Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London? Inspector of the Dead: David Morrell’s Thrilling Thomas De Quincey Sequel

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverReview~

What can you really say of David Morrell that isn’t great? He’s a master at all types of suspense and thriller books that he writes, including his newest foray into Victorian England with his Thomas De Quincey historical mysteries. First publishing Murder as a Fine Art in 2013 (you can read my review of that HERE and an interview I had with him there HERE), he’s now back with a sequel called Inspector of the Dead.

Morrell features his mysteries around Thomas De Quincey, known as the Opium-Eater, a man who wrote essays during this era where the dark, cobbled streets of London were ripe with addiction, lust, and murder. It’s said that he inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Arthur Conan Doyle in his creation of Sherlock Holmes. He also struggled with opium addiction (it was legal in Britain at this time, but most people kept their use a secret), which caused him much strife in his life with dreams and nightmares. Morrell obviously has painstakingly researched the man and the time period, both in the fact that is historical revelations of this man and the creation of his character seem so vivid and authentic, as well as, his time period descriptions are atmospheric and captivating.

He seemed to have a lot of Victorian Era and Thomas De Quincey scholars and educators read through his book prior to publishing, which shows that he cares very much about getting it right for readers, whether its actually fiction or not. It’s historical fiction, and he doesn’t like to take many liberties with the man himself, but creates an accurate character based on his findings, set on a case that also surrounds real historical events that entertains and absorbs the reader into the book.

This time, a murderer is killing people and leaving notes on their bodies of those who have attempted to assassinate or overthrow Queen Victoria and evidence points that Queen Elizabeth might be the final target! It’s 1855 and the English government is already weakened by war, so the murderer must be stopped. De Quincey, who’s become quite the professional sleuth, his daughter Emily, and Scotland Yard detectives are on the move in order to stop this threat.

Morrell unravels the mystery of the murder with seamless ease, giving us clues and snippets, but leaving us hanging till the end. His pace, plotting, and placement of scenes and dialogue are intricately linked, making the readability of this novel very high and quite enjoyable. We see a portrait of a criminal consumed with jealously, rage, and hurt. Through Morrell’s writing, even though we don’t know the murderer, we can feel the depth of his heart on fire with the wrong type of passion. It’s ominous and ethereal in all the right ways for a novel in this fog-laden mystery.

As always, Morrell layers within his novel the social issue of class structure, as those being murdered are from upper society, while the criminal moves around into circles of higher class victims by wearing disguises. Don’t we all sometimes put on  a “disguise” in order to fit in? Doesn’t our anger at not being included sometimes create anger or rage within us? De Quincey even tries to breaks the ideal norm by admitting his addiction publicly, as well as speaking to the point that he can do what he does better based on being in a better social station.

Morrell writes this novel from various view points of De Quincey, the suspect, Emily, and the Scotland Yard gents, Ryan and Becker. Sometimes this can catch readers off guard, but I think he constructed the novel in this vein flawlessly. He allowed us to feel better connected to the secondary characters, and sets up Emily to be a very independent heroine. As De Quincey is a bit Holmes like, Emily seems to be his Watson. She’s fierce, intelligent, and wholly my favorite character within the book.

Inspector of the Dead can be read stand alone, as Morrell does a nice joy of getting readers caught up with must know details, but reading Murder as a Fine Art will give you a more compelling view of Victorian London, where he really fleshes out the descriptions and presents the setting to us so vividly we feel as if we ourselves are hiding in the shadows. Though there are also amazing period details in the sequel, and vignettes of other new locations, such as homes of the weathly, prisons, asylums, and such. He’s also moved further past our surroundings and helped us to delve more into the characters and their relationships with each other and within society. The murders are gritty, grisly, and reminiscent of any within all those Jack the Ripper tales. Something about Victorian London is dark, grim, and creepy and Morrell doesn’t sway from that “lonely boot tap on stone street sound behind you”-type of affectation.

Overall, Inspector of the Dead’s action, details, and pace are likened to a screen script, which will leave you playing this out in your head with a clear picture. It will seep into you, making you feel frightened, quite possibly losing sleep, yet you’ll also feel part of the mystery-solving team. Have you heard of 3-D books? No? Well, David Morrell’s writing is as close as you’ll ever get.

Morrell once again mixes a recipe of authentic history, vaporous setting, refined plot, and fluid, steady action with on-point elemental social structure apportion. Highly recommended for those who like Victorian era murder mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, or possibly reminiscent Poe’s Dupin mysteries, a tad of Wilkie Collins, and the social intricacies and period details work of Charles Dickens, and yet with Morrell’s signature thriller action pacing and visual effects.

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverInspector of the Dead, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 342p
ISBN: 9780316323932

Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads

David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.
The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead~

“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book~

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
iBooks
IndieBound
Kobo

Murder as a Fine Art, Synopsis, First Thomas De Quincey Novel~

Murder as a Fine ArtGaslit London is brought to its knees in David Morrell’s brilliant historical thriller.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

David Morrell, Biography~

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_EsperanzaDavid Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement ThrillerMaster award from the International Thriller Writers.

His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl.

A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University.

His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/inspectorofthedeadblogtour/

Hashtags: #InspectoroftheDeadBlogTour #HistoricalMystery

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @_DavidMorrell

04_Inspector of the Dead_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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Exclusive Interview with Lynn Cullen, author of Mrs. Poe, on 19th Century Writers, Poe’s Reputation, and Cookies!

So excited today to have this exclusive interview with Lynn Cullen, author of nationally bestselling Mrs. Poe, which just released in paperback!  You can view my positive review HERE and enter to WIN your own copy HERE! Then enjoy the discussion I with Lynn about Edgar Allan Poe, women writers of the 19th Century, and cookies!

**********************************************************

Hi, Lynn! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am so pleased to have you here today as I am a huge fan of your book. I love history, but also have an obsession with the dark tales of Poe, so your book sold itself to me from the start. Thanks for taking a chance on writing it!

I received a paper from your publisher about a publicity tour you’ve been on, and was bummed I got it a few days before you were in Columbus, Ohio, which is very close to me. I was sorry to have missed you. What a great way to kick-off your summer! How has your paperback tour been going for you so far?

Lynn: Hi Erin! Thank you for inviting me to Oh, for the Hook of Book and for your beautiful and oh-so kind review of Mrs. Poe on an earlier post. It left me breathless!   I’m sorry to have missed you in Columbus—it would have been fun to meet you. And what a great city for the arts! My event through the Thurber House at the Museum of Art was one of the highlights of my paperback road tour–it was a packed house. I felt so loved!   Made me want to hurry home and write some more.

Erin: I will have to try to catching you another time and place! I am so happy Ohio welcomed you so well! Please do come in and have seat in my comfy chairs in my library. I have some new chocolate mint tea brewing I found via fair trade, would you care for hot tea or is sparkling white wine more your style? Just say the word.

