Rachel M. Martens - Author of the "Poe" Series

 

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Synopses & Author's Bio

Poe: Nevermore is an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired thriller in which a young woman must race against time and death to save those she loves while struggling with depression, a new relationship complicated by her past, and an abusive former foster-father.  Elenora Allison Poe is twenty-four years old, drowning in debt and depression, and very alone, having been orphaned at the age of two and raised in an unloving household.  Suffering from insomnia and PTSD from a traumatic experience seven years before, Poe keeps everyone at arm's length.  Then, she meets homicide detective Caleb Frost and her life changes dramatically.  Frost sees Poe's brokenness in perfect clarity and sympathizes with her.  However, just when Poe is starting to let him in, she discovers a horrible truth: she is the sole direct descendant of Edgar Allan Poe, inheriting not only the last name of one of the world's most famous poets, but also a terrible family curse that takes the form of Edgar Allan Poe's most haunting tales.  If Poe cannot recognize the curse unfolding in time, it will destroy the lives of all those close to her and annihilate her sanity.

The shocking and fast-paced sequel to Nevermore, Rest in Peace picks up with Elenora Allison Poe one month after the first novel's conclusion.  Frost and Poe are still recovering from the tragedies they survived in “The Raven,” both emotionally and physically.  As they struggle to rebuild their relationship from ashes, Poe discovers that she is being stalked by her most wicked nightmare, Lex, and is swept into a maelstrom of instability and paranoia.  Without Frost's protection, Poe quickly loses her already shaky grip on her sanity as with each passing moment the inevitable reunion with her tormentor draws nearer.  Meanwhile, the Poe family curse continues to haunt the tragic heroine, dragging her into a labyrinth of darkness from which there may be no escape....

Rachel M. Martens is the author of the “Poe” gothic thriller series, including Poe: Nevermore and Poe: Rest in Peace.  She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in English from St. Norbert College and participated in the Young Writers Conference hosted by the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.  Martens also specializes in horror flash fiction and short stories.  Her short fiction has been published by Hellnotes and has been awarded the Silver Key in Scholastic's Art and Writing Awards, as well as second place in the Mystery and Terror category of University of Wisconsin Whitewater's Creative Writing Festival.  Martens has traveled extensively, having spent time in over a dozen of the United States, Mexico, and the UK.  She currently resides in Wisconsin. Martens takes inspiration from Gothic classics, including the works of Edgar Allan Poe and the Bröntes, as well as from contemporary horror and thriller authors like Stephen King and Karin Slaughter.  Of her writing, Chanticleer Book Reviews and Media has said, "Ms. Martens succeeds at painting dark, suspenseful, sometimes horrific pictures.  It is the kind of psychological horror that locking the doors and windows and reading with the lights on will not keep out."

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An Editorial Review of “Poe:Nevermore” by Rachel M. Martens

Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media - August 28th, 2013

Poe: Nevermore by Rachel M. Martens
 Rating
Author(s): 
Publisher: BookBaby (2013)
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Poe: Nevermore, by Rachel M. Martens, is a contemporary suspense thriller with a nod to paranormal elements of the Romanticism Movement. This dark and dense novel that borders on horror is told in the first person by a young woman, Elenora Allison Poe, known simply as ‘Poe’.

The story begins innocently enough; it seems that the characters and the plot are driven by mental illness (even Poe) until the impetus is revealed. That is the hook of Martens’ writing—just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the game changes. The plot twists and turns as it sinks its hook deeper into you. At first, as I read, I thought  that this novel might be another variation of Fight Club or theDragon Tattoo series. It is not.

For some, it may be too haunting a tale. The author skillfully builds tension and anticipation with complex characters that are not easily dismissed. The antagonists are evil incarnate. The scary part is that they could be someone you speak with every day, the next date that you are on, the person you work with….

The beginning of the story manifests Poe’s awkwardness of Poe  in trying to make her way in the world alone, as many young adults do. The ordeals Poe has survived so far in her young life have reduced her to perilously low levels of self-worth and confidence. You think to yourself that Poe needs to get a grip on herself, to stop feeling sorry for herself. But soon enough the reasons for her self-defeatist attitude are divulged and you will wonder how she functions at all and why, … indeed, why is she is still alive.

