Tuesday, November 15, 2011

String Bridge by Jessica Bell

About The Book: Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian musician, Melody, was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter and settled in Athens, Greece. Keen to play in her new shoes, though, Melody trades her guitar for a 'proper' career and her music for motherhood. That is, until she can bear it no longer and plots a return to the stage--and the person she used to be. However, the obstacles she faces along the way are nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits, and she realizes she's been seeking fulfilment in the wrong place.

First Line: If music were wind, I would live in a hurricane.

One Great Line:"We smile at each other and carch a glimpse of something unsaid, but written in our eyes--something that reminds me of the early days, when small simple looks and smiles came from somewhere a lot deeper than our faces." (38)

Cover: Janice Phelps Williams

Sound Track: AWESOME!!!
Songs written by Jessica Bell
Acoustic/Rhythm guitar and vocals performed by Jessica Bell
Bass guitar performed by Jessica Bell on On the Other Side
Lead guitar performed by George Priniotakis
Recorded at Artracks Recording Studios, Athens, Greece, by Alex Bolpasis
Arranged, produced, mixed and mastered at Artracks Recording Studios, Athens, Greece, by George Priniotakis

What Others Are Saying: “Author, Jessica Bell paints a claustrophobic vision of life where domesticity becomes an ever-diminishing prison cell. With gripping prose and terse dialogue, 'String Bridge' is a powerful debut novel from a very talented writer." -Talli Roland, bestselling author of The Hating Game and Watching Willow Watts

“Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.” -Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie, Tender Graces and Secret Graces,Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

What I Thought: For a long time I thought I was just a slow reader. Over the years I've come to learn that the sound of words echoing in my head and rolling off my tongue requires a slow pace. Like fine wine and great food, literature is meant to be savored. Jessica's lyrical words and phrases ruminate long after the cover closes. String Bridge is more than a story. When Melody begins listening to her soul, you can't help but feel your own soul harmonizing right along. This touched my heart on so many levels and I can't recommend enough. Jessica Bell has opened her heart and spilled her soul for all of us, the ultimate gift. Thanks, Jessica.

About Jessica Bell: 

String Bridge Book Trailer
String Bridge Merchandise
Publisher: Lucky Press

Jessica Bell grew up in Melbourne, Australia, to two gothic rock musicians who had successful independent careers during the '80s and early '90s. She spent much of her childhood travelling to and from Australia to Europe, experiencing two entirely different worlds, yet feeling equally at home in both environments. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and works as a freelance writer/editor for Hellenic American Union, Cengage Learning, Pearson Education, Education First and Signature Manuscripts. Jessica Bell has published a book of poetry called Twisted Velvet Chains. A full list of poems and short stories published in various anthologies and literary magazines can be found on her website. Additionally, she has written various English textbook materials and is also a singer/songwriter/guitarist. Ms. Bell's experience as an Australian living in Greece has greatly influenced her writing.

I'd like to thank Jessica for taking the time to answer all these questions so thoughtfully! She's so incredibly talented and I'm very excited for her!!

1) As a debut author, what do you wish you would have known or think that aspiring authors should know?
To trust your instincts! Sometimes you get feedback that just doesn’t sit well with you. When you’re an aspiring author, it’s very hard to take advice with a grain of salt because you think other, more experienced writers, know better. Sometimes they do, especially if they are professional editors, but sometimes the feedback they give is based on how they would do things, or how they think a book should be written to survive the commercial market, without really getting to know who you are or how you write. This was the biggest mistake I made when I was starting out, and I spent about 4-5 years writing in a style that wasn’t really me, simply because a ‘professional’ told me I had the voice for it. It took a long time to realize that I had my own style and that I should embrace it, rather than fight it to fit into a commercial mold.

2) Tell us about your inspiration for String Bridge?
Even though music doesn’t define me as much as writing does, it is still a big part of my life. And the idea for the book came about when I was thinking about a time in my life when music was all I ever wanted to breathe. Even though my priorities had changed, I still wanted to write about the power music has over someone who is so passionate about it. But I think music could be replaced by any sort of passion in String Bridge, because basically the story is about needing something more than you need yourself.

3) Roughly describe the typical writing week: time spent drafting, revising, marketing, research, etc.?
My writing habits are all over the shop. Day, night, five consecutive days, one day in two weeks. It’s not constant. I basically write whenever I feel like it. I don’t believe in the notion that a writer should write something everyday. That would burn me out and run me dry of creativity.
Sometimes I write without a plan, sometimes I write a rough outline; sometimes things are as detailed as chapter summaries. For my second novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, I had about 40 pages of chapter outlines because things got a little complicated with the plot and I needed to make sure I knew exactly what had to happen in order to just sit down and write whenever I had time. I didn’t like that though, because it totally ruined the element of surprise for me. I prefer to be very rough with my plans because I like to find things out about my characters as I go. It makes it a lot more exciting to write when things happen that I wasn’t expecting.

4) What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
To be true to myself.

5) New projects? A sequel? What can we look forward to?
My second novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, is about a twenty-five year old Australian archaeology undergraduate named Kit, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. She feels misplaced and comes to the conclusion that meeting her father, Roger, will make some sense of her life, despite him being worth the rotting orange rind in her backyard. Well, at least that’s what she’s been conditioned to think of him by the three women in her life: Ailish, her mother—an English literature professor who communicates in quotes and clich├ęs, and who still hasn’t learned how to express emotion on her face; Ivy, her half-sister—a depressed professional archaeologist, with a slight case of nymphomania, who fled to America after a divorce to become a waitress; and Eleanor, Ivy’s mother—a pediatric surgeon who embellishes her feelings with medical jargon, and who named her daughter after intravenous. Against all three women’s wishes, Kit decides to find Roger, but in doing so, discovers he is not the only rotten fruit.
My third novel, Muted, is set in Arles, France, in a totalitarian society where it is illegal to wear clothes. In some streets, it's also illegal to sing without accompanying instruments. Concetta, a famous Italian a cappella singer from before “the change,” breaks these laws. As punishment, her vocal chords are brutally slashed and her eardrums surgically perforated. Unable to cope with living a life without song, she resolves to drown herself in the river, clothed in a dress stained with performance memories from her hometown, Milan. But Concetta's suicide attempt is cut short as someone grabs her by the throat and pulls her to the surface. Is it the busking harpist, who encouraged her to feel music through vibration, acting as saviour? Or a street warden on the prowl for another offender to detain? From this moment, the reader will discover how Concetta came to be in this position, and what will happen to her after the suicide attempt.
Muted will explore a variety of themes such as overcoming loss, coping with mental illness and disability, dealing with discrimination, loss of freedom, inhibited self-expression, motivation to succeed, escaping oppression, expression through art and music, self-sacrifice, channelling the thoughts of the deceased, and challenging moral views and values.
Regarding a sequel to String Bridge … I’m mulling it over …

String Bridge purchase links:

Amazon US ~ Amazon UK

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Barnes & Noble

iTunes ~ Amazon US ~ Amazon UK


  1. Hi Pam! Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I'm so glad String Bridge touched your heart. Thank you!!! I'm so happy to be featured today, I really appreciate you having me! :o)

  2. Wow! Now THAT'S a great review! I could learn from you for sure! I posted a review yesterday on a book...wish I had seen this first! LOL

  3. Very informational interview and excellent review of book and soundtrack.
    Muted sounds very interesting--would be interesting to see the movie version of that one. No one can wear clothes? Sounds like a box office smash to me.

    Best selling author Lani Diane Rich visits
    Tossing It Out
    Wednesday November 16th.

  4. Great review, Pam! I've already downloaded a sample of the book for my Kindle.


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