My last event of 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2017 by bloodandstardust

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Conversation with Inna Effress on “Palankar”

Posted in Anthology Publications, Blood and Stardust, Nightscript, Palankar on December 8, 2017 by bloodandstardust

Back in November in preparation for the panel and reading at Lovecraft Bar NYC I had the opportunity to speak with Inna Effress about our stories in Nightscript 3. If you scroll down you can see the part of the conversation about Inna’s story “Liquid Air.”

Here are the questions Inna asked me about “Palankar”

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INNA: “I was wrong about her. Like I was wrong about Mara. What else have I been wrong about?” I’m interested in the chasm you describe while the brothers dive in the Palankar reef. No light penetrates. The abyss is unfathomable. Your story presents Jake with difficult choices at every turn, and as things get stranger and stranger, it seems he’s less and less sure of himself, of where the other characters fit into his notions of the natural world, and of what path it is he’ll follow, in the end. Do  you think it’s possible for a human to ever truly know him or herself?

DANIEL: I think it is possible. Perhaps it is our yearning and the individual paths we follow to make meaning of our lives that define us. Or maybe just our actions in doing so. I like to think that Jake while unsure of how things are “adding up” around him becomes sure of himself or at least chooses a path at the the end. While he remains unsure if anything supernatural has transpired and if so, what, he is sure that it no longer matters and does decide that he will not follow his brother. Despite his efforts and desire to rescue him from either himself or from any supernatural influence he is sure he can not “save” his brother or anyone. I think in life people struggle with what it is they know or think they know but are defined by these moments of clarity or just choice as evidenced by definitive actions.

INNA: When Mara leads Jake on the search for his brother, the characters they encounter are classified as either clownfish or anemone. Then roles are changed as Jake’s perception shifts. Tell us about this disturbance in the order of things and how perception affects reality.

DANIEL: I am glad that you asked about that moment in the story. Jake very notably in the story had been judgemental of Mara a young woman who lives a very different life and kind of life than Jake. Both Mara and Stephen made different choices than Jake, so different than Jakes “American-suburban-life” he can barely comprehened of “perceive” what their world view is and how they fit in. The concept of “rescuing” someone is very judgemental even demeaning through this lens. The moment you speak of is where Jake comes to recognize an inherent “power” in Mara, while perhaps nothing overtly “supernatural” his instincts are flaring in recognition of “something”. This is a powerful moment where he realizes he has been wrong about her. To that point his attitudes and actions towards her were portrayed as ugly and demeaning. It is a moment of an epiphany a moment of respect. While Jake (and the reader) never comes to understand what is going on- I like to think moments like this are in-roads to greater understanding of both the magic and mystery of our human lives and greater understandings and mysteries larger than ourselves, individually and collectively.

INNA: There is a monstrous, otherworldy creature who emerges from the the depths of a cave and mirrors the shape of the brother, but the ghostly being is unclothed. Do you consider that our natural state is something beastly and alluring, that’s lurking beneath the surface and waiting for the opportunity to take over, if we let it?

DANIEL: That is a cool way of looking at that scene and a thoughtful question, thank you. It is also very interesting that you “come down” on the side as interpreting what transpired as something “otherworldy” and definitively a creature. My intent in that scene is to portray something that could be a figment of nitrogen narcosis experienced from troubles on a dive or could also be something supernatural depending on how any given reader interprets what is presented.

 

Going with the notion that a monster does indeed replace Stephen, I think you have enunciated a very potent notion. In life there is the “world of the submerged” in our selves, in others, and in general layers of the world and mechanication that are there and operating beyond our reach for many reasons both earlty and even other-worldly. In fiction the monster- the supernatural- the other is a potent way to explore these things. Certainly something I’m interested in writing about and reading about. I’m not sure if “the beastly” is our natural state or even if our “submerged selves” or any “submerged world” is waiting to take over… but it certainly is potent avenue of inquiry. I think both as individuals and as a society repressing or not embracing to a degree “the darkness” or shadow as sometimes referred to leads to complications even outright problems.  Our world is a world of light and dark- both literally and “figuratively” so it makes sense that these concepts would be part of the natural way. While the “beastly” might not naturally be waiting to take over- nature abhors a vacuum and perhaps the beastly or the darkness is waiting for some sort of equal air time- in our lives and all of our lives. Could so much of the ugliness we see today be a part of this? Certainly something to think about. I really like that you posed the question.

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You can read both of our stories in the anthology Nightscript 3. All three volumes of the anthology series in the Kindle format were on sale last time I checked and might still be on sale now. In any event the book can be found on amazon and from the publisher.

Horror News reviews the Night Marchers

Posted in Uncategorized on December 7, 2017 by bloodandstardust

Dave Gammon from Horror News reviews the Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales.

