Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Review of The Wish Mechanics from the Grim Reader

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2018 by bloodandstardust

Reviews of the Wish Mechanics are still coming in.

https://beavisthebookhead.com/2018/05/08/book-review-the-wish-mechanics-daniel-braum/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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Night Time Logic April 24, 2018 Photos

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2018 by bloodandstardust

Photos from Night Time Logic.

On April 24, 2018 at KGB Bar I hosted A Night of New Voices in Weird Fiction.

Farah Rose Smith and Gwendolyn Kiste read from their work and discussed their fiction and a range of topics about horror and weird fiction. I have audio from the evening that I hope to be able to share before long.  Watch this space for news. And news about where the audio from the April 2017 event with Peter Straub is coming to!

The discussion with Gwendolyn and Farah has me thinking about many things. One thought to share here is how the three of us approach / discussed weird fiction. I realized I was coming at the topic with “structure” in mind. Farah talked about atmosphere and Gwendolyn mentioned internal worlds. More about this another place and another time but for now thanks to everyone who came out, to KGB Bar for hosting us, and to Gwnedolyn and Farah for their stellar performances of their stories and for sharing their insights and wisdom with me and the series. Thank you!

I’ve forgotten to add a photo of the questionnaire Gwendolyn prepared to go along with her story. “Ten Things to Know About the Ten Questions” which I hope to remedy with an update soon.

 

Interview with Author Farah Rose Smith

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2018 by bloodandstardust

Farah Rose Smith will be reading along with Gwendolyn Kiste at the next Night Time Logic event on April 24, 2018 at KGB Bar in NYC. Both authors will join me for a discussion of their fiction. Full details are at the link below. We hope to see you there. Recently I had the chance to speak with Farah Rose about her fiction and many upcoming projects!

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DB: Thank you for joining me as a guest at the next Night Time Logic with Gwendolyn Kiste. I’m looking forward to hearing you read your work and speaking with you both on the panel.

Your biography mentions that you are also a filmmaker and magazine editor and publisher. Could you tell me about Grimoire Pictures? How does film inform your stories and or writing process?

FRS: I started this small art film company while I was enrolled in a certificate program at The Rhode Island School of Design for video production and animation. Doing so helped guide me through my seven years in the program, essentially encapsulating the general aesthetic I was going for with my photography and video work. Everything I did was very dark, ominous, experimental.

Films were initially much more influential on my writing, though I have distinctly gravitated away from this, as I think a lot of stories now take a very cinematic approach and while there is nothing necessarily wrong with that, I tend towards wanting to preserve or make use of a more literary approach. Or just want to be different.

I think the connection that I can make between the medium of video production and story writing is that for both, I make use of experimental approaches and techniques, both of others and my own, and try to make the process of creating as much of an art as the result. I think there is a very Eva Hesse-esque element to this… the idea that the process is the art, and the result is an artifact. But how that may be perceived in the medium of fiction, I am unsure, because an audience doesn’t really see any of this. I try to approach writing as art, in the hope that it will also be experienced as art. I use a lot of aleatory strategies to start with.

DB: You are the founder of Mantid Magazine, a publication promoting women and diverse writers in weird fiction. Could you tell me about some of the best experiences you’ve had with the magazine so far and what direction you see it going in the future?

FRS: I think the best experiences over the course of the past few years are the interactions I have been able to have with women and foster between them, building both professional and personal relationships, and forging the community of storytelling that I had intended from the start. If I am to separate personal and professional accomplishments, then I think on the professional side, I can say that it has been an honor and joy to see contributors get their start with MANTID and get published elsewhere after the fact, continuing on towards their storytelling pursuits. On the personal side, I published a story of Gwendolyn’s in the first issue of MANTID called A CERTAIN KIND OF SPARK, and we have since become very close friends.