Lynn: Well, since it’s evening, how about a spot of wine, please? Not that the chocolate mint tea doesn’t sound divine. But I just got home from an event at the Library of Virginia in Richmond and a drink is in order.   I was given a tour of the city and the Poe Museum that left my head in the clouds. I saw Poe’s boyhood bed, a letter from Frances Osgood (nice penmanship!), and an original portrait of Anne Charlotte Lynch from around the year of her conversaziones (boy, is she pretty!) Even better, I saw Mrs. Clemm’s stockings—which had a spider-web pattern knitted into them. How perfect is that?

Erin: Wonderful, that sounds so delightful! I’ll pour. Let’s get started on the questions and we’ll break mid-way through for some crackers and brie or maybe some biscotti.

02_Mrs. Poe

Q: Mrs. Poe’s title of course isn’t meant to mislead, but why did you or your publisher choose it when your protagonist isn’t Edgar Allan Poe’s wife, but the female poet Frances Osgood?

A:   I chose that title from the very start. I was thinking of the book, Rebecca, in which the main character is obsessed with Rebecca, the former wife of the narrator’s new husband. Rebecca isn’t told from Rebecca’s point of view, but through the eyes of the new wife. I thoughtI would write Mrs. Poe in the same vein—written from Frances’s point of view about her obsession with Mrs. Poe.   Frances wanted to be the real Mrs. Poe, and actually was more suited for that role and so should have been, hence her obsession.

Q: Why did you choose Frances as the narrator or protagonist? What do you hope readers remember about Frances? Why is she not more well-known as in my mind she is one of the greatest female poets of the 19th century?

A: I identified with Frances since she was a woman trying to make a living writing, never an easy thing to do, and especially difficult in 1845. I wanted to explore what it’s like to be a woman and a writer through her eyes.   I wonder if Frances didn’t remain well-known long after her death because she wrote about being a mother and about love, subjects that “serious,” i.e. male, authorities on poetry discounted.   I also wonder if her relationship with Poe took away from the importance of her work.   Even in her lifetime, she became known for their affair and not for her poems.

Q: How did you start your research, what did you do in order to research, how did you research, and basically, please explain the time and effort you put into the material of your book?

A: I always start with biographies and then comb through their bibliographies for other sources. I must have collected over a hundred books on Poe, the other characters, New York, and Poe’s works this manner. Then I went to archives—the New York Historical Society Library in particular was a treasure trove of maps, directories, and city guides. Meanwhile, I made a point to visiting the site of every scene in the book. I logged in so many miles traipsing up and down Manhattan in the places Frances and Poe went that I tore the meniscus in my knee!

Erin comments: Astounding, Lynn!! You certainly giving meaning to putting full force into your work!!

Q: What tidbit did you come across in your research that surprised you the most? What did you find shocking that you included or didn’t include?

A: I was stunned by how insane Rufus Griswold was and yet how this obvious nut was able to shape Poe’s image for all times.   Thanks to Rufus G., Poe is thought of as a drug-addicted lunatic, when it was Griswold who had issues. For example, Griswold had his wife dug up 30 days after she was buried so that he could clip samples of her hair and give her one last hug—from which he had to be pried by concerned relatives. Yet while his wife was alive, he wouldn’t even live in the same city with her. I mentioned this in Mrs. Poe.   What I didn’t mention was that when Griswold married again—briefly alluded to in Mrs. Poe—the marriage didn’t last because on his wedding night, he took one look at his new bride unclothed in their marriage bed and said, Nope, she’s misshapen, and left her on the spot.   Not a nice man.

Erin comments: Sounds like a horrid man! Ew! I know who the crazy one was now!

Q: Do you feel that history is correct in remember E.A. Poe as a moody, brooding, and mad man? What do you feel that people are missing about him as a person?

A: It’s our friend Griswold who portrayed Poe as these things, and because he had Poe’s papers after Poe died—which he doctored to his twisted heart’s content—and wrote the first biography on Poe, his slander stood for more than 150 years. But Poe was handsome and witty and quite the ladies’ man.

Edgar

This is said to be an accurate likeness of Poe painted from life in the year he wrote “The Raven,” the year of Mrs. Poe.  Griswold’s nasty work was made easier by Poe’s own dark stories, which so often featured murderers and madmen. But Poe wrote these stories for the money, not because he identified with the murderers. He was always desperately poor and had to write what sold. His new-fangled scary stories brought in much-needed cash.

Erin comments: That’s so very interesting.

Q: Can you explain the publishing industry for writers in the mid-19th Century of New York City?

A: Poe was the first American to try to support himself solely on his writing, believe it or not. Before then, writers had family money or their spouses’ money or worked other jobs.   His writing career didn’t work out that well for him—as I said, he was dirt poor. In a good year, he only made a few hundred dollars. He made a total of about $20 on “The Raven.”

Q: Was E.A. Poe one of the first macabre, Gothic, dark fiction writers to make a name for the genre you think? Why were people drawn to The Raven, and his tales, at time in history? Why are they drawn to them today?

A: Poe was one of the first Americans to write Gothic tales (in the era of Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein—English women pioneered that genre) but was the first anywhere to write the detective tale, (the Dupin mysteries) and tales of psychological horror, like “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat.”   My theory is that people in that era were obsessed with death—death surrounded them, constantly robbing them of their loved ones—so these tales that dealt with death and the afterlife were cathartic. Even today, we still need to face our fears of death and mayhem and dark stories sometimes help with that.

Q: Do feel that everyone has a love story no matter how aloof or dark they seem on the pages in our history books? Everyone has a soul, don’t they? Do they all have capacity to love? Can love and grief both make you mad, together or separately?

A:   Well, everyone who is interesting has a love story! And romantic love aside, every person, every creature needs compassion, attention, and love to survive. I think love the force that animates us.   And yes, being kept from love, even just compassionate love, not romantic love, can destroy a person.   Romantic love and desire are another story—and being thwarted from them aren’t good for a person’s health, either, wouldn’t you say?    

Erin comments: Agreed!

Q: What feelings do you hope to generate in people when they read Mrs. Poe? Why do you feel it has been so popular?

A:   We all want what we cannot have—it’s the human condition. I hope that readers can identify with that constant craving as experienced by Frances and Poe, and can enjoy the story of when a pair of soulmates found each other for a brief while. It’s a bittersweet story of longing, as is life itself.   Maybe readers identify with that. I hope so.

Q: Are you interested in the women’s movement that was starting in New York even in the mid-1800s? More women wanted appreciated for creative jobs such as art, writing, music, etc. and felt it wasn’t just men’s work. Who were some of the independent and ambitious women of the time that Frances might have known?

