Archive for November, 2017

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.


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.


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.



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.

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. 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.


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

Nov 24th Black Friday in Huntington

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2017 by bloodandstardust

Palankar from Nightscript 3 reviewed in RisingShadow

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2017 by bloodandstardust

“Palankar” by Daniel Braum is an excellent and extremely well written story. The author’s way of writing about Jacob’s father and brother, Steven, feels realistic and also surprisingly touching. What has happened to Steven is tragic and is handled exceptionally well. This is without any kind of doubt one of the best strange stories of the year.

“This is definitely one of the best stories I’ve ever read, because it’s pure quality from start to finish.”

-from Risingshadow