Z.A. Maxfield Interviews Ethan Day about At Piper’s Point


When I started this series it had been my intent for authors to interview other authors about their books. Between my own writing, being one the organizers of GayRomLit, and the EDJ, it’s been a little more difficult to keep up. I do plan to continue to conduct these 5.4.8×5 interviews – but it will likely be just me interviewing authors when I run across a book I enjoyed reading.

The interview below is one Z.A. Maxfield did with me well over a year ago after I first dreamed up the idea behind these interviews. I’ve been sort of holding onto it all this time, waiting for the release of the paperback edition which recently hit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Book Depository. As it may end up being the final guest interview I post – I wanted to say thank you to Z.A. for taking the time to sit down and read my book – let alone come up with such thoughtful questions.

I hope everyone enjoys the interview!

PipersZA – First let me start off by saying that I LOVE stories where a great, and passionate love gets the timing right after ending earlier, when the timing was wrong…the way they kept ending up in bed together just to SLEEP. They brought each other such love and comfort.

I loved the fact that Sadie is a vital, living character throughout the entire book even though she’s actually an urn filled with ashes. Were you thinking of her as a character, and placing her in scenes so she could interact with the living characters? Because she certainly did interact, which you don’t usually see done, and I might add, done so beautifully. Was that a conscious choice on your part?

ED – Thanks Z! That’s most likely more generous a compliment than I deserve, but I’ll happily accept it anyway. : ) There’s an older movie with Mark Harmon and Jodie Foster from ages ago called Stealing Home. In the movie, Foster’s character has committed suicide leaving the responsibility of her ashes to Harmon. I won’t get into the entire back story of the film – y’all can go find it and watch it if you like – but it’s one of those movies that inevitably gets to me each time I go back and watch it. The urn and Cassidy’s interaction with it at the beginning of the book is an idea that sprang from that film. I think it was a useful tool for me when it came to telling this story. A way for me to showcase Cassidy’s solitude in the beginning – even with his best friends he’s forever holding part of himself back. His time spent with the urn becomes less and less the farther into the book we go. The more we learn about Sadie, the less isolated Cassidy becomes. He’s learning new things about her and letting go of the guilt he’s been stifled by with regard to her final years.

It was very important for Sadie to be remembered as a living breathing entity all her own. Having those memories revealed by individuals other than Cassidy helped her character become more three dimensional for me. That was crucial to making the essence of who she was come alive for me during the writing of it. Sadie’s character had little pieces of my own Gran woven into her DNA – that likely aided me in bringing Sadie to life on the page as well. She certainly became a very real individual to me.

ZA – Love, love, love those settings. The island itself is a character in the book, in the great tradition of all50395_165809416786338_8375205_n location stories. It’s a place of quirky characters and good friends and long memories…LOVE THAT. Is that a real place, somewhere you’ve been, someplace you went on holiday as a kid?

ED – No – I wish! I’d be moving there if it were. I did spend a good amount of time reading about the North Carolina coast and the Outer Banks. Because it was a fictional location and an island unto itself, I knew I didn’t need for Hart’s Island to be identical to the rest of Carolina coastline, but I wanted it to feel as if it could be there – that if there were an island like this off the Carolina coast, it would be just like Hart’s. I tried to present enough history to make the location seem tactile to the reader while not allowing myself to go overboard and become heavy handed. It’s difficult to know when to say when sometimes – and it will never be right for everyone, as individual readers enjoy varying amounts of setting and back story. When it comes to that, I think each writer has to worry about making themselves happy. It’s your name on the cover and you have to be the one out there pimping it. Difficult to do if you’re not happy with the final product. I find that having a fully fleshed out world in which my characters can move around in helps me better visualize the story – but that’s just me.

ZA – Cassidy’s family is awful and he has to make some pretty gutsy choices about them. Even though he’s full of all kinds of anxiety and issues, he’s extremely healthy with regard to what love means. He knows what good relationships are, and cherishes them. Was that tough to balance? Did you have some hard decisions when writing his character and when you did the rewrites did they change? (I’m trying not to give spoilers)

ED - I think for Cassidy, it was Sadie and his summers with her that altered who he became as an adult. The things that drove Lionel away from Sadie and everything she stood for are the same ones that drew Cassidy to her. Without those external influences growing up, Cassidy would have likely become a much more unlikeable character. Unlike his parents or grandparents for that matter, he had the benefit of growing up with a side by side comparison of both worlds. Lionel hated Sadie for keeping him away from his father’s side of the family during his childhood, while Sadie was raised with her father’s prejudices against the exceedingly wealthy Winter’s type of lifestyle. Cassidy was given a unique and unparalleled all access pass that allowed him to better pick out the flaws of each and taught him how to spot genuineness in others. It was intentional on my part to show that Cassidy was smart enough to recognize that money isn’t everything. Life with his parents, which held financial security, was also cold and lonely for him. It also threatened to change him in ways he neither wanted nor appreciated. Life with Sadie filled him with love, warmth, & kindness. It’s what brings him back to his true love. : )

ZA – To me, Cassidy is a saver and a recycler, when he’s finished with boyfriends he recycles them, never quite satisfied until they have their own happy endings. He takes in an injured dog even though its injuries revolt him. What do you think it is (about him) that makes his boyfriends stick around even though they’ve been dumped? (I know what my answer would be; I just want yours.)

