by Barb, in Key West, where it’s a brisk 63 degrees today and the natives are shivering and moaning and wearing parkas
Yesterday was Edgar Allan Poe’s 207th birthday, and over at Wicked Cozy Authors we marked the day by publishing our “tribute” book of stories and poems inspired by his work.
Most of you probably know that I also blog at Wicked Cozy. We’re a group of authors and long time friends who were originally bound by our subgenre (cozy mysteries) and our settings (New England from Connecticut to Maine). Since those early days, we’ve branched out quite a bit and have published romantic suspense, short stories and (coming soon) historicals, in settings that range from southern Indiana to Ireland.
Last spring, one of our “Wicked Accomplices” and regular bloggers, Jane Haertel (aka Sadie Hartwell at Kensington and Susannah Hardy at Penguin) proposed that with things going so swimmingly at the blog, we should publish a book of short stories.
My first thought was, “It will never work.” In fairness, this is my first reaction to just about anything. I’m sure that sounds odd for someone who was an executive at three successful start-ups, but I learned early on that resources and time are finite and saying “no,” was often as important as saying, “yes.”
Plus, I had just finished having partial responsibility for an anthology at Level Best Books, and it seemed perverse to jump back in so soon.
But as anyone who knows me will tell you, I usually come around. As I did in this case, especially after the idea took hold that the stories would be inspired by a work by Poe.
Stephen King says that story ideas often come down to seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way. When I thought of Poe, two things that had been rattling in my brain came together.
One was this: What if you moved “The Raven” to modern times and the narrator was harangued not by a bird, but by a telemarketer?
Once upon a weeknight dreary, while I watched, alone and bleary
Leonard on the Big Bang Theory, courting Penny from next door
Suddenly I felt a tingle, then my nether regions jingled
A cell phone call? I’d let it ringle, echoing across the floor.
The other was inspired by a scene in the movie City Slickers when Billy Crystal’s character, who sells advertising time for a radio station, complains that he “sells air.” I liked the idea of someone selling “time,” i.e. selling my hapless narrator a timeshare.
Now I knew she was a scammer, and a flimmer and a flammer
She cut me to the quick, God damn her, when she mentioned my Lenore
“There’s one thing,” I said, “I’m sure of. Time’s the thing you can’t buy more of.
Even rich men have no cure of death when he comes through the door.”
Thus, my version of “The Raven,” was born.
You’d think the hard part would be the keeping the rhythm and finding all the rhymes, but instead, the hard part was finding a story arc, and a middle and an end, just like writing a novel or a short story. The muddling middle gets you every time.
You can read all the stories with the simple expenditure of $2.99 on Amazon.
When cozy mystery writers meet Edgar Allan Poe, the result is Edgar Allan Cozy. Each story in this suspenseful new anthology is inspired by the work of Poe. “The Raven,” “The Lighthouse,” “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “Annabel Lee” have been updated and set in the fictional town of Raven Harbor, Maine. With stories by Sheila Connolly, Edith Maxwell, Sherry Harris, Barbara Ross and Sadie Hartwell. Edited by Sadie Hartwell.
Readers: What do you think of this project? Whose work should inspire out next collection?
This is so cool, but then what else would we expect from the Wickeds?
Congratulations to all of you!
I just read “The Raven.” So well done! I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the stories!
Thank you so much, Ruth!
Your version of The Raven is brilliant! You are so very clever!
Thank you, Sherry. And I love your versions of “The Lighthouse” and Anna, Belle, and Lee.
Before I posted this I downloaded. Love all the Wickeds and Maine writers.
Thank you, Ruth. I hope you enjoy it!
Very cool idea! Next up? How about The Brother’s Grimm Cozies. Check out this BBC article for inspiration. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35358487
Jim–great idea. I do love Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crimes.
My students and I composed a Raven parody about finals long, long ago. It was pretty good, actually, but I doubt I have a copy. Poe’s work is fun to play with, perhaps because it’s already so exaggerated and so well written. This looks to be fun!