Updated: Feb 5
Stories that are dark, the ones that reek mystery and everything macabre have always called on to me. Thus, when I found out about the book called The Nobodies I couldn't not get enticed by it. I got to communicate with Laurel at her Instagram handle and have been dazzled by her dark & aesthetic feed since then.
My call to everybody who is indeed enchanted by the darkness that surrounds us and the netherworld that engulfs us? This is one book to check out.
Interested? get to know about the book and Laurel in the little conversation we had...
Laurel Elizabeth Hasara
Abhigyan: Religious redemption, the love of the undesirables, small-town mentality, and the Lillelid Murders that is what “The Nobodies” is based on right? Can you tell us more about it?
Laurel: Thank you for asking! My narrative intention for The Nobodies was to write a psychologically disturbed romance between two individuals who would—by all measurable societal standards—be considered lowlifes. This could mean being impoverished, severely scarred by childhood traumas,
addicted to methamphetamines, burdened by a criminal record, achieving little more than a GED,
parenting children conceived out of wedlock, mentally ill or a combination of many. Hence, the
subtitle: An unusual tale of society’s least desirable. Sometimes the insult, “lowlife” can be a
deserving title earned when an individual makes consecutive immoral decisions leading to their own unadmirable circumstance and other times it can be a judgmental conclusion jumped to without proper context.
In The Nobodies, one can argue it’s a little bit of both. I have a strong fascination for writing outcasted characters: dollmakers, the neurotic, failed socialites, facial deformity patients, even quite literally fallen angels out to destroy God’s creation. There’s no one less interesting to write than those with all the conventional trappings of modern success. If you’ve seen the optimistic depiction of life straddling the line between a budget motel outside of Florida’s Walt Disney World and homelessness in the 2017 film The Florida Project, then The Nobodies (heavily influenced by my experience with screenplay structure) can be likened to its distant, darker and less comedic cousin. My stylistic intention for The Nobodies was to write entirely in poetic prose to create an atmosphere of constant tormenting unease through visceral horror imageries and the ambiguity of the character’s intentions—are they planning to do harm or aren’t they. None of the characters are ever assigned names. There’s only the woman, the man, the priest, the faintly freckled little girl, the Afro-mixed little girl, the hooded man, the six neglected youths and a few other minor nameless characters. I’ve been researching the Lillelid murder case of the 90’s Satanic panic since high school. I don’t want to give any details away so, I implore anyone reading this to do some preliminary research themselves (if they’re interested). I will say the case perfectly commentates on how only those who can afford it are given proper counsel, separate trials and due process. The collective failures of teachers, social workers, parents and a community at large to intervene when a child shows early signs of delinquency can have catastrophic results. There’s only one name spoken throughout the entire book, and it directly relates to the Lillelid case—those on the fringes of society often only make a name for themselves through infamy. The Nobodies is a homage to those dealt losing hands at birth, but flock to the church steps later in life to find guidance and redemption in the words of some of the most spiritually wise among us, the clergy.
Abhigyan: How did you commence your voyage through the ever-changing waters of literature?
To be honest, I don’t follow the ebb and flow of trends in the literary world. I’m blissful in my
ignorance of what’s charting! And anyway, the stories that need to be told are often the ones no one
wants to tell. If this question refers to the challenges of publishing a work of literature, then I have
to comment on how fortunate I am to have discovered self-publishing. It’s been a wonderful
learning-curve and quite the investment, but I’ve opened my own LLC, House of Hasara and feel
relieved in knowing I’ll never have to rely on the endorsement of a higher-up to release my literary
babies out into the world. My logo is the embodiment of my greater life goal to make my life into a
living art piece and one day dance about the corridors of my Victorian!
Abhigyan: As a child and as a grown-up which authors have you looked up to most?
To again be honest, I have little to no experience voluntarily reading fiction aside from what my
English class syllabuses required. I can’t yet fully explain why I’ve never gravitated toward other
people’s fantasy worlds, but I haven’t. 99.9% of what I read is nonfiction because I have an
insatiable need to learn. I guess I’d consider myself an autodidact. I can actually become melancholy
if I don’t have proper time allotted to studying each day. Some of my biggest inspirations are the
father and successor of psychoanalysis Freud and Jung as well as American poet, Emily Dickinson.
I’ve always found Dickinson’s personal quarks relatable to my chosen life path as a “professional
loner”—a label I’ve jokingly adopted. It’s often assumed the only life to be lived is the external, the
physical reality, but a select few souls live an internal existence. The latter of the two is self-fulfilling,
difficult, requires vigilant introspection and lacks the tangible glamour one would need to boast
about a particular lifestyle. People often ask, “what did you do today?” rather than “where did your
mind travel today?” On the dedication pt.2 page of The Nobodies, I quote a paragraph from one of my all-time favorite collection of academic essays called Romancing the Shadow: Illuminating the Dark Side of the Soul by Connie Zweig Ph.D., & Steve Wolf Ph.D. This is a must read for anyone looking to expand their understanding of themselves and humanity at large—though, I must warn there are some frightening realizations you’ll have to contend with. Lastly, I’d like to mention my sincere love for Tim Burton. Although I know he’s not an author, his whimsical spin on the Gothic genre really introduced me to the beauty of the grim and the ugly at a young age!
