Sunday, January 23, 2005

Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday, Cognac and Fans

On CNN, I read about the still-ongoing annual tradition (actually a few days ago) of the mystery fan who visits Edgar Allan Poe's gravesite, leaving three roses and a bottle of cognac. Apparently the original fan died (considering he started back in 1949, that's a long time to keep going!) and now it's his sons who are carrying on the tradition. - Mystery fan marks Poe's birthday - Jan 19, 2005

The significance of the cognac isn't known, they say. Well, duh. It's cold out there. It's January. Poe's a writer. Liquor + cold + writer...the math adds up ;-) I'm not saying go get drunk and write, but it was a pretty common thing for writers (and still is for some) to get a little toasted before putting pen to paper. Not always a good idea, because your stories can get as slurred as your words, but it worked for Hemingway.

Still, I think it's cool that anyone is that devoted to Poe. I loved Poe, always have. Tell-Tale Heart still gives me goosebumps and is one of my favorite stories. I loved his poems, loved the twists he put in his stories and admired that pre-Stephen King dark mind. Reading him eventually led me to Bradbury and King, among others.

Even though Poe is dead, if he's watching from wherever he is, I can tell you his heart is touched by this annual pilgrimage. One of the coolest--and most unexpected--things that happen when your first book is published is the fan response. It's weird because as a writer, you spend all this time worrying about what an editor will want. You're writing, basically, for one person. You want to sell to that editor and get that ever-elusive contract. You never really think about anything beyond that (or at least I never did).

After my first book, The Virgin's Proposal, came out, I was stunned when I received my first fan letter. I mean, absolutely floored. People actually READ my book. And even better, they LIKED it. When I had my first meeting in-person with a fan/bookseller, she brought ME roses. I wanted to give them to her, just for making my day and absolutely thrilling me for the rest of my life. She had memorized favorite passages, bookmarked pages she was incredible.

And then, when all that really hit me, the responsibility of it did, too. This may sound dumb, but all of a sudden, I realized there are people out there reading my books. Wow. That means I need to write as well--or better with the next book and the book after that...and all the ones that follow. There were expectations now. Characters they loved, a town they loved...

And while it's been thrilling, it's also made me ramp up my game with every book (or try my best!). Because the last thing I want is to disappoint a fan and drive her to the cognac! ;-)

Have a great, warm day! And you people in the Northeast, hope your power stays on and the snow melts soon!


1 comment:

  1. Interesting post about Poe! I loved reading Poe in school. It was virtually the only literary type reading I could get into during literature classes. I laughed at the drinking at writing entry as well. One wrting group I used to be involved in was going to do an experiment, which was to each drink a little, not a lot and see what type of writing we did when we were only a wee bit intoxicated. Never actually tried it, but after reading today's post I may propose it once again to a group and see how it goes!


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