A: Frances knew, quite well, the “Mother of Feminism”: Margaret Fuller. Margaret Fuller wrote the first collection of biographies about famous American women and was herself known as the most well-read woman of her times. She was a critic and columnist for the New York Tribune, actually making a living at it, and was an authority on the Great Lakes Indians. She was also a good friend of Frances Osgood and Anne Charlotte Lynch, and in real life when with Lynch to demand Frances’s love letters from Poe.

Q: You are already quite an established author, what have been your biggest challenges and what are your biggest successes?

A: I’ve been published for 28 years yet all this time I have been trying to figure out how to reach readers. I’ve found that as much as I love obscure corners in history and enjoy using the characters that I find in them as vehicles to explore aspects of the human condition, it’s so much harder to get people interested in your work if they are unfamiliar with your subject. I’ve finally learned that it’s more fun to even just talk to people about my work—let alone to get them to read my book– when I start out on familiar ground. With some of my other characters, I had to spend a lot of time just bringing people up to speed on the history before I could discuss what was happening in the story. With Poe, people leap right in. I’m having so much fun with this book!

Q: What are some of the other books you’ve written? How do they differ from Mrs. Poe?

A: Reign of Madness , The Creation of Eve, and I am Rembrandt’s Daughter all are about women who have had to forge their own paths through difficult circumstances. But don’t we all? I’m fascinated by resilient people and I’m also intrigued by how humans are always craving something. Desirous yet resilient people feature in all my books!

Q: What are you looking forward to writing next? Will we see more adult novels of famous creative types or independent women?

A: I’m writing about the women in Mark Twain’s life. His secretary, his wife, his daughters—they all had to figure out how to survive being around this complicated man.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t writing?

A: When I’m at home, I love to do nothing more glamorous than helping my daughters with their children and walking my dog. I travel a lot for research and to promote my books, which can be so much fun. I love meeting people, learning new things, and going back in time on historical fact-finding missions.

Q: How do you schedule writing time in? Do you have any tips for other authors who are also mothers?

A: When I was a mom with young kids, I wrote children’s books because they didn’t require as much as a commitment of my time. I still spent several hours a day at writing but not like for the 6-8 hour stretches that historical novels demand.   But I’m a slow writer. Many days an eight hour session will only produce a page. My tip: Keep slogging. It will get done. You just have to have a ton of patience… and some chocolate chip cookies on hand.

Erin comments: Ah, yes, baked goods always help. 🙂

Q: Best loved dessert, the one you want after a really long writing or editing session?

A: As you might guess from the last question, I am motivated by homemade cookies, chocolate chip or peanut butter but any other kind will do. Now I’m drooling at the thought of them!

Q: Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A: Thank you for asking: lynncullen.com or authorlynncullen on Facebook

Erin: I really appreciate you coming by today, Lynn. It was great to talk to you about your book and I wish you much success in the future. Have a great rest of your tour!

Lynn: Thanks so much, Erin! Thank you for your time, your insightful questions, and that glass of wine! Cheers!

Erin: Anytime, Lynn!

*******************************************************

02_Mrs. PoeMrs. Poe, Synopsis~
Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster

READ AN EXCERPT.

Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –Oprah.com
Editor’s Pick—The Historical Novels Review
Best Books of 2013—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

Praise for Mrs. Poe~

“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times

“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –Oprah.com, Book of the Week

“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People

“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR

“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review

“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review

“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
iTunes
Simon & Schuster

Author Lynn Cullen, Biography~

03_Lynn CullenLynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips.

She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal.

While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.

Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/mrspoevirtualtour

Tour Hashtag: #MrsPoeBlogTour

Mrs. Poe_Tour Banne_FINAL

 

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Giveaway for Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen! Enter to Win!

Have you read the national bestseller Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen? If you haven’t read it yet (how have you not?), or if you have, but don’t have your own copy of this fabulous book, now is your chance! You can check out my positive review of Mrs. Poe from yesterday HERE.

02_Mrs. Poe

Today I have a giveaway, one (1) paperback copy for U.S. residents!!  Don’t miss your chance to get this awesome book with its gorgeous cover for your home library.

ENTER TO WIN VIA RAFFLECOPTER HERE!

Mrs. Poe, Synopsis~

Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Gallery Books

READ AN EXCERPT

Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –Oprah.com
Editor’s Pick—The Historical Novels Review
Best Books of 2013—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick

02_Mrs. Poe

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

Praise for Mrs. Poe~

“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times

“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –Oprah.com, Book of the Week

“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People

“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR

“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review

“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review

“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Buy the Book~

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
iTunes
Simon & Schuster

Author Lynn Cullen, Biography~

03_Lynn CullenLynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips.

She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal.

While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.

Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/mrspoevirtualtour

Tour Hashtag: #MrsPoeBlogTour

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First Blood Author David Morrell Sensationally Smashes onto Historical Thriller Scene with Murder as a Fine Art

Murder as a Fine ArtMurder as a Fine Art, a novel of 1854 London, took author David Morrell out of his usual sub-genre of thrillers (he’s commonly known as the father of the modern action novel since publishing First Blood–the novel that started the Rambo movie series with Sylvester Stallone–in 1972) and into a new realm (and time) of literature.

He tried his hand at creating a historical crime thriller with Murder as a Fine Art and he practically perfected it on his first try! However, I never doubted that this book would not also be as fantastic as his others. He’s the type of author that completely immerses himself in his research, throughly detailing each aspect, and creates with vivid images and superb dramatic sequences an entertaining and intelligent novel. 

Since I love history from the Victorian Era, and have always enjoyed the classic mysteries and dark literature of the 19th Century, I was excited to read this novel. I was pulled into it page by page, immediately from the start when it began with a brutal murder and a look into the mind of a killer.  The action is exciting, the character development is spot on, and the continuation of the plot thickening throughout each chapter all works well together to create a page-turning novel. It reads like classic literature.

His look into mid-Victorian London, the struggle between the classes, the glimpse into the psyche, the introduction and beginning of professional crime detection….a mystery written amid the sickness, sights, sounds, smells of the crowded Lond streets…..the addictions and vices….creaky carriages, cobbled streets, street lamps, and alley ways….all used to allude to the human condition confounding England during this dark period while we are held in suspense deciphering as if we are a “sherlock holmes” ourselves.

It was extremely interesting how Morrell came across the work of Thomas De Quincey, who wrote true-crime essays during the mid-1800s and, as well, about his own opium addiction. De Quincey’s work isn’t as forefront as writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens who wrote classic novels we all can list on our fingers, but when Morrell discovered De Quincey had written thousands of works, he also realized he’d truly influenced the onset of the “sensation” novel. Uncovering new literary works is engaging to me, as much as it must have been to Morrell.

