Tag Archives: Nightscript

Marching into the Night: Interview with Daniel Braum

Welcome back! This week’s author interview is with the very talented Daniel Braum. Daniel is the author of numerous books including The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales from Cemetery Dance Publications, The Wish Mechanics from Independent Legions Publishing, and Yeti. Tiger. Dragon. from Dim Shores.

Recently, Daniel and I discussed his inspiration as an author as well as his forthcoming projects and advice to new writers out there.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Daniel BraumI came across the short stories of Lucius Shepard and Tanith Lee on the shelves of one of my local libraries as a teen. They are both favorites of mine and writers that continue to inspire and influence me. I also read Salinger’s and Stephen King’s short stories as a teenager. Both had a big impact on me.

Later in life I came to the work of Hemingway, Tim Powers, and Kelly Link. I think their work is masterful. Only in the last few years I became aware of the stories of Robert Aickman. This was an important milestone for me as I discovered that my work “fits in” best with his lineage of strange tales. This year thanks to and on the recommendation of author Scott Nicolay, I read my first few Tiptree stories, the Quintanna Roo ones. These stories have been very much on my mind.

I don’t remember ever deciding to be a writer. Making the decision to attend the Clarion Writers Workshop in 2002 and to follow through with much of what I learned there is likely the best answer I can give to that.

Your work seamlessly blends elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Do you remember your first exposure to speculative fiction or films? What drew you to more fantastical worlds as a writer?

As a child my Dad would tell me about the movies he would see that I wasn’t allowed to watch. He would also tell me and sometimes draw for me what I called “monster” stories.

As a teen, one summer my Mom grabbed a copy of Stephen King’s “The Stand” off the supermarket check-out paperback racks for me because she knew I liked to read. I was lucky because in my experience the speculative had always been lumped together and a part of “fiction”. I didn’t grow up with genre distinctions. I was aware of them but only really learned of them as an adult.

I don’t remember being drawn to writing the fantastic. The fantastic always was such a big part of the way I conceptualized fiction. I figure this is a good a reason as any as to why “the fantastic” is a major part of the stories I write. A relatively early exposure to the work of authors Tanith Lee and Lucius Shepard are also likely a big part of this. In Tanith Lee’s stories anything can happen and often does. Her settings range from the here and now to other dimensions and other planets of her own unique imagining. Her characters are men and women and beings of every shape, size, color, and gender and from every background. This was the norm and default position for me before I even knew of the politics or even ever gave the notions that go along with this a second thought.

Lucius Shepard captivated me with his Central American settings. Much of his stories presented a unique sense of wonder (and horror) in the here and now, even if often that here and now was the “far away” places of Central America. Both authors presented unbridled worlds of imagination that were not only fun they had so much more going on at face value and beneath the surface. Wanting to do the same in my work was always a given.

Your debut collection, The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales, came out in 2016. What was the process of putting together the table of contents for the book? Were there any stories that you were planning to include that ended up being cut, or any pieces that were last-minute additions? Additionally, did you curate the order of the stories to express a certain theme or mood?

The stories for the Night Marchers were written over 15 years and appeared in publications ranging from Kelly Link and Gavin Grant’s Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet to Cemetery Dance Magazine. Some of the stories appeared in the now defunct zines Electric Velocipede and Full Unit Hook Up which both published interstitial material that crossed genre boundaries.

When the book was acquired by my editor Norman Prentiss for Cemetery Dance the only requirement was that it contain the three stories that had first appeared in Cemetery Dance Magazine, “Across the Darien Gap” (from issue #54 in 2006), “Jellyfish Moon” (from issue #67 in 2012 ), and “The Green Man of Punta Cabre” (from issue #71 in 2014 ).