My hope is that the publication will continue on to a fourth issue, which will also be in anthology format, and that we will continue to see greater numbers of diverse writers submitting. I make a point to invite women to submit as well, and am hopeful that when the fourth edition comes around, it will be the most diverse and comprehensively weird yet. (And I would encourage women to contact me directly if they are curious about the publication and potential fourth issue).

DB: You are also an artist and musician. What kind of art do you do and what instrument do you play? How do these other disciplines affect your fiction?

FRS: For the most part, video work was the majority of my “art,” since I had great esteem for folks like Kenneth Anger, The Quay Brothers, Ladisla Starewicz, etc., and was aesthetically averse to creating anything commercial. I paint occasionally, and used to draw with pastels, but these are mediums I gravitate to and away from, depending on time and impulse (mostly because I’m not very good at either). I am a guitarist, mostly in the areas of electric blues and folk rock. I am unsure if these disciplines impact my fiction, though I approach them in the same disjointed, cumulative fashion as piecing a story together (which takes me a very long time). Music and paintings by others, however, are enormously influential in the development of my work. I experience music and visual art very intensely, so both play a pivotal role in my overall process of bringing a story to life.

DB: The narrator of your chapbook THE VISITOR is an aspiring rock star. What are the challenges in writing about music and how did you approach them?

FRS: I think the greatest challenge for me was trying not to fall back into any cliches or heavy-handed references, even though the villain was heavily inspired by Earthling-era Bowie. I came up with that story after seeing Iggy Pop play in Boston a few years ago, which was not long after Bowie’s death. The evil song in the story is essentially Break Into Your Heart off of Iggy Pop’s Post-Pop Depression album.

This was unusual for me to have such obvious elements looming over a story, as I usually try to divorce myself from the work of others as much as possible. So here I allowed myself leeway, and approached it as a way of honoring two artists that I love very much, while still maintaining the slightly-decadent, surrealist elements that I love. I was also influenced by sculpture for that one, particularly the works of Arlene Shechet and Sarah Sitkin.

DB: You have a short story coming out in the Anthology Tragedy Queens which is a collection of stories inspired by Lana Del Rey and Sylvia Plath. Which one was your story inspired by and why? What connections do you see between these artists and their work?

FRS: Plath’s poem DREAM WITH CLAM-DIGGERS had the greatest influence over this piece. I tried to stay away enough from mirroring elements so that the influence would be only a thread, or a glimmer. Seaside memories, summer melancholy, the delicate intersection of the natural world with a sublime one, children, dreams. By weaving these elements gently, I felt it would be a way of paying homage to Plath respectfully.

I have so much respect for both Sylvia Plath and Lana del Rey that I found myself trying to bridge different areas of their influence into this story. Both have a way of painting atmospheric sadness with their words. I wanted to use that as a base to explore the idea of depression and incapacitation being dismissed when girls become women, the tragedy of perceived failure as a mother, the loss of a child. These are matters that women experience and don’t necessarily see reflected realistically in fiction. I also wanted to capture Lana’s neo-Symbolist approach of elevating emotional experiences, in a way that feels transcendent, while working through some of my own memories of recovering from a particularly difficult time in my life, a stroke at 18.

DB: You’ve written and published several other short stories recently. What are some of the connections or unifying elements in your work that you see? What are some themes or topics you wish to explore or write more about?

FRS:  A fair amount of my short stories contain similar thematic threads… disintegration of identity, failure amid enormous ambition, isolation, abandonment, artistic madness, luxuriating in negativity and then somehow transcending it, inescapable memories, depression, chronic illness/disability, complications of sisterhood, the trials of the introvert.

These are things I’ve encountered in my own life, both directly and indirectly, though I don’t approach any kind of writing project with intent to include these things. They just happen, which is nice, because it allows me to write without having to integrate a million things that I would probably utilize too heavily if I intended to include them. I am all-for subtlety and gentleness when it comes to themes or “message-driven” works (which I usually avoid) because, at least for me, there is a far greater emotional impact from realism and delicate inclusion of detail rather than being hammered over the head with particular messages.

