The Right Formula

Another author you wish you knew! Sue Marie St. Lee!

“To-date, the absolute most favorite story I have written is “Rhapsodie de Claire Elise” which appears in a mini-anthology released on Edgar Allan Poe’s one-hundred-seventy-first death anniversary. The four authors featured in this anthology present stories inspired by a particular piece written by Poe. I chose  “Berenice” for my inspiration. After writing this horror story, I feel that I have found my true writing formula — writing about a singular madman, not satanic demons.

In my story, Rishley Corvus Corax is a musical savant. He lives for music — composes opus and plays violin with the Philadelphia Orchestra. When the first woman ever allowed in any orchestra (1930 Philadelphia Orchestra) joins the string section, Rishley becomes fascinated with her brilliance. She seems to enhance every piece of music with her interpretation beyond what even the composer could have imagined. Rishley sets out to uncover the secret behind her magnificence and own it as his own. When he discovers the secret of Claire’s talent, Rishley flawlessly executes his plan to take and own it for himself.

Poe’s “Berenice” met with shock from the public at the horrific actions of his madman. Poe edited the story to appease the public but, the original story is still available. All these years later, I think that if my story had been published during Poe’s time, I’d have been burned at the stake! Yes, the actions of my madman exceed Poe’s madman but, you can decide for yourself.

While writing this story, I listened to my favorite classical composers, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Bach, Rachmaninoff… This brought me back to a time in my life when I played classical piano — had studied for twelve years and then taught at the ripe old age of sixteen. Classical music played an important part in this writer’s life, it gave me a place to hide pain through playing the classics.

One other pleasure I took while writing this story is that somehow, my mind wrote to the “tune”, the  “rhythm”, of Poe’s style. I hope it carried through in my story. Here is a little excerpt from “Rhapsodie de Claire”:

…Even now, as I tell you this, a butterfly’s wings fluttering outside my window on the lilac bush are composing a sonata in my brain. It is a beautiful movement of complementary chords and scattered singular notes, airy and light, a bit breezy and free until I hear the praying mantis approach. Darkness finds its way into my arrangement as the butterfly struggles for its life. Bass chords pound out of tune while treble notes tinkle with great ferocity until they slow to a dying cadence. There, there it is, the final chord of this, the first movement of my sonata, Beauté Dévorée…

Thank you again, Julie, for the opportunity to be featured on your blog!”

My story, “Rhapsodie de Claire Elise” can be found here: Poe-ish Tales Forevermore,

3 thoughts on “The Right Formula”

  1. This was wonderful, Sue Marie!! It was cool to learn a little about what went into writing “Rhapsodie de Claire Elise.” I love your creativity and imagination all wrapped up into the tremendous word play displayed in the except you shared. Belated congratulations on the Anthology. I’ll definitely have to check it out!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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