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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ten Tantalizing Questions for Kelly Creagh, Author of Nevermore

Do you want to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Ten Tantalizing Questions is designed not only to showcase exciting books on the horizon, but to also provide a glimpse into the interesting personalities of the authors behind them.

"There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes. ~William Makepeace Thackeray


August 31st 2010 by Antheneum

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

Read an excerpt of Chapter 1.

Nevermore is a story centering around Isobel Lanley, a cheerleader who finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into a dream world where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allen Poe come to life. Can you tell us a little more about Nevermore and share with us a favorite line, scene or passage from the book?

Nevermore is a multi-layered story. In true Poe fashion, it is a bit like a story within a story, which is one of the aspects which I feel makes it a unique read. On the surface, I have this modern-day story about a goth and a cheerleader being paired together for an English project. But Underneath that, I have all of these allusions to Poe and what really befell him during his final days. Scholars and Poe enthusiasts still have no idea what happened to Poe during the days he went missing before being found delirious in Baltimore. There are theories ranging everywhere from rabies to a brain tumor. And when I first learned about the details surrounding Poe’s demise, that’s when all of my big ‘what ifs’ began to pop up in my head. It was fun doing the research and getting the facts. Then, once I had everything laid out, that’s when I started to wiggle in my own ideas and basically make things up! Creepy and otherworldly beings and events began to pour out of my mind until I was even psyching myself out.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Isobel and Varen actually get have to present their project. There is a lot happening in this scene and I think it is one is the best examples of what I mean by the story being ‘layered.’ Each character in this scene has an underlying conflict. And tied in with one big revelation, there is yet more mystery as well. It was one of the most entertaining scenes to write!

Do you remember the first words you ever wrote for Nevermore, and are they still in the novel today?

I do remember the first words that I wrote for Nevermore! I actually have the first version of the novel tucked away somewhere on my laptop because I tend to save drafts of what I’m working on in their various stages, just in case. I began writing Nevermore on a whim and most of what came out was free-form writing. The first scene that I wrote stands as the current first chapter and, though the structure of the scene itself has changed quite a bit, the main action and outcome of the scene remains unchanged.

What three words do you think best describe your novel?

Creepy, Subtle, Layered.

What do you think Edgar Allan Poe would think about Nevermore if he was alive today? Out of all his collective works, is there one in particular that is your favorite? If so, why?

I’m so glad you asked this question! The truth is that I often find myself wondering about what Eddie would have thought about Nevermore. In the story, I do take many liberties with some of the events in his life and, in particular, the events surrounding his death. My hope has always been that, at the very least, he wouldn’t mind. I don’t think I should worry too much, though, because Poe always enjoyed a good ruse. He was a bit of a trickster in his own right and so I also like to think he would wink with amusement and wave me on. He himself was responsible for a few literary hoaxes, publishing fiction tales under the guise of non-fiction, such as The Balloon Hoax and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

Now, unlike Poe, I’m not attempting to present my otherworldly tale as true. However, I do like to flatter myself that that the trickster Poe and the detective writer Poe might have, at the very least, appreciated my way of filling in the blanks.

In terms of my favorite work of Poe’s, I would have to say William Wilson. I love good doppelganger tale. The theme of duality is one that I find in so many of my own stories. The ending of William Wilson especially is shudder-inducing. I don’t think it’s one of his most widely read stories so, if you haven’t had a chance to read it, you should definitely check it

If you found yourself drawn into Varen's chilling world like Isobel, what do you think would be the most terrifying work of Edgar Allan Poe’s to be pulled into?

Without hesitation I would have to say The Masque of the Red Death. I think that if there is one story of Poe’s you certainly would not want to find yourself in, it would be that one—especially if you’d already read the story and knew what would happen once the ebony clock struck twelve.

If you had to attach a musical score to your novel, what songs do you imagine playing during prominent scenes?

