Thursday, 11 October 2012

Exclusive Interview with Author Kelly Creagh

Me : If you get a chance to meet Edgar Allan Poe in person, what would you say to him?

Kelly : This is a great question and one that I have never been asked. If I got to meet Mr. Poe in person, I think I would spend the first minute freaking out and I’d probably stutter a lot. I’d have a million questions for him, mainly because his biography is full of holes. There is so much we don’t know about Poe. I think what I’d most like to know is the truth about what happened to him during his last days. There’s quite a bit of stipulation and a ton of rumors regarding what really took place. One of the big theories is that Poe was drunk on the night he was found in the Baltimore gutter, or that he was found inside a tavern. However, just as with all the other theories surrounding his death, there is no evidence or proof that Poe had been drinking at all that night. I guess I’d want to know what he had to say for himself in that regard and to see if my own theories match up to what really happened in his last days. I’d also have far too many very personal questions to ask him because, while we seem to know a lot about Poe’s professional life, we have very little information regarding his home life and his relationship with his wife/cousin Virginia. I’d love to ask him what the widow Sarah Helen Whitman was like. She was his one-time fiancĂ©e, a fellow poet and a spiritualist who dabbled in the occult. A year before he died, Poe visited Ms. Whitman in a state of panic, telling her that she alone could save him from certain “doom.” I’d love to know what he was talking about, what he meant and why he behaved so bizarrely on that day. Since I’ll never get to ask him these questions, I’ll just have to continue to make up my own answers and write about them in book three.

Me : Among the all works of Edgar Allan Poe, which one has influenced your work most and why?

Kelly : When I began writing Nevermore, I didn’t think Poe would be a large part of the novel. Then I began reading his works and re-reading them, and, gradually, bits and pieces of every one of them began to seep into my subconscious and color everything I was doing with the story, plot and characters. Along with his well-known stories, I was drawn into Poe’s lesser known works, too, such as Dream-Land, The Imp of the Perverse, William Wilson, and Ulalume. If you read Nevermore and Enshadowed closely, you’ll find small bits of Poe everywhere. For instance, during the dream-world masquerade in Nevermore, I mention a small jester among the revelers. He came from Poe’s short story Hop Frog, which also takes place during a masquerade. In Enshadowed, Isobel views a mural that Varen painted and, in the painting, there is a ghostly horse rising out of smoke. This image is from Poe’s short story Metzengerstein, which Varen would have read. These things were included intentionally, though not with the express purpose of being recognized. I’d rather a reader become interested in Poe, begin reading his works, and recognize something from Nevermore and Enshadowed in Poe’s stories rather than vise-versa. I have also heard some authors say that they don’t read while they’re drafting because they’re afraid of being influenced. While writing Nevermore and Enshadowed, I read Poe on purpose for this exact reason. I wanted to be influenced. I think that tactic worked and, because of that, I’m not sure I can pick just one work of Poe’s as a major overall influence. If feels as if they have all had a major influence.

Me : If you were trapped in the dream world of Nevermore, what would you do?

Kelly : I would do the only things I could do, dream and regret. I would hide from the memories that tried to haunt me. I would probably try to ease the loneliness by creating stories and watching them play out in live action. It would be fun to see my stories come to life, but that would eventually stop providing me with solace since life and people fuel my creativity. For all its wonders, the dream-world is still a prison, and I would probably attempt to do what Varen does in Enshadowed, and try to reach out for help by entering someone’s dreams.

Me : What are the most difficult things about writing Nevermore series?

Kelly : Ha. Ha. Enshadowed. When I was drafting the sequel to Nevermore, there was a time when I couldn’t even utter the title without stuttering. I had trouble trusting myself and the process through writing a second book. Part of this was because I had high expectations of myself and demanded perfection in a first draft, and because I also wanted to write a book that would please everyone. I struggled greatly with my first draft because I was trying to bend the story into what I thought readers would want instead of listening to the characters and doing my job of telling the story. Middles can be difficult, and something I needed to remind myself was that I was writing the middle of a middle. I think every author must have a book that tries to kill her and I think Enshadowed was mine. I worried over that novel until I reached the midway mark in the drafting of book three. At that point, I realized that I had listened to my characters and that the story was what it needed to be. I later discovered from a few fellow authors that there’s something known as “book two syndrome” or “the sophomore syndrome” and it helped to know that I wasn’t alone with my cold cold sequel feet.

Me : Would you like to tell us few things about the third installment of Nevermore series?

Kelly : Oh gosh. What can I tell you? Isobel and Varen meet again, of course. You will learn the truth about Reynolds and that he has one last identity to be revealed. (I’ve been leaving clues about this along the way. Hint hint.) It’s the final book of the trilogy, possibly the darkest, and will hold the end to Isobel and Varen’s story. We learn more about Varen’s mysterious mother and about Varen, too. I’m not sure what else I can say without giving too much away… But I’m very excited about this book. It’s been an emotional project with some tough scenes. I’m not quite sure yet how I will feel once I finish. But I do know the end.

Me : Tell us about your dream cast if Nevermore is turned into a film?

Kelly : Wouldn't that be fun? There is an image of Dakota Fanning out there that looks so much like Izzy because she’s wearing a pink dress with a sweetheart neckline. Dakota also happens to be a cheerleader. Her high school colors were blue and gold, so I often muse that Dakota would make a lovely Isobel. As for Varen, I think it would be an excellent role for an unknown actor, a part that could start a career. However, a reader recently mentioned that there is a Polish actor named Jakub Gierszal who looks very much like Varen and I would have to agree. Oh, Johnny Depp would make a good Poe, don’t you think? He’s the right height! As for Reynolds, I think Joseph Gordon Levitt would be a cool fit. My brother thinks Jude Law would be a good pick, too. Taissa Farmiga would make a perfect Gwen. I have such sharp pictures of Danny in my head that I’m not sure I can name an actor.

Me : Were there any authors that did influence your work other than Poe?

Kelly : Yes! One of my favorite novels is The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I read the book when I was very young, and the story really spoke to me and sparked my imagination. I love characters with an element of duality and stories that explore the dark and light sides of our deepest essence. I also love the theme of redemption and monsters with hearts and that book has all of those things. Some of my favorite YA authors include Libba Bray, Holly Black, K.L. Going and J.K. Rowling. I think Rowling has had a huge influence on my work as well. Reading the Harry Potter series has taught me how to layer a larger story, how to drop in subtle clues, hide secrets within the narrative and how to be inventive and consistent in world-building.

Me : Is there any other project you are currently working on?

Kelly : My focus is on book three of the Nevermore series at the moment, but I do have another project waiting in the wings. I conceptualized and wrote the bulk of a novel between 2007 and 2008 and worked on it until Nevermore sold. Sometimes on Saturdays, I’ll do a bit of revising but, other than my critique group and my beta readers, no one has seen the story yet. It’s very different from Nevermore, though it still has the Kelly Creagh stamp of weirdness! I have a lot of love for the novel, had an absolute blast writing it and I have hope that it will be my next project. Of course, I have tons of ideas and so many novels rattling around in my brain. As Poe himself once said, “I would give the world to embody one half the ideas afloat in my imagination.”

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