ED – Personally, I think there’s simply an inherent goodness to Cassidy. He’s an exceedingly earnest individual. When he screws up he genuinely wants to make it right. And I think he’s always seen himself asED_AtPipersPoint_coverlg a stray of sorts. Sadie was the only person who ever made him feel like he was the most important person to them. And I think Sadie was a forever wounded bird who felt driven to reach out and help others. The way she took in Natalie, the way she always made herself available to the other people on the island, these were part of the beliefs she instilled in Cassidy – not via lip service but through her own actions. It’s easy to tell a child something, but leading by example is much more tangible.

It also ties into his own guilt and feelings of failure over being able to protect Sadie. That level of disappointment in himself altered who he became. I don’t think he’ll ever throw in the towel on anyone without doing everything within his power to salvage the relationship. He was an interesting character for me because he was warm and kind – people were naturally drawn to him. At the same time, he keeps most at arm’s length – even the men he’s dated over the years don’t really know him – at least not while they’re dating him. That’s part of the draw of Nate for Cass – they share a history and Nate knows who he is. Cassidy can’t keep him at a distance because of that history.

ZAAt Pipers Point is hilarious and heartbreaking by turns. If I had gotten it in print format I’d have hugged it to myself at the end. What did you feel when you finished that book? Was there a catharsis? Was it a whew, it’s over, or darn, I can’t live there anymore? Were you as invested emotionally in this book as I believe you must have been to have written it with such exquisite emotional involvement?

ED – This is actually somewhat interesting and it changed throughout the entire process until right before the book was released. It wasn’t an easy book for me to write to begin with, mainly because of my personal history, experiences, and guilt over my relationship with my real life Gran that got wrapped up in Cassidy’s story. It took longer to finish and there were many times throughout the process that I was pleading with the writing gods to let me be done with it already!

It was fun at times, and sad – emotionally draining at others. When it was done, I sent it off to my editor – happy to be rid of it, lol. Not the usual response when finishing a book. I re-read it a few weeks before it was released and I’m so happy I did. My entire perspective changed. It was as if all the turmoil that writing it had put me through just melted away. I was very happy with the end result – I think it’s probably the best book I’ve written – overall. It’s a bit more well rounded in the sense that is has more emotional depth than anything else I’ve written and released, but still has all the laughs. The entire tone of the book ended up being exactly what I’d imagined from conception – Cassidy’s journey was satisfying for me as reader and writer.

ZA – My only problem, my dear E, was how to make all those things I was so enthusiastic about into questions…? You are perfectly awesome, and I LOVED this book.

ED – Thank you again for taking the time to read the book, Z! The interview was just extra icing on that cake. : )

Paperback Now Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & The Book Depository

e-book available Here or at most retailers





At Piper’s Point

Ethan Day

Available in e-book & now in Paperback

from MLR Press

Promotional Blurb:

Ten years and many boyfriends later, Cassidy Winters finally returns to the ancestral home of his grandmother, Sadie Hart, despite the best efforts of his father to prevent it. Cassidy’s plans of a quiet, seaside ceremony to wish a final farewell to Sadie quickly unravel as interruptions run roughshod beginning with Neil who walks out of the ocean and straight into Cassidy’s bed. The dominos topple one by one when the little dog he rescues from the hounds of hell brings him to Ben, the hunky vet who rescues Cassidy right back. News of his arrival spreads faster than Cassidy’s legs, bringing his boyhood friend and first love Nate Sommers to his doorstep – leaving Cassidy spiraling into a multi-layered love snafu. As if the island wasn’t getting crowded enough for Cassidy’s good taste and bad decisions, best friends Ollie and Spencer arrive in time to witness the uninvited return of Cassidy’s most recent ex, Teddy, who’s refusing to stay dumped.

Fists fly and all hell breaks loose amid mojitos and martinis as Cassidy finds himself planning a huge party to celebrate Sadie’s life. Accusations are aimed as arguments and libidos boil over, but even through the chaos Cassidy knows exactly what he wants. While he’s certainly willing, he isn’t sure if he’s ready or able for love and life…At Pipers Point.

An Excerpt can be found at ethan@ethanday.com or Click Here for a direct link.

What people are saying about At Piper’s Point:

5 Stars and a Recommended Read from Dark Diva Reviews
"Wacky, loving characters, snarky humor, and screwball antics perfectly balanced by emotional depth make At Piper’s Point by Ethan Day the best book he has written to date."
Click here to read the full review

5 Stars from Aunt Lynn @ Reviews by Jessewave
"Run, don’t walk, to pick up this latest story by the wonderful Ethan Day. You won’t be sorry."
Click here to read the full review

5 Stars from Michele-n-Jeff Reviews
“Ethan Day’s quick wit and talent for character development makes At Piper’s Point a genuine pleasure to experience.”
Click here to read the full review


My Interview with Sloan Parker about Breathe

Today I’m posting an interview with the lovely and talented Sloan Parker, author of More, Take Me Home, and the subject of today’s interview, Breathe – 1st place winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards in the Contemporary Romance category among several others. Along with the above mentioned, Sloan is also a fantastic friend – I know as she spent an entire Saturday evening chatting with me back in the summer of 2010 in which we did everything but braid one another’s hair. That likely only went by the wayside because it was an instant message chat due to the fact we were each in separate parts of the country at the time. Apparently, I’m cheap and easy – able to be had and held for a lifetime of friendship after only one marathon heart to heart. : )

SPPROMO-block420SP: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with cheap and easy. Although, it’s definitely more along the lines of you being a fabulous guy that makes you such a good friend. That chat was more fun than anything else that can be had on a Saturday evening. Well, almost anything. ;)

Thanks for the wonderful introduction and for letting me ramble on your blog today, Ethan!

