modern detective story.  (It was also riffed on in one of the most memorable X Files episodes, Squeeze.)

These two stories fused, and what flashed into my head was the image of Valdemar being given a post-mortem interview by Poe's detective, Dupin.

That evening, I started to write.  It was the first page of what would become Reviver, and it has hardly changed since.

Now I'm not sure if Poe ever had a happy day in his life, and, well, he's long dead*, but I'll raise my glass to the man all the same... Happy Birthday Edgar!

(*There's a slim chance that someone who looks a lot like Peter Cushing has Poe stashed in his basement churning out new stories.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi can you contact me @pongming on twitter I have someone in Warner Bros that is interested in talking to you......thanks