Click here to purchase Nevermore by William Hjortsberg
Most often, story ideas are not born fully-formed but come to the imagination in stages. I first learned of the friendship between Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while researching a film project for Ray Stark. Make a great buddy movie, I thought, even as the idea slipped from my mind. A decade later, I found myself toying with the notion once again. What I lacked was a caper. One morning, drinking coffee in Rob Bottin’s kitchen, gruesome serial killings in the manner of the stories of Edgar Allen Poe came to me in a flash. A great caper but somehow not quite enough spark to light the fuse. Another couple years passed and the final eureka moment exploded out of my subconscious while I drove down the beautiful Boulder Valley where I live in Montana. Houdini and Conan Doyle had disagreed over the issue of spiritualism, so why not make Poe’s ghost a character in the novel? With that piece of the puzzle in place the book seemed almost to write itself.
Marion Etlinger traveled across Montana in 1991 taking pictures of writers. When she arrived at my cabin she didn’t like what I was wearing and rummaged through my wardrobe until she came up with more appropriate attire. For the next few years, her byline appeared on the dust jacket photos of all my friends’ books.