An Interview with Quoth the Raven Poe-etess Tonia Kalouria

To celebrate the release of Quoth the Raven, edited by Lyn Worthen and published by Camden Park Press, I’m getting cozy with my fellow anthology contributors to learn more about their stories and what inspires their dark little writers’ hearts.

Next, I’m interviewing Tonia Kalouria, author of “Advice is for the Birds” in Quoth the Raven.

Briefly describe the poem you wrote for Quoth the Raven.

A rhyming, ironic sublimation of my disdain for poetry editors who will accept nothing but free verse. “If it rhymes, don’t waste your time!” Note I did not use “our” time, as it takes no enterprise to toss another’s soul in the trash heap.

Imagine you’re in an old-timey elevator, a rickety one that boasts a well-worn, rusty cage. There’s a man in all black in the elevator with you, and he asks what your poem is about. What do you tell him?

I was inspired by the notion that unsolicited, unwanted advice is something that is “for the birds,” as we used to say. And, Hitchcock notwithstanding, menacing, nay-saying birds = Poe’s Raven, of course.

What’s a story or poem – by any author – that has truly creeped you out (in the best way possible, of course)? What was it about that particular story that just got to you?

What work has “creeped me out”?  The Exorcist — book and movie! By reading the book first, I viewed the film not as fiction, but fact. I was considering therapy for almost a week I was so traumatized. And pea soup was definitely off-menu for a very long time.

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

Wordsmiths I admire:  I love the surprise twist endings and Irony of O’Henry.  I admire the light verse of Dorothy Parker and Ogden Nash, and Mother Goose’s rhymes.  I immensely enjoyed reading Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

But I think the “heard word” deserves consideration as well when discussing the outstanding use of language. To wit: The late James Reilley, head writer for NBC’s soap “Passions” cranked out delightful scripts to fill five one-hour shows per week. And said scripts encompassed multi-genres: romance, mystery, fantasy, and especially, humor!

The rock opera, Jesus Christ Super Star with lyrics by Tim Rice is another example of brilliance with the heard word.

And not least, dear radio icon, Paul Harvey. I eagerly awaited his fifteen minute noon newscasts from elementary school days when I would run home for lunch, until his last broadcast as an adult.

What are you currently working on right now?

Utilizing my fondness for irony and memorable endings, I am currently tweaking a flash fiction piece called: “Blind Justice.” As with the five serious poems I wrote for the 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly Blog, it too,  has a moral, or “message.”

Where can we find more of your work or connect with you online?

I can be reached on Linkedin or Facebook.

About Tonia:

Tonia is the mother of two wonderful sons and grandmother of one lovely granddaughter, and a former high school Spanish teacher in Toledo and Elyria, OH. She was also “Dr. Wilson” from 2002-2007 on the NBC soap “Passions.”

Quoth the Raven coverAbout Quoth the Raven:

The works of Poe were dark and often disturbing. From dismembered corpses, rivals bricked behind cellar walls, murders in back alleys, laments for lost loves, obsessions that drive men – and women! – to madness, his stories have had a profound impact on both the horror and mystery genres to this day.

In Quoth the Raven, we invite you to answer the call of the raven and revisit Poe’s work, re-imagined for the twenty-first century. Here, the lover of mystery and goth horror will find familiar themes in contemporary settings, variations on Poe’s tales, and faithful recreations of the author’s signature style.

Purchase your copy of the anthology HERE.

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