Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Jacqueline Vincent Has Created A Monster


What if Josephine Baker was a Cenobite with Naomi Campbell's fire? 

In the UK, a married couple, Jacqueline Flowers & Vincent Hargrave go about their days with jobs that pay the bills and indulge their literature, film, and music hobbies for balance. Jacqueline is the one who leans more into horror. The gravitational pull into "things that were a bit weird" has been a part of her creative process since she was young reading Pan Horror booksBeloved by Toni Morrison became a milestone because "the atmosphere is so dense, you can feel the humidity, the lack of any breeze and the smell of pain and hurt. The movie really did it some big justice and I fell in love with the characters even more." It is films that are "ethereal" that enrapture her muse. Caligula (1979), The Shining (1980) and The Cell (2000) are great visual references for her "thick molasses" style and pacing in her own work.

But after years of she and her husband's down time habits not converging, they decided to venture deep into the darkness together for some common ground. What they learned on long commutes to work was how to brainstorm, collaborate, and eventually, write a novel together. Jacqueline Vincent became their pen name fusion, and their central character, Rose Benoit was conceived in the vein of an aspirational Hellraiser ripple called by another name. 

Somewhat Of An Animal is a methodical, fleshy invitation to Rose's double performance; a woman at the pinnacle of prestige and unspeakable proclivities. A detective trailing the visceral remains of her thirst isn't quite prepared for a case like this. For it may reveal shadows he is not prepared to face. What are the intersections found in Ms. Benoit's acuate destruction? How does her elevated social status fuel her nefarious desires?


To start, Rose was a response to popular literature preoccupation with the 'dominant male' trope. Jacqueline wanted to create a character that had to be "attractive, and black, that was especially important. I wanted to think about a black woman dressed as Marie Antoinette or Catwoman, slowly torturing someone. I wanted to see a black woman talk eloquently. A black woman who loves the great composers, and classical music. An opulent black woman who walks over the highest echelons of male dominance – white or otherwise."

Rose, for Jacqueline and Vincent is deeply personal and incredibly complicated. A challenge to be considered:

When she took form and we'd established her, I began to get greatly excited, not only from a empowered female point of view but also because this character was very rare. We both really believe in Rose. She's become our entire life. I can honestly say that, to my knowledge, nobody has ever really seen anything like her before.

I wanted to write something where we really get to know the antagonist. She's not your average common or garden serial killer. She's worlds away from that loner guy who lives in his mom's basement, angry and isolated because he was picked on at school. Rose is multi faceted, her lifestyle is highly affluent à la Bruce Wayne, yet merged with the stoic cruelty of one of Clive Barker's Cenobites. She'll take afternoon tea at the Hamptons then later she'll be doing something utterly grotesque. She does, however, possess humility. She can exist on so many levels and she's so challenging to write for.

It was sexuality and confidence combined that Jazqueline saw in the personae of Grace Jones, Pam Grier, and Donna Summer along with creative consideration to the historical damage caused by the system of Black women's dehumanization to re-write, re-imagine, and re-envision the future for an autonomous Black body that is both liberated, and for the sake of fiction, a little vengeful for the sake of truly building anew. "She's my seed I want to plant in people's minds," Jacqueline says. "Sure, she's a serial killer and she's sadistic, but if one reads between the lines, strength and assertiveness is unearthed. I want that to stick with people."

Who would own this kind of role on the big screen? Jacqueline and Vincent talk about this a lot. The casting call has tall, dark, and curvy specificities. Certainly the referenced Naomi Campbell, maybe even Tika Sumpter who has dabbled in devious roles before.

Tika Sumpter

Jacqueline Vincent is currently drafting their second novel which is a sequel to Somewhat Of An Animal. You can find more about their work on YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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