Author Interview – David Lee Zweifler

His Other Work

Story Art Sneak Peek

Amazing Artwork By Daniela Rivera

"Running In Circles"

Anthology: Paramnesia
Release Date: April 7th, 2023
About the Author: David Lee Zweifler spent decades writing non-fiction in jobs that took him around the world, including long stints in Jakarta, Hong Kong, and New York City. David has work published in Freeze Frame Fiction, Little Blue Marble, and Wyldblood, and has stories in the current and upcoming issues of The Dread Machine. He resides with his family in New York's Hudson River Valley.
Q & A

How does it feel to have this story published for the first time?

Aside from the excitement of being included in this anthology's excellent table of contents, I am happy to be selling this particular story. Most of my work tends to be optimistic science fiction with just a soupçon of humor, with the balance bending towards darkness. Although SciFi elements exist in this piece, it is my first official, straight-up horror story. I'm quite pleased to have planted a flag in a new genre.

What inspired the idea for your story?

SPOILERS AHEAD. A few beta readers were chalking up the disease in the story to creativity or a generic "fill in the blanks" zombie virus. I hope I won't remove too much of the mystique that swirls around horror writing, but this is a real live disease. Yup. Google it. And I decided to write this when I came home one day and saw a squirrel dying from it on my front lawn, running "tight, crazy pinwheels on the ground..." just like in the story. (Excuse me -- I have to curl up in the fetal position now and cry.)

We know that writing can be a tumultuous journey with a lot of obstacles, what is your kryptonite as a writer?

I'm an extremely skeptical reader and viewer -- I'm always pointing out plot holes to myself in the fiction I consume. This skepticism doesn't serve me well as an author. It's probably led me to throw out many stories worth pursuing.

Clearly, you’ve succeeded at writing a captivating story for GrendelPress, but we all start somewhere. What advice would you give yourself as a young writer?

I have the same problem as an author of fiction that I did as a journalist: I would often get halfway through a piece and decide, "this is stupid," and then bin it. About a year ago, I wrote a terrible story about an AI giving a speech at a bar mitzvah, which I fought the urge to delete. I ended up using that original story as the core of another, which I think is the best thing I've produced so far. So, the advice to my younger self would be: Finish those stories and don't throw them out. Even if you don't end up publishing them as-is, they might be great after you've given them a chance to settle.

We’d like to argue that every good story makes both the author and the readers feel something. What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with your story?

Most parents spend a lot of time managing and maintaining a household. We've been sold on the idea that the joys of family life are "Hallmark Card" moments: First steps. Graduations. Marriages. Those moments are joyful, to be sure, but they comprise only a tiny percentage of the time parents spend with their families. I was fortunate to discover that there is a great joy to be found even in -- especially in -- the mundane tasks of getting coats on, shoes on, and lunches packed before you get your children out the door to school before you head off to work. Those moments can be chores, but they need not be. You take them for granted in many cases, but you'd give almost anything to have that time back once your children are grown up or gone.

Tell us about your favorite author. What about their book(s) call to you and how do they inspire your own writing?

I read a really powerful horror story by E.A. Petricone back in 2021, which is what inspired me to try my hand at horror. The piece, We, The Girls Who Did Not Make It, was definitely one of my favorite short stories ever. Other influences are Clark Ashton Smith, HP Lovecraft, Michael Chabon, and Emily St. John Mandel.

What do you love most about your story’s genre?

Good fiction of all genres elicits an emotional response -- stories can make you laugh and cry -- but good horror consistently gets the audience invested enough in the story that they feel the need to warn and protect fictional characters from harm. I remember seeing this happen in a literal sense when I would watch horror movies when I was going to school in Chicago. Invariably you would hear someone in the audience scream: "Don't go in there!" or "Get away from him!" to the main character during a particularly stressful scene. I'm not sure you get that strong an emotional reaction from any other genre.

What are some other genres you’d like to break into and why?

I like adding fantastical elements to my stories because I think it makes them more exciting. Still, I worry that, sometimes, I do this out of laziness to avoid the work of architecting a premise or conflict that could exist in the real world. I would like to try my hand at literary fiction to see if I can create an engaging story that doesn't require any speculative elements. To be sure, with recent advances in AI, the proliferation of a global pandemic, the insurrection at the capital, and billionaire astronauts taking over massive channels of commerce and communication, much of my "speculative" fiction might just end up being literary in a year or two.

If you had to pick another story of yours to share with your readers, what would it be?

Getting Better: Jessie is a reluctant caretaker to his estranged father, who has been infected with a progressive, fatal disease affecting only the elderly. The disease causes major personality changes and makes the infected extremely strong, aggressive, and dangerous. Jessie needs to get back to his job and his life, and harboring those with the disease is a criminal act. Turning in his father is the smart thing to do, but how can he? For the first time, Jessie has the parent he's always needed.
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(2) Comments for this blog

  1. Deryn pittar
    February 18, 2023
    Reply

    Great interview. Really enjoyed getting to know you

  2. David Z
    February 18, 2023
    Reply

    Thank you, Deryn. I love seeing all your updates. Keep up the great work.

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