AG: How did the stories for Hell's Bells come to be written?
When I quit a promising career in March of 2017 and decided to be a full-time writer, two story ideas came to me and they stuck.
One afternoon while I was playing my guitar and contemplating my decision, the top E-string detuned by a couple of whole notes, which is quite unusual. I was reminded of the first time I ever tuned a guitar and moved much too fast while the strings were cold: the string snapped and smacked me across the face, right underneath my eye. The fear of that happening again got my mind churning and I thought – What if the instrument were to strangle me somehow? And so the idea for "The Bow of Murmured Voices" was born.
After I wrote the story I realized that my preferred instrument, the guitar, didn't fit. As an ex-audio engineer, I remembered past assignments I did on the construction and acoustical properties of musical instruments and how best to record them in studio, and I specifically remembered that the body of a violin is also called the corpus, which translates as corpse or body. That was when a final idea struck me: what if this violin not only murdered anyone who played it, but trapped their souls inside it?
The second idea came to me when financial woes almost forced me to become a street musician. Growing up as an aspiring musician and rhythm guitarist in a thrash and death metal band, the topic of musicians selling their souls to the devil was a major influence for my story "Those That Stay." But I needed a different, or original, take on it. So the story began first as a street musician who stole the souls of anyone generous enough to give him money.
Soon after finishing the original draft, and also at the time when the Hell's Bells invitation to submit came, I realized that the story bordered on humor instead of horror. That's when an idea struck me: what if a street musician thought he was doing good deeds by healing the sick and claiming their loved one's souls as the price without them knowing it? And so "Those That Stay" was born.
People often ask me, "Why do you write?" The answer isn't what I think they hope to hear. All I can say is that I simply have to. I don't have a choice in the matter, and besides, I don't want to do anything else with my life ever again. Publication in Hell's Bells was one of the major highlights of 2017 and has further fed this mysterious urge to pen words. As for 2018, I am hoping to get published more and paid enough to survive, but I will also begin my journey and life-long dream to become an editor.
Jake TS Wryte is a full-time writer from the Darklands of Africa where the creatures of his imagination have a bounty on his head. You can find his micro-fiction pieces at 101 Words and his article on flash fiction writing and online courses at christopherfielden.com. When not reading or writing, Jake can be found hiking remote areas and wishing he hadn't gone there in the first place, or avoiding assault by his rescue macaw. You can reach him on Twitter @jakemetalsnake and Facebook as Jake TS Wryte.