Qualia Nous 2 & Lucid Interval

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated with any big news, so to get right to it …

I’ll be appearing in the upcoming anthology Qualia Nous 2 from Written Backwards and Michael Bailey. This is a dream come true, not only to work with Michael (who you may already know from the popular Chiral Mad anthologies), but to appear alongside such illustrious company as Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Gabino Iglesias, to name but a few. The full table of contents is loaded with talent, and I’m honored to be included.

Michael J. Riser Fiction Qualia Nous 2 Lucid Interval

A Michael J. Riser Horror Story 10 Years in the Making

For those who might like a little more background on the story that will appear, “Lucid Interval” is a sizable hunk of a short story, coming in at about 7,500 words, verging on novellete territory. It is, as best as I can vaguely summarize, a dark rumination on suffering, entertainment, growing up, God (?), and the instability of being human. However, given that the projected publication date for the volume hasn’t yet been announced (likely in 2024, possibly 2025), details of the story itself might be less enticing than a brief summary of how it came to be.

“Lucid Interval” first began life somewhere around 2011, in a miserable Fort Worth suburb, probably during a heat wave. It was only 2,000 words or so then, and its first version got workshopped at LitReactor, where I’d end up meeting a number of cool people, a few of whom I still know. It was a very bad story, but I loved the idea, and it grew from there over the course of a few years. Despite my attempts to strengthen it, however, it always fell short of what I envisioned, and it was set aside for years at a stretch between drafts.

I’d always return to the story, hopeful the next attempt would be the one, but it wasn’t until this year at a workshop with Richard Thomas that I finally broke down and just said, “I’ve been looking at this for 10 years and I have no idea what I’m even looking at anymore. Someone just tell me if it sucks or not.” The consensus seemed to be that it did not, and after a few insights from a few associates (including my wife, whose thoughts were exceptionally helpful), I thought I finally had it where it needed to be.

Apparently I guessed right, as Qualia Nous 2 was the first place I submitted the final version of the story, where it was shortlisted and ultimately accepted after 31 days. I’m indebted to Richard and those who gave me all their positive feedback, and to editor Michael Bailey for his kind words to me upon asking to hold the piece—writing can occasionally be an arduous business, and encouragement from people we know and respect can fuel an entire career, just as its absence can sometimes snuff one out.

I can’t wait for you all to read the final story when Qualia Nous 2 hits, which will be available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook from the usual major booksellers (and hopefully your favorite local bookshop?). Until then, however, there’s only one current thing on the slate:

Michael J. Riser to Appear in Craig Clevenger Anthology

A short, surreal noir entitled “What’s Left of the Sun” will appear in Craig Clevenger’s “diner noir” anthology Put Out the Lights and Cry from Outcast Press in November or December of 2023. While the title may be lost on many, those as deeply invested in diner culture as a writer who’s had to scrape together their last few cents for a meal can tell you it’s diner shorthand for liver and onions—a perennial favorite, so long as you’re not vegetarian. While my story in the anthology is certainly not a horror story, it does have more than a few elements of the weird and surreal. It’s another one of my favorites, I’m really excited to see it in print, all the more for being published by Craig Clevenger, the author of The Contortionist’s Handbook, Dermaphoria, and Mother Howl—one of my literary heroes.

Michael J. Riser Fiction Put Out the Lights and Cry What's Left of the Sun

There’s not a whole lot more news, though I’ve moved the bulk of my social media presence over to Bluesky. If you’re inclined to leave Twitter—oh, I’m sorry, “X”—and the Elon hellscape, get yourself on the waiting list or find a friend with an invite code. I may not be one of the cool kids, but Bluesky does appear to be where the cool kids are hanging out.

Michael J. Riser on Bluesky

Of course, I do still exist on Twitter, but largely relegated to updates at this point:


Until next time, thanks to all of you for the support! And remember, Spooky Season officially starts September 1st. Yes, it does. I don’t make the rules.