“Braum’s broad spectrum of protagonists in varying situations, vocational backgrounds, ethnicity, sex and perspectives creates a universal blueprint for a potentail massive audience to enjoy. One does not have to be a fan of horror, reading or other wise to fully appreciate and enjoy this anthology.”

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http://horrornews.net/127107/book-review-night-marchers-strange-tales-author-daniel-braum/

Book signing Dec 9 and 10, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5, 2017 by bloodandstardust

I’ll be here Dec 9th and 10th selling and signing books.

Conversation with Inna Effress on her Nightscript 3 story “Liquid Air”

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2017 by bloodandstardust

Nightscript 3 contributor and Los Angeles based author Inna Effress was one of my guests this past Monday November 27, 2017 at the Night Time Logic reading series at Lovecraft Bar NYC.

Before the event Inna and I had the chance to exchange questions about our stories Liquid Air and Palankar. Here is the part of the conversation about “Liquid Air” which Inna read and we discussed at the event.

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DANIEL: Nightscript is an anthology series of “quiet horror” in the tradition of the strange tales of Robert Aickman. This kind of work is sometimes referred to as literary horror. How do you feel your story “Liquid Air” fits in, (if at all) on the genre / literary continuum? And did any of these considerations come into play when you were writing the story?

INNA: When I first tried writing fiction, it had been many years since I’d even read a novel. The first books I picked up were pure literary fiction. More than anything, I wanted to create a complete realism in my writing with relatable characters and situations. It seemed that no matter what I did, though, my fiction always took a strange turn. At first, I resisted. I remember panicking a little. “Liquid Air” is the first story I wrote giving myself permission to delve into my subconscious and examine some of the darkest images living there, the ones which trouble me most. I think no matter what the genre, good writing should stir up some discomfort in its author and the reader, in one way or another. Now, it pleases me to think that the worlds I create can belong to more than one realm – or none at all.

DANIEL: Do your experiences coming to America from the Ukraine inform and or manifest in your fiction? Do lines such as “like an immigrant imprisoned in his crumbling memory— his mind’s snapshots of a dacha paneled with driftwood along the Volga River” come from specific times and places?

INNA: I’m pretty sure that my most terrific nightmares originate (directly or indirectly) from my experiences as an immigrant. Even though I was fairly young and determined to read and write English, I always felt like an outsider. In some ways I perceived myself – and as an extension, my family – as a monstrosity. I think when people have to leave behind their entire lives and start over with nothing to their names, their stories lost, a large space in their minds clings to those past lives. It becomes a constant drive to rebuild the architecture of their mind’s eye, even while it crumbles around them.

DANIEL: One of your characters is involved in the “dying art” of neon glass making. In addition to other “fusions” and acts of creation that involve fusion neon is made with the fusion of chemical gases. One character remarks at how Argon gas is always around us- undetectable unless under certain circumstances… what other “unseen forces” might be at play in Liquid Air and in all of our lives?

INNA: Neon attracted me because it reminded me of being stuck in another era, of reverting back to some specific place in time that straddled the new and the old. For me, there’s something kind of creepy about relics that won’t die and continue to loom over us, larger than life and taking on a life of their own. I like the idea of existing on the edge of anything: insanity, indecency, immorality, death. I wanted to explore all of these thoughts through something as intangible as gas.

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Inna’s story was a stand out story in a book of outstanding stories. I look forward to reading what comes next from her.

Up next soon is the second part of our conversation.

 

innaeatHPLNYC

November 27, 2017 Night Time Logic at Lovecraft NYC

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2017 by bloodandstardust

Julia Rust, David Surface, and Inna Effress were my guests for the fall / winter edition of the series.

We had a panel discussion of weird fiction and the Nightscript 3 anthology. Julia, David, and Inna read their stories to a packed room.

Nightscript 3- Conversations with author James Everington

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2017 by bloodandstardust

Here is part two of the conversation between UK author James Everington and I about our short stories “Palankar” and “The Affair” that appeared in the anthology Nightscript 3.  To read part 1 where we talk about Palankar, please follow the link over to James’ blog.

http://jameseverington.blogspot.com/2017/11/daniel-braum-nightscript-iii-interview.html

James is an author of supernatural fiction that steers into the unexplained, psychological, and ambigious. He has authored short story collections, novels, and edited anthologies which you can find listed here. http://jameseverington.blogspot.com/p/published-stories.html Even before knowing about his impressive body of work his short story “The Affair” caught my attention as one of the stand out stories in a very solid collection of stand out stories that appear in Nightscript 3. I’m particularly looking forward to reading “Imposter Syndrome” which he edited and is due out soon from Dark Mind Books.

