On October 7, the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death, I saw an Open Culture piece on 19 different theories about how Poe died. Nineteen! Of course, I got to wondering, how many of these would make good stories.
One of the most interesting, at least in terms of story is that he died of “cooping.” That’s the one that most biographies on Poe favor. Cooping was a historic, specifically 19th century practice, in which an innocent dupe is forced to vote repeatedly for a specific candidate. They were often grabbed off the street, drugged and kept in a room called the coop. Then they would be dressed in a variety of disguises and taken to various polling stations.
I could definitely see making a story out of that one and it wouldn’t be the first historic mystery to be fictionalized. I’ve read about the disappearance of the colony at Roanoke, the theory of Atlantis, various colonizations by Vikings, the Irish and other who supposedly washed up on America’s shores. Then there’s the Fountain of Youth, various stories about Aztec Gold, Inca Gold and naval yards full of treasure ships. Then we have stories about cryptids including Big Foot, Nessie and our local the Piasa bird.
Keep your eyes and ears open and maybe you’ll come across something a little spooky or strange that will spark your next story idea.