Poe learns that her family has been accursed since Edgar Allan Poe’s foster father had a witch invoke it. The curse destroys the victim psychologically and emotionally. It will destroy everything and everyone to torture its victim, to make the victim’s life a living hell.

Poe must unravel the details of the family curse in order to save the few loved ones she has left in this world. She pursues this with the help of a budding relationship with Frost, a homicide detective who sees something worth saving in her, and shares her interest in the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.  Edgar Poe himself aids her pursuit, explaining the curse, and presenting himself as her spirit guide.

The 19th century Romantic Movement, a revolt against societal norms in art, was represented by deep emotional response to experience, including emphasis on terror, horror, and the supernatural. Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, known for their mystery, their macabre, and his delving into the human psyche, were part of this movement. The parallels between our heroine’s life and that of Edgar Allan Poe are brilliantly developed by the genre and style in which Poe: Nevermore has been written.

Be warned; Poe: Nevermore is not a cozy mystery. Ms. Martens succeeds at painting dark, suspenseful, sometimes horrific pictures. It is the type of psychological horror that locking the doors and windows and reading with the lights on will not keep out.

I highly recommend this book for my fellow edge-of-our-seat junkies—those of us who are constantly seeking the book we ever so briefly fear picking up, then can’t put down in the relentless pursuit of discovering whatever comes next! Marten’s Poe: Nevermore deliciously feeds these cravings along with satisfying those with classical literary interests. I anxiously look forward to reading  Marten’s next installment of Poe.

Reader's Favorite Review - Tia Stanciu - May 6th, 2014





Star Star Star Star Star
Poe
Nevermore
by Rachel M. Martens 
Fiction - Thriller - General 
282 Pages 
Reviewed on 05/04/2014

Poe: Nevermore by author Rachel M. Martens is a fascinating thriller, the first in a six-book series, inspired by the life and writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Elenora Allison Poe is a young aspiring writer for whom life has not been at all easy. The death of her family when she was only a child and the abuses she suffered throughout her teenage years turned Poe into a frightened young lady, suffering from PTSD and insomnia. When she meets an intriguing young detective, her life takes an unexpected turn for the worse. She finds out that she is a direct descendant of Edgar Allan Poe and is being targeted by a curse that has been in the Poe family for generations. Poe and Frost engage in a fast-paced race against time and the forces of evil in an attempt to save their lives and the lives of the ones they love.

The first book of the Poe series was a wonderful surprise for me; apart from the stunning cover art, I had not expected to encounter such an original story with a writing style so truthful and unique. Poe's nightmare scenes blend perfectly throughout the story, giving us readers a more insightful view into Poe’s mind and making her emotions clearer with each page. Poe: Nevermore tackles taboo subjects, such as depression, rape, domestic violence and suicidal tendencies and it does so with amazingly raw emotions, as if the characters were actual people telling their story to a friend. Rachel M. Martens gave Poe a wonderful personality that stands out. There were moments when I thought Poe and the author are just good friends telling a story with the help of ink and paper, instead of writer and character. 

I look forward to the next book in the series. The ending of Nevermore left me wanting to know more about Poe and Frost; it left me wanting to know whether their relationship will get stronger and if their fight again will be successful. Poe: Nevermore ends with an epilogue that sheds some light about the new book, and I think the author cleverly ended it this way to keep readers interested until the release of the new book. And it worked. I look forward to finding out what life has in store for Poe.

SPR- Self Publishing Review - Cate Baum - May 22nd, 2014

Review: Poe: Nevermore by Rachel M Martens

As an opener to the works of Poe, this novel definitely will have you reaching for the nearest anthology. Personally, I don’t enjoy Poe but that doesn’t really matter because it’s his legacy that enthralls here – so even if you aren’t a Poe fan, this book goes deeper than just his works – this is a tale of spiritual turmoil, with witches and the paranormal distorting the world that both Elenora and Poe exist in. I learned a fair bit of back story about him; whether that is true or not doesn’t matter – this is almost fan fiction; this is definitely Metafiction, and with its Steampunk vibe there’s a lot of readers willing to lap this up.