Here is our conversation about “The Affair”

DANIEL: One hallmark of many of Aickman’s stories is they have narrators with a longing for a time past or for better times of “an England” that no longer exists. Your story features long-married characters settled into a routine who are looking back at the “dawn” of or perceived better times in their relationship. This, combined with your speculative element, conveyed a similar feeling that is achieved in Aickman’s work. Was this choice intentional?

JAMES: I’ve read and loved Aickman’s work for many years now, so I’m sure I have internalised some influences from him. But that said, I wouldn’t say the Aickman feeling was intentional, as I’m not sure it’s ever a good idea to consciously write an ‘Aickmanesque’ story, his work was too idiosyncratic for that. (I thought the recent anthology from Undertow, Aickman’s Heirs, was a success precisely because none of the authors attempted ‘straight’ emulations of his stories, but instead took different elements from his work and wove them into their own tales.)

And the attitude you describe – “longing for an England that no longer exists” – is a big part of our national character: see the utter nonsense that is Brexit for proof. So writing about characters looking back to the past is part and parcel of writing about the English, I think. And what is a ghost story if not a story of the past influencing the present? Not that ‘The Affair’ features a ghost, but to return to Aickman, one thing I’ve took from him is that a story can feel ghostly and haunted without an actual ghost.

DANIEL: What would you like readers to come away with after spending time with your characters and story?

JAMES: This is a hard one to answer; I’m not so sure that a “strange story” like ‘The Affair’ is primarily aiming for similar affects as most other fiction. It’s not (just) about letting readers sympathise or empathise with the characters, although hopefully they do, neither is it (just) about constructing a plot which makes readers want to know what happens next—although again, I hope that they do. It’s about atmosphere, I think, a building, mounting sense of unease, of being off-balance. Constructing a story that evokes that atmosphere is my aim, although whether I ever achieve it is for others to judge. I read widely, but as a reader these kind of stories scratch an itch that nothing else quite can. Hopefully I can scratch a few readers itches…

DANIEL: Robert Aickman refused to speak of the inspirations for his stories and his creative process. Are you comfortable talking about your process and inspirations? If so, what inspired the “supernatural” element of the strange encounters your characters face in your story?

JAMES: ‘The Affair’ was written over the course of a single week, while on holiday in Whitby. I always like writing overlooking the sea (which is annoying, as I live in landlocked Nottinghamshire). Like most of my stories, it was written quite instinctively, especially the first draft. With a short story, I’m quite happy to start writing about a scene or situation or specific image and seeing where it takes me. For ‘The Affair’, that was a married man meeting someone who looked like his wife in a pub, but them both acting as if they didn’t know each other. Everything grew from that; I didn’t have a solid view of what the story would be ‘about’ at a thematic level, or how it would end. This kind of stuff all comes out in the writing and rewriting for me. So retrospectively, what I think ‘The Affair’ is about is the midlife crisis.

I’ve always been troubled by that fact that as a culture we treat the midlife crisis as such a joke: middle-aged men buying motorbikes and chasing women half their age and all that. Whereas I see it, for both men and women, as a source of quite desperate and black revelations: that life is shorter than we ever realised, that we’ve already squandered much of it, that our memories of that squandered past will soon be all we have left. Naturally we tend to keep these feelings buried so we can enjoy what we do have left. The supernatural element provides a way of externalising all that, of forcing the central character to confront it, at least partially. That said, the supernatural element also draws him into a masculine fantasy of a ‘blameless’ affair, so things aren’t black and white here.

I’ve also just realised that I was writing it in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote (and my dismay at my country), so returning to the answer to your first question, maybe that subconsciously fed into it too.

DANIEL: The theme of doubles and duality surfaces in your story. What do you think the “double” or the “twin” is such fertile ground for weird fiction? What is the appeal of the theme to you as a writer?

JAMES: I’ve heard it said that horror fiction is split between ‘outer’ horror where the characters face some external force, and ‘inner’ horror where the evil is inside people. But I like stories that blur that distinction, and doubles and doppelgangers do just that: it’s inner horror externalised. Or outer horror that looks just like us. Of course, in ‘The Affair’ horror is not quite the right word for what the double represents, unless you view the quiet desperation of the central character’s situation as horror (I probably do). But you’re right, it’s a fascinating theme. And once you start looking, you see it everywhere in contemporary weird fiction (not least, your own contribution to Nightscript 3, ‘Palankar’) and each author has their own take on it. In fact (plug time) I’ve recently co-edited an anthology called Imposter Syndrome featuring stories about doubles of all types, which will be out the end of November from Dark Minds Press. Seeing how writers like Ralph Robert Moore, Laura Mauro and Gary McMahon tackled the idea has really made me appreciate how fertile and flexible it is.

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Catch up with more about James and his work over at his blog linked above !