Interview with Arthur K. Flam, co-author of '41 Strange'



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.

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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.”

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  • 41 Strange is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Arthur.  Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, 41 Strange?

I began writing around nine, a tiny story that took place in hell, Mr. Untouchable. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. from the writing program, after which I went to NYU film school. While there, I was introduced to my future collaborator, Diane Doniol-Valcroze. We found a common taste for the macabre and have a love of short fiction.

Later, we were honored to meet Ray Bradbury in Los Angeles during the writer’s strike in 2008. We suddenly felt extremely motivated, almost electrically motivated to create a book. 41 Strange was born from that chance meeting. These stories in the collection were written over two years in the lonely hour of the wolf… in the pre-dawn darkness when you get those waking nightmares.

Q: How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?

It was first choice. The 41 in the title was inspired by Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. The famous scene where Cary Grant is attacked by the airplane is at Prairie Stop on Highway 41.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author.  What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

My co-author (Diane Doniol-Valcroze) and I immediately decided to self-publish. We aimed to maintain editorial control over the book’s content, as well as the artwork. We feel grateful to be able to release the book as it was intended. We’re thankful to receive the help and expertise of the wonderful publicist Charlie Barrett. Also, we were inspired by our friend, Neal Edelstein (producer of Mulholland Drive, Haunting Melissa), who gave us encouragement to release the book direct-to-readers.

Q: Open to a random page in your book.  Can you tell us what is happening?

It’s a dark night and a woman in a motel room is touching a purple curtain that appears to be crying.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Diane and I are planning to write the next volume. Truly, it’s an addictive process…

Q: What is the one thing you learned about your book AFTER it was published?

It’s still strange.

Q: What is your most favorite time of the day or night to write?

Night. For my co-author, morning. That could be why we wrote the tales during the hours of the wolf – between 3AM and 5AM!

Q: What is usually better – the book or the movie?

The way I see it is… usually the book. The book is the peephole, so to speak. The moviemaker’s eye looking through the peephole is only one vision of the story.

Q:  You’re about to write your next book.  What did you learn from your previous book to help you write your next book?

Try to overcome being sentimental, you’re going to have to stab at the book, and do the bloody butcher’s work of cutting it down and down to the bone.

Q: Finally, what’s your best tip you can give to writers who want to be published?

Do it any way you can… To quote Maya Angelou, There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
  
Q: Thank you for your interview, Arthur.  Do you have any final words?

Thanks kindly for having me. It’s my sincere hope curious readers will get a good dose of tingling up their spines when they read 41 Strange.

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