Christopher Allen Poe, a former Santa Clarita resident and descendent of Edgar Allen Poe, has published his debut novel The Portal which he describes as paranormal thriller. Poe is in town for a book signing and agreed to talk about his book, naming his yet-to-be-conceived daughter, and his relationship to Edgar.
Mark Archuleta: You said you were a Hart grad. When did you graduate?
Christopher Allen Poe (left): I graduated in 1993. So, this is a big deal for me because this is a homecoming of sorts.
MA: And where did you go after you graduated from Hart?
CAP: I went to Fresno State, and graduated from there and after that I’ve been in the music industry after that.
(CAP just finished a tour with his two-man band, Insect, which he describes as electronic rock with a Depeche Mode meets Nine Inch Nails type vibe.)
MA: Tell me about this book, I thought the tagline on the cover was intriguing.
CAP: The Portal is the story of Vivian Carmichael who’s been hiding in the mountains with her son from her estranged husband Jarod. In the first chapter he finds them and so the chase takes off from there. So, that’s the basis of it.
MA: The tag is ‘he’s not like other little boys’. (actually, “Cody’s not like other little boys…”)
CAP: That’s the paranormal aspect. I’m just drawn to that dark supernatural element in storytelling so, he sees things that aren’t necessarily there sometimes. Creepy things.
MA: On your ad I noticed you referenced (Dean) Koontz.
CAP: If you put The Portal anywhere on the shelf it would be right next to (Stephen) King and Koontz. It’s in that vein.
MA: What do you take from Koontz, what do you take from Stephen King that inspires you or go ‘I can top that?’
CAP: With any author, whenever they come up with a great character. That’s usually… for me the paranormal aspect is a backdrop. I want to find those great characters that make people really care.
MA: Do you have children?
CAP: I have no children, no.
MA: When you have children will it be “___ Allen Poe?”
CAP: Uh, yeah. Unless it’s a girl. (laughs) Yes, we’ll pass down the name another generation.
MA: Well, it could be Ellen Poe?
CAP: Actually, (laughs) I think you just named my daughter. (laughs, again) Cause that’s really cool.
MA: So tell me about the connection there.
CAP: Christopher Allen Poe is the name on my birth certificate and I am related to Edgar Allen Poe. He’s my great, great, great uncle. I think that’s the right amount of greats.
MA: Did you always know that or was that later or what?
CAP: I found out for sure later. But I always sort of knew that. I think maybe the writer thing sort of seeped into me as kid because with a name like Christopher Allen Poe your English teachers always grab you and pull you aside and say ‘Hey, have you ever thought about writing?’
(Black Opal books is the publisher of The Portal which released the book in October.)
MA: How did they choose to market that with you, with your name?
CAP: It’s weird, because for me I just sort of took it for granted. And I was like ‘Okay, well that’s just my name’ and I never really thought about it. And they pulled me aside and said ‘No, you need let everybody know you’re related to Edgar.” And I was like ‘Oh, okay.’ ‘And you need to use your full name.’ And so it was a kind of a decision that they sort of helped me with, with the marketing end of things.
MA: Yeah, I’m kind of surprised it wasn’t a slam dunk in your mind to go ‘Hey…
CAP: I think when you have it as your name…it may go back to when I was a kid. I was teased quite a bit and called Edgar so I ran from it a little bit as a kid. So, now that I’m seeing the results of it, of course it makes sense.
MA: Is there a particular story of his, I mean, did you grow up going, you know what, you have to read everything he’s ever written?
CAP: Well I had to read everything. I’m not positive it’s everything. I have a big collected works of Edgar Allen Poe. For me it was one of those books that was accepted reading all throughout school and it was the kind of thing I wanted to read so it made sense. I’ve love all the stories.
MA: Any particular favorite?
CAP: Y’know everybody loves The Raven. I hate to say it, but I do too. The Fall of the House of Usher, is an excellent one as well.
MA: The Cask of Amontillado?
CAP: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
MA: I was just thinking when you grew up, when you told people you are related to Edgar Allen Poe does it help you pick up chicks?
CAP: (laughs) Y’know what’s weird? It didn’t help me pick up my wife. When I was younger, younger I would save that, like as an extra bonus thing later in the date.
MA: Yeah, ‘I’m related to a guy who writes really creepy stories. What do you think?’
CAP: (laughs) Right, I don’t know if that will help or hurt. Some it would probably help, some it would probably hurt.
(Christopher Allen Poe has a book signing at the wine bar/ restaurant Barcelona, 25910 The Old Road, Saturday February 11 at 2 p.m.)
CAP: We did a book signing up in Lodi at a winery and it turned out to be fantastic. The vibe was much better than the book stores we’ve done. From here on out that’s what we’re going for.
MA: At Barcelona do they sell a cask of Amontillado?
CAP: (laughs) No, they don’t. Although, I’ve been in talks with a winery up north about doing Poe vineyards and having a promotional wine bottle we hand out with all of the books.
MA: Is there a group or people who control the name Edgar Allen Poe and the likeness and all that?
CAP: I think the primary family, family does. They’re back east. They control all of that. I’m not rich if that the question.
MA: I was just wondering if there’s a marketing tie you could do…?
CAP: The book just came out in October but that’s actually an excellent idea. (laughs) Here you are, you’re naming my daughter. You’re the greatest interviewer ever.
MA: You know what? I name everyone’s daughter. So, don’t take that as special to this interview.
MA: Anything else you think is important for people to know?
CAP: I think you’ve pretty much covered it. If you want a quick fast read, something to keep you up at night maybe, about paranormal aspects, this is the book for you.
Christopher Allen Poe is working on a follow-up paranormal thriller called Dollhouse, which deals with the music industry.
To learn more about Christopher Allen Poe and watch his book trailer, click here.