Guest Author Andrea Speed – Romantic Horror

InfectedPreyLGI have to admit, having been caught up in editing recently, and it made me ponder the similarities between my two series, Infected and Josh of the Damned. Now, on first glance, the two series couldn’t have less in common. Josh is a horror-comedy about a convenience store clerk who sells snacks to monsters and is forced to save the world whether he wants to or not (and mostly he’d rather not), while Infected is all about the havoc caused by a werecat virus unleashed on society, and Roan McKichan, the virus child caught between worlds who’s wrestling with the possibility he may not be entirely human. Josh is funny and weird, dwelling at an intersection where poorly paid retail jobs meets B grade monster movies, and Infected is … well, it’s dark. I’ll be the first to admit it’s kind of grim sometimes. Although it too is funny, as Roan had a very well developed sense of humor, and all his friends are weirdoes. (He is too, so that works out.) So is comedy the common denominator? Not really, because humor is the point of Josh of the Damned, and it’s a leavener in Infected, something to cut the darkness.

The common denominator is horror.

Now, Infected isn’t really a proper horror series, not as they are generally understood. But considering how awful the effects of the virus are, and Roan’s internal and occasionally external battle with his own weird viral strain, the influence of body horror, a horror sub-genre, is undeniable. You can find some of the best examples of body horror in the work of movie director David Cronenberg, who pretty much cornered the market in the ’80’s. (Scanners, Videodrome, The Brood, Rabid, The Fly … I could keep going, but all have body horror as part of their make up. To be fair, the last movie he made with any body horror elements in it at all was eXistenZ. I think he said all he wanted to say.) Body horror is just what you expect: being terrified of something in you, or something warping you, changing you into something you don’t recognize. You have seen the enemy, and it is you. You could even fold the Alien movies in at the edges of body horror, because there is a little of that in its bones.

To muddy the waters, Infected is set in an alternate universe, one pretty much like our own world, except for that pesky werecat virus. Also, there are lots of mystery plots, since Roan is a private detective. I can’t call it horror with a straight face, or at least not with an asterisk. And while there is violence, there hasn’t been a horror movie slasher or anything of that ilk. Which is good, because they wouldn’t last five minutes with Roan. (Or Holden either, come to think of it. He doesn’t dick around.) This is probably why I have a hard time deciding what genre the Infected series belongs in, because I’m not sure.

JotD_TripleFeature2And Josh is horror, only in the Evil Dead 2/ Army of Darkness vein, but with less slapstick. That’s hard to recreate in print anyway. In fact, if somebody wanted to argue that it wasn’t horror since few horrific things happen, I’d be forced to agree. Josh is from the goofy horror sub-genre, the creature feature department, where guys in clumsy rubber suits menaced co-eds and the city of Tokyo with equal effectiveness. Yes, he deals with zombies, werewolves, and vampires, but they’re generally just there to buy stuff. In the end, the Quik-Mart Corporation is the biggest villain of them all, which makes perfect sense. What would you be more afraid of – a shambling corpse, or a CEO with a cadre of expensive lawyers? I rest my case.

But then I suppose this might lead you to ask why horror? Why do I like writing it so much? That might be something for a psychiatrist to handle, but the truth is, there’s a lot you can do in this genre. It isn’t just madmen in masks, serial killers, or standard creatures such as zombies, werewolves, and vampires. It can be and should be a whole lot more. Much like chocolate, horror can meld with just about any genre you want to pair it with. Readers, writers, won’t you give it a try? It can be so much more than scares and gore, if you’re willing to use your imagination. We need more writers to stretch the boundaries and see where we can take it.

But I have cornered the market on yetis, okay? They’re all mine, don’t touch ’em!

Exclusive snippet: Doug, Josh’s stoner roommate, is giving him a lift to work.

**

“You tell me, avatar,” Doug said, tossing the butt out the window as the light turned green. (Apparently you never wanted to be pulled over with even a minuscule amount of pot in your car. How Doug knew that, Josh had never asked.)

His Honda rattled as it shifted and lurched forward like a drunk. “I mean, what? Can’t afford the car?”

“Yeah, that’s one thing. Second, I never learned to drive.”

“What? You shitting me? You never took the class in high school?”

“My high school didn’t have that class. We did have metal detectors, though.”

“Gotta have priorities.”

“Guess so.” Josh picked up the pizza box between them and took a slice. It would have to be his breakfast, if you could call it breakfast near midnight. Oh hell, it was whatever he said it was. The night shift made its own rules.

For no obvious reason, the car shuddered, and he had to grab the box before it fell into his lap.

Doug’s Honda was beyond shitty. It shook, made funny noises, and smelled of bong water and beer. And yet, Doug called it his miracle car, as it just kept running. No matter that its exhaust smelled like Satan farted, the damn car would just not give up and die. It was an ugly, magical creature.

