In the remote, eastern European town of Borslav there is St. Sebastian orphanage, a place where people discard their unwanted children. For the American, Blaire Baker, it’s the perfect place to volunteer her services. Paired with a cheerful volunteer nurse, Blaire is enthusiastic about the possibilities, but is quickly discouraged when she encounters the nefarious nature of the staff and the deplorable conditions of the facility and the children. Upon arrival, one of the children informs Blaire, “There’s something in the basement.” It isn’t long before strange things begin happening, including Blaire’s flashbacks of the accident that killed her parents. The children soon suffer injuries that Blaire, first, fears may be the deeds of the callous workers but she soon thinks the abuse may originate from a source that is less than human, something unwanted. The unwanted is coming but in order for Blaire to fight it, she must dig into St. Sebastian and herself in search of truth. Blaire wants nothing more than to help the children, but when she discovers the tragedy that happened in the basement and learns that the same evil forces are still at work, it will be Blaire who needs help…There’s something in the basement.
- Tell us a little about yourself. How did you begin writing? What inspires you to write?
I have always loved to write, even as a child and I always aspired to become a writer, but the fact is, that like many of us, in my younger years, I lacked the true passion and discipline that was necessary to make that dream a reality.
I find inspiration in the curious and ever changing life that is unfolding around me constantly. I watch and I listen to people, their body language, and their tone of voice. Sometimes the most subtle actions are motivated by the deepest emotions and I never allow those small things to go unnoticed.
- Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Though I welcome all to read my books, my intended audience is female horror/thriller/paranormal lovers from ages 16-30. These readers should get my books because they aren’t going to find many like them. I wrote the kind of books that I loved and that I wanted to read, but often had trouble finding.
- How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
Trial and error. I knew that I wanted the series to be named after the fictional town that connects all of the stories, but it took me months of mulling over different names and running them by friends and family members who often responded with sour faces. Finally, I came up with the name, Black Water.
- Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
I was just discussing cover art with someone the other day and its undeniable importance. For Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, my second novel, I chose a single image of a headless baby doll, Dolly, who belongs to one of the characters. Not only does the doll appear in the book several times, but her image makes the reader curious about the obscure world of the unwanted children of St. Sebastian orphanage.
- Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
The main character, Blaire. I love her because her heart is pure despite the fact that it has been marred by darkness in the past. She wants nothing more than to help the children of St. Sebastian orphanage, but soon realizes that her good heart may get her killed.
- How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Tough question. Despite the fact that some of my characters are cold, uncaring and even murderous, there aren’t any that dislike. It’s hard to dislike a character that you created. It is also difficult to dislike them because I know that despite some of their less than savory characteristics, they are human and their unique personalities evolve from some struggle in their history. If I must choose, I will say, Marko, the Director of St. Sebastian orphanage. In Marko’s business, he has developed quite a thick skin and has become slightly insensitive to the needs of the children in his ward and must be viscerally brought back into the fold in order to understand the depth of what is taking place inside of his facility.
- If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
I can’t think of one thing that I would change about my novel. It isn’t perfect, but nothing is.
- Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
The town of Black Water is based on my very real, tiny hometown of Centralia, IL, where every holiday from Christmas to May Fete is celebrated grandly, but you must always keep a watchful eye on your neighbor.
- What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
The type of writing that I do is very similar to Dean Koontz and Stephen King. They are alike in the type of horror that they offer. I am not a big fan of jump scares and in my stories, I prefer to give to give the kind of scares that chill one to the core and makes you question, not what’s in the closet but what’s in the mirror.
- How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Connect with me in any of the following ways.
@jeannicole19 (Instagram and Twitter)
- What can we expect from you in the future?
You can expect many more short and flash fiction stories that can be found on my website and I am currently editing my third novel, The Sandman (working title).
- What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Reviews! Authors love reviews because it gives other readers the confidence to make the purchase. Also, just sharing your enjoyment of the book with friends and family through word of mouth and social media is an excellent way to join the movement.
- Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
My only advice is to keep writing, everything else will come with time.
- Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Read, learn, love!
And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
The last student filtered out of the classroom as Blaire sat to make notes. A spirited game of Ring Around the Rosie began outside, not too far from Blaire’s open window, the euphoric play filled her with a joy reminiscent to that of being a young child again. She scribbled a few more lines on her notepad before she got up and crossed to the back window where the children were outside frolicking in merriment. Up and down each side of the building she searched for children that were not there.
Blaire listened closely, and she could still hear the game, but it was not outside as she originally thought, it was inside, right here inside of her classroom. Blaire swung her pencil between her fingers nervously as she scanned the room allowing her ears to lead the way. They homed in on the vent in the floor along the wall. The soft singing of the children grew faint, but it was coming from inside of the vent, as she was sure of that. Blaire got down on her knees and peered into the blackness.
“Hello,” Blaire called into the vent. She jumped at the giddy laughter that responded, and suddenly there was a scattering sound, as if a group of people were discovered in a secret hiding place, who then ran for cover. A sound rose up through the opening and into her ears. It was the desperate, undecipherable whispers of hundreds of little voices all moving about, intertwining in and out of one another like snakes in mating. She put her ear closer, trying to make out the words.
There’s suffering in the pavement?
What were they saying? Blaire thought to herself.
Growing louder in each new moment, they all but peaked into a schizophrenic static that felt like it was inside of Blaire, choking up her ability to reason. She felt something moving closer to her and heard whispers that were not just senseless jabbering, but were providing, something tangible, a ladder for something terrible that was crawling toward her, up from the bowels of the building, through the dark vent on the backs of the wicked whispers. The evil was moving quickly up out of the darkness like electricity through a wire, and Blaire couldn’t tear herself away.
There’s suffering in the pavement. The jumbled whispers were closer now. There’s suffering in the pavement. Closer. There’s suffering in the pavement. Here it comes. THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BASEMENT! It screamed and the words were clear now. JUMP! It belched.
About the Author:
Jean Nicole Rivers is a great lover of reading and writing. Though she loves varied genres, horror/thriller is her favorite. Jean Nicole has been writing poetry and short stories since she was a child, but has always aspired to master the art of storytelling through novels. The Unwanted is the second story in her series of Black Water Tales, following The Secret Keepers.
Jean Nicole was awarded 3rd place in the National Black Book Festival’s 2013 Best New Author competition and she enjoys the honor of having written featured articles for popular reader websites and blogs, such as Digital Book Today and The Masquerade Crew.
Jean Nicole Rivers graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and lives in Houston, Texas.