So you can read my books

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Samuel McCord here.

I’ve got a funny thing about dying. I don’t like to see people do it.

So here I sit in for Roland as Jessica Bell sings for my customers at Meilori’s. I’m not the reporter that Sammy Clemens was, but I will try my best in my interview with her for her novel and CD, STRING BRIDGE.

{ }

Jessica finishes :

stop your yelling before the devil hunts you down
failing legends bring us to our knees to drown
offer freedom before the earth buries my soul
no more hatred, set us free before we fall.”

She bows to the applause of things out of nightmare as if they were human, then steps off the stage.

I watch Jessica, her eyes still lost in her last song, move towards my rune-carved table with a willowy grace.

She sits down like she was wrapped in the echoes of her music. “Crikey, love, you have a weird bunch of customers.”

Padre, his canines gleaming sharp in the dusk of Meilori’s, laughs in his British accent that clashes oddly with her Australian one, “His friends are a colorful group, too.”

Padre’s here to help me keep the wolves at bay that always appear when a new beautiful singer shows up.

She says, “Speaking of friends, where’s Roland?”

“On an emergency blood run.”

At a corner table, Major Strasser turns, and I say low, “The Turquoise Woman sits beside him, revenant. Feel free to commit suicide.”

He sits back in his chair.

Jessica frowns, “Roland likes it here?”

Padre sighs, “He was born on a night of death. Here he feels … comfortable.”

I nod her way. “I’ve read your book.”

She starts. “You have?”

I nod. “Like you, Melody moved from music to marriage, from Australia to Greece, out of love.”

Jessica makes a face. “Puke.”

I shake my Stetsoned head. “You write of the strong emotions of others but are uncomfortable to talk of your own?”

The ghost of Mae West sways up to us, sitting down beside the singer. “Men! Why else do you think she writes stories of it in the first place?”

She pats the startled shoulder of Jessica. “Here, let a fellow performer come to your rescue. What kind of show would you have performed in if you'd been a burlesque dancer?”

I frown at Mae for switching from a perfectly good question to a perfectly nonsensical one, but Jessica seems relieved, “Oh, that’s easy. Put me in a Shakespearean parody any day and I'd knock your socks off, Sister.”

Mae smiles. “Sister. I like that.”

Her eyes drift off into my milling customers. “Cary! Why, I’ll drag that scoundrel here to liven things up.”

She winks at me wickedly. “Insult intended.”

She fades away, but Christopher Marlowe, still in his Elizabethan attire, sits in her empty chair. Jessica pulls back in shock. “S-Shakespeare?”

“Christopher Marlowe,” he smiles with lips only. “That tawdry actor took my lines. I took his life and his identity. Convenient since Queen Bess was about to have me forcibly introduced to that undiscovered country, death.”

Jessica looks to me, and I say, “Marlowe was one of her intelligence agents who told the unvarnished truth to her once too often.”

He shrugs. “I told it to her repeatedly through my plays. Speaking of which, why would you want to parody my undying lines?”

Jessica purses her lips like a school marm. “For arrogance like that.”

A hooded woman sits in Marlowe’s chair, right through him. He takes one look inside her hood and yelps, fading from view. Hissing sounds come from inside the hood.

“All mammals are arrogant, singer. I enjoyed the notes of your last song.”

“T-Thank you.”

The hooded woman starts to sway to the quickened beat of Jessica’s heart, and I clear my throat, “R’lyth is an evolved raptor, but she is harmless.”

A glimpse of a smile of razor teeth flashes in the darkness. “Inside these walls, yes.”

Her hood cocks. “Outside them? Not so much.”

I put an edge to my voice. “I will see you safely to your plane, Jessica.”

Renfield growls, “Aye, lass. Me as well.”

R’lyth turns to Jessica. “Mammal, which dinosaur would you be if you could be any kind and why?”

Ms. Bell shows she has just as much as grit as Elliot Grace and replies, “A - A triceratops in the hope that one day I would mutate into a unicorn and forever be idolized.”

R’lyth gets up disappointed, “Mammals!”

Emily Dickinson’s shy shade sits demurely in the now empty seat. “Idolized?”

She shakes her misty head sadly.

“Fame is a bee

It has a song

It has a sting –

But ah, it has a wing.”

Jessica smiles warmly. “I’m trying for its song right now.”

Emily pats the Australian’s hand. “We never know how high we are till we are called to rise. Then if we are true to form, our statures touch the skies.”

Emily studies Jessica a moment. “I admire you to have traveled so far for love. How much you must have learned.”

Jessica smiles crooked, “Crikey, learned? I don’t know ….”

Emily leans towards her. “If you could write a letter to yourself when you were a young girl, what would you say?”

“Don't bother trying to wear color. You'll go back to black eventually, and stick with it.”

Now, it was Emily’s turn to be disappointed. “That trifle is all?”

Jessica smiles sadly, “If you wrote your heart to your younger self, would the girl that you were truly hear your words?”

Emily slowly smiles back, “You are wise.”

Jessica smiles drily. “I think it’s … otherwise.”

There is a screech as a chair is dragged beside Jessica’s. I smile. Sammy Clemens. The old scoundrel never could resist a new pretty face at Meilori’s.

“Dang this girl talk! I have a question.”

He flashes a wicked grin at her. “If you could have an affair with any author in history, who would it be and why?”

