Saturday, August 8, 2015

Spine-tingling Saturday and Interview #9: The Mold Series

Title: The Mold Series
Author: Jess (helpmenosleep, AlanPWtf, valnercupid)
Posted on: July 2013 -  present
Location: Reddit

I originally posted about this series last July as one of my very first Spine Tingling Saturdays! Since then the story has come to be known as The Mold and has continued to grow and gain something of a cult following within the NoSleep crowd.

This is a terrifying story of a town that's just a little bit off... and once you start, it will most certainly keep you up late trying to piece together details to figure out what happens next!

But the real reason I'm mentioning this series again is because it's back! In my last post I was tentatively hopeful that the series would continue and IT HAS!! Not only that, but I am lucky enough to have spoken to its elusive creator for this exclusive interview! 

Here are the posts in proper reading order:
(Each one has multiple linked updates)


> Describe The Mold Series in 10 words or less.

Totally, completely, 100% a true scary story. *winky face*

> What was your inspiration for this series?

It was actually inspired by my friend (the inspiration for Alan) who was texting me and the girl who inspired Liz (in an alternate reality where Liz is not actually evil and actually pretty awesome) one dark night. The texts in the very first chapter of My Friend Has Been Out of Contact etc. is almost word-for-word true to the real conversation. Except "Alan" was just joking around.

“Alan” was trying to scare us with weird claims of auditory hallucinations, misspelled texts and blurry pictures, but it was pretty transparent that it was a joke. He’s not the most subtle man alive. However, I had the thought, “What if that was the last we ever heard from him? What if we assume it’s a joke, but it’s not, and we never hear from him again?” Sad. But more than sad… Scary. And a mystery that I knew would perfect for a forum like NoSleep.

It got my creative juices flowing. As an avid NoSleeper and horror fan, and recreational (but passionate) writer, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. In two or three hours I had the outline of this story laid out and Skyped my friends to see what they had to say. They responded enthusiastically and gave me permission to post the text transcript and “Alan’s” pictures online. Thus, what has since become known as “The Mold Series” was born.

Other sources of inspiration, of course, include various creepypastas, my friend's apartment building, Clark Fork Idaho, and the Silent Hill games (which I consider the epitome of atmospheric horror).

> You've created such a detailed story under multiple accounts and have caused many people sleepless nights trying to piece it all together! Was that your intention from the beginning?

No. This story has morphed significantly from its origins, which I'm sure is fairly clear to the audience. I was going to end with Jess’s story initially.

I am of the firm belief that a HUGE part of horror lies in the unknown. That is one of the reasons I include so many aspects and ideas intended to keep the reader guessing what is going on (including a couple of red herrings). I thought that giving the audience too many answers would make the story far less creepy.  

At the time, I figured having the understanding that Jess became possessed at the end of the first series, but leaving the who’s what’s and why’s a mystery,  would wrap it up satisfactorily and keep people on the edge of their seats until the end. And, honestly, I think I was right. I believe that, had I not initially planned to stop after the first story and paused for so long in between, the series would not be nearly as popular as it became.

Fortunately for me (since I’ve enjoyed every moment of writing this series) too many people wanted answers. Even months out, people were messaging and commenting, asking for closure. Thing is, closure isn’t scary. So I brought Alan back, with a mystery of his own. The NoSleep suspension of disbelief rule (“everything is true, even if it isn’t,” one of my absolute FAVORITE parts of the sub) necessitated different accounts, which I thought lent verification, and thus made it all creepier.

But as I wrote, I realized Alan would never survive this. He was too close to Liz already, and there was no way out. So I ended his part and went about conceiving Infected Town (by far my favorite story of the series). With a fresh, non-connected voice, I could finally reveal the cult of the Entity and give people the answers they demanded.

> How do you feel about the fact that you HAVE caused people to pour over these stories for hours trying to figure it out? Has the response been what you hoped for?  

