A Cast of Despicable Characters
Jessica B. Bell

Someone once asked me a question in an interview about which of my characters I’d like to have dinner with, and my first reaction was laughter. Then, when I thought about it a little more, the laughter turned to revulsion.

My characters – even the so-called ‘heroes’ – are really not the sorts of people you’d invite to dinner. And in a few cases, you definitely don’t want them cooking for you.

Consider Astrid Shipton, wife of the notorious Arnold Shipton III, and her unusual culinary practices. But then, Arnold should have known better than to cross his long-suffering wife, and whatever you may say about her methods, that woman deserves her revenge.

In the title story of Viscera, my new collection of strange tales published by Sirens Call Publications (and available now), Seth and Eva form one of the strangest pair of characters I’ve ever written. It might be interesting to get them on a psychiatrist’s couch to determine just what would compel Seth to perform such unorthodox surgeries, and further, why Eva seems to set and determined to consume her adversary. But dinner? Maybe not.

When your cast of characters includes a family of vampires, an alien abductee who just can’t satisfy his unusual appetite, and a necrophiliac your options for socializing are limited.

Not that the other, less monstrous characters are a picnic in the park. Take Morbo, for instance. Sure, he used to be some big shot magician – they say he once performed for the crowned heads of Europe – but now he’s lucky if he can get a gig pulling rabbits out of a hat for primary school kids. Does he have a chip on his shoulder? He sure does. And heaven help you if you do something stupid like sleeping in late after a one-night stand and don’t make it to the show on time to assist him with his magic tricks. His assistant Natalie will find out first hand if Morbo will make good on his threats.

Officer Cokehead and Officer Donuts find out just what a pain a werewolf can be in “Territorial Pissings,” and while I feel bad for the guy, I wouldn’t want him sniffing around my house, marking his territory and rubbing his ass on the carpet.

In “Three Cigarettes,” Beth’s life is crumbling after the death of her mother. Her marriage is falling apart, she’s haunted by horrible dreams, and she’s started smoking again, after having quit for years. But Beth is no innocent, and I don’t know who is worse; Beth herself, or the three sisters of Eumenides Consulting, and the radical therapy they put her through.

So no, I don’t think I’ll be inviting any of my characters by for tea. I like them just where they are – bound in the pages of a book that I can put down if things get too creepy, too disgusting, or just too… strange. They may not make good dinner company, but they make for entertaining nightmares.

Viscera — Jessica B. Bell

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!

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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.

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