A Novel Idea: Author Shawn-a-lee McCutcheon-Bell.
A Novel Idea Presents: Author Shawn-a-lee McCutcheon-Bell.
When you think of horror authors, do you imagine lone figures hunched over typewriters in a dark room? Gargoyles perched overhead nodding in satisfaction as their master conjures up images of blood and monsters? Children warned by a mother’s fearful whisper, “Don’t go near that house. The crazed writer lives there. He boils babies for Sunday tea!”?
Or do you picture a blonde five-foot-four woman writing about winged creatures as she swivels in a computer chair, drinking a glass of Pepsi, while listening to Alan Partridge mumble absurdities in the background? That – is the real life image of horror writer Shawn-a-lee McCutcheon-Bell.
Author of “The Raising” and “Darkness Springs” (written under her pseudonym Cassandra Lee), Shawn-a-lee has penned countless stories for anthologies and magazines. Her short story “Matty” was given an honourable mention in the prestigious editor Ellen Datlow’s list of Best Horror for 2009.
Shawn-a-lee’s friendly sunny nature belies the splatterpunk ferocity of some of her work. Her newest book “The Raising” offers such a journey. Dark and twisted, the novel is chalk full of squeamish imagery and sexual blatancy. “I didn’t purposely set out to make this novel in your face,” she says. “It took on that life itself. I’ve written plenty of stories that are straightforward horror, but this one screamed “Open the floodgates!”, so that’s what I did.”
It goes without saying that this book is not for everyone. If you are offended by sex and blood, you’re best to read one of her tamer stories. In reference to this, she states, “I don’t write to appease critics. I write what comes out of me. Some are hardcore, some not. “The Raising” was the latter.”
Matty, a short she won acclaim for and which is included in “Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead”, attests to this fact. A zombie tale, it deals with a little girl and her dog and has a sentimental, yet still horrific feel to it.
When asked what’s coming up next, she hinted that one of her newest projects is aimed at everyone. “I have three novels I’m working on at the moment. Two are for the older crowd and the other I would have no problem reading to my eight-year-old. A few years ago, I wrote a short story (horror of course) about stuffed animals. The characters stuck with me and they’ve been pestering me to give them a life of their own.”
And so, old stereotypes pushed aside, we await the newest offering from perky author Shawn-a-lee McCutcheon-Bell and hope it’s chalk full of terrible nasties to scare us on stormy nights.