ED: Let me begin by saying congratulations again for your win in Elisa Rolle’s 2011 Rainbow Awards. I think it well deserved as I thoroughly enjoyed Breathe. One of the things I found most interesting with this book was your use of hate as an underlying theme throughout. It comes in more than one form, but what struck me as unusual was that the gay aspect wasn’t front and center. We often see the use of anti-gay bigotry as a plot device in gay romance. It’s all too familiar obstacle to that happily-ever-after. In Breathe, however – the hatred came more from the sense of familial loss over the life not lived due to the death of one character that resulted from the actions of another. The gay aspect was almost secondary – just another log on an already ignited fire burning out of control. Was hate something you purposely chose as an underlying obstacle but determined to use in a different way?

SP: First, I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you enjoyed Breathe. Thank you for checking it out and for the congrats on the Rainbow awards. Hearing about the wins for Breathe was quite a surreal moment for me. So many people cautioned me about writing that story. It feels good to know people have been moved by Jay and Lincoln’s story.

Definitely, hate was a big part of what I wanted to explore in Breathe. The idea that holding on to anger and grief and blame can ultimately do more damage to the wronged parties than the original loss they suffered through. It was part of the book’s plan from day one. That level of hate was inspired from real-life moments that I witnessed after an accidental death of someone in my hometown. The people I watched throw out insults with malicious vehemence didn’t even know the man responsible for the accident, and I was very disturbed be the entire situation. I guess I felt compelled to channel the hate I’d witnessed into a love story.

ED: I found your use of setting to be purposeful outside of the obvious world building aspect of writing. Everything surrounding these characters remained rather stark throughout: the houses or rooms in which they resided, the bar they went to for drinks, the anti-gay oppression which can still be quite prevalent in small town USA, even the gloomy winter weather that seemed to never end. It was as if Lincoln and Jay were trapped in a world of grey. I think it provided an almost pin-point focus on the two men and their growing relationship – as if they were the only thing in their world highlighted in color. Was this something that came to you organically throughout the writing process or was it part of the plotting from the very beginning?

SP: I’m so glad you mentioned the setting and weather, and I loved the way you described it. That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I wanted the bleak surroundings and the onslaught of the winter weather to help illustrate where each man was emotionally, that is until the final moments when Jay is at the cemetery alone and then later when he goes to see Lincoln. Only then was the spring weather starting to break through, and only then were the two of them really able to think about moving on and accepting the hope of a different future.

I outline every story and make several passes through it while revising and editing. The use of the settings and the winter weather to help set the mood was definitely something I planned out, though not every detail came to me until several passes through revising. I tend to have an overall idea of what I want to accomplish with those kinds of things, but it takes me several times through the story to layer it in with the plot and character interactions. Otherwise it feels forced to me, and ultimately probably would to the readers as well.

ED: Lincoln in particular, despite having been released from prison when the story begins, appears to still be very much in a prison of his own making. The guy never really lets up on himself, and even as the book came to a close, I’m not sure I ever felt he totally let it all go. Was this something you intended from the onset, and do you believe he ever completed his journey from self loathing to forgiveness?

SP: I just want to give you a giant hug. A prison of his own making is a great description. That’s exactly where Lincoln was at the opening of this book. He was the first character I envisioned for this story and wasSloanParker2 the one I wanted to help heal before I even dreamed up who Jay would be. From the very start, I wanted to make Linc a likeable guy who was such a good person that he couldn’t forgive himself, couldn’t let himself out of those prison walls he’d built up around him.

I think at the close of the story, he has a real shot at moving on. I don’t think that would’ve been possible without Jay’s forgiveness and love. Lincoln will never be the same man he was before the accident, and I don’t think he’ll ever completely let go of the guilt, but I believe that through building a life with Jay and working to be a part of what makes Jay happy, Lincoln will find a purpose in his life (along with caring for his sis and her kids). That purpose will allow him to live a more peaceful existence than where he started at the beginning of Breathe.

I’ve written a draft of an epilogue that I almost included in the book. Ultimately, I decided the ending was stronger without it and didn’t even finish polishing it. Someday soon I hope to get that revised and posted on my website so readers can see a bit of the future for Linc and Jay together.

ED: As someone who’s never been a fan of the gay-for-you storyline, which after hearing bits and pieces of the storyline from other people was what I assumed I’d be getting into with this book, I was pleasantly surprised and found it a refreshing change for Jay’s character to be a true bi-sexual. He’s attracted to both men and women yet manages to maintain a monogamous relationship with whomever he finds himself with at the time. It was something he never hid from his wife, though he did conceal that part of himself from his parents and in-laws. But I somehow got the feeling that had he met and fell in love with a man as opposed to a woman first that wouldn’t have been the case – that the only reason he actually hid that part of himself was because he’d never had a reason to do otherwise. That complete honesty within Jay’s marital relationship is an aspect of his personality that I’ve found accurate with regard to the few real-life bi-sexual men I’ve met over the years. Was this something that was important for you to show when creating this character or did it present itself to you organically as a result of the needs of the story you wanted to tell?

SP: Jay’s bisexuality was a very important part of the story for me (and another intentional element. Apparently I didn’t write much of this one organically. LOL). I purposely didn’t want it to be something he hid from his wife. I think people too often assume when someone realizes he or she is bisexual, they are automatically going to leave the person they are with and run out to explore that part of themselves. That’s just not always the case. As for many-real life bisexuals, they share that insight with their partner and discuss it openly. In Breathe, I didn’t want Jay’s own acceptance of who he was to be an important internal conflict for him. He’d already accepted that as a part of himself. Now, with Lincoln, he was able to explore that physically as well. I’ve heard from readers who were surprised there wasn’t more made of his “coming out.” But as you said, if Jay had fallen in love with a man first instead of his wife, he would’ve brought that person home to meet his family and all would have been revealed about his bisexuality earlier in his life. His internal conflict had much more to do with a perceived betrayal of his wife because of who Lincoln was, not because Lincoln was a man.

