Daniel M. Kimmel's Blog: Behind the Scenes

January 2, 2020

Writer's Block

It’s not exactly writer’s block. I’ve been doing my movie reviews and columns, I prepared lectures. What I haven’t been doing is fiction.
I started my first short story in several months a few weeks ago, ironically using “The Writer’s Block” by Jason Rekulak (Running Press, 2001) which is a collection of nearly 800 writer’s prompts. I’ve gotten several ideas from the book, a gift from my daughter, including one that led to my first short story to be bought at full professional rates. After a couple of weeks of letting it sit and then polishing, I’ve just sent it off.
Meanwhile I have a couple of stories in the pipeline. One is “There’s No Time Like Home,” a spinoff from my novel “Time on My Hands,” and the second time I’ve done a story set in the world of one of my novels. It was an interesting challenge as I had to make sure it worked for people who hadn’t read the novel. I was really pleased with the result. It will appear this spring in “On Time” (Transmundane Press).
The other story is a reprint that ran in an obscure anthology and will now, I hope, get a wider readership. It’s called “You Are What You Eat” and will show up this spring in “Horror Tales for the Throne” (Fantastic Books), the third time I’ve appeared in this series of short shorts.
So now we’re in 2020, a year that was once so far in the future that it seemed like science fiction. Now we’re here, and I’m hoping to write some new contributions to the genre this year.

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Published on January 02, 2020 14:22 Tags: humor, science-fiction, writing-life

August 15, 2019

Art and Craft - On starting a new project

I’ve just started working on my next book or, at least, what I hope will eventually become my next book. Why the uncertainty? It’s because I’m experimenting with form. It’s not so much that I’m breaking new ground as that it’s new for me.

With my fiction I consider myself primarily an entertainer, with humorous twists on various genre tropes, particularly in science fiction but occasionally dabbling with its cousins, horror and fantasy. There are often serious issues involved, and if one of my stories makes you think that’s not by accident. However, first and foremost, I’m trying to amuse. As I’ve told people who say to me that one of my books made them laugh out loud, “Then I did my job.”

That doesn’t mean it’s simple. The great humorist Robert Benchley 1889-1945 did short pieces for the New Yorker called “casuals,” but that was because they were light, amusing reads. He had to work hard to make it look easy. A well-crafted comic story requires the same sorts of skills as more serious literature, from creating full-bodied characters and devising an engaging narrative, to finding the right word and polishing the text so that it dazzles.

It also requires that it actually be funny. I consider myself fortunate in that I seem to be hardwired to make connections and observations that others find amusing. That’s not bragging. Others have different talents that enable them to quarterback a football team, play a dramatic role, or have deep philosophical insights. One of life’s tasks is discovering one’s own innate abilities and find a way to use them. I’m fortunate that being an amusing writer is deemed a positive thing as opposed to, say, being an amusing attorney.

One of my early jobs was negotiating shopping mall leases for a chain of pet stores. I’d send out multi-page letters with points in the lease that needed to be negotiated. One of them was a clause where we promised to “keep the premises free and clear of all insects, rodents, and vermin.” I would insist that come out. When the landlord’s lawyer asked why, I’d answer, “Because that’s describing our inventory.” I thought this was pretty funny. Only some of opposing counsel reacted the same way. It’s one of the reasons I ended up following a different career path.

With the new project I’m trying a narrative structure that’s somewhat different. It’s not original to me. There are classic books that use a similar format. In the weeks and months to come I’ll see if I can make it work. If it does, I’ll be pleased that I was able to rise to the challenge. Yet when I see you, I won’t ask if you were impressed with the way I put it together. I’ll ask if it made you laugh.

And if you say yes, I’ll have done my job.

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Published on August 15, 2019 14:15 Tags: humor, science-fiction, writing-life

May 9, 2019

Two new stories and my first audio book

It's a busy spring.  My story "Stormy Weather," which is somewhat of a departure for me as it's more magical realism than sf/fantasy/horror, appears in In The Air, my fourth appearance in a Transmundane Press collection.
 
Also this month, my political satire set ever so slightly in the future, "Exit, Stage Right," appears in Alternate Truths: Endgame, my second appearance in a collection from B Cubed Press. You can find it here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/194...
 
