Kidnapped! Under the Stairs at Grandmother’s House by Jessica B Bell

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Under the Stairs at Grandmother’s House

Jessica B. Bell

When I was a kid, the Bookmobile used to come and park at the end of our street in a little cul-de-sac that once had a tree that all the neighbourhood kids claimed as their own. Now there are low-income apartments there, and kids don’t read books anymore, but there was a time when we would all run, or ride our bikes down to the Bookmobile to borrow books from the travelling library. In the summertime there would be contests for how many books you could read, and of course I always won.

One of my earliest favourites was a book titled Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and its many sequels – More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Even More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Bride of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Revenge of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and my personal favourite, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark versus Predator. Okay, so I may have made some of those up, but the point is, there were a bunch, and they contained such gems as Don’t Ever Laugh When the Hearse Goes By, which I can probably recite to this day. It wasn’t just prose stories, but rather, creepy rhyming poems that were part Dr. Seuss, part Shel Silverstein, and part 1960s EC Horror Comics. It was all very tongue-in-cheek, but the laughter was often uneasy, or perhaps, the laughter was a magic talisman to keep the creeps away.

These stories and poems were some of my first experiences with horror, and I knew even at a young age that I wanted to write like that. There was a dark magic to it – so much so that I began writing stories that very summer. Were they fantastic? Not so much. But I was only about 12, so cut me some slack.

Everyone I know was afraid of the dark at one point – I’ll admit, I still don’t like going into the basement by myself – even though rationally, we know there’s nothing there that wasn’t there in the light. But there was always something about the basement in my grandmother’s house that just didn’t feel right to me. I was sure that there was something living under the stairs – it just smelled wrong down there. It was an old, sick, hungry smell, and I was terrified – no, I knew – that every single creak of the stairs as I tiptoed down them would surely wake that creature, and it would swallow me whole. I can’t tell you how many times I went down into that crypt of a basement, only to run back up the stairs, heart pounding in my chest, breath catching in my throat, sure that I could feel its hot, eager breath on the back of my neck.

Not that I dared turn around and look, of course. That’s how they get you, you know.

Under the Stairs is just such a story – about a monster under the stairs at grandmother’s house – and is told in playful rhyme, like in those Scary Stories… books. You can find it in Viscera, published by Sirens Call Publications and available now. Read it in the dark – if you dare.

 

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

Kidnapped! The Lighter Side of Horror By Jessica B Bell

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The Lighter Side of Horror

Jessica B. Bell

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – two cannibals are having dinner, and the one cannibal says to the other “You know, I really can’t stand my mother-in-law,” and the other one answers “So try the salad.”

I have always been a fan of grim, groaning humour – the kind you’d find in a Tales From the Crypt story or perhaps the ridiculous puns of Freddy Krueger in the later Nightmare on Elm Street movies. And of course, the slapstick hijinks of Ash in Army of Darkness are always highly entertaining. Sometimes you need a little laughter to keep the ghouls at bay.

When I was really young, I remember reading a book called The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and its sequel, Bunnicula – yes, about a vampire bunny. Even at an early age, I was drawn to the so-called “dark side” of things. Monsters are so much a part of pop culture and our collective consciousness that there are even cute, cuddly, friendly versions of them. The monsters of Monster High are by no means dangerous, and this may date me, but there was even a time when everyone wanted their own My Pet Monster.

There’s a great Canadian show called Ruby Gloom which promises to show you “the bright side of the dark side” and features talking skeletons, a Raven named Poe, and a two-headed guitarist named Frank and Len, who frequently make musical references that truly, only the parents watching will understand. If Robert Smith from The Cure made cartoons instead of music, this cartoon would be it (actually, it’s made by the same people that made the Beetlejuice cartoon from the late ‘80s). Further back than that, there was Casper the friendly ghost, and nobody was afraid of him. But even children are fascinated with ghosts and monsters – because we all enjoy being scared – it gives us a thrill, it gets our adrenaline pumping, and it makes us feel alive. But lets not go to far – I’m not saying show slasher films to children – I’m saying that by normalizing monsters, it can teach children how to deal with their fear; let them no that there are no real vampires. After all, no one’s afraid of the Count from Sesame Street sneaking into Big Bird’s house and sucking his blood while the giant yellow bird sleeps, tucking his beak under one wing and dreaming of snuffing out Snuffaluffagus. (But wouldn’t that make for a great episode?)

Someone challenged me to make a child-friendly horror story, and so, I tried to put myself back in the head of a little girl, and how she would see the world, with her limited knowledge and vocabulary. I don’t know if I succeeded completely, but Hannah Marie’s Theory on Vampires, Cereal Killers and Scary Mummies is a look into the scary world of a six-year-old in the cereal aisle of her local supermarket. Read it, and other stories (none of which are suitable for a six-year-old, I promise you) in Viscera, a collection of strange tales published by Sirens Call Publications and available now.

 

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

Kidnapped! Ghost Stories by Jessica B Bell

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Ghost Stories

Jessica B. Bell

I am a sucker for a good ghost story – but then, I should qualify that by telling you what I think is a good ghost story. I’ve always been of the opinion that the less you see, the scarier it is. There are exceptions, of course – Guilermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak has a ghost that makes you shiver – but for the most part, special effects are, in my opinion, no match for a well-written Gothic story that hints, suggests, and frightens you with the possibility of a ghost.