ED: Lastly is one of the things that impressed me most about this story, the overall concept of one man falling in love with another man who happens to be responsible for the death of his spouse. It vaguely reminded me of a film I love called, Return to Me – where a man unknowingly falls in love with the woman who received the heart of his first wife (killed by a drunk driver) as an organ transplant. Was there an intent behind it – some particular theme you wanted to play into or simply a really cool idea that happily came to you.

SP: Love that film! You know, I’ve never thought of it in relation to Breathe before.

The original idea for Breathe came about several years ago when there was a tragic car accident a few miles from where I live. A young woman was killed in the crash as well as her unborn child. Her young son and husband, who were also in the car, were both injured but survived. It was such a sad story. My heart broke for that family. Sometime later, I saw footage on the local news of the man who had accidentally caused the crash. He was in the courtroom for his hearing and was talking to the woman’s family. I didn’t really hear what he was saying (I had the TV muted), but the look of misery and despair on his face was genuine and something I’ll never forget.

Naturally I felt horrible for the family that had lost this woman, but I also couldn’t get the other man out of my mind. Would he ever be happy again? Ever smile? Laugh? Love? Ever be able to forgive himself?

Not long after that night, I had several pages of notes about Lincoln and Jay. I wanted to create two characters who were decent, caring guys stuck in an impossible situation. I wanted them to learn to accept that forgiveness and love could make a difference in their lives. I wanted them to learn to love again. The more I wrote about Jay and Lincoln, the more I had to follow them to their happy ending.

ED: Thank you once again for taking the time to answer all my annoyingly nosy questions Sloan! Congratulations once more on the well deserved success of the book. : )

SP: Thank you so much, Ethan. These questions were far from annoying. They were some of the best ones I’ve been asked about this book. I absolutely loved the way you described the story elements. Thanks again!!

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Promotional Blurb:

Lincoln McCaw lost everything—his home, his job, his partner—after he caused a fatal accident. A year later, he’s drowning the guilt and despair in whiskey, but he needs to move on. His sister and her kids are counting on him. Then he meets a man who ignites a passion Lincoln thought he’d never find. Too bad one night is all they can have together. Now he needs to figure out how to turn away from the only person who makes him feel alive…before whoever is sending him threats decides Lincoln needs to suffer more than he already has.

Jay Miller is surrounded by grief and misery until he finally gives in to all those years of sexual fantasies about being with another guy. Realizing he’s ended up in the arms of the man who caused his wife’s accident, he tries to pull away. But how can he give up a friendship he needs more than anything—a friendship and a love that could save him? He may not have time to make the choice before someone else destroys it all.

Excerpt of Breathe by Sloan Parker

“God, you sure are a cute one.”

Jay cracked a smile as the woman at the far end of the bar flirted with the dark-haired man wearing a leather jacket. She had no clue she’d already lost the game. Not only was Dark Eyes gay, he also looked as lost as he had when Jay first saw him. No one stood a chance with someone who obviously wanted to be left alone the way he did.

She kept at it, though. “Come on. Buy me a drink.” She ran her long, pink fingernails through the hair above his ear. Dark Eyes swatted her hand away and returned his attention to the glass that held something stronger than beer, gripping it with both hands.

SP_Breathe_coverlgJay couldn’t blame her for trying. Dark Eyes looked good in the black leather and faded jeans, his dark hair and skin a temptation for the fingers. Jay clutched his beer and took a swallow before setting it on the table he’d grabbed ten minutes earlier.

Sonny’s Tavern was crowded, the eligible singles mixing with the heavy drinkers. Most–like the woman hitting on Dark Eyes–not knowing how to tell the difference between the two. The Friday night crowd was more animated than the last night Jay had been in. A group of couples danced near the back wall, creating a makeshift dance floor. There was a different bartender on duty, the television and music overhead were louder, but the same old man sat sipping whiskey near the restrooms.

Jay drank more of his beer and waited. It wouldn’t take long.

By the time he finished the beer, the bar stool next to Dark Eyes was empty, the chatty blonde desperate for a free drink–and possibly more–had moved on. Jay waved for another beer, dropped onto the stool, and said, “Hey.”

Dark Eyes ignored him and stood.

Apparently Jay sucked at the flirting thing. Which made sense. He hadn’t dated many girls. The only one other than Katie had been a fellow classmate he’d agreed to go to the homecoming dance with his junior year during the five weeks he and Katie had their one breakup.

Dark Eyes removed his jacket, laid the leather over the bar, and sat again. The muscles of his arm flexed as he lifted the glass for a drink. The hint of a tattoo peeked out from under the T-shirt’s sleeve. An outline of an eagle feather.

“Do I know you?” Dark Eyes asked.

He’d forgotten.

And here Jay was picturing what it would be like to blow the guy. He’d always wanted to know. Always imagined he’d like sucking cock and couldn’t stop dreaming of doing it to Dark Eyes since the man had walked out of the bar the other night. Was it because Jay knew Dark Eyes was gay?

No. This guy was a total turn-on for him. He’d only been sitting next to the man long enough for one smoke, and already all Jay’s fantasies were roaring to life.