Finally, my first novel to be turned into an audiobook, "Father of the Bride of Frankenstein," has just been released. Narrator Benjamin Fife did an outstanding job and was a joy to work with. You can hear a sample here:

https://tinyurl.com/y4dg66x4

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Published on May 09, 2019 08:21 Tags: audiobooks, humor, science-fiction

April 16, 2019

Press Notes

Two colleagues conducted interviews with me in connection with my new novel.  Here are the links:

https://www.edgemedianetwork.com/ente...

https://somerville.wickedlocal.com/ne...





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Published on April 16, 2019 07:02

February 21, 2019

My TV interview

Doug Holder had me as his guest on his Somerville access show, "Poet to Poet, Writer to Writer" on Feb. 19, 2019. We talked about my work, including my new novel, "Father of the Bride of Frankenstein." You can see the interview here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN6Zp...



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Published on February 21, 2019 09:47 Tags: fantastic-books-humorous-sf

January 24, 2019

Now hear this

Sometime this spring I will be announcing the release of the audio book version of Father of the Bride of Frankenstein, my just released novel. After auditioning several people, I have made a deal with Ben Fife with whom I connected through ACX, Amazon’s marketplace for authors/producers/performers for audio books.

I should note that I am not a consumer of audio books myself, so I invited a friend who does enjoy this format over to hear the auditions and offer a second opinion. She agreed with my initial inclination, and so I made the offer and it was accepted.

One of the subplots in the story is that Frank – the reanimated corpse – is going to marry into a Jewish family. So, there are a number of scenes involving their rabbi, the conversion process, and other Jewish rituals and practices. It’s not a barrier to non-Jews. In fact, I’ve noted that the narrator (the father of the bride) is much less knowledgeable than I am. I didn’t want this to be a Hebrew school lesson. The emphasis is definitely on the comedy.

However I did want to make sure that the narrator had some familiarity with Jewish practice, custom, and language. Ben, whose comic timing in the audition made it clear he was the right one for this, turns out to be a member of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints in Idaho. When we spoke, he said he didn’t know much about Judaism, but he had seen “Fiddler on the Roof.” I laughed because that’s one of the jokes in the story (which I won’t spoil here). We agreed that if he had any questions or I had any concerns we would talk and make sure we were on the same page.

So this is going to be a learning experience for both of us.

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Published on January 24, 2019 12:47

January 4, 2019

2019 starts with a bang

When it rains, it pours. I’m currently waiting to hear on nearly a dozen stories out there – and have just started a new one set in the universe of Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel – but when things are accepted and published is out of my control. And so, in less than three months, I’ll have a new novel and five short stories being released.

Obviously I’m very excited about the publication of “Father of the Bride of Frankenstein,” my third novel. I had a lot of fun with this and hope readers will too. As the title suggests it is a tale of reanimated corpses and wedding planning. In addition, Frank – the monster – is marrying into a Jewish family and decides to convert. My goal was to make the reader laugh and never be quite sure what’s going to happen next. The cover is by Hugo-nominated artist Alan Beck and I couldn’t be more delighted.

My short story “The Ransom of Red Robot (beta)” is in the winter issue of AMAZING stories and is a twist on a classic O. Henry tale. Although I have had some two dozen stories published, this is my first appearance in a “pro” magazine, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Another story, “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” is in the just released anthology Transcendent, where the connecting theme is dreams. My story is a send up of dystopian YA novels (some of which I’ve enjoyed; no malice here) and is the third story to appear in a collection from Transmundane Press. They’re a small press but I can’t sing the praises of the two editors – Anthony S. Buoni and Alison Costanzo – enough. Twice they made me rework the endings of the story (including this one) with the result of a much better story. I already have a story accepted for a fourth anthology.

Release the Virginsis the first anthology in which I was invited to participate, and I’d like to think it’s because editor (and, elsewhere, author) Michael Ventrella likes my writing and wasn’t simply being nice to a friend. Inspired by a late-night conversation at a convention, the idea was that every story in the collection had to include that phrase. My story, “Coming Attractions,” is a Hollywood satire set in the universe of “Shh! It’s a Secret,” the first time I’ve done a story connected to one of my novels. You don’t have to have read the novel to enjoy the story, but since both volumes are put out by Fantastic Books, why not get them both?

Finally, I make my podcast debut on January 5 when my story “Paper Doll” is presented on the Nobilis Erotica Podcast. Warning, this is very much an R-rated story, and appears under my alias of D. Mark Alderton, under which I have done four stories for Circlet Press. But now that my daughter is an adult and my mother is unlikely to tune in, I’m okay with people knowing. If you’re curious, the link goes live on Saturday at Noon (EST): .

