The Real People Behind The Character – Jessica Backman Revealed

With only 5 days until the release of my next book, ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN, I thought it was time to talk a little about my brave ghost warrior, Jessica Backman. This is her third book and it’s strange how life is starting to imitate art, years after art was created to imitate life.

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It all started with my very first book, FOREST OF SHADOWSWhen I wrote FOS, my two girls were toddlers. My oldest was just about the same age as Jessica in the book, 6. Naturally, characteristic traits of both girls were woven into the fiber of Jessica – curious, precocious, at times braves, other times unsure and afraid. My wife and I back then talked about having 4 kids, all girls if possible. Jessica had long been a frontrunner on our list of baby names. When my wife’s sister had a baby and named her Jessica, even before she knew I was writing about a little girl with the same name, well, it kind of seemed as if this little character had come to life and joined the family. I ended FOS on a pretty definitive note and thought, that’s that. Ain’t it cool that we now have an actual little Jessica in the family?

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The book was done, years later it was published and I suddenly couldn’t stop thinking about Jessica. What would become of a little girl who’d seen so much? Where was she now? How would she look? How does she hide her scars? (and I was quietly happy that my niece Jessica had led a normal, uneventful life) When my editor asked me for my next project, I said I was going to write one where Jessica was the main character. I moved the story ahead 13 years so she was now 19, smart, witty, foul mouthed and following in her deceased father’s ghost (or as she says, EB) hunting footsteps. A person could go two ways after experiencing what she had in Alaska. They could never think or speak of the supernatural again, or they could press on, armed with the feeling that lightning never strikes twice. In SINISTER ENTITY, Jessica is pretty much a know-it-all badass with proof that there’s a whole new life after death and she isn’t afraid to chase down its secrets. And like all teens, she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does. Staring into the abyss without hesitation, something glares right back and it rocks her.

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When I wrote SE, I had one girl in her teens and the other right behind her. My youngest was starting to gain an interest in the paranormal, just like Jessica. Both were unafraid of ghosts, mainly because we live with one. I don’t presume to know what it behind the unofficial fifth member of our family, but he’s here, just the same. As Jessica grew, so did they, and their personalities had started to meld.

With more tales to tell, I’ve brought Jessica back in ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN.  Now in her early 20’s, she’s scared of herself and for the first time is afraid of both the worlds of the living and the dead. A grown woman now, she can’t just plow forward without thinking of the consequences. Once youth is lost, there is no getting it back. With that loss comes the flowering of fear.

And with age comes the complications of relationships with family, friends and for Jessica, a man. I see those girl-boy complications all the times with my girls. It makes me glad I’m not single!

In a strange way, Jessica has become a third daughter to us – albeit one who doesn’t need new clothes every season or leaves dirty dishes all around the house. She’s growing right along with my kids, though a little faster. I may have to slow her down so they call catch up. The best and most complicated parts of Jessica come from my own girls. And I do see them adopting some of her traits, even though they haven’t read the books (saving that for a couple of years from now). It’s fascinating to witness, and an honor to write. These 3 particular books have been the most personal to me. Art always intersects with life in some fashion. I’m excited to see where the family goes next.

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About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. His novels, Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal , Swamp Monster Massacre , Sinister Entity, Hell Hole, The Waiting and Island of the Forbidden are published through Samhain Publishing’s horror line. Hell Hole was named Horror Novel Reviews #1 horror novel of 2014. His first thriller novel, The Montauk Monster, was released June, 2014 as a Pinnacle paperback, and was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the best reads of the summer. His follow up Pinnacle novel, Tortures of the Damned, a post apocalyptic thriller, will be out July, 2015. That will be followed up by his latest cryptid tale, The Dover Demon, in the fall through Samhain. His horror short story collection, Asylum Scrawls, is available as an e-book, straightjacket not included. Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. A copy of his book, The Montauk Monster, is currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME. He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years. Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

6 responses to “The Real People Behind The Character – Jessica Backman Revealed”

  1. louckslindsey says :

    It’s so cool when art imitates life imitates art! Jessica Backman is one of my favorite characters ever. While she’s still kick-ass, I love seeing the slightly softer side to her in Island of the Forbidden!

  2. the happy writer says :

    This may be the sweetest thing I’ve ever read about a Dad’s love for his daughters. You’ve done them a great honor in Jessica Backman. I wish you and your brave, smart, lovely daughters a happy 2015!

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

    -aniko

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