I started the process of assembling the Table of Contents by thinking about what stories might go along best with those three stories within the context of trying to anticipate which of my stories Cemetery Dance readers might enjoy best and what they might expect from a collection being presented as a horror collection. Cemetery Dance has done an astounding job of publishing a wide range of all kinds of horror over the last 25 years. Reading Cemetery Dance Magazine and Cemetery Dance anthologies and publications showed me just how inclusive a genre horror is. I began to rule out stories that were potentially even outside of this wide umbrella of horror such as stories that overtly featured hallmarks of what we commonly think of as science fiction or fantasy, things like “rocket ships” and “secondary worlds”. ( Some of these stories became the core of my second collection The Wish Mechanics: Stories of the Strange and Fantastic which was published by Independent Legions in 2017 because I realized I had enough material written and published to fill several books. )

The Night MarchersOnce I had the stories chosen for the Night Marchers I worked on the sequence. Factors such as mood, theme, tense, and other factors came into play. I don’t read collections in order of the table of contents and I’m aware not everyone does. I like that the stories in the book can be read out of order and still feel like they are of a kind and of a set.

One story that was initially selected for the project did wind up being “cut”. The story is called “Tommy’s Shadow” and it first appeared in the print zine Kaleidetrope. The story received strong, positive feedback from some authors and reviewers who were reading an early in-progress draft of the book. So when my editor suggested that I select a story and make it “exclusive” for trade edition “Tommy’s Shadow” was eventually selected. But it turned out when I sold the rights to the trade edition, the trade edition publisher did not connect with the story in the way everyone else had and had reservations about including it in the trade edition. The solution was that a story I had just completed “A Girl’s Guide to Applying Superior Cat Make Up and Dispelling Commonly Found Suburban Demons” was included instead. “Tommy’s Shadow” is a story I love and one that goes over well with audiences when I read it, but the timing and series events led to it not making it in to these editions.

“A Girl’s Guide” went on to be well reviewed and reprinted in Great Jones Street project. I read the story at the Night Marchers book launch party at Morbid Anatomy Musuem and is one audiences enjoy when I read it.

I’m taking a different approach to the collections I’m working on now. I have a few collections in progress and groups of stories I am working on with the intent of the stories being presented for the first time together in the collection. This is something I’ve never done before and lends to a very different creative approach.

Also in 2016, Dim Shores released your limited edition chapbook Yeti. Tiger. Dragon., which features a trio of tales that deal with cryptozoology. What research went into crafting these particular stories? Also, since the book is now out of print, do you have any plans at this time of releasing the tales elsewhere, perhaps in another collection?

For those new to the publisher Dim Shores Press publishes small run limited editions of illustrated chapbooks and collections. It was a great experience working with publisher Sam Cowan and thanks to a robust pre-order from Dim Shores subscribers and a well-attended launch party all 150 copies of the book sold out in 5 days.

I don’t think of myself as one of those writers who revels in the research aspect of preparing to write. The three stories in Yeti Tiger Dragon involved very specific knowledge of place and setting and of crypto-zoology but most of what I needed to know to write the stories were things I already knew or “researched” as a labor of love. So I had already done the research when it came time to draft the stories.

So while I don’t have a lot about research to share, I do have a few fun fact that relates to the book. The first story “The Yeti’s Hand” is partially set at the Pangboche Monastery in Tibet. The Monastery is mentioned in Kate Bush song “Wild Man” which is also about a Yeti. While I am a huge Kate Bush fan the story was published in 2004, my first published short story, years before the Kate Bush song. However our approaches to how we portray the Yeti are uncannily similar.

The short story the “Water Dragon” from the book was reprinted in my second collection in 2017 The Wish Mechanics: Stories of the Strange and Fantastic. Due to the limited edition print runs of their books it is Dim Shores’ policy to no longer produce second printings or reprints of their titles.

A repackaged edition of the book which includes an additional story is forthcoming from Crossroads Press.

Your story in Nightscript III, “Palankar,” is a wonderfully chilling tale of what waits in the Palankar reef. What inspired this particular piece?

The story was born from the desire to write a piece about the process of trying to help a person you love- particularly the conflict of the point when one has exceeded the safe limits and would face real peril in trying to help further. This notion was with me for a very long time before I figured out an effective story to embody it within a dramatic structure.

