I’ve always been a fan of scary things.
When I started writing again, after a lengthy period of self-imposed nothingness — I suffer from depression, and I’d asked the doctor to, and I quote “medicate me so I just don’t feel anymore” — I started just as a lark. I was just having fun writing, and Helena was a wild, no-holds-barred, anything goes character. She wasn’t even all that autobiographical at first — except for the very first story, which chronicled a trip to Montreal. I was just making shit up as I went, and then she became personal, and it shifted into something cathartic.
But I don’t do cathartic. Oh, well, I do, but I’d much rather be telling stories.
And when I tell stories, they are generally dark. My earliest influences in storytelling were the Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, The Outer Limits. I’d bugged my father and finally wore him down to let me read Stephen King — The Talisman was the first one I read at the age of 12, and I was hooked. I gobbled up everything I could, and gradually moved on to Dean Koontz (in retrospect, his books don’t hold up for me, but at the time…) and Anne Rice, and so on and so on. Eventually, my palate for horror would grow more sophisticated, as I discovered Clive Barker, Ramsey Cambell, Neil Gaiman. And of course, I loved the classics — Poe, Lovecraft, Hawthorne — stories like the Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, or The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. Then I discovered Shirley Jackson via The Lottery, and Richard Matheson via I Am Legend, and my education continued. Add in a smattering of sci-fi via the Aliens franchise, and the writing of Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick and my horizons expanded.
I knew early on that Helena was not marketable to a great audience — not the way other things would be. It was hard to determine what to even call the Memoirs. But I could write horror stories all day every day, and there was a market for that. In fact, I had an idea for a trilogy of novels (still in progress) that I thought would be my golden ticket.
So Jessica was born — just a name, at first, though I suggested that she was a separate writer altogether (my pseudonym now had a pseudonym — further down the rabbit hole we go). I then played with it — Jessica was some crazed genius that I kept locked in my basement where she wrote stories on musty old parchment using her blood for ink, and I’d transcribe them for my blog.
During the past two years, as Jessica, I’ve written two novels (still in editing) as well as enough short stories to fill a collection, titled VISCERA, and soon-to-be-published by Siren’s Call Publications.
Jessica became something meta, though, and something else happened — people found her mysterious. in the fall of 2014, when I asked the question Who is Jessica? six writers and several artists answered, and the metafictional novella JESSICA was born.
From the jacket: There are rumours that I keep a writer trapped in my basement… but I assure you… Jessica is and always was here of her own free will. Until one day she disappeared, and I began to realize that everything I thought I knew about her was wrong. Everyone has a terrifying story about Jessica B. Bell. Some of them are even true.
You can READ THE FIRST CHAPTER HERE
Spring of 2015, I began work on a second collaborative project – a sequel to JESSICA, titled SINGULARITY, which involved four other writers and a host of helpers who lent their pictures and videos for promotion.
From the jacket: An unspeakable act of violence leaves the residents of Ward C, home of a secret experiment, dead – torn apart. There is only one survivor…
What happens when the creation surpasses the creator?
How far will Jessica go to be real?
Find out in SINGULARITY.
And here’s the trailer:
Well, I’ve written the first book in a planned trilogy, entitled People of the Manatii. The first book is set on a pre-Columbian island in what is now the West Indies, where a very fictional society that call themselves the Nephtii have formed a rather unusual, very strict matriarchal society, where men are either kept as labourers, or as breeding stock.
I’ve also got my Lovecraftian Southern Gothic novel, CHUK, sitting with an editor. I should really start pitching that to agents/publishers, shouldn’t I?
In the meantime, Singularity is coming August 4th, and VISCERA later this year. Stay tuned.
Also, check out WHOISJESSICA.com for all things Jessica related, and calls for submissions for different collaborative projects.