I listen to a lot of music while I write. I find that different music helps me get into the mood of a particular story, setting or scene. For Nevermore, I listened to a lot of My Chemical Romance and Muse. I also like to listen to spooky movie soundtracks for action scenes or for the really quiet but creepy moments. Another band that I discovered while writing Nevermore was I Am Ghost. Nox Arcana is also great for writing and it was kind of cool to discover that they even had an entire album devoted to Poe! In addition to music, I listened to a lot of Poe’s works recorded on audio. I feel like this helped tremendously with giving most of the subtle nuances and tiny nods to Poe sprinkled throughout. I feel like it was the best way to get Eddie’s work ingrained into my subconscious. In particular, I loved listening to the renditions of Poe’s works by Norman George, a Poe performer. He employs a southern dialect which I feel brings so much character, nuance and vivacity to the stories. Aside from that, his inflection and acting is wonderful! Check him out on iTunes!

Can you share with us some of the challenges you faced to publish Nevermore? Is there anything about the process that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?

In all honesty, I would have to say that my greatest difficulty with Nevermore did not come at the publishing stage, but rather at the creation stage. I suffered some major discouragement when nearing completion of the first draft. In the face of some pretty harsh criticism, I began another project and set Nevermore temporarily aside. Then, when I met my agent and
pitched Nevermore to her, her response was immediate and very excited. So when I returned home from the conference, I dusted off Nevermore and finished the draft. After that, I did some polishing and sent it her way and she offered me representation! So really, I only faltered when I let myself doubt.

If you could inhabit the life of one literary character and dive into their world for just one day, who would you choose and why?

Oh, I like this question. My first instinct is to say Severus Snape. But then I start to worry about myself because, if there was one character who was put through the ringer in the Harry Potter series, it was Snape! And considering all that happened, (especially to Harry!) that’s really saying something! I love Snape so much, though. I’d love to spend a day in his shoes just to experience what he went through. I’m such a sucker for redemptive characters and anti-heroes and I think Snape sort of takes the trophy in that arena. Another character whose shoes I would like to
inhabit for a day would be Christine from the Phantom of the Opera. Of course, I’m an Erik fan and so I would have loved to have helped the girl out and chosen the right guy. She would have thanked me in the end.

If Nevermore was to be made into a movie, do you have certain actors you envision in the lead roles or do you think unknowns would be best suited to play them?

This is a fun one to think about. If Nevermore ever made it to the movies, I think I would like to see Dakota Fanning in the role of Isobel. She’s a very talented young lady and I enjoy her work. I also hear that she is a real-life cheerleader! For Varen, I feel like I would love to see an unknown take the stage—someone to give him a fresh face. I think that when you first meet Varen, it’s kind of a jarring moment. At least it is for Izzy. So for audiences to have a similar reaction, I think it would be the most fun to have someone utterly unfamiliar sitting in that seat in Mr.
Swanson’s English class.

What can we look forward to reading from you next? Any upcoming projects or new series in the works?

I am currently hard at work on the sequel to Nevermore. I also have another novel that I started a few years ago which I think about often and am waiting to spend more time on. It is outside of the realm of supernatural fiction (though not totally) but not in the genre of realistic
fiction either. For right now, I won’t say any more than that! :X

Kelly Creagh is a 2008 graduate of Spalding University's MFA in Creative Writing program. She works for the Louisville Free Public Library, specializing in teen services. When not writing, haunting bookstore coffee shops, or obsessively studying Poe, Kelly's passions include the ancient art of bellydance. She lives with her squirrely, attitude-infused terrier, Annabel, in the heart of Old Louisville, Kentucky's largest and spookiest Victorian neighborhood. Nevermore is her first novel.

Official Website


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Fantastic interview! Loved the questions and hope (fingers crossed) that this could be made into a movie!

The Book Speaker said...

Great review! I've been dying to read this book, but right now my TBR pile is HUGE!

The Library Lurker said...

Awesome interview! I loved, loved, loved this book! Her answers were great, though I definitely wouldn't want to be Snape :P I don't see Dakota Fanning as Isobel, but a movie would be awesome, no matter who's in it!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome interview!