The “surface” story is a tale of two brothers scuba diving. One of them has come to try and “help” the other by trying to convince him to come back to a family and life left behind. There is also a “submerged” story. It was my intent that the events of the story lent itself to explanations both mundane, supernatural, or psychological. With this element not being a given it was my hope that the story becomes more about the characters and their reactions to the magic and mystery of our human lives and maybe even present in roads, understandings, or awareness of mysteries larger than ourselves.

I believe the supernatural or possibility of the supernatural is a potent way to explore the human condition in fiction. In the weird fiction genre the element of doubles, twins, doppelgangers and or submerged selves are often presented. It is an element I am very interested in. I think the themes these kinds of stories lend themselves to and the tension between whether characters are experiencing something natural (such as nitrogen narcosis) or something supernatural (such as monster or doppelganger), are interesting to portray and explore in fiction.

As someone who has been involved in the publishing industry for a number of years now, what advice do you have for those writers who are just starting out? On the flip side, what was the worse piece of advice you were given in the early stages of your career?

All of my works to date have been published with small press and micro press. So what limited experience I can report on is in that area.

I think any advice or any given writers choices depends upon their individual goals and what they want out of publishing their stories. On its face that sentence seems like a given or a piece of over-generalized advice, but when one really investigates what is out there one realizes there are many models and choices to publishing a story. Each comes with benefits and drawbacks and strengths and weaknesses.

I like to recommend to those seeking advice to take the time, think about, and be clear on what you want. And thinking through in advance if the benefits and drawbacks line up with what one wants and one’s goals.

For example while self publishing might allow the “benefit” of bringing the story to market faster it also comes with the necessity that an author be proficient in design and marketing and accounting which could be a “drawback” to one not anticipating or desiring this part of the equation.

I was fortunate enough to have a ton of great people around me when I was starting out and I was alerted to many pitfalls. The best advice is to focus on one’s writing and to control those elements that one can control. Write. Finish stories. Continue to improve one’s craft. And continue to keep your stories in front of editors is a solid model to follow. Try and steer clear of or at least reasonably manage anything (or all the things) that do not serve writing and submitting.

Even if it seems like one is not getting fast results, I believe readers, editors, and publishers respond to an author’s unique style, visions and stories only they can tell. Ultimately, so advice that moves one away from the pursuit of this is bad advice in my opinion. A lot of voices out there seem to have institutionalized pursuits that on their face are in conflict with this.

Unfortunately here in New York, I’ve seen bad advice thrown around from people the community expected more from–the kind of advice that hurts people and parts the innocent and unsuspecting from money and opportunity. I’ve seen new writers get hurt, discouraged, and set back as a result. Taking the time to ask questions and investigate the organizations and individuals one does business with is never bad advice.

What projects are you currently working on?

One of my next short story to published will be “Above the Buried City” in the anthology Shivers 8 from Cemetery Dance publications.

At the end of 2017 I had three short stories all come out around the same time “Goodnight Kookaburra” in Walk on the Weird Side, “Cloudland Earthbound” in The Audient Void #4, and “The Fourth Bell” in The Beauty of Death Volume 2.

I’m working on my third novel. The first two will be announced by the publisher very soon. I’ve also been editing anthologies for several publishers. The first one will be announced at the end of the month.

Tremendous thanks to Daniel Braum for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at his website and his Amazon author page.

Happy reading!

A Brand New Writing Start: Submission Roundup for January 2018

Welcome back for our first Submission Roundup in 2018! Lots of amazing submission calls this month, so if you’ve got a story seeking a home, perhaps one of these will be the perfect fit!

As always, I’m not a representative for any of these markets; I’m merely spreading the word! That means if you have questions, please direct them to the respective publications.

And with that, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission Roundup

Enchanted Conversation
Payment: $30/flat for fiction; $10/flat for poetry
Length: 700-2,500 words for fiction; no word limit for poetry
Deadline: January 20th, 2018
What They Want: February’s theme is Un reve d’amour (A Dream of Love). Submissions should focus on love in a fairy tale or folkloric setting. Re-tellings or original stories welcome, as are experimental or traditional approaches.
Find the details here.