Abhigyan: Monsters, occult, and the world of the macabre, pretty intense subjects all of them, what is your inspiration and how do you make the demons come alive through your writing?
Well, according to others I’m an intense person (to me, I’m just functioning at my own speed) and
part of this reason I suspect is because of my interests, which like I mentioned before range from
the men (or women) in black phenomenon, the psychology of sadism, masochism and stalking, the
poltergeist phenomenon, demonology, catholic theology, the pre-Raphaelite art movement,
mysteries of the 20th century whether crime or cryptid, death makes a holiday, etc. Each story I
choose to pursue requires hundreds of hours of research, but the main ingredient to exorcise “the
demons” if you will is an obsessive focus! I’m sure everyone’s read the famed Nietzsche quote,
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if
you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” You will inevitably tap into
those collectively shared archetypes, especially as a writer of darker material. It’s the same silent
ritual an actor performs before they yell “action.” You have to be very weary that any one of these
archetypes doesn’t consume you. For example: Till Dusk do we Honeymoon, a beloved screenplay I wrote at age 18, was about a socially inept man who hires a professional dominatrix to play the
female role in his scripted sexual Shakespeare fantasy where every line of dialogue they exchange is in Elizabethan language. Let’s just say his final act goes off script to the dominatrix’s own chagrin.
In preparation I consumed a decent amount of Shakespeare, studied the allure of sexual domination,the BDSM discipline, the dominatrix sex-industry, sex trafficking schemes disguised as massage parlors and some Jungian psychology, eros & pathos. Another really intriguing nonfiction read I’d recommend is an older one called A documented study of the strange ecstasies that some human beings find in the infliction of pain, SADISM by L.T. Woodward, M.D.
Abhigyan: Do you believe in the netherworld? I would like to hear if you had any otherworldly
experiences… as a kid were you afraid of the dark? If so, which dark creature did you find
crawling behind the bed stand once you were tucked and cozy in your bed?
Remarkably, I don’t recall being afraid of any monsters as a child. I did however sleep with a
nightlight. I had a different themed nightlight for every season, which my mother switched out every
few months. I don’t recall having a fear of stretching my arm out over the side of my bed or of what
stood on the other side of the shower curtain. My childhood home was fairly old. Open floorplans
weren’t popular during the time it was built like it is today so, every room was closed off and the
doors had these bulky black medieval looking antique latches that sometimes popped open by
themselves. My sister’s bedroom (she moved out by the time I was 8 or 9) always made every
childhood friend I ever had over uncomfortable. It had five closets—five (more places for the
monsters to hide I suppose)! My childhood friends and I would dare each other to go stand inside
by themselves in the dead of night. I never felt fearful of the bedroom, just uncomfortable. No
other room in the house ever made me feel this way. It’s funny how I never mentioned this to any
of my friends. They were always the first to bring it up. When I was a bit older, I had an unusual
encounter with a cashier in a TJ Max in Annapolis, Maryland. My mother can attest to this too. As
soon as I walked up to this beautiful older African American woman’s register, she backpedaled a
step or two as if I startled her. She said I sent chills running up and down her entire body and it felt
as though my stare shot right through her. She proceeded to tell me how “serene” I was and asked
me if I had any paranormal abilities? I kindly replied that I didn’t. I was caught incredibly off guard
by all of this as I was really just mundanely attempting to purchase about a half a dozen scented
candles. When I got home, I wrote the encounter down in my scrapbook, dated: February 12, 2020.
Although I have an incredible memory, some encounters are not worth chancing to be forgotten. I
always wished I had stood on the other side of the counter that evening and felt whatever it was that cashier had felt as I do tend to be oblivious of my own nature. But alas, I’ll never know. For part two, do I believe in the netherworld? The answer is undoubtably yes. I believe emphatically that there is a sentient evil and a good that lives outside of time and can invade the human mind in ripe opportunities. As for this inhuman evil, the heinous acts it motivates are beyond what is the result of “normal” human sinfulness like rage, revenge, lust or passion killings. I’m talking about those extreme forms of inhumanity. In these rarer cases I do believe the perpetrator has been
compromised by an evil that transcends human understanding. This is where beings from the
netherworld live… in whatever place they’re allowed to invade—the simple act of dwelling on the
wrongs done unto us is enough to open ourselves up to an invasion. I’ve been around plenty of bad people growing up. People with hardly a semblance of a conscience, but never have I met someone marked by this kind of evil. Nonetheless, they are out there, and I hope I never am unfortunate enough to meet them. The netherworld walks freely among us.
Abhigyan: If you get a pill that contrives to take you either to the future or past, which way shall you look and which place shall you lead, and when?