Morrell utilizes De Quincey’s sensation imaging technique, mixed with particular details, to bring 1854 alive to the reader.  Then he further weaves in some witty, unconventional forensic crime detection, all to create Murder as a Fine Art. Of course, his decision to utilize De Quincey as the detective was instrumental in making this book a great historical read.  The fictional 1854 murders were a copycat to a murderer who committed crimes earlier in the century that were written about in an actual essay by De Quincey (“On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts”) so Morrell has De Quincey, with daughter Emily alongside, set-out to learn the truth. Mixing truth with fiction, or creating fiction out of truth, makes Morrell’s book a true intellectual mystery read.

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I am completely interested now in the 1811 Ratcliffe Highway murders, which were the most notorious mass killings of their day. They caused so many citizens living in London and its outskirts to live in fear since they were more random murders, unlike the later and more frequently written about Jack the Ripper cases, which targeted prostitutes. I was thrilled that Morrell brought light to De Quincey and the 1811 murders, as well as the true lifestyle of mid-Victorian Londoners.

Morrell did a supreme job of creating and setting scenes using various points of view in his writing as well. I think that using Emily’s voice through her journal entries really added to the novel and gave it a classic feel. It was a novel written in an historical voice, not just in a historical setting.

Still a complete model author for any creative writing professional, especially thriller, suspense, and action genre writers, Morrell stands the test of time by utilizing his seasoned skills as a base and starting his own line of historical mysteries.

Readers will be astounded by Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art and crave more historical detective stories in this vein from his pen. I hope he plans on writing futher novels such as this, even using De Quincey or Inspector Ryan, because I am afraid it will be demanded of him! He needs to fill our reading requirements as quickly as possible! His stirring details, witty humor, sensationalized action, beautiful and emotive prose, and historical depth will leave you settling in and not wanting to arise until you’ve completely finished the novel hours later.

This is truly another historical favorite of this year for me and I’m certain it will be high on my list at my year end review of the top reads! I welcome more historical thrillers from David Morrell!

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Please don’t miss my exclusive interview with David Morrell tomorrow, May 14!! And there’s a giveaway of this exciting novel!!

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MURDER AS A FINE ART, Synopsis~

Murder as a Fine ArtPublication Date: May 7, 2013
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 368p
ISBN-10: 0316216798

GASLIT LONDON IS BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES IN DAVID MORRELL’S BRILLIANT HISTORICAL THRILLER.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

Author David Morrell, Biography~

David MorrellDavid Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone.

He’s written numerous novels and been an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a three-time recipient of the distinguished Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association.  The International Thriller Writers organization gave him its prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master Award. His work has been translated into twenty-six languages. 

More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

For more information on David Morrell and his novels, please visit the official website. You can also follow David on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Praise for MURDER AS A FINE ART

“Murder As a Fine Art by David Morrell is a masterpiece—I don’t use that word lightly—a fantastic historical thriller, beautifully written, intricately plotted, and populated with unforgettable characters. It brilliantly recreates the London of gaslit streets, fogs, hansom cabs, and Scotland Yard. If you liked The Alienist, you will absolutely love this book. I was spellbound from the first page to last.”

—Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author of The Monster of Florence

“London 1854, noxious yellow fogs, reeking slums, intrigues in high places, murders most foul, but instead of Sherlock Holmes solving crimes via the fine art of deduction, we have the historical English Opium-Eater himself, Thomas De Quincey. David Morrell fans — and they are Legion — can look forward to celebrating Murder As a Fine Art as one of their favorite author’s strongest and boldest books in years.”

—Dan Simmons, New York Times bestselling author of Drood and The Terror

“Morrell’s use of De Quincey’s life is amazing. I literally couldn’t put it down: I felt as though I were in Dickens when he described London’s fog and in Wilkie Collins when we entered Emily’s diary. There were beautiful touches all the way through. Murder As a Fine Art is a triumph.”

—Robert Morrison, author of The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I enjoyed Murder As a Fine Art immensely. I admired the way Morrell deftly took so much material from De Quincey’s life and wove it into the plot, and also how well he created a sense of so many dimensions of Victorian London. Quite apart from its being a gripping thriller!”

—Grevel Lindop, author of The Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

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Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/murderasafineartvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #MurderAsAFineArtTour
Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

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Interview and Discussion with Gothic Horror Author Jonathan Janz

The wonderful author Jonathan Janz stopped by my blog for an AWESOME interview you’ll want to check out below! It’s lengthy, but it’s worth it. We discussed so many cool topics.

I just reviewed and discussed The Sorrows, his novel currently available with Samhain Publishing. If you missed this review post Friday, you can see it HERE NOW!! Don’t miss it.

Then read the interview where we discuss the horror genre, being a writer, his book and what else he’s writing….like a new western vampire novella (say what??), and much more.  Let us know what you think in the comment section after the post.  We’d love to hear from you!

INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN JANZ, AUTHOR OF THE SORROWS

Hi Jonathan! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book blog! We’ve been having a streak of horror and dark related fiction lately and you’re a welcome addition!

Hey, Erin! Thank you so much for having me. How the heck are you, pal?

Erin:  Nothing better to me than reading and writing, so I’m feeling great! Speaking of reading, The Sorrows was both eloquently (yea, I said that—LOL) written as well as pulse-pounding, dark, and foreboding.

Jonathan:  Wow! Thank you for saying those wonderful things about The Sorrows! And it’s wonderful finally getting to sit down to talk with you. You’ve been extremely supportive to me, both professionally and as a friend.

Erin:  I am excited too. Not only are you a great writer, but a wonderful person, friend, and the greatest dad I know! I respect all you pack into a day so thanks for making time here.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first read The Sorrows. Since I haven’t grown up reading much of the true horror masters that many people mention, such as Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum (I know-GASP-but zip it. I grew up in a Christian home with mom who didn’t like things to go bump in the night. Only in high school and college did I fall in love with Stephen King). 

So for all the adults who don’t have a background in horror, but are still loving reading all the new darker tales that are appearing in fiction lately, can you give us a reference point to what your work could be described as?

Jonathan: Without getting too wordy—that’ll happen later in this interview—I’ll just say that what I write is fast-paced Gothic horror. I love stories that move, but I also love stories that make you feel shivers and check behind you to make sure you aren’t being watched. Or menaced. Many authors seem to shoot for one or the other—a breakneck pace or an atmosphere of dread—but I’ve never seen the two as mutually exclusive.

Erin: Now that we’ve gotten it in a more general sense, go ahead for the horror aficionados and name some authors you think have influenced your work and why. And who are your favorite writers?

Jonathan: Stephen King above all. I read about thirty of his books before I even began sampling other authors. And when I did branch out, the authors I chose were the ones listed in the appendix of Danse Macabre. So I read Hell House and Ghost Story and Lord of the Flies, and those three books all had profound influences on my style and my sensibility. The Haunting of Hill House was another that really showed me what a horror story could do. Other authors that followed and that profoundly influenced my writing were Ramsey Campbell, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Ray Bradbury, and Joe R. Lansdale.