Oh my god, the response has been far, FAR more than what I hoped for! I honestly can't believe it! The readers continue to impress, move, intimidate and inspire me every day. I do my best to put out a quality mystery that they can unravel, without over-complicating it. I know I don't always succeed. But I write for them, and I really hope they enjoy it.

> Is there any kind of hidden meaning buried in the series or is it just a really awesome horror story?

Other than the fact that all of the main characters besides Claire and Blake are directly based off of people I love, no I don't have a hidden message or agenda. I guess, besides creeping people out, I'd want readers to come away consciously valuing friendship and trust. Friends becoming people that you can no longer love or understand is scary and upsetting. Keep your loved ones close and your friendships alive.

> If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of this series, who would play your characters?

Ooh fun!

Claire - Natalie Portman
Clayton - Benedict Cumberbatch
Elizabeth - 1990's Neve Campbell
Jess - Jennifer Lawrence
Alan - Daniel Radcliffe
Blake - Chris Pratt
Alex - idk Jim Sturgess?
Lisa - Kristen Stewart, I guess
The Entity - the supremely talented Doug Jones.
And I'd want it directed by Guillermo Del Toro, while we're so deep in fantasyland.

> As an author of horror, what is your greatest fear?

Death. Insanity.

> Why did you choose Reddit to publish this series?  

There's honestly no forum more suited to what I was trying to do than NoSleep. One of my biggest inspirations for writing it was the "everything is true" rule. Not that I wanted to trick people, not at all. I think it should be fairly clear that it's all fictional. But I wanted it to be dynamic and audience-inclusive. I love codes and mystery novels, and I wanted to watch people solve puzzles I had put before them. Plus, NoSleep is an incredible community and pleasing the people there gives me a lot of joy.

> A few other r/nosleep authors have turned their series into books (and some have worked out better than others). Have you considered this as a possibility?

I've considered the idea, and have been proposed indie movie scripts and audio books, but in the end it simply would not work. Without the back and forth between readers and characters, I feel the story would have been lack-luster and less enjoyable. The format of texts, pictures, journal entries, document excerpts, etc. would probably not work in a novel.
The only format that would work as well or better would be a video game, even a flash point and click adventure.

> Is The Mold at an end or can we look forward to more installments in the future?

There's more to come. As you may have noticed, I'm terrible at deadlines, so I don't know when. But yes, I plan to answer every question I can while simultaneously  trying to keep it creepy.

> Is there anything else you'd like to share? Any other series you're working on or other projects you'd like to plug?

I have a million projects. You should see my google drive folders. I'm an amateur, hobbyist writer who dreams of one day publishing a fantasy or mystery novel (maybe both?) while making a living in the medical field. But as far as stuff you can read online, no, there's nothing I'd want to plug here. You may come across other stories of mine on other sites under other pseudonyms, but they would be abandoned at best and absolutely terrible at worst. I'll let you guys know in the future though ;)

> Do you have any secret talents?

I can fold my tongue into a clover and I draw stupid comics, mostly about the wacky misadventures of my D&D group. Also I can vaccinate patients pretty quick and painlessly...

> Describe the color yellow to somebody who's blind.

The taste of lemon, the feeling of caffeine and cocaine, the sound of squealing tires, the smell of chemistry labs.

> What superpower would you like to have?

Awesome superpower: Ability to stop and start time at a whim.
Terrible superpower: being able to snap and produce a small, lighter-sized flame from the end of my thumb.

> If you were trapped on a deserted island with any fictional character, who would it be?

Ideally it would be Snape from Harry Potter. I feel like we could have some really interesting conversations, and the fact that he's a wizard wouldn't hurt. But knowing my luck, I'd probably end up with Tina from Bob's Burgers or Moss from the IT Crowd and we'd never get off the island.

> Who is your favorite Disney character?

Hades from Hercules. I love a good, charismatic villain. Actually, I'd want to go to the island with him.