Author Series: Dani Brown
Please introduce yourself to our readers
My name is Dani Brown and I am based in Liverpool. I speak with an American accent, but I’m only half American. I was born in England and lived in the USA as a child and teen and never lost the accent. The accent confuses a lot of people. They expect to hear a Scouse accent. I’m not even from Liverpool, I just live here (hopefully not for much longer).
What initially got you into writing?
I took creative writing at university, which was a breath of fresh air compared to the journalism course I had inflicted upon me at college. I was initially doing a degree in Creative Writing and Journalism but dropped the Journalism element in my second year after realising I didn’t have to be miserable.
Who are your biggest influences and why?
I probably take more influence from sound than anything else. I have Apple Music so can have instant access to whatever I need to make a piece flow the way I want it to. Sometimes if I’m stuck, I’ll take to social media for recommendations. I also utilise music videos on Youtube, if I’m just after the visuals for a particular feel, I’ll watch in mute.
Every book I write since I finished Ketamine Addicted Pandas has the last few scenes and the final draft completed while listening to post-Autobahn Kraftwerk. That’s a bit of a holdover from when I was at university and writing Seth (it is on my website). The person I loosely based Seth off loved Kraftwerk so I had it on during my entire third year non-stop, but couldn’t write with the early stuff on.
In terms of reading, I was reading Stephen King at a very early age. I’m dyslexic and trying to get a dyslexic child to read can be very difficult. The mental energy that goes into reading, especially if something is poorly printed is a lot, so for a dyslexic child to read, it needs to be worth it. Stephen King is one of the most dyslexic-friendly authors out there. He uses very simple, easy to understand language. I get a few dyslexics visiting my table at events for the same reason, that a lot of my books are accessible. We then talk a bit about Stephen King. I haven’t read the last few books Stephen King had published.
With underemployment and my son’s father working up a ton of debt in my name, plus the stress of people injecting themselves into my life and inflicting “help” on me (the help was more of a hindrance, as I pointed out at the time), I wasn’t able to purchase books for a while. Now that I can buy a book every now and then, I like to try new things. I have a copy of Mixtapes and Mistakes by D.L Holmes, which I plan on reading once these two novels I’m working on are complete. He posted some of it on his Instagram account and I liked what I read. I also read a lot of epic fantasy. Can’t write it though, but I’m sure that’ll have some influence on what I write.
Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I tried self-publishing once and keep intending to try it again. I haven’t gotten around to it yet though. As I was under immense stress already when I tried self-publishing, I found the entire situation to be awful. I now have a better computer (thank you Facebook followers for getting this for me, it may not seem like much but it has changed my life) and a lot less stress, so I wanted to try again.
For the most part, I send stuff in on slushpiles and hope for the best. I seldom have a particular publisher in mind when I start writing a piece. I have two stories now that I’m trying to finish for slushpiles that are closing soon. When I’m close to finishing a piece, I’ll start looking for slushpiles that are open or opening soon. Starting a piece for a particular publisher never works well for me. I have a lot of unfinished stories that I plan on finishing this year. Once those are done, I might see to self-publishing again. I have something already. Just need the editing and then I have to decide if I’m going to do the cover and formatting myself or hire someone (or buy a premade cover).
I’ve been considering getting an agent. I’ll see what stories I have at the end of the year. Seriously, it is a lot of unfinished writing projects. Between creeps, my son’s mental health, man problems and nightmare neighbours from Hell (constant parties from 10 in the morning until 2 in the morning at least five days per week), and hold overs from ten unnecessary years of stress and hardship including my own mental health (which has been improving as I sort out all the problems I either wasn’t able to sort out because people were busy giving me new problems or the problems given to me in Liverpool), every time I’d start something, something would happen and I’d lose the rhythm of the piece.
At least during that time, I have recovered skills to a confident level in drawing and painting (acrylic). I’m still recovering skills in circuit bending and digital art. Graphic design comes next, although might be a bit sooner than planned if I decide to do my own book covers and formatting. Actual music skills are for after I move.