I generally write within the confines of the themes mentioned above, or a tonality that reflects sadness and isolation, though the difficulty there is getting something creative across without sounding sorry for yourself or like you’re asking for special treatment. I’ve often found that able-bodied audiences and readers will respond to my work oddly, and that was jarring initially. But there is really no right way to respond to a piece of fiction, and that’s something I’ve made peace with. Though it is my hope that readers who can relate to the things I write with that particular content will come across it and have some kind of emotional, authentic experience with it.

The stories are also connected through hidden/recurring elements, often names or items that appear and disappear, but hold some kind of comprehensive significance. Everything is connected. There is a giant universe (I will avoid the term mythos for my own sanity) that I hope people will slowly get acquainted with.

I’d like to move away from the darkest of these themes in future works, moving more towards surreal/experimental fantasy works that don’t dwell so deeply in morbid territory.  I want to explore themes that are relevant to women, with delicacy. Sisterhood and motherhood, most especially.

DB: What authors or stories have your attention at the moment? What are some of your favorite things about co-panelist Gwendolyn Kiste’s stories?

FRS: The writer I am most excited about right now is Larissa Glasser. Her novella F4 was recently released from Eraserhead Press as part of the New Bizarro Author Series (a series I would encourage everyone to check out!). I bought a chapbook of hers at the Merrimack Valley Book Festival last October and was absolutely blown away by the transgressive macabre lusciousness of her prose. Absolutely floored me, as did a reading she did at the Lovecraft Arts and Sciences store in Providence. She’s definitely a writer to keep an eye on.

I recently finished reading HAUNTED WORLDS by Jeffrey Thomas, and enjoyed that exceedingly. I also recently became enamored with Joanna C. Valente’s poetry. Her new collection SEXTING GHOSTS came out recently, and I’d encourage everyone to check that out as well.

And on the fabulism/magical realism front, everyone should pick up a copy of I STOLE YOU: STORIES FROM THE FAE & MAKARA by Kristen Ringman. She also read at the LASC recently and I predict her work will have a strong impact on the genre.

Gwendolyn’s stories are powerful in numerous ways. Her style is specific and recognizable because there is a lyrical balance between that which is seen and that which is felt. And there is enormous authenticity and weight to the emotion woven into the narratives. I also appreciate that so much of it is unabashedly female.

I first spoke with Gwendolyn after she was recommended to me as a writer for the first issue of MANTID by my friend and colleague, Sean Thompson. I published A CERTAIN KIND OF SPARK in that issue, which struck me in the very first lines because it contained a sentiment, or perspective, that my mother had always spoken of in comparison to her sister, and I knew that I was dealing with a writer who had profound insights into the experiences of women, and an incredibly artful hand at conveying these things in fiction in a weird, magical context. The first pages of the story SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE from her collection had me crying profusely. Gwendolyn writes real life. The supernatural and magical are there, but it is that connection to reality that makes those wondrous elements really sing. And that is the best word for it, perhaps! Gwendolyn’s writing sings.

DB: You’ve also written novella length work. How, if at all did that format come into play in the creation of EVISCERATOR and THE ALMANAC of DUST? Can you tell us about some of the weird fiction elements in these novellas?

FRS: I don’t really approach these longer stories any differently than shorter works, which is probably why it is rare for me to work long-form. My process is so meticulous and involves incredible labor on even one sentence at a time, which becomes a burden when trying to approach the completely different animals that are novelettes and novellas.

EVISCERATOR was woven together from three different short stories, which was an unusual approach that I don’t believe I’ll use again. The main characters have undergone these barbaric cosmic surgeries so I found some artful resonance in the idea of taking several different pieces and trying to make them work, just like the characters were trying to make their lives work with whatever scrambled elements they could grasp onto, including their mutilated bodies. The weird elements are fairly scarce since it more properly fits into Bizarro territory, but the villain is a cosmic entity that shows up in other forms in previous works of mine, so I think that may be interesting for readers to witness and analyze in a weird context. I think I am most uncertain about EVISCERATOR, so I am very much looking forward to hearing what people think about it when it is released from Eraserhead Press in July.