Payment: $150/flat for short fiction; $300/flat for novelettes; $50/flat for poetry
Length: 2,000 to 7,000 words for short fiction; up to 15,000 words for novelettes
Deadline: January 31st, 2018
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction from authors from the African continent and diaspora. The upcoming issue’s theme is Big Mama Nature, and stories should focus on nature/climate fiction.
Find the details here.

Apex Publications
Payment: Advance and standard royalty terms
Length: 30,000-40,000 words for novellas; up to 120,000 words for novels
Deadline: January 31st, 2018
What They Want: Open to novella and novel submissions. Genre should be dark science fiction, dark fantasy, or horror.
Find the details here.

Payment: $20/flat
Length: 2,000-7,000 words
Deadline: January 31st, 2018
What They Want: Open to strange tales in the vein of Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, Robert Aickman, Arthur Machen, and more.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word
Length: 400-4,000 words (under 2,000 words preferred)
Deadline: February 15th, 2018
What They Want: Open to horror fiction as well as dark science fiction, dark fantasy, thriller and crime fiction.
Find the details here.

Pantheon Magazine
Payment: .06/word for original fiction; .03/word for reprints
Length: up to 2,000 words with a preference for stories around 1,000 words
Deadline: March 31st, 2018
What They Want: Pantheon Magazine has just opened up submissions for their Gorgon issue. Open to weird, dark fiction, slipstream, magic realism, and horror based on the theme.
Find the details here.

Payment: .01/word for fiction and nonfiction; $5/flat for poetry
Length: No specific word count, though fiction will sell best if it falls between 250 to 10,000 words
Deadline: April 1st, 2018
What They Want: Kaleidotrope has just opened again to submissions. The editor is seeking well-written speculative fiction and poetry.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!

A Year in Fiction: 2016 Awards Eligibility Post

2016 is at last behind us, and here I am with something I’ve never done before: an awards eligibility post. This is a weird thing, mostly because it’s strange to say, “Hey, consider nominating me for things!” but at the very least, it is nice to do a roundup of this past year. So let’s just say that is the overarching point of today’s post with the added caveat of “If you enjoyed any of these stories, feel free to share them in whatever way you would like!”

2016 FictionIn 2016, I’m thrilled to say that I had fifteen works of original fiction published! That’s in addition to eleven reprints, which made for a busy year. It’s also super exciting that a number of those stories were my first appearances in fantastic publications including Shimmer, The Lift, Interzone, Daily Science Fiction, and Bracken, among others.

So here, for the curious, are all those first-published-in-2016 tales, broken down by format!


All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray” (Shimmer, March 2016)
Poisoned apples, sleeping girls, and a dying kingdom lead a young woman down a perilous path in this dark revisionist fairy tale.

Baby Bird” (Triptych Tales, February 2016)
A YA fantasy of teenage friendship, bird skulls, and learning how to finally take flight.

The Little Girl Who Came from the Sea” (Kraxon, March 2016)
Two seaside siblings discover a little girl dozing in the sand in this childhood ode to the ocean and all the strange gifts the waves send to shore.

Through Earth and Sky” (Bracken, March 2016)
Sisterhood, loss, and whispering bones. While there be magic here, this one is inspired by my husband’s grandmother and her real-life struggle against reeducation as a Native American woman in the early twentieth century.

All the Mermaid Wives” (87 Bedford, September 2016)
Mermaids dragged from their home and made to conform as good wives and mothers. But one “reformed” mermaid isn’t like the rest…

Holiday Playlist for the End of the World” (Daily Science Fiction, November 2016)
A playful apocalypse tale, perfect for a chilly December evening while you’re decorating the tree or reinforcing the windows to keep out the monsters.


Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” (Nightscript, Volume 2, October 2016)
A young girl documents her older sister’s transformation into something grotesque. Think The Virgin Suicides meets The Fly.

The Tower Princesses” (Interzone, May 2016)
A weird fantasy tale of adolescent girls trapped in towers and the lonely outsider who dares to befriend one.

Find Me, Mommy” (LampLight, April 2016)
Little Emma Jo likes the darkness. Unfortunately for her doting mother, the darkness likes Emma Jo, too.

