David Bell Source of Iinspiration, Information for IUSB Students & Community

Posted on October 19, 2011 by

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Indiana University South Bend recently hosted David Bell, author of the new thriller Cemetery Girl.  While his novel came out only a short time ago, this book is receiving magnificent and sparkling reviews:

“David Bell’s CEMETERY GIRL is a smart, tense, creepy take on the story of a missing daughter, told by her far-from-perfect father. If you think you know this tale—from all-too-familiar newspaper accounts, from lesser movies and books—then this terrific novel will make you think otherwise.” –Brock Clark, Bestselling author of Exley and An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England

The novel’s recent release has not stopped IUSB students and thriller fans from picking up this book and devouring it.  Many reviews are exceptionally positive, and David Bell has a very distinct skill, apparent throughout Cemetery Girl, to illicit strong emotions from the reader through his narrator, Tom Stuart as he struggles to accept his daughter’s disappearance several years ago and his wife’s willingness to move on.  From the prologue on, Bell maintains control over his characters and creates a world so vivid and mysterious that it’s difficult to put the novel down.

David Bell discussing Cemetery Girl. Picture taken by Kelcey Parker for IUSB English Club

His reading at IUSB was likewise a clear success.  Starting several minutes late because of a lack of chairs, students, faculty, and community members turned out to hear Bell.  He read the prologue and first chapter of the novel definitively, allowing the audience to understand Tom’s inhibitions about the drastic changes happening in his life.  Interjecting facts about his inspiration for certain moments in the novel (a childhood experience, his lack of children, fond memories of siblings and horror movies), overall made it not just a tense, suspenseful thriller reading, but also an enjoyable experience for the IUSB community, allowing aspiring students to gain experience through watching him read a long piece of fiction.

Following the reading was a short question and answer session, where many were interested in Bell’s true-life experiences in the novel, character development, the revision process, and feedback on the publishing process.  The novel has some loose inspirations from Bell’s life, but not from his own relationship with his daughter—Bell and his wife currently have no children.  Many students at IUSB focus in on shorter pieces of fiction in the offered classes, so hearing Bell’s descriptions of maintaining the characters and always keeping them in mind in everyday life should prove valuable to creative writers.  His form of revision was also interesting; instead of writing the novel in pieces and revising as he progresses, he writes the entire piece and works through it as a whole as his revision.  One comical note was that without Tom’s pet dog the novel would never have been published, as Bell’s publisher really loved dogs.  Overall, Bell’s reading was enjoyable and offered many tips for IUSB’s creative writing community that should help students as they progress from short stories in to longer novels.

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