As for THE ALMANAC OF DUST, this was a story that had been haunting me for years and years. I sometimes allow a single idea to fester for a very long time, with the knowledge that there will be a correct time to write it, and I can say that in this case, that was a wise decision. I am particularly proud of that piece, because it was the first time I set out to execute something very specific and did exactly that, rather than allowing myself to stray. The “weird” in that is all about atmosphere. I was highly inspired by Alfred Kubin and Bruno Schulz for that particular story.

DB: How does weird fiction differ from other genres in your opinion and experience? Where are some of the areas of overlap and where do you find weird fiction transcends and becomes something else?

FRS:   There are many arguments about what the definition of weird fiction truly is, but for me, though weird fiction has a very particular atmosphere, the unusual elements can unfold in an enormous variety of ways. I do not immediately associate it with cosmic horror as some often do. I think my perspective on it is best illustrated through mentioning works I consider to be at the zenith of “weird.” I personally maintain that the seminal weird novel is THE OTHER SIDE by Alfred Kubin, and the most profound weird collection is COLD TALES by Virgilio Piñera. These authors encapsulate the genre at its most artful and intelligent, though are perhaps not appreciated or examined as often as Lovecraft and his contemporaries.

I am most attracted to the moments when weird fiction overlaps with Surrealism, Decadence, Symbolism, and the Middle European and Latin American Fantastic. Having said that, I am hesitant to use the term “transcends” to describe deviations from weird fiction, but only because I think it undermines how wonderful weird fiction can be by itself. There really is so much overlap that the idea of continuously categorizing works into genres and subgenres becomes tedious. Ultimately these categories are to guide a reader, and shouldn’t haunt a creator too much. I try not to let them haunt me. I have enough things haunting me already!

DB: Thank you for these answers! I’m looking forward to hearing and learning more at the event!

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Interview with author Gwendolyn Kiste

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2018 by bloodandstardust

Authors Farah Rose Smith and Gwendloyn Kiste will be my next guests at Night Time Logic on April 24, 2018 at KGB Bar in New York. Recently I had the opportunity to ask Gwendloyn about her work. We hope to see you there. Here is a start of what we will talk about for the panel discussion part of the event.

 

MONSTERS IN PLAIN SIGHT

Speaking with author Gwendolyn Kiste about her short fiction.

DB:     Your short story “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” from the Nightscript 2 Anthology reminded me of stories from one of my favorite writers, the great Kelly Link. Your story plays with an unconventional structure, presenting the section headings as numbered items from a list of slights, told from the perspective of a young girl whose older sister is turning into a scaled lizard creature. The voice is effortless and convincing which works perfectly with the magic realism of how the transformation is presented. The tension of the progression of transformation plays with our expectations, fears, and shines a light on societal expectation of girls. What inspired the story? What inspired the presentation and unique structural choices for the story?

GK:    First off, thank you so much for that Kelly Link comparison! Those are some serious shoes to fill, and it’s an honor even to be mentioned in the same sentence!

 I wrote “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” a few years ago, so I actually had to go back to my notes on it to be able to remember the exact inspiration for it. The way I thought of this story for a while—and this is literally written in one of my notebooks at the time—was “The Virgin Suicides meets Cronenberg’s The Fly.” This is also similar to how I’ve described my forthcoming novel, The Rust Maidens. There is definitely a similar through-line to both “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” and the novel, primarily the themes of body horror and coming of age. It’s a natural combination in many ways, since adolescence is a terrifying and transformative time, even under the best circumstances.