“Sammy!,” I protest.

Jessica waves a happy hand. “No. I’ll answer this one. Gimme Raymond Carver any day. I've always wanted to write like him, but I can't contain myself when it comes to description. He might be able to teach me a few things.”

Jessica is on a run with disappointing ghosts this night. “Raymond Carver? When you have a beloved literary genius sitting right beside you?”

Sammy strokes his moustache. “And descriptions are the very life of prose. I could tell you I long for Hawaii, but when I write –

‘For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surf is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.’

Why, then, you literally weep at my mourning for those Sandwich Isles.”

The unruly-haired ghost of Carver materializes behind Sammy. “That fluff was a trick then. It is a trick now. I hate tricks. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span.”

Sammy rises spritely to his feet. “I’ll give you attention, you amorous drunk.”

As the two of them wander off into Meilori’s interior bickering, Cary Grant sits swiftly into the vacated chair, tapping Jessica’s cheeks.

“Stone the crows, what are you doing?,” she snaps.

Cary heaves a sigh of relief. “Just checking to see if those two blowhards had succeeded in totally petrifying you. Authors. Give me actors any day!”

He turns to her. “Mae sent me with a real question : If your book was made into a movie in the 40s, who would play who?”

Jessica smiles wide. “Melody would be played by Gene Tierney.”

Cary studies her and nods, “I see the resemblance.”

She blushes just a bit, then adds, “And Alex would be played by … you.”

Cary brightens. “Of course he would. And a marvelous job I would have done, too.”

A figure forms to my left. Elvis. Jessica stiffens, then makes a “Time Out” signal with her hands.

“Oh, no! When Elvis enters the building, it is time for this girl to leave it!”

She tugs a surprised Renfield to his feet. “Padre, it is time for you to see me safe and long gone out of here.”

Elvis sadly watches them leave, then looks down to me.

“Captain, I was just gonna ask her if she thought the intimacy we sing on stage is just a poor substitute for the real thing in our lives. Wasn’t that a good question, sir?”

I nod. “An excellent one, Elvis. Maybe Jessica suspected you were going to ask something like that and ran from the question and not you.”

Elvis sighs, “It will catch up to her sooner or later.”

He sits down and sighs even more sadly. “I wanted to help her like I wished someone had helped me.”

I smile just as sadly back. “We only hear the answers to the questions we dare to ask ourselves.”



  1. Oh ho, Elvis' question was a good one...LOL - and laughing in accents that that even possible? That gave me a real tickle.

  2. Oh my gosh! LMAO!!!! Roland you did such a brilliant job with this!!! Hahahaaaaaa oh wow ... now I want this to happen for real :o)

    Love the Aussie slang you put in there. Nice job!

    Thanks so much for having me! Such great fun :o)

  3. I've read a lot of interviews recently with Jessica. This was absolutely the best by far. I knew it was going to be something special and you didn't disappoint Roland :-)

  4. I loved this! I couldn't stop reading -- brilliant! You are a genius writer, Roland. Best interview with Jessica, to date!

  5. This was magnificent! Such a fun read but with great insights as well. Beautifully done Roland and Jessica!

  6. Wendy :
    You should hear Yankee me laughing along with my deeply Cajun friends! Yes, laughter can clash accent-wise -- but in a good way! Wasn't Elvis' question a good and telling one?

    Jessica :
    It was real! At least in my head. LOL. I thought the Aussie slang added a bit of realism to a haunting setting. It was fun, wasn't it?

    Sarah :
    I'm so glad you enjoyed this interview. I tried to make it something to sparkle and be different yet fun. Thanks for liking it so.

    Nicole :
    You and the others have made my morning with your praise. I tried very hard to make this fun and different, yet making people want to read STRING BRIDGE by bringing up the issues dealt with in the novel. Best interview to date, huh? Wow. Good thing I don't wear a hat! LOL.

    VR :
    So great to see you here again. And that you liked it so makes the visit even better. I tried hard to make this fun but meaningful -- sort of like a date with Olivia Wilde with Freud as chaperone!

  7. I really can see Gene Tierney as Melody!

    Yes, Roland is brilliant, as you say, Jessica!

    This is THE most sparkling post I have ever read! I'm bookmarking it to re-read again and again. It makes me want to delve again into the film classics, the literary classics, Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, etc. etc. And to have Cary Grant arrive also! I've been in love with him forever!!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  8. Well I'm speechless!

    Hope Jessica returns to serenade this eclectic lot at Meilori's soon!

    Take care

  9. Ann :
    You made my weary evening ever so much better. Yes, I am still on the job with severe weather promising to make my rare blood runs especially dangerous. Sigh.

    I'm so glad it brought memories to mind and a smile to your face. I am a classic movie fan myself, hence the ghosts of this post! LOL.

    They just don't have the snappy dialogue in today's movies as they did in the 40's. Today's dialogue is all for the short sound-bite. While whole minutes of dialogue in the movies of the 40's could hold you entralled. Thanks for saying you are going to come back to re-read this post. Have nothing but high sales with your latest memoir! Roland

    Kitty :
    If Samuel has his way, Jessica will come back for a return engagement. But you know how busy that lady is! Roland

  10. That was awesome. Most of my favorite interviews happen at Meilori's :)

    Sorry I'm so late - having some internet problems.