I’ve been asked a number of times how I came up with the idea of utilizing some of Edgar Allan Poe’s darker tales, most notably ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ as the catalyst for revenge in my novel, The Poe Consequence. It took some serious pondering to finally arrive at that idea. I originally thought of a vampire theme, but to me, that was a tired idea that didn’t offer any inspiration. A ghost story made sense, but it didn’t quite fit the concept of what I wanted to do. I needed to take the human emotion of vengeance and translate it into a workable way for someone who was killed. Ghosts are limited by their confines and I required something that could be anywhere, inside or outside, depending on certain circumstances in my story that I won’t divulge here.
My admiration for Poe dates back to my childhood when I was first introduced to his stories by those wonderfully cheesy Vincent Price adaptations of such stories as The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven, and The Masque of the Red Death. At that time I viewed these films through the eyes of a kid who thought they were scary and memorable. Now I see them for the unsubstantial versions that they were. However, it wasn’t Vincent Price’s fault for the silly scripts he was given, and Price remains one of my favorite actors past or present. He of course did other films not related to Poe and was highly respected for many of them.
In my novel, The Poe Consequence, I mention Vincent Price in a semi-autobiographical passage that describes a main character’s early fascination with Edgar Allan Poe. The character’s name is Warren Palmer, and Poe’s famous tale, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ is one of, if not his favorite, of Poe’s works. I met Vincent Price many years ago while on a cruise ship, and I’ll always remember the time on that trip where the passengers were invited to a room to hear his recitation of ‘The Raven.’ This was after a time where, while in a college public speaking class, I had chosen that same poem as my assignment to perform in front of the class. I studied and practiced it to the point of complete memorization, and when I finished reciting it that day, my teacher was quite complimentary. But when I listened to Vincent Price perform ‘The Raven’ it made something very clear to me – he was the ultimate master and I was just a fun loving college kid with nothing more to offer the world than a classroom memory.
If you have about 10 minutes I invite you to watch, and listen, to that master at work. Instead of ‘The Raven’, however, here is part 1 and part 2 of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, the favorite Poe work of Warren Palmer’s and the major principle of revenge entailed in The Poe Consequence. Believe me, if you’re a fan of performance art, this is truly worth those 10 minutes of your time.