How important is writing as an art form in the world, today?
Writing is incredibly important. Without it, there wouldn’t be any entertainment. Plus complex medical information would be inaccessible to the vast majority of people, not so good when there’s a global pandemic. So no accessible medical information and no entertainment during lockdown. That would have really sucked.
Do you have a set process when starting a new project?
It really depends on the project. I write a bit about my three favourite books to write, in the question below. The best place to see what processes I’m following for any given piece is to follow my social media.
With my Tainted Love/Push the Button (Era Two) stories, I detail some of the inspiration on my website. I haven’t updated that in a while though. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I don’t. A lot of my first drafts are more out line and less story these days.
What has been your favourite book to write and why?
That is a three-way tie between Sparky the Spunky Robot, Ketamine Addicted Pandas and 56 Seconds. Those are probably my three most popular books as well.
I wrote Ketamine Addicted Pandas between late December 2016 and July 2017. It was always on my computer, running in the background. I had other things to work on in the meantime, plus underemployment (see below, it is also a highly stressful situation to be in). All I wanted in life was to be left alone to live life my way without people trying to “fix” what wasn’t wrong or broken, which eventually broke me anyways.
Someone took it upon himself to inject “friends” into my life as I guess my friends weren’t good enough (they were probably too good in his eyes). Each time I lost one of these “friends”, there would be another two dumped on me to take all my attention and time. I didn’t have much of either and couldn’t even look after myself properly as dealing with underemployment and the awful stereotypes, single mothers have projected onto them and trying to argue about how I want time to spend with my actual friends or why I didn’t want to do something (usually because it would cause long term problems) and having “help” inflicted upon me due to aforementioned stereotypes which would leave me vulnerable to the worst sorts of people took all my time.
At that stage, I was still waking up at 5 in the morning every day to write before waking my child up at 6:30 to get ready for school. I’d also sometimes have the time to write on public transport. But I was somehow meant to make time for “friends”. These “friends” were absolutely miserable and toxic people. Basically bad news. I felt like I was being used as their social worker. At one point, I found out how much a social worker makes and demanded payment. Social workers, in theory at least, receive some form of occupational therapy. I didn’t have that, not being a qualified social worker and all, or any desire to work in that field.
Ketamine Addicted Pandas brought a bit of happiness into what was an awful time in my life. The idea was completely out there, although very simple to write. Pandas that are addicted to ketamine. Ketamine isn’t strong enough for pandas to begin with and apparently it is non-addictive. With the ketamine came a little touch of rave culture. With the pandas came a lot of black metal. I took some of the more outlandish black metal rumours (I have no way of knowing what is and isn’t true, those aren’t my social circles) and made it more extreme and over the top and just had a lot of fun writing it. By the time the book was released in June of 2018, the bulk of the toxic people were gone. I was having some problems with real-life creeps throughout that summer though, which hurt my writing pretty badly.
The next book I wrote was Sparky the Spunky Robot in autumn of 2017. Toxic “friends” gone, although more were dumped on me at some point towards the end of 2017 (eventually lost), toxic relatives of my son, still there. I was burnt out after I finished Ketamine Addicted Pandas. I think I wrote another two books while writing that plus a mountain of short stories, while dealing with everything else I had to deal with.
One of these short stories would have been one of my Chester and Lester stories, which are about two brothers that use cum to make beard cream and ice. They’re rather disgusting but funny. I sent two of them to Burdizzo Books for the rejection letters. The Chester and Lester stories can be found on my website along with the rejection letters (I can’t remember if I put what was retitled Chester’s Cloudy Ice on my website yet, but it is in Rejected for Content 6). I didn’t have one of my backup stories ready even though I knew they weren’t going to publish it. I still had another story to write on top of that.
