Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway: Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

As anyone who read my review of Mrs. Poe knows (if you haven't you can do so here) I absolutely loved it! It is a complete immersion into the lives of these complex and scarred characters and has an exciting, thrilling component thrown in that keeps you reading on to try and figure out what exactly is going on. Well, if you've wanted to read it yourself but haven't yet had the chance, I'm very please to say that I have a copy to offer up to you lovely readers right here! So please join me in welcoming Lynn Cullen, author of Mrs. Poe, to Historical Tapestry as she tells us the various connections that led to Mrs. Poe being written and continue to the end for instructions on how to enter the giveaway. Without further delay, Lynn Cullen...

The Toe Bone Connected to the…Foot Bone

I am struck by how everything is connected when it comes to writing a book.   This is how it happened for Mrs. Poe:

If my former publisher had not turned down the book I was working on, I would have never felt the need to look for a new subject to write about.   

If my husband had not gotten a brain injury from meningitis/encephalitis, the day I brought him home from the hospital I would not have been so terrified about our future that I would not have been the altered state in which the word “Poe” mysteriously floated into my mind (mysteriously because I had not been a Poe fan.)  I still have no idea where that came from.  (P.S. My husband has now recovered!)   

If I had not run to the computer when the word “Poe” drifted through my mind, I would not have read up on the great writer and learned about his affair with Frances Osgood.

If I had not discovered Frances Osgood, I never would have known about this strong and intelligent mother of two who was struggling to support herself with her own writing, never an easy thing for a woman and completely impossible in 1845. 

If I had not related to Frances Osgood, I would have never felt the burning need to write about her, using her as a means to show what it is like to be a writer in any age, and also as a way to explore what it is like to be someone always yearning for something better.  (Isn’t that all of us?)

If I had not trying to understand Frances Osgood, I would not have gone to New York to learn what it was like there in 1845, the year Frances and Poe had their affair--the same year Poe became a celebrity after publishing “The Raven.”

If I had not gone to New York, I would not have walked the rooms of The Merchant’s House Museum in Greenwich Village, which has been perfectly preserved to remain just as it was in Poe’s era.

If I had not been in the perfectly preserved interior of the Merchant’s House Museum, I would have never known details like how rooms were kept bright (with lots of mirrors to reflect the light), and the look and danger of gas lighting (it had an orange cast and had to be lit fast for fear of explosion,) or that there were little pulls on the walls which rang bells in the kitchen to summon the servants. 

If I had not known these details, I would have never worked them into the book.  In fact, all my scenes were based on authentic historical details and the writings of Poe and Frances.

If I had not read the works of this pair during the time of their relationship, I would have missed clues to their personalities and their relationship.

And if I had not known of their relationship, I would not have wondered about Poe’s wife, Virginia.  How did she feel about their very public affair?

If I had not wondered about Virginia Poe, I would not have gone to the cottage to which she and Poe fled once her husband’s affair with Frances Osgood became too obvious to ignore. 

And if I had not gone to the little cottage and seen the child-sized cot on which Virginia Poe suffered in her final year of life, I would have never had the sympathy that I did for her, although I was writing from Frances Osgood’s point of view.

And so ends the connections from which I spun my novel, at poor Virginia Poe’s deathbed.  But it thrills me to think that this journey on which Poe, Frances, and Virginia has taken me might never end, not as long as a reader picks up the book and wonders, Who is Mrs. Poe?  I thank you most sincerely for joining me.  As a writer, it’s my greatest privilege—and joy--to connect with you.

I just love learning the many interconnected actions and thought processes that go into the writing of stories (and I'm very happy to hear your husband has recovered)! Who would have known that each discovery would eventually lead to this wonderful story being born?! Thank you Ms. Cullen!!!


Now, for your chance to win a copy of Mrs. Poe of your very own tell me in the comments section below: have you ever had something happen to you that led to something exciting and/or unexpected?  Don't forget to include your email address in your comment (no email address, no entry!). I can't wait to read everyone's responses! For extra entries share this post online and leave a separate comment with the link to where you shared. I will pick a winner at random on June 18th and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their address before I pick another winner. Good luck everyone!

About the Author

Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal. While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.

Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Follow along with the blog tour of Mrs. Poe here.


Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Simon & Schuster



  1. I can't think of anything life-changing, but I've found that during reading HF I find a word, a character or event that takes me to the computer for more information. And, that info sends me to another source, and on and on. Learning is such fun. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Linda, YES!!! The same thing happens to me! Some of my favorite books have taken me SO LONG to get through because I keep taking mini breaks to look up more information about whatever the book is discussing :). Thanks for the comment!

  2. When I read an exceptional novel that transports me to another realm, locale, era and provides me with an escape I am captivated and then explore the author and his research, and the wonderful areas that have been mentioned in the book. Sometimes it is a place which I am very familiar with and can relate with even though it has been years. Sometimes I am back there and enjoy this journey. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. I never buy scratch offs, but I bought one for $1 and won a large sum of money one week after getting laid off from my job.

    1. Forgot my email address: raquel36m (at) gmail (dot) com

    2. Wow, Raquel, that is awesome! Just when you need it you bought the ticket...meant to be!

  4. I was doing some genealogical research and sent off for some pension records of my great great grandfather. I got a few papers back with dates of when my ancestor left the service for the North and his attempts to get a pension. There was a short note that there were more papers that I could get if I pay the copying charge. I called the phone number and was told that I would be wasting my money because there was nothing interesting in the papers.

    I insisted on getting them. A month later I received a thick package of copied papers. I had never had heard anything about before except that he was in the Civil War for the North. There were many letters from his neighbors and friends about his good character, one by his wife and few by him. I learned about his experience of sitting outside on top of a railroad car full of Confederate prisoners. He had a lung condition before they assigned him. The cold damp air made him sick. He spent time going to the infirmary trying to recover and then was sent back to the same duty. His descrition of his problem matches my own experience! I have both asthma and sarcoidosis in my lungs. I felt a great deal of empathy for him even though I had never met him. I enjoyed reading about his helping people whenever he could. There was a wonderful letter about him from his mother. The script was difficult to read as it was full of curlicues and fancy ways of making letters, I had to make a key for some of the letters of alphabet to be able to read the letters. This was my adventure into the past. I found a man with some the same health problems that I have today., I learned so much more about him in those letters. I felt a deep connection to my ancestor.


    1. Hi Carol!!! Wow, that is fascinating! Just to read about a long lost relative - and even see their own words right in front of you - that must have just been so exhilarating! And to find out that you have had some of the same health problems he had...the connection must have been intense! So glad to hear from you again!!!

  5. I am not big on writing about life changing events because that is just not me. I have had good things happen but not life changing that I can think of. Thank you for the chance to win this book. griperang at embarqmail dot com

  6. And the winner is.....traveler!!! I will be sending out an email and traveler will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address. If I don't here back another winner will be selected. Thank you all for entering and coming to the blog!!!