Even more, I like stories where you know there are ghosts – a ghost might even be the narrator, or a main character. Or perhaps, a character whose exploits you’ve been reading is revealed to be a ghost.

There are all sorts of different philosophies or mythologies about ghosts, and when you’re writing about ghosts, you have to sort of decide what the rules of your universe are. What are ghosts? Are they demons? Are they just unlucky souls who got trapped here, unable to move on? Are they bound here by some unfinished business, like revenge? Are they aware of the living? Or is their presence merely an echo of past events, and we are only frightened by them because of a sense of violation, which is further frustrated by an inability to communicate with them.

And speaking of communicating – do they communicate? What of mediums and necromancers – can they talk to the dead? Can they be trapped? Should you cross the streams? What do you do if someone asks you if you are a god?

I think it’s great there are so many types of ghost stories – from those intended to make you pee your pants with fright, to those intended to make you laugh until you, well, pee your pants again. Not that ghost stories are only intended to make you incontinent, but it happens. One of the earliest movies that gave me nightmares was Poltergeist, and it’s still a classic. It defines an entire subgenre of ghost stories, and the horror trope of the house built on top of an old graveyard. This was the first time I’d seen a real reason behind the haunting, and it started a life-long love affair with stories about haunted hotels, creepy old psychiatric hospitals and abandoned mining towns.

I love the stories behind the ghost stories. I’m a sucker for Gothic stories, and so I want to know how the ghost died; who they were when they were alive; why they are still here. I want to know what their connection is with the person being haunted, if there is one. Because for me, a good ghost story is a tragedy. Whatever caused this soul to remain behind must have been terrible – or tragic. I’ll admit, I’m also a sucker for a ‘love conquers death’ story, where the reason the ghost stays behind is because they cannot bear to be parted from their beloved (cue Unchained Melody and bring me my potter’s wheel).

The Lessons of the Courtyard is a horror story, and it is also a tragedy – the story of a mother forced to watch her son be raised by her brutish husband, unable to temper him with a mother’s touch. Read it and more in Viscera, a collection of strange tales published by Sirens Call Publications and available now.

 

 

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

Review of Viscera by Jessica B Bell

Review of Viscera by Jessica B Bell

viscera_frontcover_promoJessica B Bell has successfully found scary, turns it nicely and ever so sweet into a bow of nightmares.

This anthology starts out with a nice little joke and moves into a nice little recipe leaving me wanting some munchies. Jessica B Bell has left me impatiently waiting for  Thirty Seven coming out on the 24th of this month… yay!  I read this book out of excitement from one story to the next and when I finished, I instantly wanted a second installment. The stories vary well enough to have diversity but go together in a perfect way to keep boosting your fear and what just happened meter.

I enjoyed a few stories in this book and she will be sharing a couple of them in the next few days. Be sure to read “A Visit to the Doctor”. This is by far my favorite poem. She has a short very short story “The Banshee” and a cute photo to accompany it. The anthology is a great showcase of Jessica B Bell’s talents and ability to scare leaving me wanting more. She will be sharing a couple of her stories in the next few days…. be sure to check them out!

Press Release: Edwardian Ball Special Registry

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Salutations Dear Edwardians!

Hark! On the near horizon, just after the 17th Annual Edwardian Ball San Francisco this month, and the 8th Annual Edwardian Ball Los Angeles next month… At long last comes our much anticipated Third Act of this Edwardian Ball season! We are proud to announce…

The First-Ever Edwardian Ball New Orleans
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Featuring:

and much much more!

Plus…big art & installations, circus, music, theater, dancing, costumes, games, craft vending, exquisite cuisine, two rooms of dance and immersive performance, and much more!

Tickets: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1408805 Special early bird price, only $30 for an entire night!

Kidnapped! Jessica B Bell Interview

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Interview with Jessica B. Bell 

 

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to be a writer?

 

Oh, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I’ve loved reading my whole life – my parents read me Dr. Seuss and such before I could read on my own, but once I figured out how to read stories, I knew I wanted to tell some of my own. Whether or not I’ll ever be able to do it for a living, I know I’ll always have stories to tell.

 

What is the best horror movie you have seen? Worst?

 

I am a huge fan of 28 Days Later, and even the sequel, 28 Weeks Later is great. I also love Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, even with Keanu Reeves’ and Winona Ryder’s questionable English accents, or lack thereof (Gary Oldman redeems it all). The cinematography is phenomenal (those shadows moving by themselves were a nice touch) and the score is perfectly haunting. It came out when I was in high school, and I snuck out my parents’ car to go see it in the theater three nights in a row.

Every once in awhile, I come across a title on Netflix or Kodi that just begs to be seen, if only out of morbid curiosity. I found a movie once called The Shark Exorcist that was as bad as you think it was. Of course, I also think that there are a lot of mainstream, successful films that are just awful, but everyone has their preferences.

 

Why did you choose the horror genre?

