New Twists on Old Lore and the Art of Ensnaring the Senses: an Interview with Jason Offutt

March 2021

Welcome back for another Book Nook! I had the pleasure of dipping my toe into the Horror genre for the first time with Jason’s Offutt’s new novel The Girl in the Corn and was lucky enough to chat with him about it. So turn all the lights on and huddle under a heavy blanket for this one!

Find more information about Jason’s novels here:

The Girl in the Corn

Beware of what lurks in the corn.

Fairies don’t exist. At least that’s what Thomas Cavanaugh’s parents say. But the events of that one night, when he follows a fairy into the cornfield on his parents’ farm, prove them wrong. What seems like a destructive explosion was, Thomas knows, an encounter with Dauðr, a force that threatens to destroy the fairy’s world and his sanity.

Years later, after a troubled childhood and a series of dead-end jobs, he is still haunted by what he saw that night. One day he crosses paths with a beautiful young woman and a troubled young man, soon realizing that he first met them as a kid while under psychiatric care after his encounters in the cornfield. Has fate brought them together? Are they meant to join forces to save the fairy’s world and their own? Or is one of them not who they claim to be?

Order his book here
Upcoming Book Signing Event

Owl’s Nest Bookstore

815A 49 Avenue SW
Calgary AB
Canada, T2S 1G8

I cannot wait for this event! If you have a copy of Contest of Queens or The Rose Petal Princess, bring those along with you and I’ll happily sign them. Otherwise, there will be copies to purchase in-store! If you have no interest in my signature, come out anyway, I’d love to see your faces 🙂

Featured Writer on Wellness

Thank you Colleen Story, a fellow CamCat author and the mind behind the Writing and Wellness site, for featuring me this month on your website! Click on the above picture to read more. Her page is full of tips and tricks to make sure you’re looking after your mind and body while writing. Also, look out for her upcoming novel, The Beached Ones. The first paragraph alone had me in raptures!

California Creative Writing Conference

On March 6th I had the pleasure of speaking at the California Creative Writing Conference on a panel with Sara Hosey (website) who talked about her upcoming novel, Imagining Elsewhere, and Ruth Fox (website) who spoke about her upcoming novel, Under the Heavens. (I bet you can guess what book I spoke about!)

Check it out on Goodreads
Check it out on Goodreads
Contest of Queens Reading

If you’re unable to come to an in person author event, why not let me read to you in the comfort of your own home? Here’s an excerpt of Contest of Queens from my recent event with the Banff Public Library (click here for the full interview). Enjoy!

Signed Book Plate

If you follow me on Instagram (@jordanhbartlett), you will have seen that I am offering to send a personalized book plate and some limited stock swag to anyone who has bought themselves a copy of Contest of Queens.

If you’re interested, please fill out this form, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Review Spotlight

Reviews are so helpful in getting word of Contest of Queens out there. If you have time, and if you’ve read the book, I would be eternally grateful if you could leave a star rating and/or a written review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Free Swag! If you leave a star rating and review, let me know here, and be sure to include your mailing address in the message because I’d love to send you some goodies to show my appreciation! (limited supply)

Thank you to this wonderful reviewer for your beautiful words!

x Live magically

For a Moment, a Bride

This story comes from a place much closer to home than my previous one and is one that has always captured my imagination. I’m not usually one for ghost stories, but there’s something special about the ghosts in your back yard. Below is a short story about the Ghost Bride that resides in the Banff Springs Hotel. Cover image courtesy of: all other photographs were taken by yours truly.

Wispy clouds shroud the peak of Mount Rundle, creating a veil over the mountain’s cliff face. The scene is framed beautifully in the large, arched picture windows of the ballroom. Snow dusts the stonework and sparkles like diamonds in the noon day sun. White clouds, white snow, white dress.

I can hear the guests settling and the important players getting into position. Today has been orchestrated down to the last dust mote and we all move about like clockwork dancers. Standing still in front of the frosted glass, I allow my mind to go blank as my maid of honor adjusts a seam here, settles a pleat there. Last to donn is the veil.

She has been nattering away to me for the past twenty minutes, but I tuned her out after the third time she mentioned the correct pace at which to walk down the aisle. 

“Not too fast, savor the moment, dear, but not too slow, we don’t want Aunt Daphne falling asleep”

Sage piece of advice, although one only requiring a single mention. 

Breathe in, breathe out

If only this second, this day, this feeling could last forever.

