In the following email interview about his new novella Bedfellow (paperback, Kindle), writer Jeremy C. Shipp explains that this tale has been called a dark fantasy, a horror story, and a psychological suspense story. What he doesn’t explain, though, is why he kept putting the world “monster” into quotes…
To start, what is Bedfellow about?
Here’s what the backflap has to say:
When the…thing first insinuated itself into the Lund family household, they were bemused. Vaguely human-shaped, its constantly-changing cravings seemed disturbing, at first, but time and pressure have a way of normalizing the extreme. Wasn’t it always part of their lives?
As the family make more and greater sacrifices in service to the beast, the thrall that binds them begins to break down. Choices must be made. Prices must be paid. And the Lunds must pit their wits against a creature determined to never let them go.
It’s psychological warfare. Sanity is optional.
Where did you get the idea for Bedfellow and how different is the finished novella from that original idea?
During the blood moon, I fell asleep in a cornfield, and a demonic Johnny Appleseed planted the idea inside my corpus callosum. And then the idea manifested itself during a brainstorming session at my local library. I wanted to create a unique monster who could mess with people’s heads, and Bedfellowis what I came up with. The book didn’t wander too far from my initial concept, though there were times when I didn’t know how my characters would survive certain situations, and they surprised me.
It sounds like Bedfellow is a horror story. Is that how you see it, or is there a better way to describe this story?
My publisher describes the book as a tense dark fantasy novel of psychological horror. Grimdark Dad says it’s a horror story that “toes the line between absurdism and family drama and occasionally veers off into some gnarly body horror.” Booklist says, “This is a great choice for readers who like their horror with a side of intense psychological suspense.” Ultimately, I think of Bedfellow as a decrepit, veiny egg that will hatch in the minds of my readers and fill their consciousness with horrors, and grotesqueries, and some puns.
Bedfellow is not your first book. Are there any writers or specific stories that were a big influence on Bedfellow, but not on your other stories?
There aren’t any writers or stories that influenced Bedfellow in particular, although I can list some writers who have constantly inspired me over the years. There’s Kurt Vonnegut and Charlotte Bronte and Shirley Jackson and Arundhati Roy and Kazuo Ishiguro and many others.
What about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games; did any of them have a big impact on any stories in Bedfellow?
I’m a big fan of such bad movies as Troll 2 and The Room, and in a strange way, these films had an impact on the creation of Bedfellow. You see, the “monster” in the novel is obsessed with movies; bad movies especially. Analyzing his affinity for certain films would definitely help you to understand the “monster” on a deeper level.
Bedfellowis also a novella. Did you set out to write a novella, and Bedfellowis what you came up with, or did you decide to write Bedfellow and it just came out at novellalength?
Bedfellowis actually twice as long as I initially estimated. My muse sometimes likes to trick me in that way. “Don’t worry, Jerbear. This one is probably a flash story.” And then 50,000 words later, I’m still not finished.
Yeah, my muse calls me Jerbear. Don’t ask me why.
Horror stories are sometimes stand-alone tales, and sometimes parts of larger sagas. What is Bedfellow?
At this point, Bedfellow is a single, stand-alone book. When writing a tale, I tend to say everything I want to say, and then when I’m done saying it, the story is over, forever.
In truth, I would be more than happy to write a sequel to Bedfellow, but only if I managed to come up with a concept that made my brain explode, in a good way. I do love these characters.
Earlier I asked about the movies, TV shows, and video games that may have had an influence on Bedfellow. But has there been any interest in adapting any of the stories from Bedfellow into a movie, TV show, or game?
I can’t say much at this point, but there has been some interest in the possibility of adapting Bedfellow into a film. That’s a bit nebulous, isn’t it? Hopefully I’ll be able to say more within the next couple months. Cross your fingers and toes for me.
If Bedfellow is made into a movie, who would you like to see them cast in the main roles?
Hmm, let’s see. Whoever plays Imani needs to be gregarious and humorous, so I think Tiffany Haddish [Girls Trip] or Nicole Byer [Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates] would do an excellent job. As for Hendrick, we need someone who can embrace the role of a total slimeball. I’m thinking Tim Heidecker [Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!]. And I’d love to see John C. Reilly [Kong: Skull Island] as Marvin. Reilly is a master of offbeat performances, and he’s capable of projecting a sort of innocent vulnerability that I think would work beautifully. I’m not sure who should play Kennedy or Tomas.
Finally, if someone enjoys Bedfellow, which of your books would you suggest they read next?
I’d recommend The Atrocities or Cursed. Both of these are dark and twisted and sometimes funny. And much like Bedfellow, these books feature quite a few lovable weirdos. What’s life without a lovable weirdo or two?