Viscera – An Interview with Jessica B. Bell

viscera_frontcover_promo

Greetings, everyone! Please allow me to present you a book out recently, titled “Viscera”, coming from the pen of Jessica B. Bell. Enjoy the interview with the writer!

 

In today’s world, how much bizarre and horror is a figment of a creative imagination, and how much is it metaphorical translation of our surroundings and world, for you?

What a great question! I think that it’s parts of both. In fact, I suspect that some writers don’t even realize how affected they are by the current culture. Take zombies, for example. It’s not that we believe in a real and true zombie apocalypse, but it is certainly telling of the collective psyche that we write so much about a post-apocalyptic world. It is a true universal fear that things are headed in a frightening direction. We are bombarded by images of war-torn countries around the world, and the line between fiction and reality blurs.

Do you have to struggle to give your characters and situations they find themselves in, positive sides?

I try to stay away from White Hat/Black Hat caricatures, so the majority of my characters are broken in some way, capable of both good and evil. Interestingly enough, this fits in with your last question. The world I grew up in was full of startling and disheartening revelations, all of which challenged my view of humanity. Those who were supposed to have integrity were found wanting, those who were supposed to protect us were revealed as predators. I don’t know whom to trust, and I don’t believe in absolute good or absolute evil anymore.

Do you think something good can ever come out from fear?

Oh, of course. Fear is a survival tool. But if you’re talking about fear for fear’s sake, like in horror fiction, I don’t think it’s a matter of good or bad, it’s more about how it enriches our lives. The Romantics often wrote about that feeling of sublime terror that thrills us and intrigues us – it makes us feel alive.

Do you think scary, shocking stuff make a better marketing impact, regarding Art and Literature material, than “brighter” stuff?

Oh, I don’t know, I think it depends on what market you’re looking at. Movie theaters are full of love stories, romantic comedies and big comic book action flicks. Honestly, I don’t think that horror actually gets a fair shake when it comes to market share.

Do you think readers learn more from scary, mind-challenging tales, or do they benefit more from avoiding such material? What knowledge do you think scary and bizarre stories instigate us to pursue?

I may be biased, but I think that there is a sort of honesty to scary, mind-challenging tales that is missing from something that ignores the darker places. Horror stories reveal our deepest desires and fears, if only metaphorically. People in horror stories often act in ways that are completely contrary to social conventionality, doing terrible things to one another. Sometimes this is done viciously and nearly pornographically, and while that is not necessarily to my taste, I understand its merit. The Marquis de

Sade, for example, wrote stories intended to shock and sicken, not because he necessarily agreed with the actions of the characters in his story, but rather, because he wanted to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of certain classes of the day (ie. Government officials, the clergy, lawyers). I think often times, people who write challenging stories are akin to the apocalypse shouter on a street corner, wearing a sandwich board and ringing a bell, proclaiming that The End is Nigh. The End is Extremely F**king Nigh.

Which author’s originality, world twisting and world building do you enjoy immersing yourself in the most, and why precisely those authors?

H.P. Lovecraft for one, and his literary progeny – Mike Mignola, specifically. Shadow over Innsmouth will always stick with me as one of the great horror stories of all time, and I love all the C’thulhu mythos. My novel, CHUK, is very influenced by Lovecraft. Mike Mignola created Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., which has a richly developed mythology, including its own ancient creation myths and elder gods.

Do you think writers today water down their content so it is easily consumable and digestible by the mass?

I think the most successful ones do. I’ve seen a lot of formulaic storytelling become very popular. But then, some of my favourite writers were never successful in their day. Everyone wants to be Stephen King, but there can only be one.

Besides “Viscera”, which other similar books would you recommend me?

Night Shift and Skeleton Crew, both by Stephen King. Anything by Kim Newman. If you can get your hands on a copy of Sandkings by George R. R. Martin (yes, the Game of Thrones guy) it has my very favourite short story ever in it. (The title story, Sandkings). It’s part sci-fi, part horror, and I’ve owned the book since I was twelve. I read it, and knew that’s what I wanted to do – write.

Can you hint? Where will the darkness take you next? What can we expect from Jessica in the future?

CHUK, Jessica’s first full-length novel, will be published later this year. The tagline is: The town of Bayou Bonhomme is a place of monsters. Some walk on dry land and wear all-too-human faces; others are more terrifying still.

jessica-by-nika

 

And now, for a sneak peek into the collection:

An Excerpt from

H(A)UNTED

 

“What about Reality TV?” Dax suggested to the room of studio executives. They were brainstorming show ideas for the next season, and the well had gone dry. They’d run through every sitcom formula, every franchise reboot, not to mention live action versions of beloved classic cartoons, and viewers were getting bored. With the latest writers’ strike now into its third year, producers were looking for more basic forms of entertainment. There was the Gladiator Revival of 2025—and with the latest CGI advancements, they hadn’t even needed to use actual actors—which cut costs substantially. But, people had complained about the lack of emotional involvement, knowing nobody was actually at risk. So that hadn’t lasted very long. But then, game shows were making a comeback—just over thirty years into a new century plagued by economic collapse and global political re-structuring, backward-looking nostalgia was at an all-time high.