Doug reached over and grabbed a slice. “Owe me ten eighty-five.”

This was news for Josh. “What for?”

“The pizza I’m delivering for you. Also, I expect a tip.”

“Oh man.” Josh searched his coat for his wallet. He had slept past his alarm and missed his usual bus, so he’d had to call Doug at work, who made up some excuse to deviate from his route to give him a lift. Josh had no idea how he’d swung it, but Doug was the one with oodles of slacking-off experience.

“Hey, it’s cheaper than asking for gas money.” Doug gnawed on his crust for a moment. “Why you even goin’ to work? Didn’t they try and kill ya last time?”

Infected Series Buy Links
Josh of the Damned 
Buy LInks

 

Author Bio

Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!) In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

Website/blog: http://andreaspeed.com/
Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001496290042
Twitterhttp://twitter.com/#!/aspeed
Google+: https://plus.google.com/109420358312270961913/posts

Guest Author Sue Brown – The Sky is Dead

I love my kids. Even when they’re being a complete pain in the arse, I love them. I certainly don’t care if they are gay, straight, bi, trans, pan, a… and any other sexual I can think of, and I certainly wouldn’t throw them out of my house for being gay. Sadly, other parents don’t feel the same way.

I don’t know where the initial idea for The Sky is Dead came from. Probably from the endless stories on Facebook and Twitter from men and women who have been rejected by their parents for being LGBT. The individual stories make for grim reading. So many people have been estranged from their parents for a lifetime because of their sexual orientation. It’s easy to blame religion totally for this alienation but I think that’s naïve, and this isn’t the place to discuss religious doctrine.

Let’s think of the kids who are rejected by the very people who are supposed to love and protect them.

They’ve not only experienced family prejudice and rejection, and probably bullying at school. They may suffer mental health issues as they come to terms with their sexual or gender identity. Once out on the streets, they may have to turn to prostitution to survive, or be exploited by others. It goes without saying that suicide rates go up among LGBT homeless kids.

I want to do something to help, so I am donating the royalties from this book to The Albert Kennedy Trust, a UK charity supporting LGBT homeless youth. The charity was dedicated to Albert Kennedy, a sixteen year old homeless young man who fell to his death from the top of a car park in Manchester in 1989. In the same year an organisation was formed in Manchester to support young people like Albert Kennedy and the trust was dedicated to Albert as he epitomised everything the Trust was set up to prevent.

I leave you with a few useful websites; both UK and US.

The Albert Kennedy Trust – AKT supports young LGBT 16-25 year olds who are made homeless or living in a hostile environment

The Ali Forney Center New York center supporting LGBT homeless youth.

Broken Rainbow (LGBT domestic violence organisation) – Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experiencing domestic violence
Stonewall Housing – Run a free, confidential housing advice for LGBT people of all ages, across London, via a daily advice line (020 7359 5767) and three drop-in surgeries. We also run six hostels for LGBT people under 25.

The Trevor Project– Suicide prevention services and crisis intervention.

The Sky is Dead is not all gloom and despondency. Rather it’s a celebration of Danny’s determination to survive, and the love story between Danny and a young man who slowly teaches Danny to trust again.

SkyIsDead[The]Blurb

Danny is young, gay, and homeless. He lives in the park, preferring to avoid attention, but when thugs confront a stranger, Danny rushes to his rescue. He and the would-be victim, Harry, form a cautious friendship that deepens months later, when Harry persuades Danny to visit his home. Daring to believe he has found happiness, Danny finds his world turned upside down yet again when tragedy strikes.

Until he runs out of options, Danny won’t trust anyone. Finally he has to accept the offer of a home, and Danny becomes David, but adjusting to a new life isn’t easy. When he meets the mysterious Jack, it stirs up feelings he thought were long gone. Can David dare to allow himself to love? Or will the truth bring his new world tumbling down around him?

 

Excerpt
August 2012

“WHY do you never mention your parents?”

“Hmmm?” I hadn’t been listening, too lost in the feel of Jack’s strong hands massaging my feet.

“Your parents. You never talk about them.”

I shrug indifferently, not really interested in talking about my family. “They threw me out.”

There’s a long pause before Jack says, “When?”

“When what?” He digs his clever fingers hard into the ball of my foot, and I hold back a yelp.

“When did they throw you out?”

“Five minutes past twelve on New Year’s Day, 2000.”

“How old were you?”

“Sixteen.”

“Your parents threw you out when you were still at school?”

“Yeah.”

He’s silent for a minute and then more questions. I know there will be more questions. There are always questions if you are honest.

“Why did they throw you out?”

Reluctantly I open my eyes, because he has stopped digging into my feet and I’m not happy. “Why do you think?”

“Because you are gay.”

“Bingo. On the nose. Ding ding ding for the brainbox.”

