My inspirations – Edgar Allan Poe
I have my favourite authors: people who I either love reading, or who have a style of writing that has been an influence on me, and often both.
As an occasional series, I thought I would explain why they are favourites, and that I would start with the one who is probably my all time favourite author – Edgar Allan Poe.
I’d said in a previous post that I grew up with a wonderful leather bound hardback copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s collected works. I don’t know which of my parents bought it – although my mother has always been the more avid reader, my father has always been responsible for bringing in the more esoteric and unusual books into the house, the ones that I devoured as a child, and left the greatest impression on me. So I suspect that my father was responsible for us having the Poe book (as an aside, my interest in the esoteric and unusual probably comes through my father’s side of the family – his father had a collection of books that would be proud to grace any Fortean’s bookshelf, and his grandfather was a high ranking Mason).
Poe has a reputation for writing about the strange, the bizarre, the Gothic = the “perverse” in a sense that is unique I think to Poe. But on rereading his work, what strikes is his eclecticism. Poe writers satire (Loss of Breath: A Tale Neither In nor Out of “Blackwood”), allegory (Shadow – A Parable), crime (The Purloined Letter), detective drama (The Murders in the Rue Morgue) and Gothic horror (The Fall of the House of Usher). Still, nothing makes me happier than Poe’s perversity stories, such as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Imp of the Perverse and The Black Cat.
To further Poe’s eclecticism, he wrote poetry. Most people are aware of The Raven, but my favourite of Poe’s poems is Eldorado. And Poe even makes it into Lovecraftian Mythos (more later!) with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
Poe also mainly wrote short stories, which is how I started writing, but also wrote novellas and a novel. His is a style of writing, in terms of the form and craft, that I’d like to emulate. And in terms of subject matter, the sheer variety of subjects, with a wide streak of the bizarre running through it, I’d like to think we are similar.
I mean, from stories about a priest teaming up with a demon and an angel, to crack-addicted children’s characters via essays on human rights – that’s a bit of a mix of subjects!