I have another story coming out in February, and am waiting to hear on others, but it’s a good start to 2019.

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Published on January 04, 2019 11:18

December 29, 2018

Farewell to Arisia

For those who have looked forward to the Arisia science fiction convention in January in general and the “Movie Year in Review” panel I’ve been running for some 20 years in particular, I have some bad news. The people running Arisia have “disinvited” me. My crime? Well, there were a number of false (and anonymous) claims, including the hilarious and unsubstantiated charge that I once read from a “misogynist” story, but their real beef is that I won’t countenance antisemitism. The “March of Women” rally will be held the same weekend as Arisia and I – like a number of other people – have strongly denounced it as an inappropriate forum for expressing opposition to Trump because several of its leaders are proud and unapologetic supporters of the virulently antisemitic Louis Farrakhan. Because I would not “take ownership” of the bogus charges, nor apologize for denouncing supporters of Farrakhan and their apologists, a convention that has been my home for 25 years is no longer. I have notified the other panelists on the “Movie Year in Review” panel, and they are free to make their own decisions as to what to do.
The term “witch hunt” is loosely thrown around, especially by Trump against an investigation which seems steps away from making a criminal case against him, but that seems to be exactly what is going on with Arisia. I was willing to go this year in spite of concerns in hopes that this con could be saved. I no longer believe it is possible.
RIP Arisia. You were fun while it lasted.
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Published on December 29, 2018 23:18 Tags: arisia-sfcons

September 11, 2018

My First Albacon

This weekend I'll be attending my first Albacon -- a science fiction convention in Albany, New York -- which people tell me is small but a lot of fun. It will also see the launch of "Fantasy for the Throne" which includes my story "Witch v. Hansel, Gretel, et. al." Here's my program schedule for the weekend:

Friday
5:00:00 PM
2001 + 50
Kubrick's masterpiece turns 50.

Saturday
12:00:00 PM
Too Many Superheroes?
Will the genre continue to thrive, or will audiences tire of it?

2:00:00 PM
Autographing

3:00:00 PM
The Essential SF Films
What movies should every SF fan have to see to understand the genre?

6:00:00 PM
Did Fahrenheit 451 predict the future?
people only got their information from a single source, and call everything else fake news?

Sunday
11:30:00 AM
Reading

12:00:00 PM
Things Everyone Likes but I don't
Contrarians, let's hear from you

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Published on September 11, 2018 12:49 Tags: albacon, science-fiction-conventions

July 26, 2018

Inspiration

I received word this week that my third novel, “Father of the Bride of Frankenstein,” has been accepted by Fantastic Books. As I just received the manuscript back for revisions I don’t have a publication date yet, but it’s likely to be either late this year or early next year.

I finished my draft a year ago and then shared it with a few friends to get their comments and reactions before submitting it to my publisher. (I should note that publisher Ian Randal Strock is also my editor and my friend, and his first name is pronounced EYE-an, and not EEE-an.) So, it had been quite a while since I went over it with an eye towards making changes.

Since then I’ve written a number of short stories, with several to be published in the coming months and others where I’m awaiting word. I’ll probably be starting something new shortly. However, in spending the last couple of days reading and tweaking my novel, I couldn’t help but be surprised at the mysteries of inspiration. There are parts that I know exactly what the source was. In a courtroom scene one of the parties is surprised that Judge Chiang’s name is pronounced “Chung.” This came from work I’ve done for a political website where there is a California official with that name and pronunciation.

On the other hand, there were moments that made me laugh not out of pride in my cleverness but in surprise that I had been the source of it, as in the introduction of a character who provides a scotch tasting for a bachelor party who ended up staying with the story and providing a number of comic moments. It was not something I had planned in advance. He just didn’t want to leave.

This will be my third novel (not counting an early unpublished work) and I couldn’t tell you what the future has in store. I’m hoping a collection of my short stories will emerge down the road, but as to what will suggest to me the basis of a fourth novel remains a mystery. I recently did a short story for an anthology where I was invited to do something instead of simply offer a story for consideration, and – again, to my surprise – I wrote something set in the same universe as my first novel, “Shh! It’s a Secret.” You don’t have to have read the novel to appreciate the short story, but it was the first time I had done something like that.

As a writer I am also the first reader of what I produce. So long as I can continue to surprise myself, I hope to keep on going.

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Published on July 26, 2018 06:02

Behind the Scenes

Daniel M. Kimmel
Occasional postings about what I'm writing... or reading. ...more
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