My son was playing with his toy robots on my bedroom floor. I was running out of ideas and grabbed one of the toy robots (now tattooed on my arm) and wrote one short story about the robot and another had the robot in it. The first story about the robot received very good feedback, which I think fell on the same day Em Dehaney sent me the truly hilarious rejection letter for the second Chester and Lester story. I took a picture of the robot and posted on my Facebook page with the caption, “I’m going to write a story about a robot powered by cum”. Em commented “Sparky the Spunky Robot”. I tried so hard to write the story that summer. I tried as scifi, I tried it as horror, but nothing was working. I eventually scraped two drafts.
One day I was shifting through notebooks and some fell on me. One of my notebooks contained notes about people trying to get me to do something else with my life rather than accepting and trusting that I know what I’m doing. I couldn’t and still can’t think of why people would do such a thing beyond projecting their own insecurities and wanting people to fit with whatever label they have given them. Anything else makes people like that very uncomfortable. I decided to combine that idea with the cum filled robot.
So I have a character that failed in a chosen career due to people nagging and a cum filled robot. Someone who was once close to me desired nothing else but to own a keytar. I had spent 12 hours of my life during the time when I didn’t have 12 hours to find a keytar and put him on a waiting list. He spent the keytar money on Harry Potter blue rays. Like all £600 of it on Harry Potter blue rays (guess he didn’t want the keytar that much). So I now have a failed keytar player and a cum filled robot.
The robot needs to be filled with spunk somehow. I’m assuming that too much contact with semen would break a keytar but I honestly have no idea. So the failed popstar uses the robot to relieve himself when he can’t jerk off onto his keytar which lives in the garden shed. It isn’t allowed in the house.
His wife Karen got herself pregnant when they were young and his band was just about to make it. She was still his girlfriend at this point. She spends their marriage not letting him play the keytar and distracting him with other things and a need to have the best garden decorations in Suburban Hell. Garden decorations have to be earned. They’re a visual status, which seemed like a good reason for why people won’t let other people pursue careers.
Matthew hates his life. Sparky gets his thoughts and temperament through the cum. Enough cum and Sparky comes to life and finds all of Suburban Hell’s lost dreams in the garden sheds while he goes looking for a voice. Karen isn’t very happy. It took about three weeks to write this.
I knew I was writing something special from the first paragraph of this new version of Sparky the Spunky Robot. I ended up getting the toy robot that inspired it tattooed on me, thinking if people see a visual representation of my writing that is always with me, I’d be left alone to get on with it. Not to be so. The tattoo had not even healed before my son’s family caused some difficulties with my writing career and then decided to add some drama into the mix.
My son witnessed this and it contributed to his anxiety and mental health problems as well as the damage to my career was pretty bad. With the drama, they sent some unpleasant messages so some of the more unpleasant things in regards to having a career in the book were things actually said to me. I guess it doesn’t click in their heads that I have no access to childcare and somehow need to keep a roof over mine and my son’s head and feed us at the very least. It happened when I was on the final draft of Sparky the Spunky Robot, so yet more people who wanted to interfere in my life. To prevent a post-traumatic response, I wrote their messages into the book. I am at the point where I can’t physically stand to be around people like that, let alone mentally.
Fast forward one book and to March 2018, toxic people are gone and I’m enjoying a brief break from creeps. I’m happy. I’m really happy. I can write without any stress. I had a few ideas from New Years plus a book I HAD to write (Crackhouse in the Desert) while my poor body and sense of self was recovering from ten years of toxic people, extreme levels of sexual harassment and people not letting me work. But I basically have writers block from it all up until March 2018 (I really don’t know how I completed Crackhouse in the Desert, I try not to think about it anymore). I still haven’t written that New Years idea, although two and a half years later, I have lots of notes. And with the exception of CrackHouse in the Desert, everything I wrote after that is connected to that idea (Sugababes only ever sing about masturbation, I was drunk, I still have the slip of paper that was written on though and every New Year since, I try to drink a small bottle of Co-Op brand gin).