“But you were a kid.” He sounds outraged for me.

“What’s that got to do with it? You know it happens all the time.”

“I thought that sort of thing didn’t happen over here. I thought we were all”—he makes air quotes with his fingers—“enlightened.”

I shrug again. “Obviously my parents missed that memo.” I wriggle my toes hopefully, but Jack doesn’t take the hint.

“What made them throw you out?”

“I just told you that.” I try not to snap, but we’ve been having a chilled evening on the sofa. Him, me, a bottle of wine, and a long, leisurely massage that was hopefully going to end in a happy ending. I was still hopeful that might happen.

No such luck. He tickles my foot enough to make me really yelp. “Tell me why they chucked you out, then.”

“Do I have to? It was a long time ago.”

“Please tell me what happened.” Jack holds me down with one hand and cups my chin with the other. I get lost in his expression, his eyes dark, the deepest forest green.

“I don’t want you to know.”

Jack kisses me softly. “I know you don’t, but I need to know. Tell me where you lived.”

My mouth is dry, and I lick my lips, trying to moisten them enough to speak. It’s so hard to talk about this part of my life. All I’ve ever wanted to do is forget about it. And there’s so much at risk telling him the truth. “South London still. About ten miles away from here. It was New Year. We had a party like we always did, and it was the millennium, so everyone was there.” The family had been there, as always, even old Auntie Peg and her farting Pekinese. But this time Dad had invited the whole street to see in the new century. “We had the telly on and heard Big Ben.” My dad insisted on seeing in the New Year with the chimes of Big Ben, just as he forced us to endure the Queen’s speech every Christmas Day.

“Then what?”

“We were hugging and kissing. Everyone was at it.” I’d already been kissed by my parents and all the aunties and uncles, even old Tom down the road had pulled me into a hug so hard I’d had the breath knocked out of me. “Then Steve kissed me.”

“Steve was your boyfriend?”

“Yeah. My mum and dad thought he was my best mate. He was my best mate, but he was more than that.”

“Did you love him?” I hear the jealousy in his voice. I see it in his eyes. This is the first time he’s tripped over my past, my ex-lovers. My past is just that—in the past and forgotten. I wish to God I’d remembered that before I’d told him the truth.

“I thought I did at the time. Now, I dunno. We were kids.” Of course I’d loved him, with all the innocence and naiveté that a sixteen-year-old possesses.

“So you kissed him in the excitement and your dad saw?”

It hadn’t been quite like that. We’d wished each other a happy new century along with everyone else, and then he’d caught my eye, and we sneaked out into the back where it was dark and quiet. He’d pushed me against the wall and kissed me, saying everyone deserved a special kiss. Even at sixteen, Steve had known what to do with his mouth to make me horny.

“Something like that,” I agree.

“Then what happened?”

“It was just my luck Dad came out for more beer and caught us kissing. He went ballistic, yelling he didn’t want a homo for a son, and then he threw me and Steve out of the house.” I can see the pity in his eyes and I hate it, hate it. “Don’t look at me like that. I’m not a charity case.”

He strokes my face with his long fingers, and if I hadn’t been so pissed off, I would have purred. “I never said you were.”

“You were thinking it, though.”

“Maybe a little. What did you do then?”

“We went back to Steve’s.” I remember the shock I felt as we walked down the street, the numbness in my mind as I tried to get my head around what had just happened.

“At least you had somewhere to go.”

I nod. I had—for a while. We’d let ourselves into his empty house—his parents had gone away, which was why he’d been staying with me—and he’d bathed my eye, trying to staunch the blood. In addition to chucking me out, Dad had given me a parting present of a black eye and a split lip.

Unwittingly, he’s tracing a tiny scar on my cheek where Dad hit me. “Did you stay there after that or did you have family you could go to?”

I shake my head. “None of them wanted anything to do with me once my dad spread the news. They all told me they didn’t want a queer in their house. I stayed with Steve for a bit, but his parents didn’t want any trouble. They were having a hard enough time finding out their son was gay.”

“So what did you do?”

I look away, not wanting to tell him the truth. Not wanting to admit the shame in my past.
He grips my chin firmly and forces me to look at him. “David, what happened next?”

“I got taken to a halfway home and then I lived rough for a while.”

“How long? How long’s ‘a while’?”

“Over three years.”

“Jeez.” He lets out a shaky breath, and I can see his eyes glistening in the dim light of the lamp.

That’s it. I’ve had enough. I clamber off his lap and head for the bathroom, giving the pretense of needing a piss. Thankfully he doesn’t follow me, and I spend the time staring in the mirror, seeing the frightened little boy I’d been then rather than the man I’ve become. When I get back he’s staring at his hands. He looks up as I come back into the room, and gives me a wan smile.

“Why have you never told me this before? I’ve known you for over eight years. Why have you never told me about your past?”