 While I saw the film version of The Virgin Suicides when I was in high school, I didn’t see the remake of The Fly until about five years ago, mainly because I knew how it ended and I didn’t feel like putting myself through that emotionally. Of course, afterwards, I was glad I did, since it definitely affected me creatively in ways I hadn’t expected. This idea of loving someone and watching them disintegrate into a monster before your eyes was so terrifying and yet very profound for me, and I wanted to explore that, albeit in the context of a non-romantic relationship. I’ve always had a fondness for stories about complicated families, in particular the bond between sisters, which is where at least a little bit of The Virgin Suicides inspiration comes in. In particular, how the Lisbon sisters seem destined for a terrible fate in a house that’s locked up from the outside world.  

 As for the structure, I love list stories, or works told with some kind of sectioned or unusual format. In this case, the narrator is trying her best to process what’s happening to her family by keeping this running tally of grievances. She tries to make it seem like she genuinely dislikes her sister, but as the story unfolds, it becomes more apparent that the relationship between them is complicated but also very loving, and that the narrator is frustrated and scared and unsure of how to deal with what’s happening to her sister. This increasing sense of isolation leads her to blame her sister for everything, while secretly just wanting to be close to her at the same time. Hopefully, the structure enhanced what the narrator was going through rather than serving as a distraction or being gimmicky somehow. I’ve found, though, especially when you’re trying more experimental approaches, that the reader experience can vary wildly. I always like to fall back on the old adage, “your mileage may vary.” Some readers will like it, some won’t. So goes the life of a writer.    

DB:     “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” ends with the confirmation that the narrator sister is also going through the monstrous transformation. This subversion of our initial expectations operates as both the horrific revelation at the end of many horror stories but also carries additional weight to this reader with the empowerment implied in the last lines. What went into your choice of this ending and what do you want readers to take away from the story?

GK:    Looking back, I don’t remember coming to a specific moment in the drafting process of the story when I specifically decided on that ending. It just felt like the natural place that the story would go. That’s probably in part because my favorite endings, both as a writer and reader, are the ones that are unconventionally happy. Sure, something terrible has happened, but the protagonist has come to a place of peace with it. Horror seems like the perfect medium to explore such endings, too.

 In the final transformation scene of “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister,” the narrator feels powerful and connected with her sister. Gone are those feelings of isolation and fear that had plagued her until this point. She’s clearly going to have a rough road ahead of her, but she feels ready for it. To her, it’s better to become a monster than to be like the people who have hurt her and her sister. If I had to pick one takeaway message from the story, that would be it: to embrace what makes you different rather than become like those who ostracize you or the people you love. Being different is certainly not the worst thing in the world, especially when the alternative is to be cruel. This is the devastating lesson the narrator learns, as everyone, including their own parents, shun her older sister as she transforms. By the end of the story, the two sisters have seen the world and the people in it for what they truly are, and even though it’s crueler than they expected and not at all what they wanted, both of them embrace their monstrous qualities as a way of rejecting the status quo. This is a terrifying prospect to the people around them. Consequently, even though it’s rather horrible and distressing, the narrator’s final line of the story, “And I wait to hear their screams,” always makes me smile. She’s figured it all out, even if it’s not the “right” way.      

DB:     “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” operates as an excellent introduction to your work. I feel it delivers both the theme of empowerment and shines a light on the horrors that the world inflicts upon girls; both prominent elements of your collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe.

The title story features a narrator in love with a horror movie heroine who appeared in five movies, the fifth the snuff film where she was murdered.

“You don’t want to see what they do to her, those monsters hiding in plain sight.”

Can you tell me more about this line from the story? What went into choosing this story as the title to the collection?

GK:    I believe that line came together in the final draft of the collection. There was a variant of it up until then, but it wasn’t as succinct, and I remember knowing I was either going to have to cut it completely or figure out a way to make it pithier. Now, rereading it, I can’t imagine that sentiment being expressed in any other way, since I think it works better in such a seemingly simple statement. For me, what I was trying to get at is this idea that we rarely know or understand the motives of those around us, in particular strangers. The monsters in this story are not actually supernatural beings, but instead are merely flesh and blood. However, sometimes, humans are the very worst monsters, and that’s so much of what the title story is about.