Horseshoe” (The Haunting of Lake Manor Hotel, April 2016)
A disgraced jockey discovers the ghosts of her past are a little more literal than she realized in this installment from Woodbridge Press’s shared world horror anthology.

Gingham Curtains and Electric Shock” (Mental Ward: Experiments, May 2016)
Psychological experiments go awry when two ostracized patients develop an unlikely bond.

The Neighborly House” (Robbed of Sleep, Volume 5, September 2016)
A gossipy small town contends with a miniskirt-wearing enchantress who decides to teach the cruel locals a supernatural lesson they won’t soon forget.


Girl, Alone at Play” (The Lift, Season One, January 2016)
Strange pictures and a misfit photographer mark my first foray as a contributor to The Lift universe.

Storkson Candy: The Perfect Treat for Kids of All Ages” (The Lift, Season One, March 2016)
A glut of candy, a wayward bunny, and a sprightly specter named Victoria make for one devilish Easter.

The Last Costume Change” (The Lift, Season Two, October 2016)
Two teenage cousins sneak out on Halloween, only to find themselves in a haunted building where they must at last face their fears of the past.

In other writing news, 2016 saw the completion of my horror novel, Festival of the Lost Girls, a creepy 80,000-word tale of small-town teenage friendship, mysterious disappearances, and ethereal girls who giggle inside mirrors. Also, as I announced in November, my debut fiction collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, was accepted at the supremely awesome JournalStone and will debut this spring!

And that was my 2016. It was a profoundly strange year, seeing that it was the most successful of my professional life, despite the intense and often terrifying upheavals in the world. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep writing when the world grows darker and more dystopic than any fiction, but I also believe with the utmost conviction that the most trying times are when we have to push back the hardest, no matter how difficult that battle may be from day to day. So to all you wonderful writers out there, keep up the good fight. Now more than ever, we need you at your best.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

A Writing New Year: Submission Roundup for January 2017

Welcome back, and welcome 2017! For my first post of the New Year, let’s dive into some very cool submission calls that are currently seeking stories! But first, a quick note: I am not a representative for any of these publications; I am simply spreading the word! Please direct any specific questions about submissions to the respective publication!

And here we go with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupFlame Tree Publishing
Payment: Advances unknown
Length: 60,000-120,000 words
Deadline: Ongoing
What They Want: Open to horror, fantasy, science fiction, and crime novels. Flame Tree is happy to accept novels directly from authors; no agent required.
Find the details here.

Liminal Stories
Payment: .06/word for short fiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: up to 10,000 words; any length for poetry
Deadline: January 15th, 2017
What They Want: Open to “strange and unsettling” stories of any genre, in particular magic realism, weird fiction, and tales that live between categories.
Find the details here.

Nightscript, Volume 3
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 2,000-7,000 words
Deadline: January 31st, 2017 (preferably sooner)
What They Want: Editor C.M. Muller is seeking uncanny horror tales in the vein of Robert Aickman, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor and other authors of weird fiction. Please note that Nightscript often closes before the deadline, so sooner is better for submitting those stories!
Find the details here.

Ride the Star Wind: Cthulhu, Space Opera, and the Cosmic Weird
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 1,000 words for flash; 3,000-6,000 words for short stories
Deadline: January 31st, 2017
What They Want: Stories that combine space opera and cosmic weird horror with the Cthulhu mythos.
Find the details here.

Hyperion and Theia
Payment: .01/word for fiction; .25/line for poetry
Length: 1,001-40,000 words for fiction; up to 100 lines for poetry
Deadline: January 31st, 2017
What They Want: Stories and poetry based on the theme of Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival of merrymaking and chaos that occurs in December. Various genres as well as works that bend or defy expectations are welcome.
Find the details here.

The Golden Key
Payment: $10/flat
Length: up to 3,000 words for fiction; up to 100 lines for poetry
Deadline: January 31st, 2017
What They Want: The editors are currently seeking fiction and poetry that focuses on “Resurrected Things.”
Find the details here.

Tales from the Lake, Volume 4
Payment: .03/word
Length: up to 7,000 words (4,000 is preferable)
Deadline: February 1st, 2017
What They Want: Open to non-themed horror stories.
Find the details here.

