Holes in the Heart of History
guest post by David Niall Wilson
Anyone familiar with my work (and
I say this with a smile, because I'm aware that's not as large a group as it
ought to be) knows that I love history.
I also have opinions about it, which I've written about before. I doubt very sincerely that very much of what
we know of the events of our past is accurate.
We have history books. We have
journalistic accounts. We have diaries
and biographies and even stories passed through families from generation to
generation, but all of them are colored by society, prejudice, and simple
error. None of that is what matters.
What matters is that we keep that past alive – that we don't let our history
I live in a state with one of the
longer domestic histories, North Carolina. When British governors ruled the day, Quakers
inhabited this area; plantations grew where forests and fields had stood. In other words, Americans put down
roots. Thankfully, those roots are deep
here. There are homes dating back to the
1600s. There are families who have lived
here – literally –for centuries. A lot
of the history has been preserved, and there is more out there to be
unearthed. We regularly haunt estate
auctions, thrift stores, anywhere something might turn up that has a secret.
Before moving to North Carolina,
most of my stories and novels were set in a few fictional cities I created that
were cobbled together from my past.
There is Random, Illinois – loosely based on a mixture of my hometown, Charleston,
Illinois, and the much smaller town where my grandparents lived, Flora,
Illinois. I also created San Valencez
California, my own version of San Diego, and her sister city of Lavender,
California – a smaller, more suburban area.
Now I live in the south. Not the Deep South, like Alabama, or
Mississippi, but the old south. You can feel it when you drive down streets
of Colonial and Victorian homes, you can read it on the gravestones in the
cemeteries. It has soaked into my
imagination, and I've begun writing a lot of fiction based here. Some of it is
funny, some of it is serious – all of it is as authentic as I can make it.
In my most recent novel, Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar
Allan Poe, I've drawn on several of the things I've grown to love. The
Great Dismal Swamp. The Intercoastal
Waterway that stretches from Florida to Virginia and that was – in part –
surveyed by a young man named George Washington. The Lake Drummond Hotel, an almost legendary
place that rested on the border of two states for a short period of time and
attracted outlaws, dignitaries, and travelers of all types – including a young
author and poet named Edgar Allan Poe.
There are holes in that
story. It is known that Poe stayed at
the hotel. It is also known – or at
least assumed – that his poem "The Lake" – was written about Lake
Drummond, which lies not far into the Dismal Swamp, and not far from the
waterway, or the site of The Hotel Drummond.
Rumor has it that Poe wrote an early draft of his most famous poem, The Raven, while staying at the Lake Drummond
The holes? No one can prove that he wrote The Raven there. On the other hand, research shows me that no
one can say for certain where he did
write it. There is another hole, and this one is much more important. This poem was written for a lost love – a
woman named Lenore. No one has ever
adequately answered the question of her identity. There are theories. Many women in Poe's life, starting at a very
young age – died.
Nevemore is my way of filling those
holes. My Edgar Allan Poe has a dark
magic that bonds him with his companion, Grimm, a very old crow, and with the
visions that bring his stories. Lenore
is an artist with a special gift of her own.
As the story unfolds, their fates become one – and they are drawn into a
story much older and darker than either of them could have imagined.
As writers do, I have taken
liberties with history. I have taken
liberties with Poe, and The Lake Drummond Hotel (of which very little
information is known). I have added in other local legends, because the Dismal
Swamp is full of them, and Edgar and I – as a collaborative team – have taken
liberties with one of The Brothers Grimm's fairy tales. A story titled The Raven.
I hope you'll find my book, and
read it. I hope you'll enjoy the cover
art, created by the amazing kinetic artist Lisa Snellings. Some of you might want to listen to the
unabridged audiobook, narrated by Gigi Shane.
You can find more about me and
about my writing at my web site.
You can connect with me on
Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/david_n_wilson
You can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/David.Niall.Wilson
Thanks for having me, Maria Grazia.
About David Niall Wilson
David Niall Wilson has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction since the mid-eighties. An ordained minister, once President of the Horror Writer’s Association and multiple recipient of the Bram Stoker Award, his novels include Maelstrom, The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, Deep Blue, the Grails Covenant Trilogy, Star Trek Voyager: Chrysalis, Except You Go Through Shadow, This is My Blood, Ancient Eyes, On the Third Day, The Orffyreus Wheel, and Vintage Soul – Book One of the DeChance Chronicles. The Stargate Atlantis novel “Brimstone,” written with Patricia Lee Macomber is his most recent. He has over 150 short stories published in anthologies, magazines, and five collections, the most recent of which were “Defining Moments,” published in 2007 by WFC Award winning Sarob Press, and the currently available “Ennui & Other States of Madness,” from Dark Regions Press. His work has appeared in and is due out in various anthologies and magazines. David lives and loves with Patricia Lee Macomber in the historic William R. White House in Hertford, NC with their children, Billy, Zach, Zane, and Katie, and occasionally their genius college daughter Stephanie.
About Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe
On the banks of Lake Drummond, on the edge of The Great Dismal Swamp, there is a tree in the shape of a woman.
A serving girl wandered over to glance down at the work in progress. She stared at the paper intently, and then glanced up at the window, and the night beyond. She reached down and plucked the empty wine glass from the table.
“What are they?” she asked.
“That…face.” The girl stepped back to the table very slowly, and pointed to the center of the snarl of branches. The tip of her finger brushed along the lines of a square-jawed face. The eyes were dark and the expression was a scowl close to rage.
“I’ve seen him before,” she said. “Last year. He…he was shot.”
“We’ll leave him for now,” she said. “There are four others, and I can only work on one at a time. Tell me your story.”
Anita took a sip of her wine, and nodded. “His name is Abraham Thigpen. He died about a year ago but I remember it like today…”