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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


Wednesday, 31 May 2023

May Update!


Hey! How are you today? How did the month of May treat you? Can you believe it's almost over? Yikes!

The weather is changing here in Sydney, and the days are getting shorter. We've almost hit winter, which you might know is my least favourite season. I don't like cold weather, prefer the longer days of summer. 😩

Well, what did I get up to this month? After the multiple edits I did in April, this month I decided to slow things down a bit. I spent some of my time updating files, catching up on things I'd neglected, and managed to get some reading done. 

I also got a new story idea that I've started writing. It's one that came to me on a day when I was really sad about Loki. It's been three months since we lost him and that day I woke up from a horrible dream where we lost him all over again. I couldn't shake the sadness all day and I was really upset. Cried for a bit, until this idea hit me.

It's a strange and sad one, but it's helping me deal with the loss.

Actually, it's going very well and is expanding into unexpected territory. I crossed the 17k mark today, and I'm feeling good about it. Initially I thought it might be a novelette, but it's more likely going to be a novella. Not sure yet, but it doesn't matter because I'll keep writing until it's done.

BTW, did you see this? ⬇️

That's right! My horrormance slasher novel has found a home with Aesthetic Press, and will be released next year. Yay!! ☺️🎉

The plot goes a little like this: A group of high school friends meet up ten years later for a reunion dinner and are targeted by a mysterious maniac. 🔪

This story is my love letter to slashers, with a good dose of friendship and romantic entanglements.

As you can probably tell, I'm very excited!! Yay.

The other fantastic piece of news I have to share is that my small-time horror novella will be released by DarkLit Press in under a month.



Last week I read a copy of the paperback proof and it's lovely. Andrew puts together some absolutely stunning books and I can't wait to share this story with the world.

I hope you'll give Kae and Roy's story a go. Find out how Molly's reappearance messes with the town of Thicket.

Oh, and if you're interested in finding out a bit more about Molly, you can read the prequel short story to find out:

What happened to Molly?

When an injured teenager is spat out by the woods, she doesn't know who she is or where she's going. Until a Good Samaritan stops to help... and unleashes a darkness ready to consume anyone who gets in the way.

You can grab it HERE.

All of these exciting things make me very happy. ☺️

Did you all watch the Yellowjackets finale? What did you think? I loved it! The little twist was unexpected, but the ending was sad. Can't wait to watch the next season. Though we don't know when that'll be because of the writers strike.

Well, that's about it for now. I just wanted to post an update about what I've been doing, what's coming up, and what I'm working on at the moment.

Have an awesome day!!


Wednesday, 24 May 2023

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë

 

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a classic that I've been meaning to read for years, and early this week I decided to pull out the audio version, which I have on disk. Well, three disks.

Anyway, I don't think I need to go into too many details about this story because everyone knows the tale of Heathcliff, Catherine and Wuthering Heights. This is a couple who love each other but can't be together. A man who wants nothing but revenge. Children who are used as pawns in a fight that started before they were born. And the tragic circumstances that befell two families forever intertwined.

There was a lot about this story that I didn't know going in. Mainly about Cathy, Linton and Thrushcross Grange, but also just what an asshole Heathcliff really is. He's no romantic hero. He's violent, manipulative, and just awful. Not that Catherine was any better, to be honest. I also didn't know that his own selfish desires drive him mad. Oh, and I didn't expect the ghost story side of things. I found this fascinating.

Actually, I found the whole book absolutely fascinating.

Not just because of the Earnshaw and Linton families involved in this twisted saga and their many shared tragedies, but I also enjoyed the interesting way the story is revealed. Instead of having the actual people involved in all of these misfortunes tell their side, we have the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, telling the tale to a man called Lockwood. And I think this style really worked.

I'm glad I finally read this. It was quite an experience.

And on a final note, I think the narration by these two voice actors was great.

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

THIS ONE'S GONNA HURT by Cody J. Thompson

 

This One's Gonna HurtThis One's Gonna Hurt by Cody J. Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was quite the blood-soaked ride! Also, if you're squeamish, you definitely need to know that this book needs all the trigger warnings.