I’m going to give an unexpected answer and say I would go back in time if only to be an observing ghost to these men in the airborne regiment from World War II as I think it may have been one of the riskiest branches of combat to enlist as parachuting into enemy territory was very experimental. My father, who’s close to an expert on World War II though he’ll deny it, explained to me how many men died simply because of the original American design of their harnesses. The parachutes were too difficult for the soldiers to unhook. When many of them landed in water, they didn’t have enough time to unbuckle themselves and drowned. Imagine going through two years of training just to die shortly after the jump? It would be humbling to watch real heroism in action—that sort of valorous patriotism is sadly dying out or going unrecognised in today’s youth. I would like to
research about the campaigns of a lesser-known infantry that hasn’t received it’s deserving glory yet, the 45th infantry division also known as the “weekend warriors” who the Germans sorely
underestimated and helped liberate Rome.
Abhigyan: Apart from The Nobodies you’ve written a pretty number of screenplays too, which of your screenplays do you think satisfies you most?
Which satisfies me most? I’d have to say my latest, Lovella, as I have rewritten it arguably 200+
times. It’s the one that’s currently in development/financing and has been for coming up on four
years. I was incredibly naïve in my teenagerhood and did not realize that the film industry moves like a paraplegic snail—and that’s even without a global pandemic. I finally have an official contractually bound director, Bat-Sheva Guez, who’s currently working on a look-book. For those who might not know, a look-book is a director’s visual photographic interpretation of the film used for marketing. Lovella is based on a true encounter I had during my sophomore year at a small liberal arts college. Here’s the logline…
An intense college love affair between Lovella Ludvik, an artistic loner fascinated by the occult, and Alejandro Alvarez, a callous captain of the rugby team, turns from obsession to dark experimentation – before derailing into vengeful disarray.
Abhigyan: Tell me about a character from your book, The Nobodies
A very impactful, yet very briefly featured, character is the elder priest. He has the most insightful
monologue of the entire book and was intimidating for me to tackle as he required this little thing
called wisdom—the one thing I’m unable to learn from a book, which aggravates me to no end! As I’m 23 years old currently and was 21 years old when I began writing The Nobodies, I forced myself to contact as many pastors in my local area and schedule as many in-person interviews as I could. I only pinned down five willing participants: four male pastors and one female. I recorded every interview with my brand-new audio-recorder to transcribe the conversations at a later date. Almost every word the priest in The Nobodies espouses was inspired by my real words of the five generous clerical members who lent me their time free of charge. The character of the priest is in dedication to my family’s Catholic priest, Father Paul Campbell, who passed unexpectedly in February of 2019 in his early 60’s from a stroke. He was supposed to officiate my parent’s 25 th wedding anniversary wedding vow renewal later that year. I only sat down with Father Paul Campbell in person once when I was 20 years old. He came over to have dinner with my family and we ended up carrying on well past the dessert course discussing psychoanalysis. Low and behold, he was a college psychology professor before he went into the priesthood—what are the odds! I wish he could have read my book.
I am sure wherever Father Campbell is, he will be smiling through the veil at the success of your book.
How do you deal with writer’s block? Has the lockdown helped in completing your debut novel?
I deal with writer’s block by stepping back from my desk for short bursts of time, pouring myself a
cup of tea and resetting by watching something political so I’m momentarily jolted back into the real world. I used to—when I was much less mature—do anything from yell into my pillows, throw
objects across my bedroom, cry, drink stolen liquor from my parent’s liquor cabinet, all of the usual
melodramatics of a teenage girl who romanticized the misuse of alcohol with a side of self-
destruction. The lockdown (with all due respect to those who’ve suffered) has been a tranquil
experience and made little to no impact on my day-to-day life. By March of 2020, my fifth or sixth
draft was already in the hands of my developmental editor, Karmen Wells, who I highly recommend. That being said, something the lockdown did help me accidentally discover and subsequently fall head over heels in love with was my secondary passion for the visual arts (dark photography), which I do believe is what immediately attracted you to my Instagram account back in September of 2020!
Yes! your knack for Dark photography is ingenious and gorgeous, I was in awe the moment I saw.
Moving along can you tell me
In a haunted house, which person are you? The one who goes checking about whence the sound came from or are you the one who stays behind and holds the fort?
Laurel: Okay, since I’m incapable of giving a straight answer… here it goes. If there is a man in this
hypothetical, there’s a zero percent chance I’m going to investigate as men are much more physically imposing and therefore, the protectors of the family and homestead. But if there isn’t a man in this hypothetical, there’s a one-hundred percent chance I’m going to investigate because staying stationary under the sheets hoping I won’t hear *insert disembodied noise* again or trying to rationalize *insert disembodies noise* would drive me mad—a slow burning torment perhaps? What a terrible fate to succumb to! Better to stand up to what you fear rather than wait for it to come to you, right?
Thank you so much for these thoughtful questions. I’m so flattered you’ve taken an interest in my
It is not often that we bibliophiles get to connect with authors and have conversation that travel through the depths but I am truly amazed by the detailed answers you gave me. I feel Like I have known you for years.
The above may not be true but one thing I am sure of and that being Your book is going to land with a bang.
Thanks again for having this conversation with me and sharing your thoughts with your readers.
I will be keeping an eye out for "The Nobodies" and so are many of my readers.
Catch her on Instagram @laurel.e.hasara
Check out The House of Hasara her website