 

I like weird things, and I like to try all sorts of different genres, but when I’m taking my writing seriously, I always seem to end up writing strange tales – not necessarily horror, but definitely strange. Like many of us, my parents read Stephen King, and when I was old enough, I started reading him, and Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice. They were okay, but I wanted more, and so I started reading classics like Poe, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, and of course, Dracula, Frankenstein, things like that. I like horror so much that I’m sort of a student of the genre. When I write, I’m very aware of the conventions and tropes that people are familiar with, and try to incorporate them into my own work.

 

When you want to be inspired, what do you use for inspiration?

 

Music, for the most part. Or I’ll go for a drive. I’ll dictate notes to my phone, which is great unless you accidentally reset your phone and lose all your notes.

 

Coffee or pizza?

 

Two of my favourite things, really, and both go great for breakfast, but if you’re talking about as a weapon (like, say, in the game of Clue), I’d go with a nice scalding cuppa joe. Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a Venti Americano.

 

Which story in Viscera is your favorite? 

 

So, I have a few, of course, but two in particular spring to mind (this time you ask me, anyway – ask me again tomorrow and I’ll give you a different answer). Paraxenogenesis, or, What Alice Found There is the completed version of a story I’ve been trying to write since I was about 15 years old. It’s changed completely, of course, but the crux of it was a nightmare I had as a kid. The other story is the title story, Viscera, about which I initially had reservations. More than any other story in the collection, this was the one that I sent out for beta-readers to give feedback on. The story itself is a bit of chicanery, and I wanted to make sure I pulled it off successfully, and that I wasn’t being obtuse. But I didn’t absolutely love the story until I had a reader come to me in tears, saying how much the story had moved her. She’d seen the metaphors in the story that others had missed, and when you connect with a reader like that, well, there’s nothing better.

 

What theme do you enjoy writing about? Space, aliens, zombies, death etc etc?

 

Yes. Actually, it’s strange. I don’t usually like writing about space or aliens, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t. Ridley Scott’s Alien is, in my opinion, the best sci-fi horror movie ever – and Giger’s creature (as well as his other art) was hugely influential, not only on my nightmares, but in my stories as well, particularly Paraxenogenesis. I like writing about broken characters trying to make their way through unusual situations. I really like writing about cults, strange gods, human sacrifice, ancient rituals, and the like. My upcoming novel, CHUK, deals with all of those, and a swamp monster to boot.

 

You have a story about alien abduction in this collection, do you believe they are real?

 

I, ahem, want to believe.

 

What is a scary night / nightmare you can’t forget?

 

One year on Halloween night, a friend (I use the term loosely) took me to an old, unfinished tunnel that went halfway under the Welland Canal. There was a ghost story attached to the place, of course – some legend about a spurned lover who accidentally stumbled into the tunnel and dropped her lantern, burning herself to death. We went into the tunnel, in the dark, and my friend’s flashlight batteries conveniently died. So of course, we had to resort to flicking our lighters to light the way, but even that was short-lived, as our thumbs began burning. At some point, my friend stopped walking as I continued toward the back of the tunnel. We were so far in that if I turned back, the opening of the tunnel was only about the size of my fist. It was about then that my friend decided to tell me the rest of the legend – that if you lit a match at midnight, the sight of the fire would cause the ghost to scream. Well, we didn’t see a ghost, but when my friend lit a match, blew it out, and began to scream, I may or may not have ran so hard toward to the open end of the tunnel that I knocked her over and together, covered in mud and laughing, we stumbled our way back out into the night air, where I gave her hell for scaring me so.

 

Cats or dogs?

Either is good if prepared correctly. But you mean… anyway, I like cats but I don’t trust them. Something inherently evil about them. Dogs are great companions, but they’re dumb as dirt.

 

What made you want to do a collection of short stories?

 

I’ve been writing short fiction for years now, in between bigger ideas. Even if I was working on a novel, there would be ideas that came that were smaller. I was given a tattered copy of Night Shift by Stephen King when I was a teenager, and between that and a collection called Sandkings by George R.R. Martin, I fell in love with the short story format. I hope that readers will get a taste for my writing with these small chunks as an appetizer, and hunger for more.

 

I saw that there is a poem in the collection. I liked it… and woah by the way… What made you decide to include it?

 

There are actually a couple of poetic works in the collection, but if you are referring to A Visit to the Doctor, then I’m glad you liked it. I love the ambiguity of what’s actually going on in the poem. A lot of my writing uses normal, everyday occurrences (like going to the doctor) and juxtaposes them with something twisted. The result is something quite horrific.

***Editor’s Note: I was talking about A Visit to the Doctor and Woah… I loved it.

 

Last question: What should we be looking out for in the future from you?

 

2017 should bring at least two new books – CHUK is my first full-length novel, and is currently being edited for publication – and I am working with a handful of other writers to finish Incarnate, the third and final book in the meta-fictional Jessica series. I’m also working on a book cycle called The People of the Manatii. The first book is already written, and the second is brewing.

 

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

Kidnapped! Spotlight on author Jessica B Bell

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jessicabbell

Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumored 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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Viscera — Jessica B. Bell

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

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