“I uh…I was in here the other night.”

“I remember,” Dark Eyes said. “Saw you outside the night before that too. Thought maybe I’d seen you somewhere else, though.” He slid the bowl of peanuts toward Jay.

Jay stilled the spinning bowl. “Don’t think so. I’d remember meeting you.” Heat rose in his cheeks. Shut up! But did he want to? He nodded to the TV. “You watching the game?”

“Nah. I gave up last half.”

“Guess I didn’t miss much excitement, then. I had to work late.”

Dark Eyes removed one hand from his glass. He made like he was going to take a drink. “Where do you work?” The question came out in a rush before the glass hit his lips.

“Stacking loads at McNeil’s Lumber Yard.” Jay made eye contact with the man. Neither looked away. A nervous jolt shot from his gut to his groin. “It’s a shit job, but I’m lucky to have it. I was going to college but, I…uh, I had to quit. And since they won’t let you teach high school history without a college degree, or a teacher’s license for that matter, I’m stuck with whatever pays the bills.”

Dark Eyes let go of his drink and turned on the stool a fraction of an inch in Jay’s direction. The slight curve of his lips wasn’t as unnerving as the intense stare.

Jay kept talking. “History’s always been my thing. Since I was a kid. Everyone thinks I’m crazy for wanting to teach high schoolers, but there’s a lot we can learn from history.” And why was he sharing any of this?

The grin on the other man’s face grew. “You always talk this much?”

Jay shrugged and sipped the beer he’d forgotten he had. “I don’t know.” He laughed. That statement was worth a laugh–the first real one in over a year–considering Todd’s recent comments about how he hadn’t been talking much anymore.

“What’s funny?” Dark Eyes asked.

“Nothing. What do you do?”

“Just started over at the steel plant. Used to drive loads for them years back.” Dark Eyes gripped his glass again, clutching it in one hand. The other joined the first until he held on to it with both hands. What would those hands feel like when they touched Jay’s body? His ass? His dick? What would those arms feel like wrapped around him? How would the skin of that neck taste? What would that dark hair feel like when he grasped the man’s head in his hands while Dark Eyes blew him?

Jay breathed deep. Fantasies…just a fantasy. He wasn’t ready for anything physical with anyone. Was he?

Before that week, he hadn’t been ready for so much as a one-night stand. When he let himself get close to someone, all his thoughts would turn to Katie and every sexual moment they’d spent together. He hadn’t wanted to go there, especially not for a quick fuck to please his cock.

Had that changed?

His body was ready, but was he?

Maybe someday…a roll in the hay with a woman. Maybe even with a guy. Might be nice to know if all those fantasies had been leading him on about what he wanted–or whom he wanted it with. But not yet. Not after only a year.

Then why had he sat next to the guy in the first place? Why had he looked for the man?

Dark Eyes leaned his upper body in close, almost touching Jay’s arm. That rattled him out of his trance. Damn, he’d been staring at the man for too long. The husky whisper as Dark Eyes spoke did nothing to aid Jay in regaining his concentration.

“Quit looking at me like that, kid. Unless you’re willing to back it up.”

Oh God. Maybe the flirting had gone better than Jay thought.

The only sexual experience he had other than Katie was the ten-minute fuck in the back of Christy Harper’s car on homecoming night. He’d gotten off, but it hadn’t been anything special. He’d put every last minute of it out of his mind as soon as he and Katie had made up.

The weeks they’d spent apart were the worst weeks of his life until a year ago.

No. The worst part was telling Katie about what he’d done with Christy. Katie had gone on her own date, and Jay hated hearing about the kissing and groping she’d done. He could only imagine how much it hurt Katie to listen to his confession about his backseat “date.” He made a promise to himself as he drove her home that night, both of them sitting in the front seat of the Jeep in silence. He’d never hurt her again. Never cheat again. Even though she said he hadn’t technically cheated and she understood how it had happened, it sure had felt as though he’d been unfaithful. He never wanted to feel that way again. Never wanted any other person pleasuring him. Only her.

And now here he was hoping another guy was interested in him.

How had he given this guy the right signals? Or the wrong ones? And how was he supposed to respond?

Jay licked his dry lips and forced his attention on the TV above the bar. Commercials. Something with beer and babes in bikinis. How apropos.

“Kid.” That one word in the low, deep voice had him facing Dark Eyes again. Jay barely heard the whispered command over the sound of the country music. “Give it a few minutes, then meet me out back.” Dark Eyes stood, threw some wadded cash onto the bar, grabbed his coat, and exited out the back entrance that led to the rear parking lot. The music and crowd in Sonny’s muffled the bang of the door closing behind Dark Eyes.

Jay turned to the bar. He needed to leave. Out the front entrance. Now.

Why wouldn’t his legs help him out? He guzzled his beer in four tries, dropped the bottle onto the bar, and stood. What the hell?

He walked toward the back door at a quick clip, hoping no one knew where he was going.

Or why.

Copyright 2010. Sloan Parker. All Rights Reserved.

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Ethan Day Interviews Geoffrey Knight about The Cross of the Sins


Now that I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things between GayRomLit and my own writing, I figured it was about time to start up the 5.4.8×5 series once again. Though the interviews will likely post once a month for the time being instead of bi-monthly as I still have a lot going on, I figured who better to kick things off than Geoffrey Knight and the first of his Fathom’s Five Series, The Cross of Sins. No one I can think of does high-octane, gripping the edge of your e-reader, action and adventure better! As he’s co-authoring the first book of a new series with yours truly, I was able to twist his arm into doing and interview with me. ; ) Now that the third book in the Fathom’s series, The Curse of the Dragon God has been released it seems like the right time to present all of you with our conversation about Cross – the book that started a franchise which consistently leaves readers desperate for more.