I spoke about Hell House and Ghost Story being important books in my development, and from that it can correctly be assumed that Richard Matheson and Peter Straub really helped shape my writing. Richard Matheson is like a mad conductor leading words and paragraphs in some dark symphony. If you draw back a bit and really examine the manner in which he orchestrates a scene of suspense, you can appreciate the elegance of his design. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” contains a few scenes that demonstrate what I’m talking about. It also supports my assertion that horror writers are also great magicians. They’re able to get you thinking about one thing while they’re really setting you up for something entirely different. And the ruse they’re employing is wholly engrossing and necessary—not just distracting windage. But man, when they spring their trap and you find yourself helplessly bound in their machinery, you realize just how sly they’ve been. Matheson is a sly magician as well as a deeply heartfelt writer.

Straub is another story and a tougher labyrinth to navigate. He can seem cold and clinical at times, which is why some don’t love his stuff, but when you stay with one of his works it almost always pays off in a grand way. Ghost Story is my favorite horror novel, and it’s one whose structure I can see in my own work. Both The Sorrows and House of Skin employ a Gothic structure similar to the one Straub used in Ghost Story. In my fifth book, I’ll be using it too—hopefully in a grander way than in any of my previous books. After I read (and marveled at) Ghost Story, I went on to Julia, which was also hugely frightening and influential for me, and then I read If You Could See Me Now, Shadowland, and several others.

Erin:  I am inclined to say that your novel had some part Edgar Allan Poe inspiration. I mean, he would be one to wall someone up right? Do you feel his influence? I feel like some of your novel is a fantastical type of storytelling, more than the screaming in fright type of work.  The way Poe wrote. Do you agree or disagree?

Jonathan: I wholeheartedly agree and feel like screaming THANK YOU for the compliment. Poe is one of my very favorites. I teach his work and have been profoundly influenced by his stories. In fact, the Poe influence goes back to my early childhood. I can remember checking out albums from the library with spooky stories on them. A couple were “The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens and “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Poe. My mom told me the plot of “The Pit and the Pendulum,” among others, and that also had an impact.

There’s something deliciously scary about the work of the old masters. I eat up any horror written prior to 1940, and I hope some of that shows in my writing. Guys like Poe and Lovecraft have been very important to me, but some of the lesser known (at least to modern audiences) writers like Algernon Blackwood, M.R. James, Arthur Machen, J.S. Lefanu, Oliver Onions, and E.F. Benson have been just as crucial in my learning. One of the greatest compliments I’ve received from readers of The Sorrows is that the passages from Calvin Shepherd, my first-person narrator from 1911 to 1925, read authentically and feel organic to the story. Many readers—including my wife—have told me that those passages are their favorite parts. I’m not patting myself on the back here, but I think to pull that sort of thing off with any kind of success, a writer needs to know his heritage and have a deep respect for guys like Poe, M.R. James, and the rest.

Erin Comment:  I agree. I also have loved Poe since early literature learning, as well as Lovecraft. If they had put the black and white Addams Family or Twilight Zone in a series books back then too, I’d have loved that. For me, the classic horror of Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all had such a creative way of causing fear deep in your bones without graphically cutting off limbs just for effect. Three of my favorite Poe stories are Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado, and the Tell-Tale Heart.  They follow me wherever I go. They cause me to look at my own life and emotions and see if I am “walling up” or “hiding under the floorboards” things in my life I don’t want to face head on. Our own human emotions can be just as scary as anything else out there. We all fight demons in many ways, but the sad thing is that you can’t get away from them by hiding them. You’ve got to face them or they will tick, tick, tick away at you. I like that about horror, it makes you face your fears. 

What do you think about horror in that sense? Why do you feel people love to read horror?

Jonathan Comment: For exactly the reason you state above. You can’t hide your horror away, to paraphrase The Beatles. It’s why I believe horror writers are the sanest individuals in the world, contrary to what most folks assume about us. We writers tend to exorcise each and every one of our fears, worries, neuroses, etc. on the page, which means in every other way we’re basically well-adjusted people.

I also think people are drawn to horror because it makes them feel better about their own lives. Human beings are essentially ungrateful creatures. When all you read about is women going on glorious binges of self-discovery or men successfully foiling nuclear bomb plots, your own life tends to pale in comparison. You get discontented. But when you read about people whose lives are irrevocably messed up or people whose body parts are slowly devoured by a three-headed alien, you tend to appreciate what you’ve got a whole lot more.

Erin:  Where did your idea for The Sorrows come from? Which actually came first, The Sorrows or your upcoming novel House of Skin?

Jonathan: I actually began writing House of Skin about eight years before I put pen to paper on The Sorrows. I wrote probably seven drafts of House of Skin and trashed each one. Then, with The Sorrows, I wrote around 170,000 words and then slowly, painfully winnowed it down to what it is now (around 94,000 words). As I was doing that, I went back and re-wrote House of Skin (which was first called Starlight, then Her Eyes Were Wild) and on the eighth try finally got it the way I’d always suspected it could be. So House of Skin came first and third, with The Sorrows sandwiched between.

My idea for The Sorrows came from an image of a man walled in a tower. You were absolutely right to mention Poe here, as both “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat” involve walling characters up. But in this case, my figure was in a tower with nothing else but a piano. The song he played was like, yet unlike, Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C Sharp Minor.” It had that jarring, haunting quality, but it was its own beast too. It was even more sorrowful and sinister. That figure became Gabriel, one of the central figures in The Sorrows.

Erin Comments: Absolutely, again with emotions, music can bring us to tears, make us shake with joy and happiness, and create dread in our inner being. A picture of Dracula playing the organ comes to mind (or was that the Count on Sesame Street?) and how he channeled his inner sorrow into the music and became one with it. It is a way for people who don’t want to feel or don’t know how to feel, to become one with emotion and be able to cope.  

Jonathan Comment: Agreed!

Erin: Speaking on that, I loved The Sorrows for the musical component. I love classical music and how some of the masters have created a level of foreboding and excitement, setting the pace for great cinematic works such as Star Wars, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserable.  Where did you get the idea? Wouldn’t it be great to actually have their composition put to music?

Jonathan:  Well, you sort of explained my feelings on the matter with your question. Like you, I love classical music, and a great many film scores are informed by the great classical masters. Some might think this is silly, but I’ve heard it said that if Beethoven or Bach were around today, they’d be writing for the movies. I agree wholeheartedly.

Guys like John Williams, Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Vertigo), and Hans Zimmer just amaze me with their ability to turn an emotion into a song. That kind of genius is far beyond my understanding, but I try to get at the heart of it in The Sorrows. I know they’re different beasts, but I suspect there’s some overlap in the creative process between writers of music and writers of fiction. Though one’s head is important, a great deal relies on feel and on one’s heart. I used what I knew of music, what I knew of the creative process, and what I learned from others (like my wife, for instance, who is an extremely gifted musician). The feedback I’ve had from both musicians and non-musicians has been very positive, which is really gratifying. You kind of alluded to this, but someone on GoodReads suggested that The Sorrows could be a great multi-media work, complete with a full musical score. I couldn’t agree more. Maybe someday it’ll happen!