NonBinary Review
Payment: .01/word for fiction; $10/flat for poetry
Length: up to 1,000 words for flash; up to 5,000 words for short fiction; up to 3 pages for poetry
Deadline: February 1st, 2017
What They Want: Stories and poems inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. All submitted work must have a clear through-line to the characters/settings/themes of Poe.
Find the details here.

Happy Submitting!

Nightly Horror: Interview with CM Muller

Welcome back! For this week’s author interview, I’m thrilled to feature CM Muller. CM is an accomplished dark fiction author as well as the editor of the esteemed Nightscript series, an annual anthology which focuses on strange tales.

Recently, CM and I discussed the genesis of Nightscript as well as what he has planned for his own fiction career.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

CM MullerUp until 11th grade I had zero interest in reading and writing. Sports and television dominated my early years, though I must say that programs such as Tales From the Darkside and Monsters held great appeal. Thinking back on it now, I suppose that’s the reason I decided to withdraw a copy of Cujo from my school library, and in turn rabidly consume that rough beast. Thus began what is certainly one of the grandest addictions of all: reading. King, Barker, McCammon, and a host of other authors became my mainstays until college flip-flopped my sensibilities and found me focusing on more “lit’ry” folks: Carver, O’Connor, Faulkner, to name but a few. Writing followed a similar track, in that I attempted to mimic stories I was reading at the time. It was only about a decade after graduating from college that I renewed my vows, as it were, with horror; or, in this case, “weird fiction.” I credit Mark Samuels and Simon Strantzas as being the prime movers who lured me back to my roots. Their work spoke to my more mature self, and I immediately set about writing stories “in a similar vein”—a dozen or more of which are now aging respectfully in a file folder marked “Never to See the Light of Day.” As far as favorite writers are concerned, I would say that as well as each of the above, I might also include Shirley Jackson, Terry Lamsley, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Thomas Tryon, Livia Llewellyn—but really, such a list could go on and on, and change on a weekly basis. (I’m also a diehard sci-fi fan, though we’ll save that for another day.)

Your short fiction has appeared in a number of fantastic venues, including Shadows & Tall Trees, The Yellow Booke, and Strange Aeons. What is your typical process for writing a short story? How long does it usually take to complete a story, and how many revisions does a story undergo before you submit it to publishers?

For the story which appeared in Shadows & Tall Trees, entitled “Vrangr,” I lost count how many pass-throughs I made. More than thirty and less than sixty, perhaps, but I guess such nitpickiness paid off. It’s still hard for me to believe that I made it into that esteemed publication: another important springboard, to be sure. My process as a whole has morphed considerably over the years. Currently, I compose my first drafts with black pen and yellow legal pad (and, yes, it must be yellow). From there I input those sloppy words into a digital file and spend the next two to however-many months editing, letting the story recuperate, editing some more, perhaps edging “that which is deemed a failure” toward the trash icon before being re-inspired, editing some more, and then finally passing it on to an old college friend who is always my first reader. So, yeah, it’s kind of a ritual, with lots and lots of time spent trying to get a piece as right as I can. The most exhilarating part of the process, for me, is that first handwritten draft and subsequent near-completed story where things start to flow and shine. The in-between? Well, I guess that just depends on the day. A lot of self doubt comes into play, but with continued persistence I almost always break through that wall. I used to compose my first drafts on a manual typewriter (which is a lovely and different process altogether) and lately I’ve considered returning to that antiquated mode. While no means a Luddite, I do believe there is something to be said about immersing oneself in the “old ways.”

The first volume of Nightscript was a huge success in 2015, and the second volume will arrive this fall. What inspired you to start an anthology series that focuses on ‘strange tales’?

