Jessica B. Bell is currently on tour for her quirky horror collection Viscera, and I’m pleased to share a recent interview I did with her!
Welcome Jessica! What is your writing process?
I sort of plot and write as I go – not that I’m making it up as I go along, but rather that I don’t always know exactly how the story is going to get from point A to point B. I will often think I know how a story is going to end, only to change it along the way. I’ll do a point-form list of the events of the plot, or even just my stream of consciousness thoughts, questions, and things I need to consider along the way. Then I plot through that, and check them off or delete them as I use them.
Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
I do write in several different genres, but I’d love to write a graphic novel. I just need an artist!
What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – I think not only has this influenced my writing, but my philosophy, my love of books, my outlook on society.
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding – again, a book that has shaped my view on humanity, and the evil that lurks in the heart of man.
- The Sandman by Neil Gaiman – a graphic novel (well, an entire WORLD, really) that explores various mythologies while creating its own. I’m obsessed with it. It’s beautiful and horrible and so layered that each reveal seems like an act of genius.
- IT by Stephen King – I love a lot of Stephen King, but if I had to choose one, this would be the one. It’s every monster movie, every nightmare, every childhood fear all wrapped up in a creepy clown.
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (with honourable mentions to The Lottery and We Have Always Lived in the Castle). This, even more than Stephen King’s The Shining, is how you do a haunted house story. Classic.
If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?
I always thought that Christopher Lloyd would make an excellent Morbo – an aging magician with a shady past and a dark temper. There’s another story about an old British soldier that can only be played by Michael Caine.
What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
Well, I suppose I’d be on the hook for that deal I made with the devil… so I’d likely start drawing arcane symbols on the floor and preparing the sacrifice. Contrary to popular opinion, the devil does not require newborn babies, but will also accept peanut butter sandwiches. Apparently they don’t have peanut butter in Hell.
Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?
Strangely enough, my vices disappear while I’m writing. Even when I smoked (which I don’t anymore) I wouldn’t smoke while writing. I’m too focused to do anything but write. I do listen to a lot of music. Godspeed! You Black Emperor is a current favourite soundtrack for writing.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I read. A lot. I play guitar from time to time, even writing and recording songs when inspiration strikes. I also spend a lot of time doing the other things that writing entails: editing, formatting, proof-reading, creating artwork, promoting. That in itself can be a full-time gig.
Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.
Okay, but it’s going to be slightly more than nine lines for proper impact. This is a story called Thirty-Seven.
“Thirty-seven… thirty-seven… thirty-seven…”
The woman held her dirty knees with ragged hands, fingernails all chipped or missing, and pulled them to her sunken and emaciated chest. Rocking back and forth on the floor of her cell, she repeated her mantra with blank, unblinking eyes. Her hair had taken on both the consistency and nothing-colour of old straw, and her skin, covered in sores, hung slack on her thin frame.
This time, it almost seemed to be a question.
“What does it mean, Doctor?”
The man exhaled and scratched the back of his head, as if considering what to tell his young apprentice. The truth was at once simple and yet an enigma. The What was clear. The Why was what he had spent the last twelve years trying to determine. As if answering that question would somehow unlock all the mysteries of the universe. As if he could somehow bring back the dead by uncovering the secrets that lie trapped inside Rose Torrance’s head.
“It’s the number of her victims,” he said, never taking his eyes off Rose, who continued rocking and murmuring.
Sounds very intriguing! While we wait for that to be finished, let’s take a look at Viscera…
Viscera is a collection of short stories full of all the things that make you squirm, cringe, and laugh when you know you shouldn’t. You’ll remember why you’re afraid of the dark and experience an abundance of weird creatures: witches, ancient gods, and all-too-human monsters – the scariest of all.
Indulge your twisted sense of humor with stories about unconventional werewolves and a woman with a frog fetish. Know what it’s like to arrive too late to save an unusual alien abductee, or giggle with sick delight as a woman serves up a special Hasenpfeffer dinner to her pig of a husband.
Settle in for bedtime stories fit for monsters.
Viscera will grab you by the gut and squeeze, making you cry for mercy—or laugh like a fiend!
Viscera is available on:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.
Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com.