There is a visual nature to Martens’ writing. Descriptions, when they work, go over exceptionally well by painting a picture of what is in front of us, and Martins conveys her imaginative world in detail, meaning that it becomes hard to stop reading at any point. There are nice modern touches that anchor Elenora in the real world, such as her job at Starbucks and her snarky attitude to those around her. But there are timeless accents – there is a Gothic, smouldering shroud across this book, as if Anne Rice or Poppy Z Brite have infected the writing.

Martens writes clearly, but sometimes her prose is a little trope-heavy. Adjectives hang on perfectly good sentences where narrative would suffice. Some of this style can be pinned to the fact this book is really for the new adult market, because maybe the themes in the story are a little too grim for a YA audience; having said that, fans of the likes of The Book Thief and The Goldfinch are going to enjoy the horrible nature of mental illness and somewhat magical darkness Martens weaves – there are definite chimes of Theo Decker and Liesel Meminger here in Elenora’s character; that kind of inner-worldliness that many young people lack is the exact reason you will want to follow Elenora on her forced path of gloom and discovery. She becomes a highly haunting voice throughout the book, and somehow the the tropes fade as Martens writes, as if she became more comfortable and confident as she told her tale – later, original and witty prose becomes the norm and really colors the story.

Because of the development of the writing, the winding plot will carry you as Elenora fails to reach a happy place again and again, heartwrenchingly broken and bothered by her family legacy as she goes deeper and deeper into her investigation with Caleb.

Warning: You may just stay up at night to read, read, read…I know I did.

There’s a definite set-up for the next book, which is well done, and I look forward to reading her next installment. I should imagine it will hold readers in suspense for a successful series featuring a different kind of female anti-hero.

Review Overview: 4 1/2 Stars

Design: 5 stars
Editing: 4 stars
Content: 4 1/2 stars

AN INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL M. MARTENS, AUTHOR OF THE POE SERIES

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Rachel M. Martens is the author of Poe: Nevermore, an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired thriller in which a young woman must race against time and death to save those she loves while struggling with depression, a new relationship complicated by her past, and an abusive former foster-father.  Nevermore is the first in a six-book series and was self-published through Book Baby in June of 2013.  Now, Martens discusses her writing process, the shockingly realistic characters ofNevermore, the stigma of being a young, female horror writer, and the much-anticipated next installment in the series: Rest in Peace.

Where did the idea for the Poe series come from?

I believe it was Stephen King that talked about how every story comes out of a “What if?” question, and that’s exactly what it was with Poe.  I was an Edgar Allan Poe fan and a novelist looking for something original to write when my “What if?” came to me: “What if Edgar Allan Poe did have a direct descendant and what if there was a Poe family curse bringing his horror stories to life?”  That question was the foundation upon which the whole series was built.  I knew from the beginning that it would be six books and that each one would center on a horror tale; for Nevermore, it was “The Raven.”  From there, I built the skeletons of the characters and let them flesh out their own backgrounds and the subplots.

Describe your writing process.

For me, the most important part of any novel is the characters, so my priority, sometimes even before I have the plot, is to create the skeleton of my narrator.  From there, I rely upon my narrator to drive the writing of the story.  As I write in their voice, I learn more about them and fill in their background.  Poe was incredibly stubborn about this because she’s not the type of person that shares well, but once I had a feel for her personality and secrets, she hijacked the writing.  I’m just her transcriber.

What was the most difficult part of writing Nevermore?

Nevermore was originally a Young Adult novel, believe it or not.  It took me about a year to write the first time and a few weeks after I had finished this 400-page novel, I came to the realization that the story and the characters would be more powerful if Poe and the rest were older.  That meant I had to scrap all but about 30 pages and rewrite the whole novel from the beginning.  The thing about rewriting is that it’s not nearly as exciting as the original creative process; it can be a chore.  But, by adding six years to Poe’s age and ten years to Frost’s, I learned so much about them as people that I had never guessed from my first crack at the book.  It raised Nevermore from a two-dimensional quality to a three-dimensional one.

Why go the self-publishing route?

