When reality TV star Rae Miller is kicked unceremoniously to the curb by her back-stabbing cast mates, she quickly realizes that revenge fantasies and unemployment are the least of her problems after she witnesses an alien abduction in broad daylight. Worse, after escaping a terrifying almost-abduction herself, Rae succumbs to a sexy Nosferatu’s silky assurances, becoming undead in order to up her alien Ultimate Fighting skills. Life is hard as a 38-to-40-something aspiring actress in L.A. Thank God for Jack Daniel’s and denial.
I'm welcoming Stacey Bryan with a tale she has spun out of Tinseltown--Los Angeles, California. Perhaps the only place besides New York City I've been where reality blends with fantasy so easily.
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley where I was a loner and climbed a lot of trees. My black cat, Mr. Smith, followed me everywhere. Although I was accident prone, I was in gymnastics from seven to seventeen and never broke any bones. I buried my head in books to avoid socializing and eventually began to write my own stories. Later, my writing mentor, novelist Brian Moore, suggested gently that I shouldn’t traverse into “second reality,” and I remained firmly planted in “first reality” for years until I realized I enjoyed laughing and fantasy more than writing about depressing and serious topics.
Do you write full time? If not, what is your "other occupation?"
I caption for the hearing impaired which, yes, does involve watching TV shows and movies for a living, but has become increasingly more technical and “output heavy” since I started, with surprisingly less emphasis on grammar and punctuation. I think it’s the beginning of the fall of civilization, personally.
Not that it seems hard to guess, given the presence of the film industry in your neighborhood, but what are your writing inspirations?
Someone can say something odd, and it’ll inspire a story. I can hear certain music. Movies like All the Mornings of the World, Map of the Human Heart, and There will be Blood inspire me. And, of course, authors like Octavia Butler, Cormac McCarthy, Tama Janowitz.
How did you come to write this story?
I wrote a short story about a woman minding her own business when bizarre things start to happen that was light and tongue in cheek. It was fun to write, and then it was well-accepted by an online magazine, so I decided to expand it into a novel.
Is this book part of a series?
This is book one in what will become a series.
So, tell us a bit about the characters and who we might be meeting in the future.
Although it’s a standalone, I can say right now that I left a few things intentionally murky, like why the main protagonist, Rae, a wannabe actress with very little talent, has such a devoted agent, why the Moorish physical therapist she’s dating can’t say his brother’s name without a hitch in his voice, how it was possible that Rae was under water for 15 minutes as a child and didn’t sustain brain damage, and what it means that she’s always had “magic” in her life but just never noticed it.
Give us one surprising or interesting fact about yourself.
According to my mother, I didn’t smile until I was almost two years old when I was given bread to eat for the first time.
Is there anything else about yourself you'd like to tell us about yourself or your writing?
Part of me wishes I’d come of age in an earlier time. I heard a story about an author from the ‘30s or ‘40s, possibly John Fante--but don’t quote me on this--who wrote some chapters on toilet paper and sent them in to his publisher.
Part of me wants to write chapters on toilet paper and mail them in that way to the publisher, because I’m not sure anyone in the world is more inept and out of sync with the whole social media thing than I am.
But another part of me wouldn’t want to live in that time, either, because I’ve come to realize that I can’t really write longhand anymore, like with a pen and paper. My hand actually begins to cramp up. So in the end, whether I want to be or not, I am a child of the future. So I guess it’s best to just accept that.
Wow, I can relate to all your statements. I'd have liked more time to really be an author. And my handwriting is so bad that no one--not even me--can read it.
Excerpt from: Day for Night
The world came to an end on a balmy Tuesday evening while I was doing laundry in my Glendale apartment building. Not on a Monday so I could start off the week fresh with the apocalypse, knowing just where I stood. Or a Friday so I could say, “Thank God, it’s the weekend. I need to de-stress from the End of Days.” It was a Tuesday. Four weeks to the day that I had been voted off one of the most popular reality shows running: Muscle Beach Midlife: Sand in your Face. I guess it didn’t matter that Muscle Midlife had no voting. Details, schmetails. They did it anyway, and it made for good TV. If ratings were sharks, I was the bloody, mashed-up chum.
I was multitasking. For me, this involved doing laundry while I mused about regret. What better time to muse on the nature of regret than when the world was about to end? Of course, I had no idea such was the case as I made my way deeper into Single White Female territory—my building’s dank basement—gripping my basket tight and my rage tighter. I shouldn’t even be here. Forced out of escrow on my dream condo in Hermosa Beach, bad timing left me scrambling, and I’d ended up here, surrounded by elderly Armenian gentlemen who seemed to disapprove of women wearing pants. Parents? They lived out of state. Sister Margarite? Not an option in this life or the next. You found out fast who your real friends were when you got kicked off a TV show. When anything went wrong in this town, Los Angeles, especially if even remotely connected to The Biz, you’d blink twice and find yourself in the middle of a boiling, empty desert with nothing but the cacti and a lizard doing pushups on a rock. Two handfuls of “friends” condensed overnight down to just Hama and Rex.
So, back to regret, back to the end of the world. An overall discontent, kick-started by Sand in your Face, had bogarted its way past the borders, routed the castle walls. The castle being the state of denial I lived in, discontent being reality. It was funny that I was thinking of reality as I neared the laundry room, basket on my hip, because I was expecting a certain series of circumstances ahead of me. I was expecting the machines to all be occupied, except for one, which wouldn’t be enough to accommodate my load. I was expecting the light bulb to be stuttering in its usual migraine-inducing pattern. Even before I arrived, I could hear them all busily humming. All the machines, all being used. The one poster on the wall would be there, Truffaut’s Day for Night, dusty, the plastic cover cracked in one corner. I even expected my right shoulder to jackknife with pain when I hitched the basket up on my hip. It was injured almost a year ago after a failed Pap smear attempt.
What I wasn’t expecting was to turn the corner and find my thirty-something neighbor Annie, eyes open, silent, encased by a cone of light and suspended in midair just inside the doorway. Nope. Wasn’t expecting that at all. Floating beside her was the small, big-headed creature I’d seen a million times on TV and in the movies, so hilariously clichéd that I laughed out loud. There were some young filmmakers in the building. It must be an experiment, a joke. But then the creature turned, and it just wasn’t funny anymore.
Thanks for sharing, Stacey. I remember the phrase 'beautiful downtown Burbank!"
Good luck with the series! Where can readers find you?