Friday 2 June 2023

Q&A with Nico Bell

I have a guest on my blog today. Nico Bell writes awesome horror stories and she's dropping in for a Q&A.

Hi Nico. Congratulations on your latest release.


1. What was the inspiration behind your new book?

My insomnia mixed in with my addiction to Zillow! These two ended up sparking my idea to write a haunted house story but in a mansion where all of the locks are controlled by smart tech. This was an important element of the story and one that gave the villain a little more latitude with their scheme. 

2. You described your novella as 'a twist on a haunted house' story, can you expand on that? 

Haunted house stories are a blast because there’s so many ways the plot can turn! For example, in the movie Poltergeist, we see a supernatural haunting, while in Shirley Jackson’s House on Haunted Hill, a case can be made that the real haunting was happening within the mind of the protagonist. Sometimes ghosts aren’t exactly who they seem to be, like in the movie The Others (2001), or sometimes the ghosts are family, like in The Amityville Horror. When I say a “twist” on a haunted house, I’m referring to the way a ghost story can be so much more than a spooky spirit lurking in the shadows, just as they are in these examples.

3. If you were only allowed three adjectives to describe your book, what would they be?

Wicked, wild, and fast! It’s a quick fun read!

4. What came first Caleb, the mysterious woman, or the house?

The house started the brainstorming process. I wanted to dive into the haunted house world and come up with something fun! Then, I developed Caleb, and it’s actually my first time publishing a book with a male protagonist. I typically write largely femme, if not entirely women, casts, but it just made sense to write from his point-of-view. The mystery woman was always lurking around in my brain, but I developed her last. It was important to get her motives right, so she required a bit more work. 

5. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the leads?

I envisioned Caleb as a smoothing talking, young, arrogant man who cares a little too much about his appearance. I think an actor like Timothée Chalamet would pull that off. The mystery woman is a clever antagonist who is the perfect match for Caleb’s ego. In my mind, I was picturing Scarlett Johansson.

6. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination of both?

When I started writing, I was 100% plotter. Outlines were my lifeline to story writing. As I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with writing and character development, I’ve be able to incorporate a bit of “pantsing” into the process. I usually do fast drafts of the first act and the middle of the book, and then I go back and plot everything out. This helps ensure that there is enough material to work with.

7. Authors always have the best (and most disturbing!) Google search histories. What kind of research, if any, did you do for this book?

I researched a lot of million-dollar homes. I saw one with its very own spa and hair salon, which was wild to me. I also researched home security systems and how smart tech has been incorporated into those.

8. How much research do you do for your stories?

The amount of research usually depends on the project. For example, I have a sci-fi horror novella coming out October 2023 entitled Static. That one required a bit more since I wanted to explore technology and the supernatural. I’m currently working on a sapphic vampire horror which I’ve been researching a ton in order to have a strong foundation for my vampire lore. For Open House, I researched a few key ideas and then got to drafting!

Nico Bell can be found online at www.nicobellfiction.com or on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube @nicobellfiction.

Open House comes out 6/15/2023 by PsychoToxin Press

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