After the usual starving writer routine of sending out endless query letters and receiving endless rejections, I stumbled upon an article interviewing Hugh Howey, who launched his career by self-publishing.  His take on it was this: you can either spend five years sending out queries and struggling to find time to write amidst all the effort or you can spend five years writing and selling books until the agents and publishers start calling you.  I knew my priority was getting my book out to readers and starting on the next one, so the non-traditional route made the most sense.

You’re a very young, female writer in a male-dominated genre.  Is there a stigma that goes with that?

Definitely.  Every time I tell someone I published a thriller novel, or that I’m a horror writer, they do a double-take.  I considered using a pseudonym because of it.  But, on the other hand, I admire young writers and women in the mystery/thriller/horror genres and I decided I would rather fight against the stigma than circumvent it.  I’ve heard it said too many times that being young means you have nothing meaningful to write about.  I’ve heard it said too many times that women are too faint-hearted for sensitive topics or the horror genre. I’m here to prove those assumptions wrong.

Speaking of sensitive subjects, you don’t shy away from taboos in Nevermore, in fact there’s an overload of them.  The book tackles domestic violence, rape, incest, depression, and suicide.  Many readers do not expect such topics in any book, much less one by an author of your age and sex.  What about the stigma there?

First of all, it’s important to note that I didn’t set out to build a character with a history like Poe’s.  When I create my characters, I give them enough life that they can tell me their own stories and what Poe told me was hard even for me as the writer to swallow.  But Poe is like a best friend to me and I believed that she had a story that deserved to be told on behalf of every human being who has ever suffered in any of these situations.  The thing about taboo topics is that they show some of the ugliest corners of our society and if we continue to ignore them, they continue to exist.  I wanted people to see inside the mind of someone fighting depression, wanted them to remember that every day women suffer at the hands of their husbands, wanted them to think.  Nevermore is Poe’s story and Frost’s, but it is also the story of millions of voiceless souls.

One of the strongest points in your writing is your villains.  Where does an antagonist that real come from?

Right down the street.  The thing to remember about villains is that, unless they’re some kind of demon spawn, they are human.  Jonathan Aaron is human, Nina Faucett is human, Lex Rydenor is human.  Remembering that and combining it with their dark sides is what makes them scary because they could be the psycho on the news just as easily as they could be the next door neighbor you wave to every day.

What can readers look forward to seeing in Rest in Peace and when can we mark our calendars for?

Rest in Peace picks up about a month after Nevermore leaves off with Poe and Frost both struggling to recover psychologically from “The Raven.”  As if things couldn’t get worse, Poe learns that Lex, the man who raped and tortured her, is now stalking her and she is quickly swept into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.  What I think readers will be most excited about with Rest in Peace is that, first of all, Poe is forced to confront the man who destroyed her mental stability.  Second of all, Frost gets both more time narrating and a chance to show his tougher side.  Nobody threatens his girl without some serious consequences.  And finally, Rest in Peace is spear-headed by a villain that you love to hate so much it becomes addictive.  All of that will make for a really exciting novel for Poefans.  As for marking calendars, assuming all goes as planned, Rest in Peace will be available as an e-book through Amazon on June 13th, the one-year anniversary of Nevermore’s publication date.  Eleven other online retailers, including Barnes&Noble, the iBookstore, Scribd, and Sony will release it in the three weeks following.

What’s next for you?

Right now my priority is Rest in Peace, but I’m also working on several stories outside the series which I’d like to get out too.  Each one of my characters has a different story to tell, not just Poe, and I’d like to give the others a chance to share.

Before we go, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

No matter where you are in your career, if you have an agent already or if you just learned the mechanics of storytelling, figure out what you want to accomplish with your writing and never forget that.  For me, the important thing was the characters and when I forgot that and started prioritizing things like marketing and finding agents, I struggled.  Don’t let that happen.  Figure out what matters, write it on a Post-It note, and stick it to your computer screen or your desk, somewhere you can’t forget it.  Don’t worry about the rest, just focus on reaching that one goal and everything else will come.

Poe: Nevermore is available as an e-book through eleven major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and the iBookstore.  Paperbacks are available through Amazon only.  For more on Rachel M. Martens, the Poe series, and Martens’ other works, check out www.rachelmmartens.comor Like her page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rmmartensauthor.