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The DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Poe-Inspired

In honor of  Edgar Allan Poe’s 204th approaching birthday (January 19th), a trio of novels that pay him homage:

KBTS CoverPoe’s wistful, haunting “Annabel Lee” provides between-the-lines clues in Jill Winters’ romantic mystery Kingdom by the Sea as Nicole Sheffield realizes the Cape Cod house she’s inherited holds a secret that puts her in danger.

Bethany Griffin’s Masque of the Red Death thickens the plot of Poe’s atmospheric tale by making Prince Prospero the dictator of a dystopian land so corrupt and diseased that it’s robbed seventeen year old Araby Worth of hope.

Masque of the Red Death Cover


She seeks oblivion in drugs and nightclubs until a rebel movement shakes her from her lethargy.

The Nevermore trilogy by Kelly Creagh takes Poe’s biography and threads of his stories and poetry to weave an eerie paranormal world that is far beyond the previous experience of high school cheerleader Isobel Lanley. Nevermore CoverGoth classmate Varen Nethers is also well outside her usual circle, but he makes the perilous dreamworld irresistible.

 A six-word memoir for your protagonist:

Jill Winters: My quiet world was safe until…

Bethany Griffin: Tragic, beautiful, desperate, courageous, kind, but absorbed in her own grief.

Kelly Creagh: Headstrong, impulsive, sarcastic and freaked out.

Your heroine is…

Jill Winters: …an archives librarian in her late twenties.

Bethany Griffin: …a 17 year old in a broken world. She goes to the Debauchery Club and tries to drown her despair in the oblivion of drugs and alcohol.

Kelly Creagh: …a flyer. A flyer is the person on a [cheerleading] squad who performs aerial stunts, relying on her bases or base to catch her.

 What readers will love about your hero:

Jill Winters: Michael is almost fearless, and there’s an effortless kind of chivalry about him.

Bethany Griffin: Readers love Will because he’s warm and caring and protective. He’s also very attractive and has tattoos. People love Elliott because he’s tortured and ruthless.

Kelly Creagh: Varen, a goth, is quite mysterious. He always chooses his words with great care. He’s a writer, and doesn’t want anyone to know what lies between the pages of the black, hardbound sketchbook her carries with him everywhere. He’s not your typical teen heartthrob, but his air of mystery and his calm, cool and collected persona makes him enticing. You’ll want to know what’s going on inside of him and, if you read closely, like Isobel, you’ll catch glimpses of the real Varen Nethers.

 The first kiss happens…

Jill Winters: …at the back door.

Bethany Griffin: …in a hot air balloon.

Kelly Creagh: in an old warehouse.

Tell readers about the Poe connection in your story.

Jill Winters: Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” (which the title of my novel refers to) is significant throughout the story as my heroine, Nicole, finds clues to her own mystery within the lines of the poem. That’s the overt connection. I’ve also buried a few other Poe references along the way, including allusions to “The Haunted Palace” and my take on “the unreliable narrator” later in the book when a particular villain is apprehended. You definitely don’t need to be a Poe fan to enjoy the story, but it was fun for me to weave in some subtle references..

Bethany Griffin: Masque of the Red Death is a prequel to Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” It’s set in a world where Poe’s Prince Prospero is dictator. The Red Death itself does not manifest until the end of the book, following an earlier plague. By the end of the story we see that Prospero is settling into his abbey, preparing for a great masked ball (which will be a big part of book 2!) just like in Poe’s story.

Kelly Creagh: The mystery surrounding the disappearance and death of Edgar Allan Poe serves as the backbone of the trilogy. In Nevermore, Isobel and Varen are paired together for an English project. Varen, who has been studying and reading Poe, decides that they will focus their project on the life and works of the famous dead poet. During their research, mysterious things begin to happen. Isobel discovers that Poe went missing for five days before being found, insensible, in a Baltimore gutter, unable to say what had happened to him and wearing someone else’s clothing. Soon, a cloaked and masked man calling himself “Reynolds” begins to appear to Isobel in mirrors and in dreams. Strange invisible entities haunt her—and it all ties back to Poe.

Poe carries fairly specific reader expectations with him. What single scene, setting, or character from your book do you think will most put readers in mind of Poe?

Jill Winters: An early scene in Kingdom By the Sea finds Nicole sitting in the dim glow of her aunt’s library during a ferocious rain storm when she’s nearly startled to death by a black bird flying straight toward the window.


