Bloody Bookish is honored to host author Jessica B. Bell as she tours her book, 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!
Jessica B. Bell
Some people have nightmares where they are being chased, some where they are drowning. Some have nightmares where they are naked in public, or they are falling from a great height. My nightmares are often quite literally visceral. I’ve dreamt of being strapped to a table and operated on while fully conscious. I’ve had dreams where a surgeon reached into my open midsection and began pulling things out – first my organs and intestines, but then, frying pans, lamps and a light blue 1972 Fender Stratocaster, like some macabre version of Mary Poppins and her bottomless purse.
Dreams are often where I write the goriest stuff, which is not very often, but sometimes you just have to go full tilt with the physical horror. There are no rules in dreams, and anything can happen. You’re not bound by any of those pesky laws of physics, or by the confines of narrative. Dreams can speak to a person’s state of mind – what anxieties they are harbouring, what unfinished business they may have gone to bed with. There’s a firm horror convention of nightmares, and their effect on the plot. Dreams can be symbolic, or prophetic, even. Throughout classic literature, bad dreams were taken as ill omens, and even modern writers plague their characters with nightmares and visions meant to spur them on or torture them; haunt them. I know I do. Sometimes dreams are used as their own kind of unreliable narrator; as the character has a memory of a situation suddenly change as they dream into something horrible. This is, I find, a great way to reveal a plot point, and yet twist it at the same time, giving insight into the character’s fears.
When I write horror, I often think of what frightens people – and I don’t mean real situations that deserve fear, for self-preservation. – I’m talking about irrational fears. Whether that is mice or insects, or sharks, or that universal fear, The Dark with a capital D, these are always good starting points for creating a creepy atmosphere. Sometimes a setting can be enough to start your heart pounding. When you’re watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you may really get going when you see Leatherface running through the hanging laundry, but you were already primed and pumping by your tour of the old Texas house, with its peeling wallpaper, animal heads, and strange residents.
Likewise, when I have my dreams of evisceration, I’m never in a Wendy’s parking lot in broad daylight, but rather, in some broken down operating room, with a pod light hanging on a wire, swinging slowly back and forth, casting its light on the face of my insane surgeon, and if I just pay attention, if I can keep my eyes open I can almost see a face and… is that… is that me?
All my nightmares are visceral, and so, when it came to choosing a title for my new collection, published by Sirens Call Publications (and available now), it seemed obvious to me – Viscera.
Viscera is full of stories that will make your skin crawl and your stomach churn, as well as stories that will make you laugh until your belly aches. It’s all about the guts.
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