At some point in February I went to an EBM night. The dance floor was empty and the DJ kept adding bottled fog to the empty dance floor and it looked sad. I snapped a picture of course, knowing it would one day be significant. One day in early March, I’m sent an anthology invite. I didn’t think I would be able to write it, but I tried. While scrolling through my phone, I came across an incident involving jerk off footage from May 2017. I also came across a screenshot of someone on Instagram saying my eyeballs are kissable (people are really strange, I posted it to Facebook where it was turned into eyeball licking by my followers). One of the spinoff story ideas of the Sugababes only ever sing about masturbation involved sexbots. The story had to include a dragon. So I have dragons, sexbots and cum. I wrote the story in a few hours. This is the first time I properly wrote something since Sparky the Spunky Robot.
But I couldn’t stop there. I needed to use the empty dance floor and jerk off footage (I think that first story had jerk off footage but I can’t remember the extent). Plus the toxic people would use borderline personality disorder as an excuse for their bad behaviour. A reason maybe, but there isn’t an excuse to interfere in someone else’s life and cause a bunch of drama. So there’s EBM, a cum shot, eyeball licking, Sugababes, borderline personality disorder. I haven’t revelled where the flies, honey and Crowley references come from (give you a hint, it isn’t Aleister Crowley but something obviously influenced by Crowley). The flies and honey were in that first short story with the dragons and sexbots. I put all these elements together (minus the dragons and sexbots) and had 56 Seconds in about two weeks.
It was the first time I wrote something like that since university. While writing 56 Seconds, I wrote the notes for what became Becoming. I wrote Becoming right after 56 Seconds. I tried to write Push the Button after that and have a decent few pages, but then the creeps came along after I finished Becoming as I guess five months is long enough to be single (it isn’t, especially when your life is a complete mess, at that stage, I would only attract more of the same and stress). Push the Button is on my list to finish before the end of 2020.
All three of these books were significant to me at the time of writing. The style and way of writing I’ve carried forward though is 56 Seconds. Each of those three books changed my life. Whether it was driving away toxic people, writing toxic people or writing toxic people and taking elements from various places and thinking about it as a multimedia piece instead of text alone.
Which genre do you enjoy writing in?
I don’t really know. Most of my stuff touches a few genres at once. Before March 2018, I would have said bizarro and extreme horror, but since then, I’ve been able to return to a style similar to what I used at university.
These days, when I’m writing text, I’m also thinking visuals and thinking sound at the same time. In the case of 56 Seconds, I was thinking full sensory assault. I’ll finish the rest of the project once I move, it will involve motion sensors though so something new I need to learn. I had that multimedia train of thought at university as well, but couldn’t carry it out due to the situation with my mother and my boyfriend at the time (who was as bad as my mother, I really didn’t know any different).
As 56 Seconds will involve a lot of delicate handmade equipment, I would rather carry it out once I’ve sorted out the problems that ten years of people not letting me live my life have left me with and I’ve moved far away from this city. I don’t want to risk investing time and money in something for it not to happen as that happened so many times between graduating university and late December 2017.
Is writing your primary source of income?
It is now. But not my fiction. I do a combination of content writing and medical writing and the occasional bit of journalism (which I hate, still, but need the money). I also do a bit of advertising.
People who follow me on social media know the back story and some of it has been mentioned on my website and in previous interviews, but basically I was forced into underemployment and every time I’d try to get away from that, someone in my life would sabotage it until I eventually ran out of energy (my body is still recovering).
Underemployment must have been one of the worst things to happen to me, especially as I fought so hard to not allow it to happen. It isn’t good mentally, physically or financially. I don’t recommend it.
So I am writing as my main source of income for now. I’m hoping to start bringing in more of an income with visual art soon. I’m still mastering my drawing tablet, but I have done a few hand drawn commissions.