Erin comments: Oh, I certainly believe that Mozart helped pull off many an amazing theater production when he was alive just with his musical scores.  He was loved for that and had he not died a mysterious early death, we’d be blessed with so much more from this savant. Music is not something you listen to with your ears and your mind, but feel in your heart. Tim is an amazing singer and when I listen to someone I love sing from the joy of loving to sing, it moves me in ways I can’t even describe. I feel this way with the classic masters of musical score as well and partly a huge reason I never want the stage to go to being a thing of the past.

Jonathan comment: I feel that way about my wife too. She’s incredibly talented and is able to feel the music as well as perform it. Which in turn allows the audience to internalize the experience, as well.

Erin: The historical element added between chapters really added to the story. I liked how the ancient evil doings come back to haunt them.  How did you accomplish this to be so authentic (writing in the voice from generations before)?

Jonathan: Thank you! I touched on this above, but going a bit deeper, I think balance is important with anything in life. So the two things that I feel need to be balanced in this case are a) the authorly courage to stretch one’s boundaries and b) the need to be true to oneself and to always be real. A good reader can hear a false note in a story immediately. That is triply true for a false passage or even a false complete work. So while I believe in trying new things, I also believe that if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

Which leads me to this: everything I wrote in The Sorrows, be it the contemporary sections or the journal entries from the 1910s and 1920s, was one-hundred percent authentic. It all felt good and real and true. Hemingway had it right. You have to search for the truth of the story (and the characters), and once you’ve found that, the writing will come naturally.

It felt totally natural to me to write as Calvin, despite the fact that he was a repressed, somewhat sinister servant from the early part of the twentieth century. I became him and wrote as he would have. I say all that simply and probably make it sound simplistic, but what made that possible for me was the copious reading I’d done (and continue to do) of guys like Blackwood, Machen, etc. Again, I’m not suggesting that I’m some incredible writer or anything; rather, I’m saying that because that voice was in me (likely because of the unintentional preparation I’d done), it all flowed naturally. Readers like you seem to feel the same way, which makes me happier than you know.

Erin comments: You should be happy, you did a wonderful job. Besides horror, my main reading love is history. In fact, besides degrees in Journalism and English Lit, I also have a BA in History. So I did feel as if you wrote those sections with great historical presence without it feeling phony. I loved feeling the emotions from those characters and I think I even related more to them than I did to some of the contemporary characters.  And I always love books with historical elements. The best part of your book to me was the historical secret component. And why was everything in the past so much more sinister than today?

Jonathan comment: It wasn’t more sinister by design, but now that I think about it, I do have to say you’re right about that. Perhaps it has something to do with the role of fatherhood then as opposed to now. I know there have always been bad fathers, and there are plenty of bad fathers today. But I feel like society at large is growing slowly more aware of how little is expected from dads when it comes to parenting. Ben Shadeland is a responsible, loving, caring father. His relationship with his son is the emotional core of the novel. Robert Blackwood, the composer in the early 1900s sections, cares nothing for his children because his only focus is his career. My impression is that kind of thinking was wholly acceptable back then, and while many still think it’s okay to win bread and stay the heck away from the child rearing, hopefully we’re learning that men have a sacred duty and opportunity to nurture their children too. Just my opinion.

Erin comments: A good opinion and in my book, the right opinion. And there are less servants and nannies in this day and age!  Oh, less mansions with graveyards too.

Erin:  There is quite a bit of female abusive in this novel. I think you explained once in something I read about why this is and how the outcome justifies it. As a survivor of domestic abuse myself, it was hard to read at times, but I see what you were going for in the novel. Can you talk a little about that from your novel standpoint? Also, why do you feel that dark, brooding tales always seem to prey on women in a sexual way, but haunt men mentally?

Jonathan: I don’t want to correct you or to sound disrespectful (because you know I respect you a great deal), but I feel I should clarify this point so my meaning is clear. I don’t feel that the fates of the abusive characters justify the presence of the abuse. The truth is nothing can justify or alleviate or lessen the lasting impact of abuse (in fiction or in life). I don’t feel like Lee Stanley (the director of the movie in The Sorrows), for instance, got what he deserved in the story. He physically, mentally, and emotionally abused at least two women and brought about both of their deaths. The depths of his depravity and viciousness are really beyond comprehension. So while he does experience a decidedly horrific fate (which I won’t here give away), that end doesn’t erase the torture that those women endured.

The same thing holds true in life. I think I’m a pretty forgiving guy, but when it comes to abuse…honestly, it’s very hard for me to forgive. A child is beaten or molested, and then the perpetrator is murdered in prison. Sure, some would say justice was served, but the child is still scarred and damaged, and no vengeful act can undo that damage.

I’m a husband and a father, and because of the powerful emotions I have for my family, I often find myself thinking rather monstrous thoughts about those I see on the news who would harm a woman or a child (or anyone, for that matter). Jack Ketchum deals with these issues better than any writer I’ve read in stories like The Girl Next Door and The Woman, and I think he’d agree with what I’m about to say…

What it comes down to for me is telling the truth. What is the truth of that story? What is the authentic behavior or word or thought of that character? And whatever those answers are dictate the trajectory of my stories. Sure, I might detest something a character does or says or thinks, but just because it’s contrary to my belief system doesn’t mean I should change it or soften the blow in any way. That would ring false and would compromise the story. Men who abuse women and children are the vilest scum in creation, but if they show up in my stories, I have to honestly record the truth about them, even when it makes me sick. And I did feel ill at times writing and editing segments of The Sorrows. There’s a scene with Eddie Blaze—you’ll probably remember the one, Erin—where he does something so reprehensible that our feelings for him are forever changed. I felt shaken as I wrote that scene, but I felt like I recorded it honestly. And for that reason, I think it rings true.

I don’t know if I’ve answered your question or not, but I hope I’ve shed some light regarding my thoughts on the issue.

Erin comments: No disrespect taken. I want people understand that male authors don’t always agree with the violence that their male characters sometimes dole out to the female characters. I know where your heart is, but I wanted the readers to hear it. I had the pleasure of getting to know you some before completing the book, so I knew that you didn’t condone the actions; however, I wanted to address it here for my readers who are feminists like me. Many men are crude and abusive and controlling, like your characters, and though what happens to them doesn’t make up for the pain an abused person continues to feel, it does make it feel like “what goes around comes around” and life forces didn’t let them get away with it.

Jonathan comment: Thanks, Erin. It’s an extremely sensitive topic, as we’ve talked about, and I probably over-explained a little. Like you said, I just wanted people to know my true thoughts on the matter. I’m glad I made at least a little bit of sense!