Another re-imagining of Poe: Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac illustrate POE: STEAMPUNK

Another re-imagining of Poe: Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac illustrate POE: STEAMPUNK

Bethany Griffin: Doing a re-imagining of a Poe story was a HUGE challenge. I think that the tone and the atmosphere are reminiscent of Poe, without suggesting that anything I write could ever touch his atmosphere or tone…the scene where I tried to use the most direct references to Poe (besides the Masked Ball in book 2) is the scene in Prince Prospero’s throne room where there are stained glass windows, instruments of torture, and all sorts of peculiar entertainments. Also, I asked Kelly Creagh how she would answer this question if she was me (I’ve been on cough meds all week, sorry, the brain is moving slowly), and her answer was brilliant: “Poe once said that the most poetic topic in the world was ‘a beautiful dying woman’ and Araby and April are beautiful girls caught up in this decaying world. April, in particular, is attracted to glamor and glitz. Poe liked to juxtapose beauty and death constantly, so I think Masque certainly taps in on that.”

Kelly Creagh: In Nevermore, the scene that channels Poe the most, I think, would be the masquerade scene. This is a difficult question, though, since Poe saturates so much of the series. Mostly, the biggest Poe-influenced moments happen in the last quarter of each novel.

Imagine Poe as a writer today. How do you think he’d manage?

Jill Winters: Poe’s work is filled with extremes. So I think Poe might be a fanatical blogger. His would be the most frustratingly wordy yet beloved blog–updated more than once a day and full of subtexts.

Bethany Griffin: I don’t think he’s visit Goodreads very often! Or if he did, he’d start some drama over there. Poe was pretty outspoken and opinionated…I don’t really know how he would react to social media, instantaneous communication, and the constant feedback that authors get on their work in the computer age. It would certainly be fascinating.

Kelly Creagh: He would feud and those who dared to feud with him would no doubt be very sorry that they ever crossed pens/keypads with him. In his day, Poe was a fierce literary critic. He could deliver very favorable reviews, but he would also publish very cutting and slashing reviews. He was often referred to as the “Tomahawk Man” because of how biting his criticism could be. As a writer, I think he would fare very well if he could manage not to make too many enemies with too many stinging remarks. The paranormal and physiological horror are genres that are still going strong today and I think Poe would have been as big a force in modern day literature as he was during his own era.

Most people know Poe from their school anthologies. What’s a lesser-known work you’d recommend to readers?

Jill Winters: Poe’s Auguste Dupin stories, if for no other reason than to see a character so similar to Sherlock Holmes before Sherlock Holmes even existed.

 Bethany Griffin: Maybe “Ligea”? Or “Berenice,” though that one was considered violent and disturbing in Poe’s time. “Berenice” shares many themes with my favorite Poe story, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” but is less well known.

Kelly Creagh: I would absolutely recommend “William Wilson.” It’s my favorite work of Poe’s and one that is not often included in school readings or anthologies. It’s a creepy and wonderful doppelganger story and one of the reasons I love it so well is that it searches that question of duality and who we really are deep down inside. This tale also explores the dark side and the light side that is in each of us, and I love that. I find that duality is a common theme in my own work and so “William Wilson” really spoke to me.

2013 sees the 204th anniversary of Poe’s birth. What would you give him as a present?

Jill Winters: One of those stuffed animals that say, “I love you, I love you,” in a creepy voice when you press its belly. (Preferably a black cat.) I think he’d get a kick out of it.

Bethany Griffin: I would give him a couple of tortoise shell cats to hang out with Catterrina. One is never enough. I might even donate one of mine. (I have two torties and two calicos.)

Kelly Creagh: What a great question. What would I give him? Hm. I think what I would love to give him most would be a collection of letters and responses from readers who have enjoyed and been influenced by his works, including a letter from myself. I’d want him to know how much his art has touched the lives of so many. While Poe was famous for writing “The Raven,” he did not receive an abundance of recognition for his work during his lifetime. I feel like he always wandered the earth a little lost and melancholy, especially in regard to his career. Poe was one of the first American writers to try to make his living solely off of his talents as a writer. I would like to show him proof of his lasting legacy on a personal level, and I’d like him to know how much he still means to the world of readers, writers and dreamers.

 What’s coming up next from you?

Jill Winters: I’m currently working on the second book in my new mystery series featuring part-time newspaper reporter and graduate student, Caitlyn Rocket. The first in the series, The Unprintable Big Clock Chronicle, was released last year. Although the books are mysteries, there is a romantic arc that will develop over the course of the four novels. Also in the works is a contemporary romance novella due out next Christmas. And I am thrilled to have my backlist of contemporary romance titles re-issued for Kindle and Nook and available now to a whole new crop of readers.

Bethany Griffin: “Glitter and Doom”, a Masque of the Red Death story in February, and Dance of the Red Death (sequel to Masque) on April 23.