Halloran Summit Road is a desolate area located at the end of a random off-ramp along the freeway in the California desert. A place to rest while you charge your electric car. Somewhere for five friends to take a detour while on their way to a music festival in Las Vegas...

You know, I just realised I made that sound like a nice place to visit, a pleasant tourist spot to take your family. But it totally isn't. This location might appear vacant, but houses an evil maniac who preys on anyone who makes the mistake of stopping there.

After all, he needs to meet his supply and demand quota. 😳

From the very beginning, this story is violent and packs quite the gruesome punch. Introduces unsuspecting characters you get to like before they face down the danger lurking behind the trailers.

It's quite shocking, fast-paced, and when the secret is revealed, sure to make you extra queasy. And that's before I mention the gory descriptions, the vivid sense of location, and that messed-up ending.

I mean, yikes!!

I really enjoyed this. There's definitely some The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a mix of Wrong Turn, and plenty of carnage to keep any slasher fan hooked.

But please, whatever you do, stay away from the Herkey Jerky. 😬

Thursday, 18 May 2023

SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH: Something Wicked (Sabrina, Volume 2) by Kelly Thompson, Veronica Fish, Andy Fish & Jack Morelli

 

Sabrina: Something Wicked (Sabrina, #2)Sabrina: Something Wicked by Kelly Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Glad I got stuck into this one right away because it continues from the first volume and throws Sabrina into a bunch of problems.

She's interested in two guys but can't seem to make either one of them happy. She's trying to help Radka and Ren but it leads her to someone she didn't expect. She's trying to stay away from her aunt's while befriending another witch. She's tired all the time so her grades are slipping and she keeps forgetting about her friend Jessa.

And this is all while trying to get comfortable with her magical powers and their long-term cost.

I love how this installment was all about trying to find the right balance. Something that is sometimes really hard to find, especially when you add magic and trying to hide her witchy side.

The artwork is once again beautiful.

Wonder if more issues are coming because I'd love to read them.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH (Sabrina, Volume 1) by Kelly Thompson, Veronica Fish, Andy Fish & Jack Morelli

 

Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Sabrina, #1)Sabrina the Teenage Witch by Kelly Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love all things Sabrina, so when I found out about this comic book series I was eager to check it out.

Sabrina Spellman is a teenage witch trying to balance her mortal side and witchy powers. Which is harder since she moved to Greendale with her aunts and has to adapt to a new high school. Unfortunately, strange things always find her...

OMG. The artwork in this book is AMAZING. Very pretty and colourful. It's also adorable and cute, plus SO MUCH FUN! I really like the vibes here. Not only is it cute, but there's still an edge of darkness at every turn.

This version of Salem is snarky. I love him! Hilda and Zelda are as mysterious as ever. There's also Harvey, but he has a rival in Ren. I like how Sabrina likes two boys and wants to get to know them on her own terms. Jessa's a nice addition, too.

I'm REALLY enjoying this story and can't wait to read more.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

IMMORTALITY: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

 

Hazel Sinnett is alone and half-convinced the events of the year before - the immortality, Beecham's vial - were a figment of her imagination. She doesn't even know if Jack is alive or dead. All she can really do now is treat patients and maintain Hawthornden Castle as it starts to decay around her.

When saving a life leads to her arrest, Hazel seems doomed to rot in prison until a message intervenes: Hazel has been specifically requested to be the personal physician of Princess Charlotte, the sickly granddaughter of King George III. Soon Hazel is dragged into the glamour and romance of a court where everyone has something to hide, especially the enigmatic, brilliant members of a social club known as the Companions to the Death.

As Hazel's work entangles her more and more with the British court, she realizes that her own future as a surgeon isn't the only thing at stake for her. Malicious forces are at work in the monarchy, and Hazel may be the only one capable of setting things right. 


I loved the first book in this duology, and was looking forward to finding out how everything was going to end.

After Hazel lost Jack, she retreated to her family's Hawthornden Castle and has been helping people with medical emergencies. But when she's arrested for murder and thrown in jail, Hazel is convinced her life is over. Until she's shipped off to London to become the sickly Princess Charlotte's personal physician, and stumbles on a whole lot more...