ED: First I simply have to ask the obvious, which is probably the question you get asked most…but I can’t help it, I have to know…otherwise I’ll be forever imagining a horny teenaged Geoff locked away in his bedroom at night, whispering the name Luca between crossclenched teeth while doing unmentionable things to himself. : ) This series is like every Indiana Jones/adventure story loving gay boy’s wet dream of a fantasy life come alive on the page…and then some. From the lava tubes off the island of Kahna Toga to the island of Vulcano, The Cross of Sins, book one in the Fathom’s Five series, was a virtually, non-stop thrill ride of suspense, action and hot-n-sweaty man lovin’– so seriously dude, like where the hell did all this come from!?! And how long did you have all of this playing out in your head before you finally sat down and wrote a single word?

GK: Well, seriously dude, it’s been in there for a long time! When it comes to full-length novels I actually have them brewing in my head for years, cooking and bubbling and stewing away until they’re exactly what I want them to be. When it came to kicking off the Fathom’s Five series, I actually jumped in too quickly on my first attempt. It was way back in 2000 and I hadn’t spent nearly enough time hatching the story and characters properly. Back then there was only one lead character (not five). His name was Luca da Roma but he was different to my current Luca. Back then he was on the trail of ancient clues that had been hidden in famous works of art around Europe. But I found that having one hero was too limiting for the scope of what I wanted to write, and within 20,000 words I’d written myself into a hole. Then a little book called The Da Vinci Code was released with a very similar plot (and a few million more sales than mine), so I put the project in the bottom drawer and let it sit there for a very long time. But it never left my head. Then in 2007 I pulled it out and realized it’d work a helluva lot better if I took the Charlie’s Angels approach—multiple protagonists. But of course, more is more in the world of Fathom’s Five, and I thought why settle for three hunks when I could have five of them! So I took a number of hot gay porn stereotypes and moulded them into guys who were as rounded and grounded as I could make them without losing the rollercoaster heroics. Then of course they needed a father-figure, so I borrowed a lot from Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies to create my Professor Fathom. And suddenly every ancient mystery, every corner of the globe, every villainous cult and deadly trap and ruined temple were at my fingertips and I was off and running! :)


ED: That’s awesome to hear the evolution of what has become an incredible adventure series that has people constantly clamoring for more. I think the real lesson here, especially for the new and would-be writers out there, is that just because an idea doesn’t pan out in the beginning with a little time and patience something even better can bloom from the compost pile of other ideas.

Speaking from the logistical standpoint of threading together the POV’s of so many head-lining protagonists while balancing all of their individual needs, wants, and inner turmoil – what processes do you go through in order to keep it all sorted out? I only ask because I can’t multi-task at all in real life, let alone inside my own head. I’d totally take my hat off if I were wearing one. : )

GK: I can’t multi-task in my head either. It has to be down on paper. And not just on the computer, I mean physically on pieces of paper so I can push everything off my desk and lay out these little pieces of paper and shuffle them around till the narrative works. What IRiddleSands usually do is start with the basic plot—who are the villains, what’s the mystery and what’s the McGuffin (the item of the quest)? Then I come up with locations to suit that particular mystery. Then I plot the course of the novel under the headings of the different locations. For example, I’m currently working on the fourth book in the series, The Temple of Time. It’s all about the Mayan Calendar which actually goes back to the Olmecs. So obviously Mexico is the number one location that’s central to the plot, so usually that location becomes the point for the climax so that I can bring all the characters together to the one location to end things with a bang. But then I come up with a number of other locations that thematically gel with the plot and central location. Because The Temple of Time is all about (you guessed it) Time, the other locations in the book pinpoint various models of ancient clocks—so throughout the novel we jet off to Prague to visit an astronomical clock, to Morocco to visit a water clock, and to Amsterdam to visit a wind clock. (Of course, I use the word "visit" very loosely; it’s more like "run, chase, dodge bullets, duck for cover and duck under the covers"). So you can imagine my desk is kinda messy with all those snippets of paper. And my number one rule is: Don’t Turn On The Fan!


ED: Uh oh…no sleep overs for you and me then…I do love me some fan while I sleep. : )

It was obvious to me as I was reading the book how much you cared about each of the protagonists in the book. As much as you seemed to enjoy getting them into mountains of trouble, you also brilliantly found ways to ground each of them with their own flawed reality: Will Hunter who was raised by the family butler, Felix thanks to his neglectful and an altogether absent father, Luca da Roma the orphan raised by nuns who has a deeply ingrained desire to know where he comes from, Jake Stone and his Achilles heel – the homeless teenager Sam, Eden Santiago who at first glance seems like the most pulled together yet has a one time lover who turns out to have meant more than Santiago lets on, and my fave, the cowboy Shane Houston, who stands up to defend a father despite never getting the man’s approval and who risks his own life to save his horse. If you don’t mind, explain what your process was during the plotting and writing of Cross and why you decided to give such weight to these characters when you didn’t really have to? Why was it so important for you to give them each their own lives and loss within the construct of this otherwise fast-paced thrill ride? Why mix the social drama with the testosterone fueled action and adventure?

