Archive for August, 2015

A Savage Beasts Introduction: My Interview with Author Daniel Braum

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2015 by bloodandstardust

Here is John F.D. Taff’s Interview with me from his blog. Be sure to check out his story in Savage Beasts from Grey Matter Press. Thanks, John !

Savage Beasts Anthology 8/11/15

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2015 by bloodandstardust

Introducing Savage Beasts a music themed anthology from Grey Matter Press!


My short story An American Ghost in Zurich appears in the anthology which is out today 8 / 11/ 2015.

Thanks to the good people over at Grey Matter I had a chance to talk with acclaimed author John Taff about our stories, music, and the Savage Beasts project ! John’s interview of me is over on his site here:

Thanks, John !

Here is my interview with John.


What music do you tend to listen to? If it is a broad range can you tell us about some music either artists or songs or albums that you are drawn to either lately or that you keep coming back to? How does music if it all fit into your writing process or process of birthing ideas for stories?

I listen to music a lot, when writing, driving, reading, relaxing, and I tend to use different music for different things.  When writing, I like classical or movie soundtracks, something to block out distractions and set a mood, but nothing with words that might inhibit the writing itself.  I’m actually a big geek movie soundtrack guy. I love to listen to the soundtracks of Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.  Big fan of composers like John Williams, James Horner and Danny Elfman (both in his composer guise and in his Oingo Boingo frontman guise.)  What do I listen to normally?  I grew up during the 80s, so I like a lot of 80s stuff–Duran Duran (yeah…I know), Hall & Oates, The Police.  Big fan of Tom Petty and Don Henley.  But my go to group is the prog-rock Alan Parsons Project.  This usually elicits groans and eye rolls from anyone near me, but I’ve loved ’em since high school.

I’m not a fan of dance music of any kind.  I love listening to a lyricist’s music; someone for whom the words have as much meaning as the music.  Sting, Paul Simon, Henley, Petty, Zevon, Tom Waites, people who are as much poets as musicians.  I use music a lot to influence my writing…a snippet of lyrics, a title of a song that holds some meaning, a feeling or emotion aroused by a song.  Music is a great sounding board, for me at least, to inform my stories or coagulate ideas.

Savage Beasts is a music themed anthology. Have you written any other stories where music plays a part? If so, how did writing The Song You Can’t Get Out of Your Head differ? Without giving too much away your story deals with a potential dark side of the music business. Did any particular songs or musicians inspire the story?

My story in this antho was inspired less by a particular song and more by the idea of how some songs manage to get into your head on an endless loop.  The original idea came to me from how a song, say like Disney’s “It’s a Small World” can be set off in your head just by someone mentioning the title…which I just did.  So, you’re welcome.  But, yeah, the story also touches on not only the darker sides of the music business, but also the darker sides of fandom…and the creative process itself.

How does setting play a role in your work? Did any settings in particular inspire the ones in this story?

Well, it’s one of the big three, isn’t it?  Character, plot and setting are the holy trinity of writing, and each has to be dealt with in a story to pull the thing off successfully.  I tend to be a more visual writer, in that I not only write visually, but I also “see” the plot unfold in my mind as a write.  So, setting is vital to my getting a story down correctly.  Setting is so important in putting the reader into the story, and if the reader isn’t in the story, how can it work on any but the most superficial level?  As any good writer, I steal liberally from my own life and experience, so I can achieve at least a layer of verisimilitude.  There’s nothing in this particular story that I can put my finger on directly, but it all comes down to painting a realistic picture for the reader.  And setting is like a spice, which I think too many writers don’t seem to understand.  You need just enough to allow the reader to fill in the details themselves.  You don’t need to describe every coffee table, window shade, knick-knack and throw rug in the room, along with the ambient temperature and the lumen index.  A little goes a long way in helping a reader place themselves in the story.  Too much is…well…too much.

Are you a musician? Do you have any musicians close to you in your life. At risk of asking you if you were a tree what tree would you be… what instrument would you most like to play and why?

Nope.  Never played anything other than the triangle in a school performance.  Can’t read music, seems like Sanskrit to me. So I have a lot of respect for those who can.  My wife, for instance, is a classically trained opera singer.  She plays the piano, studied music, sang in performances.  Not me.   I would love to learn how to play the drums, tho.  I have quite a bit of nervous energy, and it comes out usually as drumming–on the steering wheel in the car, at my desk, etc.  Drives people crazy.

Which rock heroes or icons capture your imagination? And why? Why is rock and roll such fertile ground for speculative fiction? Does it lend itself to horror more readily in your opinion?

This is gonna sound strange, but ummm…no one.  I mean, I like the music, but the personalities often seem fractured, at best, and downright destructive at worse…at least to themselves.  I think the genre is fertile for fiction because it represents an allure that has a wide appeal to it.  Music is like a glamour, and rock singers can come off sometimes like magicians or sorcerers.  So people get caught up in it easily.  As far as horror…I dunno.  The music life often shows itself to be awfully sybaritic, which can be easily stood on its ear to show its inherent horrors.

Are there any stories about music or inspired by music other than the Savage Beasts collection that come to your mind that you have enjoyed?  

Straub’s “Pork Pie Hat,” a jazz-inspired story, comes to mind.  I love me some Straub.

I think many of the readers of these interviews will be writers. Who of course are also readers. Do you have any advice to writers in how to handle writing about music? What are some pitfalls in writing about music. Feel free to point out any train wrecks or high points that spring to


Nothing springs to mind, and I guess my only piece of advice is as much for writing in general as it is for writing in general.  Feel it when you’re writing.  Feel the words, feel the music, feel the emotion.  Because if you don’t feel it while writing the words, the reader won’t while reading them.

Thanks, John !

I look forward to talking with you more about music and writing and of course Peter Straub ! I hope readers of these interviews will continue the conversation with us about music, our stories, and the Savage Beasts project on social media. Come over and find us on Facebook ! -DB