I shut my eyes as though to capture the moment; to place it in a snow globe where the only thing to change is the way the little snowflakes fall. The window of the castle becomes the glass dome and I see myself, now tiny and static, in the hands of a little girl. My white dress shines through the little window as she shakes the scene again and again. Snowflakes drift around the turrets and land peacefully in the grounds. She could place me on her nightstand and I would look out of the castle window forever. But already I can feel the seconds ticking by. Sand in an unforgiving hourglass. My traitorous heart counting down life’s beats.

The veil is lifted and settles around my shoulders. I glimpse my reflection in the glass. A pale, ghostly reflection of the girl I will never be again. The sheer, delicate fabric floats down over my face. Now the mountain and I have something in common.

Such a simple garment, an ephemeral piece of fabric. Yet it marks a divide. The next time it is lifted, I shall have a different name. A different identity. Wife. No longer a Miss but a Ms. Somehow I expected the veil to be heavier because of this, but it is as light as gossamer. It floats about me like Rundle’s cloud. 

Finally, and all too soon, I am ready. The women in my orbit now step into formation. In single file, they pass beneath the crystal chandelier- did they not pause to look up even once?– to the top of the marble staircase.

Candlelight flickers and casts warm shadows on the wall as the ladies descend. For a moment, I am convinced the cheery light belongs to tiny fairies lining the edge of the smooth marble steps. Members of the Seelie Court awaiting their Queen to descend and marry their King. 

I take a few more steps to the top of the staircase and feel a snag. My train, much longer than I had requested, caught for a moment on an uneven section of floor. A tug and it is free, another moment comes and goes too quickly.

One step, then another. 

I see my father waiting for me at the base of the stairs. His face, aglow with candlelight and pride, shines like a lighthouse on a dark night. He will guide me to the harbour of my husband. Husband. How strange that word sounds in my ears now. I suppose soon it will sound as common as a sigh.

Left foot, right foot.

I feel the fabric of my gown slide down each step just a moment behind my footfalls. A pure white shadow keeping pace. The music floats towards me from the room below, and I feel the strings reverberate in my heart. 

Suddenly, the light from the candles is all too much. I can feel their heat intensify. Their warm glow becomes an oppressive inferno. All at once the moments speed up and rush past me out of control.

My father’s face contorts in horror. He races to reach me, but is running through molasses. My bridesmaids turn and shriek, but can do nothing more than stare. Their eyes wide, flames reflected within. I have become a being of light. Pain licks up my limbs. My train, a phoenix’s tail.

I claw at the dress to rip myself free. Charred lace and silk comes off in my hands, but still I am bound within this nightmare chrysalis. The steps beneath my feet rearrange and disappear from where I had left them. I feel myself teeter, my arms flail for purchase as I stumble blindly into the void. The veil ignites next and my vision becomes a kaleidoscope of searing, flickering light.

Then I am falling, tumbling, crashing to the cold marble below. A fallen star snuffed out. I don’t recall landing. I don’t recall who extinguished the fire. I don’t even recall if I concluded my life’s story with a final word, or where exactly my last breath fell. But I do remember, all at once, the pain stopped. My breath stopped. Everything just… stopped.

Now, my dress shines the purest white. Forever perfect, untouched by the ravages of time. My train never catches on uneven sections of floor. I have the leisure to look up and admire the crystal chandelier for as long as I wish. For time is all I have. I peer out of my snow globe and watch the snowflakes fall in different patterns around me; watch the people scurry to and fro in different patterns around me; watch the sun rise and set and the moon follow suit around me. My moment is frozen, now and forever. On the edge of Miss and Ms. My veil is ever-unlifted. As unchanging as the mountain my window overlooks; something else we have in common.

I’ve watched a century’s worth of brides become wives within these walls. Some even descend my staircase. There is a handrail now, and most will avoid using open flames. I expect I’ll be here to watch a century’s more walk down the aisle. The least I can do is smooth their trains and settle their veils; I try not to take it personally when they shudder at my touch. Since the flames, I’ve not been able to warm myself. If I’m feeling bold, I will walk beside them a ways. I see their brows furrow and some turn sharply if I hover too near. I don’t mean to unnerve them on their special day, but a bit of unease might make them cautious. Accidents happen. And I know I would have liked someone beside me at the end. I never walk them to their groom. I do not even stay to watch as he turns to greet her. For that is their journey to make, not mine.

Pictures taken by me on November 11, 2020 during one of many visits to the Banff Springs Hotel