GK: Great question! I think as a writer, the one thing you have to do above all else is write something that interests you! Because if you’re not interested in what you’re writing, chances are nobody else will be either. So to maintain my own interest in these guys across the bigger canvas of their adventures, I needed to give them their own personal stories and subplots to slowly unravel over the series. Some readers have criticized the books CurseOfTheDragonGod_Copyindividually for not having enough character development, but in doing so they’re not looking at the bigger picture. If I had solved all my heroes’ individual personal demons in the first book, I’d have nothing else to work with in subsequent books. Luca’s a great example of this: he doesn’t know who he is, where he came from, but in each book he and the reader get closer and closer to figuring out his past until eventually the secret to Luca’s true identity becomes the major plot of Book 7 (and trust me, it’s a humdinger!). The same goes for Jake. Who he is and why he does what he does (and Sam’s real identity) don’t actually come to light until later books, but all the clues are there in the previous books. You just have to look for them. So yes, I’m working on a very big canvas, and when someone says there’s no character development I’d love to say "Yes there is" and show them everything that’s slowly unraveling before their eyes, but then that would spoil a LOT of secrets and mysteries yet to come! My only advice is, take EVERYTHING in! Every word, every scene, is there for a reason.


ED: You’ll never hear me complaining – I love a good tease.

Now we can get down to the romance – from the moment Jacques Dumas entered the picture in Venice you let us know immediately with one simple sentence exactly what this man had meant to Eden who was unable to lie to the sexy Frenchman. Their entire past is fully illuminated with that one admission from Eden who then wondered to himself why he ever allowed Jacques to slip away. Dumas even mentioned some unanswered letters he’d sent to Eden at some point in their past. It’s made evident that it wasn’t a nasty break-up and it struck me as odd considering that up until this point in the book, Eden seemed to be the only one of the five who appeared completely comfortable in his own skin. It was almost a little shocking to me since I’d already formed such a strong picture of who Santiago was, but I found myself liking the character so much more because of it. I certainly have my own theories as to why but I wondered what you believed was the real reason Eden let go of Jacques go all those years ago?

GK: Ah, Jacques! I love Jacques, I think he’s a great character who, after the first adventure in The Cross of Sins had a very major role to play in the second book, The Riddle of the Sands. In fact, he featured in almost half the book and had quite an adventure in the Amazon with Eden, all the while revealing more about their past and the reasons their romance didn’t work—but might possibly work again. Unfortunately, Riddle finished up WAY too long. At 500 pages, my publisher told me it was too long, and they were right. So I had to cut 200 pages (yikes!). That was a VERY tough thing to do, and I learned a lot from the process. After a few days of wondering how the hell I was going to lose almost half the book without completely scrambling the plot, I realized Jacques and the big Amazon adventure was going to have to go! I still sent Eden to the Amazon, but I had to write Jacques out of that subplot completely and shorten Eden’s journey dramatically. In the end it works for the book. The bad news is poor old Jacques doesn’t get a mention at all in the novel now. The good news is he will come back in an upcoming book to play one third of a love triangle. My lips are sealed as to who, when, why and how!


ED: LOL…you’re the biggest tease!

Perhaps it’s just me and my own romanticism about you Aussie boys, but would you agree that some of that sense of adventure, which you’ve folded into the pages of your fiction isGeoff Knight inherent, a by-product of that awesomely unique country from which you hail, or am I merely deluding myself with visions of me & Hugh Jackman on the back of his trusty steed? : )

GK: I like that vision of Hugh Jackman! Unfortunately I’m nothing like Hugh and if you threw me into the pages of one of my adventures, well, let’s just say those car chases would be short-lived and I’d most certainly pass out if someone shot me in the arm. But having said that, yes, Australia is a naturally adventurous country and you do grow up learning how to treat a snake bite, or what to do if a shark is circling you, or knowing where and when to swim despite the heat and the temptation to jump into any old waterhole; not that I’ve ever had to dodge a shark, but growing up in country towns I’ve certainly had my fair share of run-ins with snakes. We actually have all 10 of the Top 10 Deadliest Snakes in the world here in our backyard. There’s a snake scene in my latest ebook The Seventh Wave (which is partly set in Australia’s outback) which brought back more than a few of my own snake adventures. But to be honest I think my love of adventure stems more from being a movie-loving kid growing up in a small town with one old run-down picture theatre, staring up at the screen wide-eyed and in awe of Raiders of the Lost Ark. (If ever I meet him, I owe Mr. Spielberg a drink!)

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Somewhere in the world is a statue so sinful that a secret sect of the Church wants it destroyed at any cost. Somewhere in the Turkish desert, in the streets of London, and in the depths of Venice, are the clues to find it. And, somewhere in the hearts of five sexy, daring, thrill-seeking gay men, is the courage and die-hard determination to unravel one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

Meet Luca da Roma, an Italian model and expert in art, both ancient and modern; Dr Eden Santiago, Brazilian biologist, physician and genetic engineer; Shane Houston, a Texas cowboy and an expert in cartography; Will Hunter, a San Diego college student and football star, majoring in ancient history; and Jake Stone, an adventurer-for-hire from New York and the newest member of Professor Fathom’s team of hot gay adventure seekers.

Together, they are Fathom’s Five, traveling the world, solving ancient mysteries, uncovering priceless treasures, and getting into hot, sticky and sexy situations, while thwarting danger at every turn! From Venice to Vienna, from Tuscany to Turkey, from the South Pacific to the seas off Sicily, join in the heroic adventures, hunky sex and hot, high-octane action of THE CROSS OF SINS.



Shane and his mother let the screen door slam and pounded the boards of the dilapidated porch, far enough away from the door so that Claudius couldn’t hear them.