Erin:  Do you want to talk a little about your writing experience? How long have you been writing? How did you get discovered and what does it mean to you to now be a published author?

Jonathan: My writing experience has been working, failing, working, failing some more, learning, getting rejected, learning more, getting rejected a lot more, getting rejected a hundred more times, experiencing a minor success, then getting rejected several hundred times more.

I’m not exaggerating.

The fact is, this is a grueling business. Unless you’re extraordinarily gifted—and those folks are rare—you’ve got to have an iron will and an indomitable spirit. I’m not the most talented writer in the world, but I do have determination. No one will ever be able to break my spirit or define what I can or can’t do. Whether I succeed or fail, I’ll always fight.

I’m a dreamer. I find inspiration all over the place. The movie Ratatouille inspired me just the other night. I love the way that Chef Gusteau believes that anyone can cook. I love the way that Remy the Rat combines a fighter’s spirit with a poet’s heart. If you’ve got those two things, you’ve got a great combination.

Erin Comments: Ratatouille is one of my favorite movies. J  I am so glad you are so determined!! But what makes you want to write only horror? Do you ever hope to write anything else?

Jonathan comment: I’ll always write horror, but it’s certainly not the only thing I’ll ever write. I’ve worked on some things already that blur and blend genres. One novella that’ll be done within a few months (hopefully) is a western vampire story. Another story—and this is kind of secret—I wrote several years ago is a combination thriller/horror/crime novel. It’s called Garden of Snakes, and it’s actually a full-length, completed novel. I need to go back and do some work to parts of it, but overall I really love the book. I just shelved it for a while because I was working on other projects (like The Sorrows and House of Skin).

Eventually I plan on doing some sci-fi, some fantasy, some western, and some thriller/mystery/suspense. I even (like most authors) have some ideas for kids’ books.

Erin:  I know that your family is very important to you. You and your wife have 3 small children, you work another full time job, and you don’t want to miss a minute of your kid’s growing up moments. So how do you find the balance? What habits do you need? What motivates you to keep writing? How do you find the time?

Jonathan: Well, this is going to sound cheesy, but it’s true. I talked earlier about truth in writing. Even more, I believe in truth in living. If you polled a hundred “family men” and asked them what matters the most in their lives, they’d of course say their wives and their children.

But how do they actually live? Do they veg out in front of the flat screen watching football all afternoon, or do they wrestle with their kids? Do they sit there jacking around on their IPhones when they’re with their wives or do they actually, you know, talk to their wives? How about their careers? Do they put in extra hours so they can put more money into their kids’ 529s, or do they put in extra hours so they can belong to a posh country club and drive nicer cars?

In short, I think most men live for the wrong things and are absolutely full of crap when they say they care most about their families. For my part, I simply want to live truly and authentically. My wife and my kids are the best things in my life, and they deserve the best of me. Sure, sometimes I get distracted thinking of a story idea, and yes, I occasionally catch myself checking my email when I should be talking to my wife. But at least I’m aware of it, and I try to do better. That’s got to count for something.

Erin comments: I totally agree. I live my life the same, and I’ve got a great partner and friend in Tim who totally parents as you do. We are PRESENT for our children, not just in the same room. And to each other as well. People don’t always like it, but it’s not their life and life is much too short.  That said though, for aspiring authors who do want to write and raise a family, what is your advice for still finding time to write and market while you are present for your family and have a full-time job?

Jonathan comment: Well, providing they do have their priorities straight—rather than giving lip service to them—I’d say they need to work with their significant others to carve out a reasonable schedule. And don’t wait for inspiration to strike. You wait for that, you’ll never get anything written. You’ve gotta write whenever you can, and you’ve gotta know that it’s not always going to be good. Mike Myers (Shrek, Austin Powers) once said something I really took to heart: “Give yourself permission to suck.” Once you do that, you’re really liberated to get working. There’s no law that states you’ve got to show people everything you do—in fact, you better not do that because much of it probably will suck—but because you’re not paralyzed by doubt or rationalizing inaction by pretending that inspiration is necessary, you’ll also do some really good work too.

Erin comments: I know what you mean about lip service due to personal reasons, but there are good people out there that do parent well like Tim and I. We both have a hard time finding any time at all to write. I think it was easier when the kids were smaller. Now they are just into activities and we never feel there is any time to put writing first for an hour or two because we do want to enjoy every moment with them. I suppose at some point it will iron out a little. I do like to hear different techniques by different authors; I think many other authors struggle with the same scenario. None of us make writing a priority. Probably some of that is the sense of it making us feel selfish.

Erin:  What other interests do you have (and I know you’ll say your family of course)? So what else besides your family and writing do you enjoy?

Jonathan: Books, of course. I love books. And I should have said my grandparents and my mom before that, but I didn’t want to sound too boring. I love movies a great deal. I lift three or four times a week and run two or three times…most weeks. I enjoy taking care of our house, working in the yard (which is rendered much more enjoyable because of Frank Muller’s wonderful audio versions of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books). I’m a huge nature freak—the world truly awes me. When we travel, I really enjoy that, though as you can attest to, Erin, it’s hard to travel with really little ones. I love going to church, though I hate it when people use religion as a means of wounding others and separating themselves from their fellow man.

I’m big on multi-tasking, which means I’ll often watch a Cubs game or a basketball game as I’m lifting or running. I can’t just sit and watch those things because I don’t feel productive enough. It’s kind of a sickness, really, the need to achieve and accomplish. But at least I’m never bored. Boredom is an emotion I’ll never be able to understand. There’s too much to do, too much to experience to ever be bored.

Erin: What things do you use for inspiration in your writing? I always have to ask horror writers that, because I pray it’s not their everyday life (I mean like seeing arms get sawed off or something!!) Ha!

Jonathan: It says on my bio that I grew up between a graveyard and a dark forest. Perhaps for that reason, for as long as I can remember I’ve found mystery and potential menace everywhere I look. I hear darkness in music. I’m planning a novel at some point based on a Metallica song. I see characters’ faces in my mind’s eye. I’ll imagine a scenario out of the blue that will blossom into a full-fledged story idea.

Poetry often inspires me. House of Skin was inspired by a course I took at Purdue on the Romantic poets. Words from Byron, Shelley, and the rest spawned the basis of that novel. One of the epigraphs at the beginning of the book is by Keats.

I ascribe to Stephen King’s belief that stories are found things. A writer doesn’t conjure or create a story—he discovers it, digs it up, and dusts it off as best he can without harming it. If he does a good job at exhuming it, the tale might be worth something. That’s what I try to do. Once I find it, I listen. The characters control everything.

Erin: Your next novel coming soon to e-book and then paperback is called House of Skin.  That just sounds creepy!! Is it a sequel to the The Sorrows, or a stand-alone? Give us the scoop, what’s it about?

