It's the 1940s, and somewhere in America there is a weird little town called New Bedlam. It pulls creative types towards it the same way a moth is attracted to flame, with a similar result. Into this world of madness comes Jonny Cave, a jazz musician-turned-preacher who's found himself in New Bedlam, certain God sent him to help protect the inhabitants from the horrors they often conjure up themselves. His is a religion based on unshakeable faith, and the willingness to get his hands dirty if it serves the greater good. Jonny Cave is not an anti-hero, or a fanatic, but a man whose past informs his present.
I am extremely pleased with Jonny Cave, because he is everything a pulp hero should be but without all the usual trappings (he's not a private detective, for starters). His one main ally is Laura Paris, aka Lolly, a flapper with more guts than most men. He loves her, and is pretty sure the feeling's mutual, but never acts on it because that's not the life he wants. There is evil in the world, evil beyond anything we can comprehend. Tentacled horrors, gods of madness, and creatures erupting from once-human bodies. New Bedlam is their gateway, and Jonny Cave is the only man who stands in their way.
We're introduced to Jonny and Lolly in This Town Hides an Inferno, in which an evil force wrapped in the skin of a man comes to New Bedlam in the midst of an unseasonal heatwave. He has visited many towns before in order to build an army, and those who don't join him are killed. This, however, is preferable to what happens if someone does 'enlist'...
Dionysus Rising looks at the aftermath of these events, and features a theatre company with a seemingly diabolical new play that affects even those who've somehow managed to avoid the weirdness in New Bedlam...The events in this story also act as a prequel to 'Xanthophobia', my story in Phobophobia!
The next instalment is Underneath It All, which I'm hoping will see the light of day at the start of April (I'll elaborate below). As before, previous events aren't just referenced but act as the catalyst for a truly horrific event: someone in New Bedlam has realised that they can tap into the 'power' inherent in the town to rewrite reality itself. But in order to do so, they first have to create something that feeds on, and creates, unbridled madness...
New Bedlam itself was created by Jodi Lee, and she invited people to set their own stories in the cursed town as part of http://newbedlam.com/zine/. I feel very lucky to have been able to write a serial featuring Jonny Cave, and I hope I get the chance to continue, although I'm not entirely sure how things stand at the moment - New Bedlam Zine was going to go into print, rather than online, but I'm not sure if funding stopped this happening...in any case, you can get hold of the 'Town Archives' ebooks for your Kindle, which feature all the stories from the first two issues of New Bedlam Zine: HERE and HERE!
Oh no! This was all preamble to pimp something! I feel duped!
Quiet, you! I believe all proceeds from the sales go to making sure the Zine sees print. I think. Don't quote me on that! haha
Whatever the future for New Bedlam - the Zine and the town - Jonny Cave will endure. I've already set up (in Underneath It All) a new major player who will feature heavily in Jonny's not-too-distant future. After all, he may have ended up in New Bedlam thanks to holy guidance, but the Second World War is on the horizon, and there are a lot of people whose faith is about to be tested. Jonny (and Lolly?) can't protect New Bedlam forever (as stories by the other NB authors identify). However, I have a few more stories in me involving the town, so here's hoping I can continue to indulge my passion for pulp fiction and heroes fuelled by faith and righteous anger...
To quote my own creation (which is probably a really naff thing to do, but nuts to you buddy, this is my blog): "Don't worry about me, I've got God on my side."
UPDATE: Jonny Cave WILL be appearing in the first print issue of New Bedlam!!!! Coming soooooooooooon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!