Dahlia Adler is already an accomplished author with five novels of her own and contributions to three anthologies. Stepping out for the first time as editor to the soon to be published anthology, His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined , Adler is taking on Edgar Allan Poe with twelve (the thirteenth she is contributing) incredible authors currently publishing in the young adult space, today. Before we dive in with Adler a month before His Hideous Heart releases on September 10th, here is a summary of this incredible anthology soon to hit shelves, bringing classics works of horror and suspense into today’s landscape.
His Hideous Heart (Blurb Provided by FlatIron Books) is out September 10th
Cover design is by Jon Contino with Art direction by Keith Hayes
The Cask of Amontillado. The Tell-Tale Heart. The Pit and the Pendulum. Filled with love and loss, vengeance and regret, the dark, chilling stories of Edgar Allan Poe have haunted us for over 150 years. Now, thirteen of YAs most celebrated writers reimagine Poe’s stories for a new generation.
These contemporary retellings will grab readers by the throat and drag them along to surprising and unsettling places, whether they are Poe aficionados or new newcomers to these classics. Tiffany D. Jackson, award-winning author of Monday’s Not Coming, transports “The Cask of Amontillado” to the streets of Brooklyn during the present day West Indian Day Carnival in Brooklyn. Poet Amanda Lovelace finds new meaning in the classic poem “The Raven” by blotting out words from the original lines, and Kendare Blake, New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series, gives the unreliable voice narrating “Metzengerstein” a contemporary edge.
With the original stories printed in the back of the book, HIS HIDEOUS HEART offers up a fun way to meet Poe for the first time, or for readers to revisit old favorites with fresh eyes. His work reminds us why we love to be scared, whether we get that thrill from watching the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, visiting a haunted house at Halloween, or by reading Poe’s spine-tingling stories.
1) What was the creative process in narrowing the scope of Edgar Allen Poe’s work and then aligning it with the author’s chosen for the project?
I went into this process with a tremendous amount of trust in these authors and also the confidence that Poe’s most notable work would be covered, so truly, the process simply entailed the authors giving me their top three choices for Poe works to cover and then working that out. I believe there was only one overlap of top choice, so it was honestly even easier than anticipated! The only stories chosen in advance were “The Cask of Amontillado” for Tiffany Jackson, “The Tell-Tale Heart” for Stephanie Kuehn, and “The Raven” for Amanda Lovelace—the former two because that was the foundation for my vision of this anthology, and the latter because, well, how do you not ask a poet to tackle “The Raven”?
2) I can’t imagine there isn’t a backstory for this project. Care to elaborate on the history of what brought it to life?
The history is actually so funny because so many people were witness to it. I posed the question on Twitter as to what authors people would pair to retell which stories, and a teacher named Jaclyn (to whom the book is rightly dedicated as a result!) replied that she’d love to see an Edgar Allan Poe anthology. She imagined it with certain authors, and I shared the tweet with how much I’d love to see it with Tiffany Jackson and Stephanie Kuehn, and when they announced that they’d be on board, and some other fantastic authors got in on the conversation saying they’d be on board, I knew it was time to take it offline, contact enough fantastic authors to flesh out the lineup, and make it happen!
3) This book is definitely a mood (Edgar Allen Poe is a mood!). From the cover to the cannon work, and how it is being molded by all involved. Did you have any definite- I want to preserve this aura or change that intent because maybe it doesn’t work today etc… or was it just completely let the authors run with it, and see how it comes back?
Completely “let the authors run with it and see how it comes back,” but it’s not as if I simply chose my favorite authors from all walks of YA here. I very specifically compiled a lineup of my favorites in horror, thriller (especially psychological), and dark SFF, so my hope was certainly that they would do what they do best here, and they absolutely delivered on that. Frankly, I’m the only standout as far as “What’s she doing touching Poe??” so I’m especially honored that everyone involved agreed to work with me!
4) I believe I’ve already seen you speak of a Shakespeare project that will be up next for you. What has been your biggest takeaway(s) going into that project?
Yes! I’ll be doing a similar project revolving around Shakespeare called That Way Madness Lies as the follow-up, and I’m really looking forward to it. I know now that anthologies are more work in more ways than I could’ve imagined, but I’m going in with so much more confidence about how to handle logistics, which allows me to put more focus on the content. I also know that I’m capable of shaking off my impostor syndrome about editing favorite authors when I need to, which is no small thing!
5) Shakespeare is a completely different tone than Edgar Allen Poe. How might that change the approach going forward?
One thing I did right off the bat was break Shakespeare’s works down so that I could ensure the collection would showcase the different branches of his work—I actively sought contributors for seven tragedies and seven comedies, and a poet to do a play on a sonnet. Right away, that informed the list of authors I was asking, because it was almost like hiring for three different projects.
Again, I let the authors choose their stories, but in this case, there were a few stories I wanted told by certain people. For example, with all of Shakespeare’s crossdressing comedies, I was determined to have a trans masc author get to retell one and take ownership of that narrative, the same way I’m planning to do with Jewish characters in a reimagining of “The Merchant of Venice.” So, there are definitely some changes in the approach just because we’re dealing with such a larger and better-known body of work, but it’s still 98% trusting incredible authors to just make magic.
6) Do you have any other projects of this sort in mind that you would like to continue moving forward with in the future? Is there an overarching goal that you have in mind for all of them?
Absolutely. I think it was three days after we announced That Way Madness Lies that I reached out to my editor and asked about another one. Of course, whether I get to do more rests on whether people support these, but I’m definitely hopeful!
What I absolutely loved about the way His Hideous Heart came out was that despite zero instruction or request in this direction, every single contributor turned in a story with a marginalized narrator, and that’s the kind of thing I want from all of these collections—for more readers to see themselves in the stories of the Western canon that have been so dominated by a certain type of narrator. I want to make these works feel more relevant, more accessible, more approachable, more fun, and more inclusive, especially for kids who learn these works in school. Fingers crossed they’ll let me do this for a few more!
Photo By Maggie Hall
Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of mathematics by day, a blogger for B&N Teens and LGBTQ Reads by night, and an author of Young Adult and New Adult novels at every spare moment in between. Her novels include the Daylight Falls duology, Just Visiting, and the Radleigh University trilogy, and she is the editor of the anthologies His Hideous Heart (Flatiron Books, 2019) and That Way Madness Lies (Flatiron Books, 2021). Additional short stories can be found in the anthologies The Radical Element, All Out, and It’s a Whole Spiel (Knopf, 2019). Dahlia lives in New York with her husband, son, and an obscene amount of books.
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