Jonathan:  House of Skin is a stand-alone novel, so you can read it without any foreknowledge. It does, however, connect to The Sorrows in a very cool way. For those who haven’t read The Sorrows, the main characters in that book are composing music for a horror film. The horror film just happens to be House of Skin. So you get references in The Sorrows to House of Skin (some of the characters, a bit of the plot, a couple of scene allusions). Neither book is at all reliant on the other, but it’s still fun to see how they connect.

Talking about House of Skin…I’ll go ahead and share the synopsis that Don D’Auria (Samhain Publishing) created for the novel:

Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again…and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key.

 Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate—and Annabel—have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?

Erin’s comments: That sounds so good; I really can’t wait to read it. J

Jonathan’s comment: Thanks, Erin!

 Erin:  What else can we expect from you in the near future? What else are you currently writing or plan to write?

Jonathan: I recently found a fantastic agent named Louise Fury. She procured a deal for my third novel within two days of signing me. It’s called THE DARKEST LULLABY, and it will be published by Don D’Auria and Samhain Horror in early 2013. I’ll be posting more about the novel on my blog soon, but for now I’ll just say that it’s a combination of ghosts, demons, and vampires, and it has a Paranormal Activity/The Shining/Rosemary’s Baby vibe. Not saying it’s on par with those masterpieces, but you get my point.

I’m nearing completion on my fourth novel, which has the working title NATIVE. It’s by far the bloodiest, most action-packed thing I’ve written. In a strange way it’s also a lot of fun. Extraordinarily dark fun, but fun nonetheless.

I’ll also be starting work on a fifth novel this summer. I’ve never been as excited to start a book as I am with this fifth one, so I can’t wait to get cracking on it. While THE DARKEST LULLABY and NATIVE have mostly linear stories (with regard to time), my soon-to-be-started project will return to the Gothic present/past structure of THE SORROWS and HOUSE OF SKIN. All of the books, of course, have my sensibility, for whatever that’s worth, but I really like how each one has a different personality. Once I finish with the fifth book and a couple other projects I’ve been working on (a western vampire novella, for instance), I might begin a sequel for either THE SORROWS or HOUSE OF SKIN.

Erin Comments: Congratulations on just securing an agent and also on your third novel being purchased. It also sounds tremendous. I have a lot of reading coming up for you! BUT really, a western vampire novella…..mmmmm….you ARE thinking outside the box.

Jonathan’s comment: I really love the story. It’s something very dear to my heart, and though it’s dark and scary and full of tension and action, it’s also one of the most moving things I’ve written. I just have to finish it.

Erin:  Just to shake things up, if you could have a starring role in any movie, what would it be?

Jonathan: Wow! Setting aside the obvious worry about having to feign interest in a woman other than my wife, I’d really like to play Ben in THE SORROWS. Physically Ben and I are pretty similar, and I think it’d be neat to do the things he does. I mean, how many movies allow you to write a music score for a horror film, get into several physical altercations, love a beautiful woman (I’d be replaced by a body double for that scene, of course), and descend into a basement with an ax to do battle with a mythological monster?

Erin: What are your favorite movies?

Jonathan: Off the top of my head, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, It’s a Wonderful Life, Jaws, The Shawshank Redemption, The Big Lebowski, Rear Window, The Empire Strikes Back, How to Train Your Dragon, Good Will Hunting, Ratatouille, It Happened One Night, Tootsie, Pulp Fiction, 3:10 to Yuma, The Incredibles, and too many others to mention. I love great movies in all genres and watch them whenever I can. I also teach film, so I get to share my love of movies with my students.

Erin comments: I love movies. How awesome you get to teach film. Did you know the Shawshank Redemption was filmed where I live? I can show you photos sometime of the places. J Anyway, great movie. And the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is another favorite of mine and a complete classic. Also Rear Window, the older version, and also the remake with Johnny Depp wasn’t bad. All the Star Wars movies are high on my list too. Tootsie, not so much I guess. But throw in Rain Man and I can’t stop laughing. I love Disney movies and fairy tales, and it’s not just because I’m a girl!

Jonathan’s comment: I’m not at all surprised you enjoy most of those films. And I’m a little jealous about the Shawshank thing!

Erin: I am a HUGE geek and LOVE comics. So did comics influence you growing up? Do you like a particular comic? And if you say you don’t like comics, we will cease to be friends. Kidding.

Jonathan: Uh-oh. Well, I did read comics, but not as much as you or some of my other writer friends (I’m looking at you, Hunter Shea). As the above answer might suggest, I was more influenced by film. And by the woods and graveyards and other landscapes around me. I’d consider myself a book and movie geek, but I don’t have enough experience to consider myself a comic book geek. But I do love comic book movies. Do I get to keep being your friend?

Erin comments: Nope, we’re done. I am so unhappy. Ok, I suppose I’ll let it slide. To me, comics are some of the best written stuff. Action, concise text, heroes, villains, and the art. I love the art. In fact, I am Wonder Woman. There I confessed my secret. Well, look at all the films impacted and inspired by comics?! Have I convinced you yet?

Jonathan’s comment: Consider me convinced.

Erin: Where can readers, fans, and interested parties get to know the very funny Jonathan Janz?

Jonathan: My blog (http://jonathanjanz.com/) is the best place to find me. You can email me directly at jonathanjanz@comcast.net or follow my Twitter feed (@jonathanjanz). I’d also love for you to friend me on Facebook (just look up Jonathan Janz, and there I’ll be!).

Erin comments: Note, there are a TON of people named Jonathan Janz on FB, so look for The Sorrows avatar.

Jonathan’s comment: Good call!

Erin:  Where can your books be purchased?

Jonathan:  You can get the e-books or paperbacks pretty much anywhere, but here are a few links to get you started…

LINKS REMOVED as no longer valid.

 

Erin:  It’s ALWAYS a pleasure talking to you, Jonathan. I absolutely adore you for your friendly, light-hearted and jovial manner and respect you for all you do to pursue your dreams. I wish you the best of luck and hope to see you at the blog again soon.

Jonathan:  Thank you so much, Erin, for having me on your blog and for being so incredible to me. I’m thankful to have met you. Your kindness and sense of humor always brighten my day!

Erin: Thankful to have met you too, my friend. 

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Bio of Jonathan Janz, Author

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard. In a way, that explains everything. The Sorrows is his first novel, which published with Samhain Horror in late 2011 and his second, House of Skin, is set to publish with Samhain Horror this year (2012). Just this week his third book, The Darkest Lullaby, sold as well.
He has also written two novellas (Old Order and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories. His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true.

One of Jonathan’s wishes is to someday get Stephen King, Peter Jackson, Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale together for an all-night zombie movie marathon. Of course, that can only happen if all four drop their restraining orders against him.

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