Inspiration comes from many sources, but it’s not always the success stories that drive us forward. Murder, addiction, sexual abuse –all the things that society labels as taboo can light the flame and push a person to take a stand. The horror that befell Penn State University inspired Michael Meeske to take his controversial topic and fling it out into the public. Today, he joins us to explain the truth behind the story. As a treat, he’s also included a giveaway for his controversial novel, Poe’s Mother.
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE STORY
About 1997, I began my work on Poe’s Mother. It’s a novel told from the viewpoint of two female characters – one a slimly educated 15-year-old in a small town in the dry, hot Southwest, the other an older matriarch of a demented family called Poe. Over many years, the book was placed in workshop, critiqued, revised and revised yet again.
I explore many themes in the book, including isolation, decay, the power of words, addiction and sexual abuse. Poe’s Mother is not pornographic, nor is it prurient. (Some might say so based on the topic itself.) After much work and years of rejections by traditional publishers (some with nice things to say about the novel), I finally realized that this book might be too controversial for the marketers of traditional publishing. It took me a while to get this through my head. But it was a news story of late 2011 that convinced me the novel needed a life of its own despite what New York might think.
The old saw that truth is stranger than fiction was aptly demonstrated when Penn State football became embroiled in scandal last fall. Allegations of child sexual abuse brought down a revered coach – an icon of college athletics – the university President and several other lesser officials during a time of turmoil and tears. Joe Paterno, the long-time leader of the Nittany Lions, died a short time later. A tragic case all the way around.
But lost, some say, in all this news hoopla were the victims. The scenes brought to light in the media were horrific in any sense of the word. The story still isn’t over and neither is the fallout. Through a long and painful process of incrimination and trial the truth will come out, at least that’s the assumption.
But what do these terrible events have to do with fiction? Well, for my part, it enforces my feeling that our writing must be true to our art. The most important pact a writer keeps with a reader is trust – not a word to be taken lightly. The writer must deliver an honest product that fulfills readers’ demands. Readers can smell the stench of a phony when they open the book.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not comparing the tragedy at Penn State to the worlds we create as writers – in horror, or in any genre for that matter. The victim list at Happy Valley is long and all too real. But, as writers, we deal in conflict and the sometimes ugly events that precipitate such fiction: separation, divorce, murder, rape, sexual abuse and incest. Our society has marked certain subjects as taboo. Could this societal denial have led to the brushing under the carpet, the refusal to take the investigation further apparently witnessed at Penn State?
The Penn State tragedy convinced me that Poe’s Mother should not just sit in a box as it had for all those years. The truth should come out. I did not want any taboo to play into my perception of what should be published, or to contribute to the continued silence of my novel. Poe’s Mother deserved a chance, especially after the horror at Penn State.
Poe’s Mother is a startling new novel of dark family secrets, the lure of the supernatural, the claustrophobic isolation of a dying town and a cautionary tale of the power of words.
This is the story of Sissy Baxter and her strange relationship with Edgar and Madeline Poe – two people who claim they love her. What Sissy discovers will change her life forever, and love will never be the same.
Michael Meeske writes across genres, including romance, mystery, suspense, horror and gothic fiction, a genre that blends horror and romance, and has its roots in some of the earliest novels ever written. Poe’s Mother is his latest release available exclusively on Amazon. com.
From 2008 to 2010, he served as Vice President of Florida Romance Writers (FRW). He has been a member of FRW and the Romance Writers of America since 2002. He also was an active member of the Writers’ Room of Boston, a non-profit working space for novelists, poets and playwrights.
Michael’s writing credits include Frankenstein’s Daemon, a sequel to Frankenstein, offered through Usher Books. He also is the co-author of His Weekend Proposal, a tender category romance published in August 2009 by The Wild Rose Press under the pen name of Alexa Grayson (soon to be published in Greece); Zombieville, a short story included in a 2011 anthology by FRW writers, available at Amazon.com, and Tears, a short-story published in the Fall 2000 issue of Space & Time, a magazine of fantasy and science fiction. Usher Books will publish additional works by Michael in 2012 and 2013.
Some of his influences are Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, Richard Matheson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and any work by the exquisite Brontë sisters. You can contact Michael at email@example.com.
Thank you for sharing your story Michael! See below for more ways to follow this fabulous author and enter in the giveaway!
And now for the Giveaway!