Dark Divinations: The Bell

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The Inspiration Behind “The Bell.”

By Jon O’Bergh

During the nineteenth century, epidemics like cholera periodically swept through the population and brought reports of premature burial. Although most of these reports were undoubtedly fake news, the resulting fear of being buried alive fueled a demand for “safety coffins.” I initially wrote a story about one such burial, told by an omniscient narrator but focused on the graveyard watchman, in which a wife deliberately buries her sick husband before he is dead.

When I saw the Dark Divinations call for submissions, I realized my story had the seeds of something ideal for the anthology. I’ve always loved the Victorian style of writing: the fancy turns of phrase, the old-fashioned word choices, the heightened emotionalism. I thought it would be fun to craft a story using that kind of voice—a Poe-esque story told from the perspective of the person trapped in the coffin. What would he experience? What thoughts would go through his mind? How would he deal with the situation?

Of course, that meant writing the story in the first person and completely re-working it. I decided it would be even more interesting to invest the character with occult abilities, another fascination of the nineteenth century. Not an outright charlatan (although there were plenty of those), but a flawed yet sympathetic character with some amount of real ability. The transformed story now had only a superficial resemblance to the original. Dark Divinations had inspired me to write an even better tale, one I hope is worthy of comparison with Edgar Allan Poe.

 Jon O’Bergh is an author and musician who loves a good scare. He grew up in Southern California, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California at Irvine. A fan of ghost stories and horror movies, Jon came up with the idea for his horror novel “The Shatter Point” after watching a documentary about extreme haunts. He has published four books and released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles, including the album “Ghost Story.” After many years living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., he now spends his time in Toronto.

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