DNW: Today, I am interviewing Donovan DeChance, book collector, mage, sometimes private investigator – and some say – hero. The book Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe would never have happened if not for Donovan's chance visit with Poe so long ago, so I thought it would be appropriate to see what he has to say on the subject. I've spent a lot of hours chronicling your adventures, Donovan, but I must say – despite all of that, I still have a lot of questions.
DONOVAN: It would be my pleasure to answer, as best I can. You might find it interesting to note that, despite what most consider a very long and colorful life, this marks the first time I've been interviewed. As you know, there's a certain air of secrecy to my work.
DNW: That would be something of an understatement. Anyway, as I said, I have a lot of questions, but for the sake of this interview, let's concentrate on your meeting with Edgar Allan Poe, and your adventures in The Great Dismal Swamp. Your home is in California, but you seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in my neck of the woods.
DONOVAN: It's true, the Carolinas have drawn me back time and again, but I believe you'll find, as we continue to document some of my more important – adventures - that it only seems as if I've spent a lot of time in the Dismal Swamp. Time is relative, after all, and I've enjoyed more of it than most.
Sometimes I think that I should put a tighter rein on my tongue. It was only the passing comment about having met Poe in your book Kali's Tale that led to any knowledge of the events in this new book – Nevermore. Not all old tales should be told. Privacy has come to mean more to me as the years pass, and now that the tale of Edgar and Lenore has been made public, I fear too many rabbits are springing from too many baskets.
The Great Dismal swamp has held its own against time. Men and women have made their way into her depths, but few have been able to carve a home, and none have tamed the spirit of the place. There's Nettie, of course, but in many ways she is an extension of the land – a part of the swamp itself and her own roots stretch down through the soil, centuries, and across continents. Those of power are also drawn to the swamp, as you noted in Kali's Tale. That is what, in the end, always brings me to a place. There is an intricate balance of power in our world – you've heard me go on at length on the subject. When I can, I do my part to right any imbalance. In that case it was more, because – due to the strangest of circumstances – the vampire Kali and I are blood-bonded, albeit distantly and with less than a full measure.
DNW: I would think the fact you still live and breathe would factor into that.
DONOVAN: Yes, and it weakens as it is spread. There are others in that bond – more of a circle now. But that was a story for a different book, and one that we've already told.
DNW: True. (Interviewer's Note: Kali's Tale is book IV of the DeChance Chronicles) I admit that I'm possibly a little overly fond of stories involving the undead. They fascinate me. The time you spent at The Halfway House – or The Lake Drummond Hotel, as it was more properly named – must have been interesting. I know that you met Poe there, but I take it he was not your reason for the visit?
DONOVAN: And you would be correct. That was a wild place. As you know, with half the hotel in Virginia, and the other half in North Carolina, it created quite the conundrum for local law enforcement. Duels were fought across the state lines. Virginia 'gentlemen' brought their sweethearts to the hotel to be married on the North Carolina side, where the age of consent was much lower. The waterway itself – running from Florida all the way to Virginia – brought characters of all sorts through those doors. Lumbermen, soldiers, outlaws – just about anyone you can imagine.
On that particular visit, I was on the road to Virginia, where I intended to set off across country toward Chicago. I was on the trail of a man – at least, he had once been a man – who I'd been told had sought out certain documents and diagrams that could prove very dangerous in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, his were possibly the worst of hands available at that time. He had proven elusive, and it was actually several years before I finally made his acquaintance. You would know him by the name H. H. Holmes…
DNW: The serial killer? From the World's Fair?
DONOVAN: A serial killer he was, by any standard, but there was so much more that that story … and here I go again. Perhaps this is one that you and I should record in one of your books. It's fortunate that no one believes them to be absolutely true. Otherwise I would have to lock the manuscripts away in my vaults with so many others.
DNW: Yes, I'm definitely going to have to hear that story, but I think – perhaps – that the story of your acquaintance with Mr. Poe might not be quite finished. I can't imagine that the ending of Nevermore could be the whole of it.
DONOVAN: You, and your readers, must be patient. There was a lot involved in that encounter, more than I realized at the time. Before I was done with it – if I am actually done with it even now, a lot of things came to pass that I am actually ready to disclose. I've brought you my journals and rough notes concerning the events that took place immediately after those you recorded in Kali's Tale – and I'll be leaving them with you today. I've even provided what I think might be a good working title – though, of course – you are the author. I thought you might call this one "A Midnight Dreary," sort of keeping the theme…
DNW: I will look forward to reading it, then. Don’t' believe I've forgotten about Holmes though…
DONOVAN: I should hope not.
DNW: Before you go – your raven – Asmodeus – and your cat, Cleo – you didn't bring either of them with you? Isn't that a bit unusual?
DONOVAN: Cleo is staying with Amethyst for a while. I believe that the closer she and I become, the more Cleo bonds with her. It really would be rude of me not to share. Few men have been blessed with companions as wise, or loyal, as those two. Asmodeus is just outside, roosting in a tree. He prefers the open sky to strange rooms. He is very old you know, much older even than I originally believed. Now there is an interview worth having.
DNW: I'm afraid I lack your bond, my friend. Has his English improved?
DONOVAN: Indeed. For now, I am afraid I'll have to cut this short. Perhaps I'll catch up to you later in the summer.
DNW: I'll look forward to it. And next time, see if Asmodeus will join you…
On the banks of Lake Drummond, on the edge of The Great Dismal Swamp, there is a tree in the shape of a woman.One dark, moonlit night, two artists met at The Lake Drummond Hotel, built directly on the borderline of North Carolina and Virginia. One was a young woman with the ability to see spirits trapped in trees and stone, anchored to the earth beyond their years. Her gift was to draw them, and then to set them free. The other was a dark man, haunted by dreams and visions that brought him stories of sadness and pain, and trapped in a life between the powers he sensed all around him, and a mundane existence attended by failure. They were Eleanore MacReady, Lenore, to her friends, and a young poet named Edgar Allan Poe, who traveled with a crow that was his secret, and almost constant companion, a bird named Grimm for the talented brothers of fairy-tale fame.
Their meeting drew them together in vision, and legend, and pitted their strange powers and quick minds against the depths of the Dismal Swamp itself, ancient legends, and time.
Once, upon a shoreline dreary, there was a tree. This is her story.
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David Niall Wilson has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction since the mid-eighties. An ordained minister, once President of the Horror Writer’s Association and multiple recipient of the Bram Stoker Award, his novels include Maelstrom, The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, Deep Blue, the Grails Covenant Trilogy, Star Trek Voyager: Chrysalis, Except You Go Through Shadow, This is My Blood, Ancient Eyes, On the Third Day, The Orffyreus Wheel, and Vintage Soul – Book One of the DeChance Chronicles. The Stargate Atlantis novel “Brimstone,” written with Patricia Lee Macomber is his most recent. He has over 150 short stories published in anthologies, magazines, and five collections, the most recent of which were “Defining Moments,” published in 2007 by WFC Award winning Sarob Press, and the currently available “Ennui & Other States of Madness,” from Dark Regions Press. His work has appeared in and is due out in various anthologies and magazines. David lives and loves with Patricia Lee Macomber in the historic William R. White House in Hertford, NC with their children, Billy, Zach, Zane, and Katie, and occasionally their genius college daughter Stephanie.