“You never asked.”

“Don’t give me that. You know I did. I’ve asked you over and over what happened to you, but you never said, and Mary wouldn’t tell me.”

I smile at that. Mary wouldn’t. She’s very protective of her kids, even years after they leave her. Really, no one leaves Mary. I’ve got to know most of her charges, past and present.

He sees my smile and snaps, “It’s not funny, David.”

My smile fades. “I know it’s not funny, but what do you expect me to say?” I hang back by the door, unwilling to face his anger. This was my life, dammit, not his. What the hell right did he have to be angry?

He stares at me. “I met you when you were twenty. Why did you never tell me about your life? All those times I asked and you’d only just got off the streets?”

“Babe, I wanted to forget that boy ever existed. I still do.” That’s not me—even if I did just catch a little glimpse of Danny in the mirror.

I can see from his frown he doesn’t really understand. Taking a deep breath, I sit down beside him and hold his hand. Maybe now is the time to tell my story. Not all of it, of course. There are things I can never tell him. The things I had to do to eat, to survive. It’s a miracle I’m alive and not dead in some alleyway with a needle stuck in my arm. I didn’t contract HIV or the clap. I survived, and I can show him that. I’m not a victim and the sky isn’t dead.

 

Author Bio 

Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has gotten expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favourite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Sue can be found at her website, http://www.suebrownstories.com/; her blog,http://suebrownsstories.blogspot.co.uk/; Twitter, https://twitter.com/suebrownstories; and her Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/suebrownstories.

 

Guest Author Missouri Dalton – The Series Beast

deathschildrentake3First of all, thank you Charlie for putting up with me on your blog today. I’ve decided to talk about series today. In part because the third novel in The Night Wars series was released a few days ago, and because I get asked a lot about what books I’ve planned out next. I am a series writer. I’ve not mastered the stand alone. I love big expansive worlds with interconnective plots and characters. Ideas that can span from the first to twelfth book in a series without getting stale.

I first fell in love with books like the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony and the Forgotten Realms books which hold volumes from people like RA Salvatore and Elaine Cunningham, who seem to have cornered the market on prolific. Because of that, I tend to sit down and start something, and then realize partway through what the second, third, and potential fourth books could be like. What stories I want to tell from the eyes of other characters.

NightShift510What I end up with, if I’m not careful, is a mess of story threads that get tangled up like the yarn you left on the couch too long and the cat got to it. (This has happened to me as well) So I do a lot of organizing. Story titles, story plots, outlines, concepts, character backgrounds…and lots and lots of computer folders and color coded notebooks filled with jottings.

The newest of The Night Wars, The Hellfire Legacy, takes place directly after the events of The Night Shift, the book known for its cliffhanger, and is planned to be Fynn’s final book. It was a hard decision, I assure you, but there are so many other characters I want to write about that it seemed time once I’d managed a trilogy about my recalcitrant psychic.

Fynn will never be far from my thoughts, however, as I dive into the next three plotted novels. I have them in the works in progress section of my blog, but I can give a preview here as well. Next up will be The Dogcatcher, a piece set partially during the Bobby Franks murder in Chicago, 1924. It’s Ian’s book so I get to do a lot of running back and forth between present day Ian and Ian when he was just getting into the Special Police.

The Hanged Man's GhostIt’s one I’ve been really looking forward to writing. After Ian we’re moving to Simon, another book which will straddle timelines in this case the years when Simon was a punk thief and his first solo case with the Night Shift. Should be fun. Third up will be a much anticipated book from Jack who will finally have to confront all those secrets he’s been hiding.

I also have plans for four books that may go congruently with the other three, as they spawn a new part of The Night Wars series I’m calling “International” and then a trilogy from a single character that will likely be YA and then… I’m not sure. I bet though, that something will come up. That’s the nature of the series beast after all, and I’m never one to shy away from the series beast. If you wonder, after reading a short story or a novella of mine, Is there going to be another one? The answer, nine times out of ten, is a resounding Yes. It’s just a matter of when.

I shall leave you with the blurb for my new release, The Hellfire Legacy, and fond wishes. If you’d like, I’d love to hear your comments below about series love/loathe and your own experience with writing the story that never seems to end.

Cheers!
hellfirelegacy6

 

Everything has fallen apart. With the Night Shift HQ destroyed and supernatural murders spreading across Chicago, the Night Shift team circles the wagons. Reeling from their losses, Fynn has to draw on every friend –supernatural and not- he has left to track down the monster responsible, a chase that will take his team far from home and the comfort of the world he thought he knew.

With his partner Jack and their daughter, Fynn faces questions about his family, an old feud and the Night Shift’s origins will bring Fynn closer to the truth, but he’s not sure he going to make it out of this one. He’s not even sure he wants to.

 

 

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