The impetus for such an endeavor rests almost entirely on Michael Kelly’s announcement (back in 2014) that Shadows & Tall Trees would be going on indefinite hiatus. That was devastating news to a lot of folks, so I figured why not give it a go. There’s that old Bradbury quote about leaping off a cliff and building your wings on the way down, which is certainly what I had in mind when originally announcing the anthology via social media (and, believe me, I considered scrapping the idea numerous times before clicking the “post” button). I felt confident I could pull the production part of it off, as I’ve had experience with layout and design and book construction in general, but I wasn’t as self-assured as to how the anthology would be received. I needn’t have worried, however. The success of the volume has exceeded my expectations, thanks to a host of gracious individuals whom I can never thank enough. I hate to use that old cliche about the stars aligning and whatnot, but the timing could not have been better for putting out such a volume. It was, of course, a lot of work, but also a labor of love from beginning to end. I might also add, nostalgically, that the anthology shares, in more ways than one, the crooked path of own my writing. To wit: I released a single issue zine back in 1990 bearing the Nightscript moniker, which contained half as many stories and was printed on a Xerox machine. We’ve come a long way, N and I.

NightscriptContinuing with the theme of strange tales, do you remember the first story you read that could be classified as “weird fiction”? Was that the start of your love for all things weird, or did your fascination for unusual fiction grow more slowly over time?

The one which comes most readily to mind is H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air.” Both story and, later, Night Gallery episode, greatly inspired me. Going back to that Xerox machine I mentioned above, I should also add that I was employed at the very print shop where Nightscript came into being, and during the course of working there I became acquainted with a repeat customer who shared a mutual interest in Lovecraft. He had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the HPL universe, as well as the “weird circle” with whom he associated—most notably, at least to me, Minnesota natives Donald Wandrei and Carl Jacobi. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was invited to attend a meeting of a writing club whose sole focus was “weird fiction,” and from there I became friends with numerous like-minded individuals. So, yes, as much as King and Lovecraft have slipped from the pinnacle they once held in my writerly life, I cannot deny their significant influence. They were the springboards which launched me into the pages of many another author—in other words, that grand domino effect of readerly discover which continues to this day.

You currently reside in St. Paul, Minnesota. When crafting a setting for your fiction, do you find yourself inspired by the place you live, or do you tend to take the bulk of your inspiration elsewhere?

As much as the city inspires me, I find even more inspiration in rural settings, particularly back country roads which invariably lead to abandoned farmhouses and derelict barns, to forgotten cemeteries, fields of corn, deep woods. I need merely hop in my vehicle and head out for a leisurely stroll through these hidden places, and without fail I am inspired anew. “Vrangr” certainly takes its inspiration from such an impulse. The interesting thing about such a dynamic, however, is that I’m not entirely certain I could live in the country. I enjoy the “chaos” of the city, or in my case the city suburbs. There’s the comfort of the local coffeehouse, the library down the way, the used bookstore within biking distance. Creature comforts which I need to keep close. Though, who knows: perhaps in the waning years my comfort level will shift and I’ll find myself in a cabin in the woods.

Other than Nightscript, what projects can we expect from you in the next year?

I have a new story, entitled “Diary of an Illness,” which is due to appear in Weirdbook #33 this autumn. And, yes, as you mentioned: Nightscript II will be released in grand October and will contain 21 “strange and darksome tales.” Why 21? We’ll leave that to the discerning reader. Looking ahead to 2017, I’ve been tinkering with the idea of releasing a collection of stories, but knowing me, this pipe dream might very well extend into 2018 or beyond. I love the idea of trying my hand at a novel, but as the proud parent of two rambunctious boys, I have relegated myself (at least for now) to the production of short stories and, of course, ushering in new volumes of said anthology.

Where can we find you online?

My blog—www.chthonicmatter.wordpress.com—contains, perhaps most importantly, information pertaining to Nightscript. To prospective authors, I should also like to mention that my next open reading period is slated for January 2017, and I’m already itching to read the deluge of new submissions. The visitor to Chthonic Matter will also find links to the various venues which have somehow been moved to publish my weird wares, online or in print. It’s certainly a great time to be crafting strange tales. I can only hope that such a “renaissance” will continue for many years to come, and that more venues such as Nightscript will creep forth from the shadows.

Big thanks to CM Muller for being part of this week’s author interview series. Look for the second volume of Nightscript this fall!

Happy reading!