 Even before the first draft was done, I knew it would be the title story. This was before I knew the name of it as well, so choosing the title became particularly daunting at that point. But I had a very strong feeling it would be the right one to have as the title story. The mood and the theme were a synthesis of everything I wanted to encapsulate in the collection.

 That being said, this was almost certainly a backwards way of doing it. When I was a guest on The Outer Dark recently, Scott Nicolay pointed out quite rightly that authors usually use a previously published story as the title of a collection. At the very least, it helps raise recognition, since readers might already be familiar with that particular story. It was interesting because I had instinctively realized that, but never gave it much thought when I was naming my own collection. I liked the idea of the title of the book being something unique on its own. Perhaps that was beginner’s luck, but I’ve gotten a lot of comments about the title, and almost all of them have been very positive, so I guess it’s worked out!

DB:     “The truth no one openly admits is that murderers are always more interesting than victims.”

The above is another powerful line the title story. In a book full of stories featuring the crimes, horrors, tragedies, and dangers that are visited upon young women and girls the stories emphatically transcend being tales of victims. What went into the choices of your protagonists, and their journeys and fates you present? Of particular interest is the arcs of the characters in the short story “The Tower Princesses”.

GK:    That line in particular was an incredibly difficult one for me to write, and I almost cut it right before I sent the collection to my editor, because it distressed me so much. That’s because obviously, I don’t feel that murderers are more interesting; in fact, I would instead say that my entire body of work asserts the opposite. But when you look at the world and where our attention too often focuses, it seems like the people who do the worst things tend to get the most attention. That’s something that’s bothered me ever since I was a kid, and I wanted very much to write about it. At the same time, though, speaking that truth aloud—or even just typing it into a story—was a painful admission about the way I see humanity.

That being said, even if humans can be quite terrible, I’ve always worked very hard not to give up hope. As a writer, I’m constantly trying to find those paths less taken, the ones where people discover a better way. I want to believe there’s a way out—or at least a way through—the chaos and cruelty of the world. It’s this hope that has always kept me going, and that hope has definitely translated into the arcs for many of my characters.

“The Tower Princesses” has one of the more complicated arcs I’ve ever written. The narrator, Mary, survives a series of horrible crimes, and she proves to herself and others how resilient she is. But at the same time, she becomes emotionally damaged in ways that she doesn’t realize until it’s too late. By then, she’s pushed away the only person she truly loves. This story was my way of taking on the idea of victim blaming and also the concept of a “good victim” and a “bad victim.” While I hope this is changing in society, there remains this idea that if someone is a victim of a crime, then they must conform to certain ideals of “goodness” (e.g. acting the “right” way, wearing the “right” things). Otherwise, they’ll be told that what happened to them was their own fault and even that they were “asking for it.” That’s a huge issue to take on in a single story, but it was important to me that Mary wasn’t one-dimensional and “perfect.” Instead, she’s human and flawed like the rest of us. I wanted to show her in this way while also stating emphatically that she was not at all to blame for what happens to her. No one needs to be some impossible paragon of goodness for us to be able to empathize with them and believe them.

Because it was important for me to say that someone can endure these things and still rebuild their lives afterwards, there is a bit of a coda in this story, which follows Mary beyond what might be the obvious ending point of the story. I wanted to give her a path to a happy ending, so to speak. This ending—and this story in general—has been polarizing for some readers, but I’m still very happy with it. It’s not an easy, straightforward ending, but that’s what makes me most proud of it. Life isn’t tidy; why should our stories always be?

DB:     Recently you asked me about the story choice and sequencing that goes into a collection. I noticed all but one of the stories in Smile are stories of women told from a female point of view. The combined weight of their experiences and points of view, one after another as presented I found to be profound. The final story in the book “The Lazarus Bride” I found to be a powerful break of this sequence of stories. The 2nd person point of view story is told from the point of view of a man. A man engaged in a supernatural cycle with his bride. The power was not in the male point of view but in the introspection and choice resulting in the breaking of the cycle. This choice and presentation resonates not only with the sequence of stories but with current events and this time in history. Can you speak about what went into this choice of stories and sequence? What were some of the challenges presenting some of the horrors your characters experience?