Well, as expected, I started reading this book and couldn't put it down. Actually, I got halfway in a few sittings because I was hooked!

Hazel's story continues a year after what happened with Dr. Beecham and Jack. She can't get over the boy she fell in love with and the note he sent her, but he hasn't reached out again and she gets lost in what drives her passion—her work.

I loved the ups and downs, how secrets unfold and a whole new world opens up in a different location. The mysteries that lie beneath London are intriguing and miraculous. As well as what's going on in the castle, which reveals a sweet tale that I hadn't expected but especially enjoyed.

The new cast of characters added in this installment enrich the atmosphere and create new wonders and problems for Hazel. Both personal and professional obstacles she has to overcome with the knowledge she's picked up along the way. 

Immortality: A Love Story is a thrilling conclusion to this fantastic story, and I enjoyed every minute I spent in this alternate version of history. There are surprises, shocks, as well as twists and turns, but mainly this truly is a love story at its core.

A dark love story that has the power to overcome... immortality.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this awesome book.


Immortality: A Love Story, February 2023, ISBN 9780349433400, Piatkus

Sunday, 14 May 2023

SPELL ON WHEELS by Kate Leth, Megan Levens & Marissa Louise

 

Spell on Wheels, Vol. 2: Just to Get to YouSpell on Wheels, Vol. 2: Just to Get to You by Kate Leth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the first volume the other night and enjoyed it so much I picked this one up too.

Claire, Jolene and Andy are still out and about on their road trip. This time they're looking for a witch who's made a connection with Claire's compass. But things don't go as expected...

This is another fast-paced and fun volume that expands on their friendship. We also catch a glimpse of Jolene's past, Andy's family connection, and the vulnerability of Claire's power. Annabelle was also interesting because it showed how shitty men can twist a woman's need to regain her place in the world without all the patriarchy crap. And when the magical power of persuasion is added to the mix... Yeah.

I also like how even the girls manage to blur the line between good and evil for reasons they easily justify. Jolene is the best example of this.

I'm really enjoying this and wonder what comes next. Or, if there even is a next. I hope so.

Great witchy goodness. ✨

Saturday, 13 May 2023

WYTCHES by Scott Snyder & Jock

 

Wytches: Volume 1 (Wytches, #1)Wytches: Volume 1 by Scott Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was looking forward to reading this one because so many people seemed to like it, but I ended up being a bit disappointed.

After something awful happens to their daughter, the Rooks family moves to a creepy town in hopes of starting fresh. But there's something evil in the woods and it's watching...

Okay, so the story's messed up and dark, shows the past dysfunction and tragedy that this small family went through, while introducing the wicked ways of this town. Yet, I found myself disconnected from the story and the characters, didn't feel like we got to delve deep enough so that when the reveal happens, it left me feeling hollow. And I didn't care, really.

I did like certain parts of this. I feel that there were a lot of cool separate concepts that never meshed together as well as they should've.

Not excellent or great, just good.


View all my reviews

Friday, 12 May 2023

THE GHOST IN YOU by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

 

The Ghost in You (Reckless, #4)The Ghost in You by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I haven't read the previous books in this series, and don't even know who Ethan Reckless is, but I liked the cover. So, I decided to read it anyway. 🙂

It's 1989 and while Ethan is out of town, Anna decides to take on a job by herself. Especially since an old movie scream queen she used to love asks her to investigate if the murder-house mansion she's renovating is haunted...

Well, that was unexpectedly awesome!

I always enjoy a good crime noir mystery, and this one was done very well. It's also set in the late 80s, and deals with several problems that started in the past and settled into that turbulent decade. An urban legend about hidden treasure, how strict religious ways destroyed relationships, a pointless war that made villains out of the soldiers forced to fight, and the result of dysfunctional families.

Anna's a great character. Very interesting and determined to solve the mystery, even when her estranged mother gets in the way.

Yep, this was great and I loved the artwork.

 
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