 Kelly Creagh: I’m currently working on a book that I love dearly. It’s been years in the works and I have my fingers crossed for this one. There’s nothing official yet happening with a project after Nevermore, so I won’t say anything specific, but the novel I’m writing now is very different from the Nevermore trilogy, though it still carries the Kelly Creagh stamp of weirdness and imagination! [Note: Enshadowed, the second book in in the Nevermore series, was released in August 2012.]

Your favorite book at age 10:

Jill Winters: I don’t recall a specific book, but a poem: “Terence, This is Stupid Stuff” by A.E. Housman. Something possessed me to memorize the entire poem when I was a kid even though I didn’t fully understand it.

Bethany Griffin: Lord of the Rings (fourth grade would’ve been the second time I read it to myself).

Kelly Creagh: The Indian in the Cupboard! I still love that novel so so much.

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of the featured books–let us know your favorite of Poe’s works, or what you’d give him for a birthday present. And many thanks to Jill, Bethany, and Kelly.


Alison Atlee (also known as "Alyson" here at Dear Author) is fascinated by creative people and how they work, which is why she enjoys contributing author interviews to Dear Author. She likes her romance novels light on the internal monologues, twisty with the conventions, and brimming with voice. Her favorite book at age ten? "An Old-Fashioned Girl" by Louisa May Alcott.


  1. Nadia Lee
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 05:08:13

    My favorite is The Raven. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Sandy James
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 05:25:01

    Always creeped out by The Telltale Heart. I blame Poe for my irrational fear of being buried alive. :P

  3. Merrian
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 06:07:03

    As a PNR reader it has to be ‘Annabel Lee’ in the kingdom by the sea that is my favourite Poe poem. I like it that the angels were the envious ones and that their love was stronger than demons.

  4. Suz Glo
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 07:05:47

    I was always happily creeped out by the Tell-Tale Heart. And now, thanks to Kelly’s recommendation, I am going to seek out William Wilson.

  5. mari
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 08:40:42

    For his birthday, I ‘d get him a can of whup ass for marrying his thirteen year old cousin! Lol! Or a stint in rehab.. .

    Favorite book , “Narative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” Only novel he ever wrote, unfinished. Deeply weird.

  6. Kelly Creagh
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 09:20:55

    Hey Mari,

    I also loved “The Narative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” The book and it’s unfinished state actually get addressed in the third and final book of the Nevermore Trilogy. ;)

    And yes, Pym IS deeply weird!

  7. Alex Harbet
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 11:31:08

    My favorite Poe work is Anabel Lee for sure. Poe inspired would be Nevermore. (I have it already of course.) I would like to read Bethany Griffin’s novel.

  8. Kim
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 12:10:50

    As others have said, The Tell Tale Heart was always creepy. As far as a birthday gift, I always wondered who left him the three roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac every year.

  9. Nicole Cardenas
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 12:39:35

    My favorite Poe work would be The Cask of Amontillado. Thanks for the giveaway. I really wouldn’t know what to give him for his birthday.

  10. Lorena
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 12:53:28

    My favorite work of Poe has to be The Raven. I remember reading a part of it in my eighth grade English class and acting it out. It was really fun and I’ve been interested in his work ever since.

  11. Julia
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 13:20:34

    My birthday gift to Poe would be this t-shirt.

    Fun side note: I have a Sleep Sheep newborn noise machine that has a heartbeat sound. One day I was reading in bed and accidentally leaned into the sheep. The heartbeat sound started, and I immediately looked at the floorboards. Henceforth the sheep has been named Poe.

  12. Carrie G
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 13:21:58

    My favorite poem is probably The Bells. I like the structure of it, all the alliteration and onomatopoeia.

    All three of the book sound clever and interesting. Thanks for the interviews.

  13. Erin
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 13:53:42

    Poe lived and is buried in my hometown of Baltimore. My favorite Poe works are the “The Cask of Amontillado” and “A Dream Within A Dream”. I have always been fascinated by the “Poe Toaster” he has been missing that last few years though.

  14. Sharlie G
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 14:38:53

    Happy Birthday Mr. Poe! I would love to give him a Kindle!

  15. erinf1
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 14:54:37

    Thanks for the fun post!!! I love the Raven :)

  16. Sandypo
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 15:07:08

    I would give him his own Cask of Amontillado which would probably cost a fortune these days! That’s some serious port!

  17. Justine
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 15:20:48

    I would give Poe luxurious writing supplies (paper, ink, etc.) so that he could write more wonderfully creepy stories!

  18. Susan
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 16:56:15

    Probably The Pit and the Pendulum.

