Five For Writing – Bridgett Nelson

Bridgett Nelson is this week’s guest on Five For Writing. A rising star in the horror field, she made a splash with her debut reading at Scares That Care ’21. A former nurse, she’s got an ambitious slate of projects lined up, but she’s not so busy that she didn’t have a few minutes to spare to answer five questions. And so I give you Five For Writing with Bridgett Nelson:

1-Your first reading was the opening reading of a major horror convention, Scares That Care. What were you feeling going up to the podium?

I did, indeed, have my very first reading at my very first in-person horror convention, Scares That Care ‘21, and I guess you could say Todd Keisling and I “opened the show.” Shortly before our allotted time, I was standing at the lectern in the conference room, chatting with Todd, as more and more people wandered in and took a seat. And not just any people either. Oh, no. Long-time, fan-favorite horror authors like Jeff Strand, Bob Ford, and Stephen Kozeniewski (not to mention my Bram Stoker Award-nominated partner, Todd) were all there. I was definitely feeling my newbie status. Thankfully, Todd was an amazing partner, very sweetly introduced me, and paved the way for a successful reading. Even still, as I walked toward the podium, my heart was racing, my hands and knees were shaking, and my skin was clammy. I found myself leaning hard against the lectern for support. My voice trembled on and off through the entire fifteen-minute reading. Public speaking is not a strength of mine, and putting myself out there as a writer, for the very first time, certainly added another layer of vulnerability.

All this to say…
Drunk. I felt drunk. 

2-Your reading featured a very memorable sequence involving cannibalism and some severely gnarly toes. What inspired that?

It’s a longstanding family tradition of mine…

Seriously, it wasn’t inspired by anything other than, “What would be a vaguely funny and disturbing body part to force a woman to eat at gunpoint?” Rotten toes, for the win!

That scene unexpectedly got a big audience response. Several people who attended my reading still tease and joke with me about it to this day. For those who weren’t at Scares That Care, the story is called “Reflections” and you’ll be able to read all about the gnarly toes very, very soon. You can also hear my trembling voice reading the story to you on the Necrocasticon podcast.  

3-You were a nurse for many years. Have your experiences there informed your fiction?

I sure was! When I was a senior in high school, my two choices for a college majors included sports medicine (which I’d planned to turn into a physical therapy career), or creative writing. My parents pushed me toward sports medicine, knowing I’d be more likely to find, well, you know…paid work. After a few months, realizing I was bored to death wrapping college athletes’ ankles, I decided to switch to nursing. 

Following graduation, I worked on a renal/urology/renal transplant floor, then on a cardiac step-down unit (where I primarily cared for open heart surgery patients), and finally in the operating room, where I felt most at home. (The stories I could tell after years as a nurse.)

Have my experiences in the medical field informed my fiction? Absolutely! It makes the physiology of torture and death scenes so much easier to write. (For clarification purposes, it’s important to note this is not me saying I tortured and killed my patients.) In fact, my very first short story, “Political Suicide,” is set primarily in a hospital. The main character is 40-something neurosurgeon hell bent on getting revenge for her son. Let’s just say she uses her medical knowledge in a very twisted way.

4-What made you decide to start writing?

I’ve always loved writing. I was the feature editor for our school paper and even wrote a weekly column for our county journal. But life happened. I began my nursing career, got married, had babies (okay, in all honesty, I had babies BEFORE I got married…but let’s pretend I’m all traditional and stuff), and writing became a distant memory. 

Many years ago, I decided to start reviewing the hundreds of books I read each year. Through my reviews, I met the CEO of a new Indie publishing company, R.E. Sargent of Sinister Smile Press. He encouraged me to submit a story for their upcoming anthology, so I did. And it sold. Now I’m happily writing short stories and attempting to fake my way through my first novel.
Life is bizarre, but lovely. I’m happier than I’ve ever been – I feel like I’ve finally found my niche…and my people. Although I loved nursing, I now know I should have been writing all along.

5-You’re putting together a short fiction collection. What can we expect from that?

Yes! And I’m incredibly excited to announce the title here first! My debut short fiction collection, A BOUQUET OF VISCERA, will be available in spring 2022. You can expect dark, diabolical stories, often times involving revenge, and lots of fun twists.

I’d also like to give a HUGE thank you to Rich, who, within seconds of me telling him what I was looking for, came up with that brilliant title.

Big thanks to Bridgett for her thoughtful and patient answers. Up next is writer, editor and publisher David Niall Wilson, the brains and pen behind Crossroad Press! Until next week…

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