GK:    Putting “The Lazarus Bride” as the last story was all the work of my editor, Jess Landry. I originally wanted the title story as the final piece of the book, but Jess was the one who pointed out how the death and rebirth themes of “The Lazarus Bride” would make it the better final story, and I realized she was completely correct. She also moved “Something Borrowed, Something Blue” as the first story for the same reason, since it also features themes about a life breaking down and then the protagonist being reborn in her own way. So I have to defer to Jess on that choice, because I think it was a great one. It was also a moment in the editing process when I remember feeling so blown away that an editor I respected so much had appreciated and dissected my work enough to see those themes and connections in it. I mean, you would of course hope that an editor working with you on a collection loves your work that much, but I remember feeling so humbled over that experience. It was one of many really, really wonderful moments in working with Jess to put together the collection.

In terms of challenges, I find it’s always difficult to balance the horrors of real life in a way that respects those who have been victims. There are some weighty moments in the collection, including murder, suicide, and sexual violence. I always want to handle these issues with as much care and respect as I possibly can. I never, ever want my work to feel exploitive, or as if I’m using these themes for no reason except to evoke a quick emotion. That’s so profoundly unfair to do to those who have either gone through these experiences or have people close to them who have experienced them. Other people’s suffering should never be treated as a throwaway plot device. This means I have to be sure that I’m depicting the horrors in a way that is honest and respectful, and that every aspect of the horror has to be there. Those difficult moments must be integral to the story. Otherwise, it’s cheap and even potentially cruel, and those are descriptions that I hope will never apply to my work. 

 DB:     You speak about Outsiders in the introduction of the book. Can you share any of your experiences as an Outsider? What does being an Outsider mean to you and how has this inspired the stories in the book?

GK:    This question took me some time to answer, because it’s hard to isolate a single experience of being an outsider, mostly because I never really felt like I fit in. I suppose in general, I’ve always been rather headstrong and had a strange way of looking at the world. I don’t see magic as that far removed from our daily existence as maybe other people do, and I’ve always been drawn to horror and the weird. That often isn’t “allowed” in a small town, especially if you’re a girl. Most of my experiences fall under the common things that happen to bullied outsiders: being screamed at and berated in the hallways at school, being threatened, being told I was less than. Most of the bullying came from other students, but some of it, in particular the bureaucratic ways of excluding and ostracizing people, came from a few of the teachers as well. That hurt the most, especially since I was a straight-A student who did my work and participated in class. I was just a little odd, but sometimes, that’s enough for people to dislike you. It’s interesting, though, because when I was young, I always held on to the idea that being a good student should have protected me from bullying teachers; now years later, upon reflection, that mentality seems even worse to me. No matter what a student’s grades, they should never feel excluded just because they’re different. Of course, this makes my entire growing up experience sound terrible, which isn’t true, and I still give thanks regularly for the teachers who were amazing (and I had a number of them). They’ll never truly know how important they were to me, especially in the worst times of being bullied.

 That last paragraph probably answers a lot about my writing already, but I would say that the idea of outsiders trying to figure out a way to live in environments that are hostile to their very existence is a pervasive theme for me. Virtually all of my stories involve someone, often a young adult, being ostracized for what others deem to be monstrous, and then that protagonist figures out how to make their own way. That’s been my goal for most of my life, too. When I was young, I promised myself I would somehow make a place for myself in the world and that I would do everything I could to help make a place for other outsiders like me as well. That’s a pretty big order, and not something one person can truly accomplish in their life, but I guess it’s a good goal regardless, even if it is unattainable. So with my writing, I figure if I can make even one outsider feel a little less alone in this world, then I’ve accomplished something worthwhile in my work.