    When I was young, I read Poe all the time even tho the stories scared me silly. I had a beautiful old Arthur Rackham-illustrated book that I would put out in the hall every night–I was too afraid to have it in the room with me while I slept! And we had a house in Germany where I absolutely refused to go into the basement (after reading Murders in the Rue Morgue, I was terrified that there was a bloodthirsty orangutan down there). I was in high school during the basement period, so old enough to know better, and my family still teases me about my orangutan phobia.

    I own Masque of the Red Death, and have Nevermore on my wish list, but hadn’t heard of Kingdom by the Sea. It sounds interesting and I should give it a try. Also, I liked Jill Winters’s answers to the questions (the creepy kitty, Poe as a blogger, etc.). :-) Thanks for this post and the giveaway.

  19. Dinky
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 17:17:44

    My favorite Poe work is Anabel Lee. And I´d give him for a birthday present a super great and modern pen so he know write more great poems.
    Thank you so muhc for this awesome giveaway and fantastic post! :)

  20. Alison Atlee
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 17:33:36

    @Susan: You putting the book outside your room–I love what that says about the power of Poe’s writing, Rackham’s illustrations, and your own imagination. I had an old Rackham book of fairy tales that I still treasure.

  21. Alison Atlee
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 17:37:32

    @Erin: The Poe Toaster legend is a big part of the second book in Kelly Creagh’s series.

  22. Alison Atlee
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 17:44:11

    @Carrie G: I suspect “The Bells” may be the most annoying poem ever, but I love and admire it. I remember suddenly “getting” symbolism and theme when we read it in middle school.

  23. Alison Atlee
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 17:47:06

    @Julia: :D (And love the shirt.)

  24. Alison Atlee
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 17:53:11

    I’ll come back with a winner on Poe’s actual birthday, (the 19th), so feel free to enter with a comment until then.

  25. camilla
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 19:00:51

    I would give Poe a little Prozac/ I think it’s overdue.

  26. Becky M.
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 19:35:26

    I’ve always loved “The Cask of Amontillado”–all the double meanings in it tickle my twisted sense of humor. I also have a really cool lesson that I sometimes use with my eighth grade remedial ELA group that has them reading “The Tell-Tale Heart” and then dividing into two groups, one that has to prove the narrator is guilty of premeditated murder and the other that has to prove he is insane and therefore not guilty…so I’m quite fond of that story too. I also have a recording of “The Raven” read by Christopher Walken–it’s fabulous, and very creepy. I’ve always meant to read some of his lesser-known stuff, and will eventually…if only he’d written romances, it would have happened already! ;)

  27. Kassandra Fuentes
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:01:55

    Since I only have to choose one of my favorite poems of his works, then I will have to choose The Masque of the Red Death. I love this poem and I love how the Phantom’s costume in Phantom of the Opera is inspired by Poe’s poem.

  28. Pam Keener
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:11:29

    I love the t-shirt too as The Raven is my absolute fave.

  29. donnas
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 21:37:21

    Ive read all of his works and The Raven is still one of the best.

  30. Erin
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 23:38:15

    Alison, the 2nd book featuring the Poe Toaster sounds like something I would love to read. I was thinking about the gift to Poe…..If time travel was possible I would love to hang out at a bar with other favorite Baltimoreans Poe, John Waters and H.L. Mencken can you imagine the wonderful odd conversations?? But that would be more of a gift for me. :) BTW Arthur Rackham illustrations **swoon** but Kay Nielsen is still my favorite of the Golden Age Illustrators.

  31. Shelley
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 09:07:06

    Wow! Great books. Poe was my first go-to horror author starting in elementary school. So happy to see his “tradition” being carried on!

  32. Christy Maurer
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 21:00:19

    I’ve always love The Telltale Heart! I have read both Bethany’s and Kelly’s books and loved them! I will for sure be adding Jill’s to my to read list! Thanks for the giveaway! And by the way, can’t wait for the sequels to their books :)

  33. Kassandra Fuentes
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 21:25:59

    These are all great books :D! I love reading books that are related to Edgar Allen Poe poems :)!

  34. Kassandra Fuentes
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 22:36:49

    Thank you for this awesome giveaway :D!

  35. Alison Atlee
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 17:49:13

    @Erin: “hang out at a bar with other favorite Baltimoreans Poe, John Waters and H.L. Mencken”—>I ‘m seeing that as a premise for a graphic novel. :) And yes, Kay Nielsen is amazing.

  36. Alison Atlee
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 17:53:40

    @Becky M.: Would love to hear that Walken reading. Kelly’s suggestion of “William Wilson” is a great place to start with the lesser-known works. For poetry, I’ve always found “For Annie–” so heartbreaking.

  37. Alison Atlee
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 18:15:46

    And our winner is #25, Camilla, whose gift-prescription idea was rather hilarious. Thanks for coming by, everyone.

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