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By Myles Knapp

There’s a scene in Jaws that kept my kids up at night for at least a week. Jaws was a great, frightening story. Which means that Jessica Bayliss’s new YA paranormal/horror thriller BROKEN CHORDS is in good company. There are at least a dozen scenes that made me sleep with the lights on.

Just the tag line scares the bloomin’ bejesus out of me: “They rip, they tear, they feed, and you never come back again.”

If you love the sickly, quaky, I-can’t-do-this-feeling where you cautiously approach a skyscraper’s safety railing, rest your hips securely against its iron edge, take a deep breath, lean over, look straight down the side of the building, and feel the minute vibrations you know precede climactic failure, then you are in the right place. You push off the railing, too late! The anchor bolts screech as they break loose and you fall headlong to whatever comes next—welcome to BROKEN CHORDS.

How do you sleep at night?

I frequently freak myself out. My husband has this periodic limb movement thing when he sleeps. And I just must, absolutely must, come up with a horror-themed explanation. One night, he’s twitching away, and I decide he’s possessed. That the demon can only take over when he’s sleeping, and the twitching is it attempting to get free.

Yikes. Did something like that provide inspiration for BROKEN CHORDS?

BROKEN CHORDS was born because I had to pee in the middle of the night while camping. Not what you were expecting, right? Camping bathrooms are never conveniently located. To reach it, the fastest route was through a damp, cold, misty playground in the wee hours of the night (no pun intended), and I’m thinking if those swings start moving—I’m so out of here.

The playground scene with the swings in your book is some creepy, creepy stuff. What writers inspire you?

I’m sure this isn’t a big surprise—Stephen King. But also folks like Christopher Moore (I love silly paranormal/horror). I love Holly Black, who does YA and MG, and Maggie Stiefvater, who does YA; both put in just enough lyrical voice while keeping their books very plot-focused and highly character-driven. And Molly Harper (adult UF and romance) because her voice is so funny and snarky. If I could channel all five of them, I’d be the perfect writer.

Complete this sentence. Fans of _____________ will find BROKEN CHORD very appealing.

The Call by Peadar O’Guillin and Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill.

There’s a lot of URST (unresolved sexual tension) in BROKEN CHORDS.

BROKEN CHORDS is essentially a YA and you totally need swoony romance in YA. (Okay, you don’t absolutely need it; I actually wrote two YA thrillers in the recent months with zero romance, but it just goes so well!)

Any other books we should look for? Or forward to?

I love to write and need be working on a project at all times. It’s literally my stress release. My recent books have all been YA, and my last couple have been thrillers. I’m so excited about one my editor has (a thriller with magical realism) and the one I just finished (pure contemporary thriller with a very intense/psychological frenemy story). Fingers crossed I’ll have news to share about them sometime in the future.


Jessica Bayliss is a clinical psychologist and fiction author of BROKEN CHORDS (Leap Books, October, 2017) and Ten Past Closing (Sky Pony Press, spring, 2018). Her agent is Dr. Uwe Stender of Triada US Literary Agency. She is the creator of PsychWRITE, a service that offers consultation and coaching for writers along with craft workshops and webinars. She grew up loving all the scary stories, and now they’re in her blood.

To learn more about Jessica, please visit her website.