I'm excited (and a little scared) today to welcome author J.L. Bryan back to the blog to answer a few questions about his newest paranormal release, The Unseen. I have no doubt this book would absolutely terrify me (just look at how gorgeously creepy that cover is!) so I told J.L. my extreme wimpiness would prevent me from reading it, but I like to think he'll eventually forgive me for chickening out so spectacularly. At least I hope so anyway ;-) I'm always happy to have him on the blog though, so I hope you all enjoy the interview!
The Unseen deals with a demonic cult and sounds truly frightening. What’s one scene from another piece of fiction that made you want to look behind you just to check and see if anything was there?
The scariest thing I think I’ve read was Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I read that when I was about nine. The scenes with the cat, Church, after he came back from the grave were extremely scary and gave me nightmares. I’m not sure that cat ever actually did anything, he just kind of hung around being creepy and wrong. The main character was the only one who knew the cat had died and crawled back out of its grave, and he grew scared to be in the same house with the cat, to turn his back on the cat, to sleep while the cat was around. It was so effective because the cat never did much, but managed to be extremely scary and was always just there, being quietly menacing.
If you and Cassidy were spending the night in a place rumored to be haunted, which one of you would be the first to scare?
The would definitely be me! Cassidy is more accustomed to seeing evil things nobody else can see. I, on the other hand, can be scared by a closed shower curtain or a strange sound in the attic.
You wake up late at night after a particularly bad nightmare and hear strange whispers in the room with you. What’s the first thing you do?
You know, something like this actually happened. My wife and I were staying at a friend’s house, which was a very old rental house in a college town—there’s no telling how many people have lived there or what has happened there over the years. So we were lying there in the dark, almost asleep, and we heard a deep male voice say directly into our ears something like “Shoo, shoo, shoo.” Like something you’d say to get rid of a pesky animal. We naturally both looked around and didn’t see anything. My wife asked, “Did you hear something?” and I said “Yes.” We didn’t dare talk about it again until the next day, because talking about it would only make it more real and scary—but comparing notes, we found we’d both had the exact same experience at the same moment. We didn’t tell our friends about it until after they moved out of that house. They say they never experienced anything, but they were remarkably not interested in hearing any details.
If The Unseen were made into a movie, how many times do you estimate the audience would jump in their seats?
I have no idea, but I think it would happen early, in the Ouija board scene in chapter one (which is kind of a prologue). I’ve always been fascinated by Ouija boards and I don’t think we’ve heard much about them since the 1970’s and 1980’s, when they were a big deal. Maybe they’ll make a comeback!
If Cassidy could seek help from one of the characters from your other books, whom would she most want to come to her aid?
I suppose the Jenny Pox characters wouldn’t be too much help, since their powers seem to affect the physical world, while Cassidy is dealing with threats from the nonphysical world. Only Esmeralda, the one who can speak to the dead, might be particularly useful. She’d probably get more help from some of the magic-using characters in the Songs of Magic series, maybe one of the wise old fairies, or possibly Grizlemor the goblin, who could probably chase away evil spirits through sheer force of crankiness.
Cassidy is a tattoo artist. What is the scariest and/or funniest tattoo she’s ever done?
She has some latent powers that are expressed through her art and begin to come alive during the story. At one point, she draws a tattoo of a Picasso-style eye on a customer’s arm, and he comes back fairly terrified because he can see out of his eye tattoo, as if there’s a real eye on his arm. I think that’s both funny and scary.
Let’s say promotional posters or postcards are being designed to promote the release of The Unseen, but the design is strictly limited to tattoos only. What does one of the tattoos look like?
They would probably reflect Cassidy’s own tattoos. She’s drawn to poisonous plants like belladonna and hemlock, which also reflect her own occult nature that she gradually learns about during this story. Another possibility would be something on the demonic side, maybe a thirteen-point star decorated with Sumerian writing.
• • • • • • • • • •
Cassidy is a young tattoo artist living in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. She’s always suffered terrible nightmares, and sometimes the hideous creatures seem to follow her out of her dreams and into her waking life, though she’s the only one who can see them. Drugs and alcohol can blot them out, but never entirely chase them away.
When a demonic cult begins to take control of the people in her life, including her younger brother, Cassidy discovers that the unseen world of monsters is very real. She can no longer avoid it. To protect those she loves, she must accept her own hidden supernatural talents and face the forces of evil before the sinister cult achieves its twisted goals and casts the world into darkness.
• • • • • • • • • •
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories.
He is the author of The Paranormals series of horror novels (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death) the Songs of Magic series for younger readers (Fairy Metal Thunder, Fairy Blues, and Fairystruck...so far) and other books. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, their son, and some dogs and cats.