“What about Reality TV?” A bored looking woman in her late fifties asked. “It’s all been done.”

“Well, hear me out,” Dax said, flipping through a file containing a proposal she’d been working on for months. “The Russians want to hire out their empty space station, right?”

“Soviets, Dax,” one of the lawyers corrected her. “It’s Soviets again since the latest revolution.”

“Okay, whatever,” Dax dismissed the sniveling man with a wave of her hand. “Russians, Soviets—all I know is that they’re broke, and they’re hiring out their empty but perfectly functional space station.”

Dax looked around the room to see if anyone was thinking what she was thinking, and found herself staring at a lot of blank, unimaginative faces.

“Oh, come on!” She cried, annoyed at their lack of enthusiasm. “Reality TV in space!”

The Vice President of production sighed in disinterest.

“In space, in a school, on a bus, in Hawaii or at the Playboy Mansion—it makes no difference. You put a bunch of socially inept people with carefully chosen adversarial polarizing attributes in a room together, and they get on each other’s nerves and bitch about each other in the confessional interviews. It’s been done to death, and nobody wants to watch that shit anymore. Anybody got any other ideas?”

Dax wasn’t finished.

“Yes, but you can’t escape in space, Mr. Fox,” she said, and something about the dark tone of her voice intrigued the older man.

“Go on,” the VP said, and all eyes suddenly turned to look at Dax.

***

Cassandra kept very still and pressed her body up against the precious heat of the Artificial Gravity Unit. She pressed her face into her sleeve to muffle the sound of her breathing, which was coming in hitching gasps. She wasn’t sure how many of them were still alive, but she was pretty sure she knew who the killer was. The crazy thing was, nobody was supposed to be dying—not for real—not really dying. It was all supposed to be faked. They explained everything to them during orientation. It was a whole Haunted Mansion scenario, only in space. Nobody was going to get hurt—not really. They were just going to stage some creepy accidents, essentially ‘killing off’ the contestants one a week. And whoever was left at the end would be going home with a million dollars prize money. Well, less tax, of course, but none of them were complaining about that.

The viewers at home would decide who lived and who died—it was sort of an interactive murder mystery, and if you lost popularity in the Internet polls, well…

But it was all staged. The tension came from never knowing. Not even the contestants knew who would be ‘killed’, or when. And the ‘killer’ would always strike when the ‘victim’ was alone. After that, no one ever heard from them again.

Except that Cassie had seen what that monster had done to the last one, and she didn’t think that was something you could fake.

“Randall!” She cried out, catching her breath and gripping tightly to a screwdriver—the only weapon she could find. “Randall, you son-of-a-bitch, are you out there? You better stay away from me. I’m ready for you, Randall, I’m…”

***

“Well, shit,” Dax swore, pausing the feed. “We’ll have to scrub that—can’t have her spilling the beans before we’re ready.”

Dax sat watching a wall of twenty different monitors. There were cameras all over the station—not counting the camera crew that was there to capture the contestants during meal times, or to take individual interviews at the end of each day.

Dax and her unusually small crew were tasked with editing the footage and packaging it together for the show each week. Dax had personally handpicked the people on her team, and she trusted each of them implicitly. She’d worked on shows in the past where insider information had been leaked to the Internet, and Dax wouldn’t tolerate that for this project.

“Ms. Ginishami,” one of her interns interrupted, an ambitious girl whose name escaped her. “I’m afraid…”

“Please, I’ve told you, call me Dax… um…”

“It’s Becky, Ms… Dax. And I’m afraid the families are still calling. Some of them are quite upset.”

Dax smiled at the young woman. She was too sweet to be pulling damage control duty, but someone had to do it.

“And as I believe I told you before, you need to assure them that HAUNTED is a controlled environment, and their loved ones are resting safely aboard the station. Their radio silence is all part of the illusion—they all signed gag orders as part of their contract. They remain aboard that station until the entire show is over, with no contact with the outside world. They are being generously compensated for their participation.”

“Yes, Ms… Yes, of course. It’s just, the images are quite… convincing.”

“Well, thank you, Becky. That means I’m doing my job.”

“Right,” the intern smiled nervously. “But perhaps if they could just talk to their families.”

“Absolutely not,” Dax snapped. “Out of the question. Do you know how hard it is to create this kind of illusion; to cast this kind of doubt and questioning? Right now, millions of viewers out there are convinced that this just might be real—that they might actually be witnessing something gone horribly awry. Two minutes after you let one of those losers up there talk to their family down here, it will be all over the Internet that it’s fake. And then we might as well all pack up, because it’ll be all over.”

 

 

ABOUT “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!

 

Available on:

 

Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

 

Amazon Print:

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

 

Kobo

 

Barnes & Noble

 

Smashwords

 

iTunes

 

ABOUT THE WRITER

jessicabbell

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

 

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~ by Oloriel on January 19, 2017.

10 Responses to “Viscera – An Interview with Jessica B. Bell”

  1. Reblogged this on Legends of Windemere.

  2. Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

  3. Thank you so much for this, Selena. This was the best interview ever.

  4. Reblogged this on Who is Jessica B. Bell? and commented:
    My favourite interview ever.

  5. Thank you for hosting Jessica, Oloriel!

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