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  • Karen Lee Street

Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru

Wing illustration by Albrecht Dürer  (1471 –  1528)

At last, a first draft of Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru is completed after writing flat-out (but far too slowly) to meet my end of February deadline. And of course I've neglected this website/ 'blog'. There's much I could have written about -- the many enticing research-rabbit holes I went down (and occasionally got lost in), but the tricky part about that is:

a) spending too long writing mini-essays or reveries rather than working on the novel

b) giving too much of the plot away if I blogged about my research.

I did try to keep on top of Edgar Allan Poe and the London Monster's Facebook page, sharing bits and pieces I came across about Poe and research relevant to the trilogy. That and flinging images onto pinterest actually helped with the research and thought processes without taking up too much time. (It also conserved precious memory on the laptop.)

In the two weeks of brain-rest after delivering the novel, I reflected a bit on some of the differences in writing the first book of a trilogy and the second. Just before Edgar Allan Poe and the London Monster was launched in the UK, I was interviewed by Mslexia Magazine about my experiences in getting a debut novel picked up by a publisher (article on this website). Although I was previously published, Writing and Selling Crime Film Screenplays was a commission and my collection of interlinked short stories, Tattoos and Motorcycles, was published in an innocent time before social media virtually took over the world. (Sad pun intended)

That process included finding an agent; new wonderful agent finding the publishers; and then about a five month production process of (minimal) notes from commissioning editor; working with copy editor, proof-reader, production team. Once the proofs were ready to send to reader groups, I had a crash course in twitter for a 'twitter-view'; set up this neglected website and Book page on Facebook; wrote some short articles for Crime Fiction magazines; and did a Gothic night at the Stoke Newington Literary festival. I also had the wonderful experience of working with a Russian translator, Dmitry Starkov.

All while researching and planning Book II.

It's been a great discipline to have eighteen months to deliver a novel. That might sound slow to NaNoWriMo devotees, but the research was time-consuming (and fun). I'm still learning how to better balance research and writing time and need to set up a decent system for finding the interesting articles I save to read again later. Twitter was a slog at first, but I've 'met' a lot of fascinating people there: writers, filmmakers, artists, and folklore enthusiasts in particular. (#FolkloreThursday a favourite; a possible folklore film festival @FolkloreFilmFes )

As for Book II, the editorial process begins. So far so good. Two trusted readers sent me notes in January (in two parts while I was still working to finish it). My agent read it in mid-February and happily he liked the draft so I could submit for end of February as planned. The commissioning editor didn't have many notes and luckily they make sense to me. (Few notes can mean more revisions than one initially thinks, however...) Once she is happy with the revised draft then it will go to the copy editor, then production and proof-reader as before, with me revising for each one. The Art Director will come up with a cover design -- very keen to see what that will be like.

The blurb is finished (for now): Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru

Philadelphia, early 1844. As violent tensions escalate between ‘nativists’ and recent Irish immigrants, Edgar Allan Poe’s fears for the safety of his wife Virginia and mother-in-law Muddy are compounded when he receives a parcel of mummified bird parts. Has his nemesis returned to settle an old score? Just as odd is the arrival of Helena Loddiges, a young heiress who demands Poe’s help to discover why her lover died at the city’s docks on his return from an expedition to Peru. Poe is skeptical of her claims to receive messages from birds and visitations from her lover’s ghost, but when Miss Loddiges is kidnapped, he and his friend C. Auguste Dupin must unravel a mystery involving old enemies, lost soul-mates, ornithomancy, and the legendary jewel of Peru. And that should solve the 'mystery' of why there are bird images scattered through this post.

Images: 1) Wing, Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) 2) Flamingo, John James Audubon, Birds of America 3) Toucan, John Gould and Edward Lear 4) The Edwards’ Dodo by Roelant Savery (1626) in London’s Natural History Museum. 5) Sunbird, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 6) bird skeleton 7) Emerald cross from the Atocha shipwreck at the Mel Fisher Museum, Key West, Florida 8) Skull and Raven Netsuke by Hiraga Meigyokusai 9) EA Poe vintage cigarette card.

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