Thursday, July 10, 2014

Interview with Diane Doniol-Valcroze & Arthur K. Flam, authors of '41 Strange'

Diane Doniol-Valcroze was born in Paris, France. As a young girl, she developed a passion for writing from her father, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, co-founder of the New Wave magazine CAHIERS DU CINEMA, and from her grandfather, French filmmaker André Cayatte (original THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES). She earned a B.A. in English literature from the Sorbonne University, and an M.F.A. in film from New York University while apprenticing on the Lauren Hutton show. She has co-written screenplays for such films as Lionsgate's PENNY DREADFUL, starring Mimi Rogers, and MGM's HIT AND RUN, helmed by Enda McCallion and starring Kevin Corrigan. 41 STRANGE is her debut book. She lives in Los Angeles.

Arthur K. Flam was born in New York City and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in writing, and from New York University with an M.F.A. in film. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Johns Hopkins's oldest literary magazine, ZENAIDA, and worked as a journalist for the BALTIMORE CHRONICLE. He started in the film industry as an assistant on Abel Ferrara's vampire film, THE ADDICTION. He has co-written screenplays for the films PENNY DREADFUL and HIT AND RUN.  41 STRANGE is his first book. He lives in Los Angeles.

For More Information

About the Book:

41 STRANGE, a first-of-its-kind e-book anthology devoted exclusively to “short-short stories of the strange and horrifying,” awaits just a couple of clicks away for Kindle readers who enjoy a good shiver up their spines.

41 STRANGE is the bizarre debut collection of authors/screenwriters Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur K. Flam, who deliver a reading experience in the spirit of such masters of the macabre as Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, and Rod Serling. As Doniol-Valcroze and Flam put it, the tales were written “in the lonely hour of the wolf … in the pre-dawn darkness when you get those ‘waking nightmares.

Doniol-Valcroze and Flam are screenwriters working in Los Angeles. They met at New York University's film school and started collaborating, first on short films and then on screenplays. That working relationship forged a natural path to writing stories.

“We're both very passionate about short fiction,” says Flam. “It's our favorite form to read and write. After working together for many years on film projects, we realized we had a lot of ideas … that could only be done as short stories, so we decided to finally pull the trigger.”

The short-short story format makes a perfect fit for the authors' strange visions. They immediately set up surreal and terrifying situations, which lead to even stranger conclusions. The stories can be read in their entirety in the time it takes to pour a cup of coffee and settle in with the book.

“Neal Edelstein (producer, MULHOLLAND DRIVE) has endorsed the book, and we’re excited because his new horror app HAUNTING MELISSA was the main inspiration for us to release the stories direct-to-audience,” says Doniol-Valcroze.

One of the authors' favorite stories in 41 STRANGE is “Frank’s Wash,” in which a man finds himself stuck on the conveyor belt of a car wash. All attempts to get the car wash operator's attention fail. Where Frank finally ends up becomes a chilling dissection of the parent-child relationship.

“We think (the stories) all embody that unnerving atmosphere,” Doniol-Valcroze and Flam say. “You're not quite sure if the events unfolding around the character are happening for real, or are they just a figment of the character's overactive imagination. We love that ambiguity.”

Doniol-Valcroze and Flam believe that 41 STRANGE will appeal to a general audience of film lovers and short story readers, as well as fans of science-fiction, horror and crime, and readers looking “for a quick dose of strange stories for commuting, or just curling up for a chilling night read before bed.”

For More Information

  • 41 Strange is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Can you tell us what your book is about?

DDV & AKF: 41 Strange is a “first-of-its-kind” e-book anthology exclusively devoted to short-short stories of the strange and horrifying. We love the short-short story format and its endless possibilities.

Why did you write your book?

DDV & AKF: To try to lock our fears inside the prison of the page.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

DDV & AKF: It is a book of 41 short-short stories, so there are many characters… what could they have in common? Possibly obsession.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

DDV: Mostly they’re born from nightmares.
AKF: For me, imagination.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

DDV & AKF:  There are no rules for either of us. Whatever feels right. Sometimes it can start with a word or phrase that could set you on fire.

Your book is set in the Universe of the Strange. Can you tell us why you chose this place in particular?

DDV & AKF: We see the 41 stories as sort of 41 moons circling around a planet, so to speak, each with a different size, different texture, different orbit.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

DDV & AKF: Yes, very much so. It sets the stage for situations to unfold.

Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

DDV & AKF: A razor is coming at a woman’s throat with barbaric, unstoppable velocity…

Is it hard to promote a suspense-horror book and where do you start?

DDV & AKF: Of course, it’s a challenge. Social media is a good platform these days. We’re especially thankful for the opportunity to work with a wonderful publicist, Charlie Barrett. He’s helped guide us through the journey.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

DDV: I usually splash water on my face, look in the mirror, and remember Hemingway’s words... Don’t worry. You have always written before and you will write now.
AKF: I throw something around the room, then I can write again.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

DDV: Study the rings of Saturn through a telescope.
AKF: I’d like to take a long walk, to the edge of something.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

DDV: I wish Halloween was considered a legal holiday. I love rewatching horror classics on TV.
AKF: St. Patrick’s Day. I love the festivities and the color green.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

DDV: Not lunch. It would be dusk on a bench in a park, a bit like Antonioni’s Blow-up. Hopefully there’s no corpse behind the bushes!
AKF: A dark, dingy café. Corner booth.

What do you like to do for fun?

DDV: Skiing off the beaten track.
AKF: Watch Bruce Lee films.

Can you tell us about your family?

DDV: My father was Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, co-founder of the French New Wave magazine, Cahiers du Cinema.

What do you like the most about being an author?

DDV: The simplicity of instruments needed. One computer.
AKF: The escapism.

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?

DDV: Discovering the first book that sets your imagination on fire. For me, it was Balzac’s short story, The Unknown Masterpiece.
AKF: The first thrill of being published. For me, it was a first short murder story, The Fisherman.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

DDV: Don’t give up.
AKF: The end is everything.

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