Character Interview by author
David Niall Wilson ~
David Niall Wilson ~
It is my distinct privilege today to interview one of my personal idols, a man formative to my writing. I have been asked to present certain questions, and I have – to the best of my ability – done so. Without further ado, I present poet, author, and adventurer Edgar Allan Poe. Mr. Poe could you tell me a little bit about what it is that you do? What do you think your particular strengths, or weaknesses might be?
The short answer is that I am a storyteller. I have been called an author, and a poet, a tragic romantic, and a wordy melodramatic hack, but in the end, it all comes down to the stories, doesn't it? They come to me – often in dreams – and once they have lodged firmly in my mind, there is nothing I can do to rid myself of them but to put quill to paper and give them a proper voice.
As for strengths and weaknesses, I have a tendency toward melancholy. I love far too deeply and though I have traveled and searched, trying my hand at a number of solutions, I have never been able to shake off the cloud of depression that seems to find me its proper home. This translates to my writing in the form of very detailed descriptions in which I try to capture every sensation in every scene. I'm told this can be tedious, but for me it is a therapeutic process. The more I managed to get onto the page, the less remains with me.
Those that I love? They die. If I have strength, it is in daring to go on, writing, and living. I believe if it were not for my constant companion, Grimm, who readers will meet in your novel, I'd want to be gone from this plane of existence altogether. Pardon me for such gravity, but I have not lived an easy life.
What’s your family like and how does your upbringing affect you now?
That is a question I can barely answer. I have no family to speak of. My father abandoned us when I was a very young boy, and my mother, who was an actress – a fine one I might add – died not long after that of tuberculosis. I was raised by a family named Allan, from whom I got my middle name. I lived and grew among them, but I never really felt a part of that family. They were fond of reminding me that I was only there due to their own charity, and I found more companionship among the slaves – it was a Virginia Tobacco Plantation – than I did among the members of my adopted family. They were a stodgy bunch, but the slaves…the workers…they knew stories, and feared ghosts. They gave me such vivid dreams…
What is your earliest childhood memory?
I suppose that the first vivid memory was moving to Richmond as a child of two. I have always loved that city, and I spent a great deal of my life there. I lost my family to her, and my naiveté – but I fell in love the first time, and the second, in her embrace. Even as a youth, tragedy dogged my footsteps. One of those girls – a girl I wrote some of my first poetry for – was named Helen. Not long after I presented her with my admittedly amateurish and over-exuberant verse – very cleverly titled To Helen – she died. Richmond holds some of the brightest and blackest of my dreams in her dark heart.
If you could choose one, tangible object as a symbol – something that defines your essence, what would it be?
At one time, I would have said a quill. It's the tool that has given me the most solace and the weapon with which I have waged war against the world and all its shadows. After the strange happenings at Lake Drummond, however, those captured in the book we are here to discuss, I believe I will have to say a Raven. And not just any raven – for Grimm is a singularly remarkable bird. He and I are, in some ways, interchangeable.
Your heroine in this tale is an artist of a very different sort. How did you and Lenore meet? What was your first impression of her?
I am increasingly uncomfortable with the notion that I am the hero of this story. Yes, I prevented great evil – helped some and failed to help others. In the end, the two things that mattered most to me, I failed to accomplish. That said, I met Lenore for the first time outside our rooms at The Lake Drummond Hotel. I only glanced down the porch at her – and nodded – but there was something in that glance, some spark or glimmer of contact that felt deeper. Our actual face-to-face meeting? For that you must read the story, for I believe it is the nature of stories that their magic begins to fail when you pick at the words and scenes instead of beginning…at the beginning. She is beautiful, though – Lenore. Very, very beautiful.
What quality of Lenore's drew you to her? What is it that you love?
She had a great talent, and yet, she did not take advantage of it. Her life has been dedicated to helping others, often to her own detriment. As close as we had become in a very short time, when it came to a question of using her gift, and helping someone, or possibly hurting me, though I know it tore at her heart, she made the right choice. As is often the case that choice turned out for the best – and that is her magic. She brings out the best in those that are near her.
To make a point – when I met Lenore, and when these events transpired, I was married. My wife, Victoria, was on her deathbed. One of my reasons to enter the swamp was to seek a possible cure. Despite that, you are correct in saying – I loved and love Lenore. How could I not?
You have lived a very long time, and seen more than most men…what is it that you want out of life?
I have what I want in life, beyond those things already denied me. Every woman I have ever loved is gone. What remains, are my words. All I could ask of life is to tell stories with true magic in them, and to hope they touch the minds and hearts of those who read them. I assume that you feel something of this, or why would you write?
Aside from your Lenore, tell me about your best friend.
I've mentioned Grimm. Others have told me that he is my familiar, but I know him only as my companion. You might guess that I have gotten my share of strange looks in his company, but for all that I could not have asked for a better friend. There is… a bond. He aids me in my dreams, and somehow brings the stories. Men could learn a lot from the crows, and the ravens, if they would only listen.
I see that Lenore has not joined us today?
As I've said, all of the women I have loved are gone. She will never really be lost, though, as long as the story is told. As long as there is hope. I have heard through certain channels that the story may not yet be all told, but that is for another time. Suffice it to say – if you want to know the heroine of this story, you must find her in the pages of the book, and the words of my poem. Then you will understand why she cannot join me here…at least not this time…
I'm not going to ask you what's in your CD player. Music, though, is there a song, a memory?
My friend, and colleague, Thomas Moore, wrote a poem that became a song. I sang it once, long ago, near the shore of Lake Drummond. It was titled, "The Lady of the Dismal Swamp." I will leave you with some of his words…
And her firefly lamp I soon shall see,
And her paddle I soon shall hear;
Long and moving our life shall be
And I'll hide the maid in a cypress tree,
When the footstep of death is near."
About David Niall Wilson~