Plus prints and random products are available on Redbubble (that’s the best I can do at the moment, when I have the money to invest and a place for storage, I will have fabric printed of some of my designs to make dresses and shirts, plus prints at events and on Etsy).
At least with writing, I’m employed in what I’m qualified to do, but it does interfere with my fiction and experimental texts.
And that would have been fine when I was younger as it would have only been temporary. The original plan after university was to do a combination of quiet visual art (mainly digital) and writing as a freelancer while working on my own stuff, eventually bringing sound back in for the first time since my teens. Quiet until I was away from my mother so no one would notice what I was doing. That was my ten-year plan, which I only started being able to work on last summer.
I wish I was younger and had more energy. I tried so many times after leaving university to put my full-force of energy into it and with the constant arguments with the people around me about why I should be left alone to do it, a lot of my energy goes into recovery these days. I wouldn’t be able to get a normal job these days, even if I wanted one.
What advice can you give our readers, should they wish to pursue writing?
If someone is being genuinely supportive of you, cherish them. There are a lot of people who claim to be supportive, but their words and actions don’t match up. Writing can be a very lonely pursuit so be sure to stay in touch with your friends. And network with other writers, even if you follow different paths to publishing.
What does success mean to you?
Being able to work on my own projects or commissions in peace without anyone telling me to do something else with my life or suggesting other things I can do with my life, or worse, forcing me to do something else with my life. It really isn’t helpful.
What projects are you currently working on?
My latest release was Becoming, which was published in February 2020 by Death’s Head Press. That follows Marcy from 56 Seconds. It is set before 56 Seconds and details how she died. It is one of the more extreme stories in the Tainted Love/Push the Button (also called Era Two) group.
A lot of the book is an artistic take on things said to actual woman and girls, including myself. It very strongly looks at narcisstic abuse and what it is like to be around someone with a dysfunctional form of a cluster b personality disorder that they project outwards onto the people around them.
One of the books I’m writing now follows Marcy into the Neon Dream. The Neon Dream is an underworld controlled by Gloria, the former Angel of Death. But Gloria didn’t do her job and spent the past few decades partying. The dust in the Neon Dream makes characters hallucinate so they don’t realise the party is over.
To keep the party going, Gloria kills her daughter and her stepdaughter, but that power alone isn’t enough. She kidnaps angels and rips out their wings, sometimes wearing their skin. She lured children out of Marcy’s cemetery. They skate around a roller rink in the basement levels of the Neon Dream to power it. Marcy needs to bring the children back to the Forest of the Dead, otherwise the entire world could collapse.
The other book I’m writing follows Gloria in her Tentacle Queen incarnation. Marcy has a secret lover. Gloria owns a piece of his soul, which she can use to call him into the Neon Dream at any time. Gloria is obsessed with Donnie, who Marcy has something of a relationship with. Gloria takes revenge by sleeping with Faded Star (Marcy’s lover).
I’m not sure which of these unfinished books I’ll be writing next. I’m also spending a lot of time before work arrives for the day getting used to my drawing tablet and learning how to use it. At night to help me unwind, I draw by hand. My penis bird drawings are immensely popular on social media.
Most of my hand drawn art is influenced by illustrations in medieval manuscripts or medieval art in one way or another. If medieval manuscripts were part of history class at school, I would have done much better in the subject. And I have a circuit bending project spread across my dining room table.
As the books are for slushpiles that are closing soon, I haven’t had much time for circuit bending. I’m not confident enough in it yet to post videos of me doing it on social media, but soon. I think there’s a few pictures of me swearing at a wire though.
What are your hopes for the future?
It would be nice to make a full time living out of my own stuff. It might be a bit too weird for that though, so finding a happy balance between my own stuff and freelance.
Lastly where can people find you?
www.facebook.com/danibrownbooks (this contains all the links, including to my website and other social media)
Redbubble for visuals QueenofFilth.redbubble.com (I will try to sort out my deviantart page, it is an absolute mess right now as I completely lost my skills with the stress but still kept trying)
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