DB:     On April 24, 2018 you and author Farah Rose Smith will be panelists and readers at the Night Time Logic series that I host. What insight into Farah’s work can you tell us? What is unique about her work and what do you look forward to discussing with her?

GK:    First off, Farah is one of my very favorite new writers out there today in the speculative fiction world, and I’m beyond thrilled—and even a little giddy—to get to share the evening with her. She has such a powerful voice and vision, both as a writer and an editor. The latest issue of her publication, Mantid Magazine, just came out, and I’m so honored to have a story in there alongside talented writers like Carrie Laben, Nadia Bulkin, and Brooke Warra. Mantid is always put together with such care that it’s like a work of art unto itself with the way that Farah designs it. I just feel lucky to be along for the ride. 

 Also, right now, I’m reading an advance copy of Farah’s forthcoming novella, Eviscerator, and it’s seriously blowing me away. The prose is razor-sharp, and all the emotions in there are so raw and real. It’s truly some of the most powerful writing I’ve come across in years.

 For the Night Time Logic series, I’m honestly looking forward to discussing almost anything! Every time I talk with her, Farah’s perspective on the world has consistently been so unique and illuminating. In particular, it would be very fun to discuss her process as an author and how she incorporates her own experiences into her fiction. I always love talking about how other writers work, and the specific ways they create (e.g. where and when they write, or how long they tend to toil on pieces before submitting them), but it often isn’t a topic that comes up in casual conversation, so I would love to delve into that with her. I think her insight would be incredible.

 DB:     Please tell us what you are working on now, what releases are coming next, and give us links to where readers can find all of your books.

GK:    As I mentioned briefly already, the next book will be my debut novel, The Rust Maidens. We don’t have a firm release date yet, but it will probably make its way into the world this fall. I’m very excited about that one. It’s always an incredibly thrilling moment for an author when their first novel is set to debut, so I’ll be very eager to hear what readers think.

On the short fiction horizon, I have stories coming out in a number of venues this year, including Chiral Mad 4, Suspended in Dusk 2, and The Wicked Library, along with a couple others I can’t quite announce just yet. I’m also working on a few other stories and have one or two tales sitting in slush piles right now, which is always exciting. I love that feeling when you have a story done and it’s out there circulating in the world. It’s out of your hands at that point, and on its way to (hopefully) seek its fortune.   

Finally, I’m working on the earliest stages of another novel right now. This one has been swirling around me for almost six months, which is a shockingly long time for me. So far, I’ve been the kind of writer who either gets an idea and writes it out right away or else the idea just flits off or fades away completely. This one sticking around for so long has been interesting, almost as though it’s waiting in line for the right time. So I should probably give it its due and put it down on paper, at the very least to see where it ends up. It deserves that much.

For anyone who wants to look into my work, you can find me at my author website: gwendolynkiste.com. Also, feel free to head over to the JournalStone page for my collection (http://journalstone.com/bookstore/smile-will-untether-universe/) as well as the page at Broken Eye Books for my novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row (https://www.brokeneyebooks.com/store/p45/Pretty_Marys_All_in_a_Row_(paperback)_.html).

Thank you so much for this interview, Daniel! These questions were fantastic and very much appreciated!

DB:     Thank you, Gwendolyn. I look forward to speaking with you and Farah on April 24th !

Here is the link to the event page.

https://www.facebook.com/events/207534209988969/

 

 

An Interview at The Outer Dark

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16, 2018 by bloodandstardust

http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/tod-029-daniel-braum-how-to-write-weird-without-turning-to-stone/

A Wish Mechanics Review

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16, 2018 by bloodandstardust

A recommendation and review of The Wish Mechanics from U.K. author and editor James Everington.

https://jameseverington.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/recommendation-wish-mechanics-by-daniel.html

Interview at Miskatonic Musings

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2018 by bloodandstardust

The guys at Miskatonic Musings interview me about the Wish Mechanics and the Night Marchers.

http://www.miskatonicmusings.com/episode-201-point-pleasant/