As darkness fell and distant thunder echoed off the mountains, both Shane and Gertie started talking at once. But it was Shane who had the louder voice.

“Gertie, what the hell are you doin’? Has he asked you to marry him? After what he did to our family!”

“Shane, he did nothing to our family.”

“Gertie, he drained the entire well. He bled us dry and made billions. And left Dad broke.”

“What your daddy did, he did to himself. I don’t know why you’re taking his side, anyway. We both know he was a mean, angry drunk. You and he never once saw eye to eye! And stop callin’ me Gertie in front of Claudius! He’s a gentleman. And yes, he did ask me to marry him. And I said yes!”

“What! Why!”

“Because, dammit Shane, I’m lonely!”

“You’ve got me!”

“No, I don’t! You’ve got your own life! Shane, I love you. And in a lot of ways I loved your father too, despite the things he said and the way he acted. But now I need you to understand my life too. I’m all alone, Shane.”

She reached for him then and touched his arm. Her shawl fell from her shoulder down to her elbow.

“Honey, you know nobody will ever take the place of you. But Claudius, he makes me feel alive. And for an old woman—”

“Ma, you ain’t old.”

“I’m getting old. And since you left home, I get lonely too. And these days, when someone knocks on my door, I open it. And I ask them in for a cup of tea.”

“Ma, I don’t think Claudius is here for a cup of tea—”

“Hush!” scolded Gertie. “He keeps me company.”

Shane sighed and wrapped his mother’s shawl up around her shoulder. “He doesn’t treat you bad?”

Gertie shook her head. “Heavens, no! Not at all.”

“What can he give you?”

“He’s got big dreams, Shane! He tells me he’s working on something incredible! Something to do with new energy. Something that’ll change the world. I don’t know what it is, but he tells me he’s cooking up a storm!”

“Yeah, but does he cook you dinner?”

Gertie laughed. “Goodness, I haven’t met a man yet who can.”

“Gertie, you need to meet more gay men.”

Gertrude eyed him with a soft anger. “Shane Houston, I told you about that Gertie thing!”

Shane sighed. “Yes, Ma.”

Gertie smiled and pecked her son on the cheek.

He wrapped his strong arms around her then. Either his arms and shoulders had gotten bigger than she remembered, or she’d gotten smaller. It didn’t matter.

“Just be careful,” he whispered into her neck as he hugged her tight. “I worry about you!”

As another bolt of lightning illuminated the distant sky, Arturo and Acacia galloped across the paddock toward the house. Shane could hear them. And he smiled.

Tomorrow he would take all three of them out—including young Jax—and let them run wild in the sun, trampling the earth, grazing the prairie, having fun. Just Shane and his horses.

“I’d better get these guys into the stable,” he said now. “That thunder’s getting closer.”

“And I’d better get back inside and make sure Claudius is alright.”

Gertie kissed him on the cheek once more and headed through the screen door.

Shane stepped down off the porch as Arturo and Acacia approached. He immediately sensed their anxiety. He saw their wide-eyed fear.

“Whoa, whoa, guys! You okay?”

Suddenly Shane realized that Jax was nowhere to be seen.

Riding Arturo bareback, with Acacia by their side, Shane and the horses thundered across the land as the sky thundered above them. They came to a halt, Arturo rearing upward, at the edge of a shallow ravine.

Shane jumped from Arturo’s back and stood staring down into the dark.

He heard a frightened whinny, then, as lightning shot across the sky, he caught a glimpse of young Jax, trapped in the gully. He seemed unharmed, but somehow he had managed to fall or find his way down there and couldn’t get back up.

Shane quickly sized up the steep ravine. “I’m comin’ little buddy! Hold on!” Then he turned to Arturo. “Arturo. Rope! I need you to get me a rope from the stables. Rope! Do you understand?”

Arturo’s head bucked up and down, his hooves clomping, and as swiftly as he raced across the ranch, he disappeared into the darkness.

At that moment the heavens opened and the rain came down in a deluge.

It turned the sides of the ravine into a muddy slippery slide as Shane scrambled and rolled his way down, his clothes soaked through by the time he hit the floor of the ravine.

Jax came bounding up to him.

“Hey, mister! You okay? You hurt?” Shane checked the colt’s lanky legs, his hips, his ribs. No broken bones. Now all they had to do was find a way out.

Shane knelt in the pelting rain and stroked Jax’s wet coat. “Okay little buddy, here’s the deal. You’re gonna be brave and let me sling you over my shoulders, okay? Then you and me are gonna climb our way outta here.” He glanced up the wall of the ravine to see it quickly turning into a mudslide, then added, “Somehow.”

With some effort, Shane hoisted Jax over his shoulders and felt the weight. “Damn, you’re a growin’ boy, ain’t ya!” Then, with his fingers clawing into the mud and boots finding footholes wherever he could, the young cowboy started to climb his way out of the ravine.

He got six feet up when thunder cracked across the sky.

Jax squirmed nervously.

Shane lost his grip and slid all the way to the bottom again.

“Okay,” he panted to himself. “Maybe this is gonna take a little longer than I thought.”

He started clambering up the embankment again. Just then the rain got heavier. It poured over the brim of his hat. He had trouble seeing what he was doing, feeling his way, making a grab for a ledge or a sturdy-looking shrub with each flash of lightning.

Then the mud beneath his left foot gave way, the rocks in his right hand came loose, and Shane once again slid to the bottom of the ravine with an increasingly-frightened colt on his back.

That’s when both man and colt heard Arturo’s whinny at the top of the embankment.

Shane looked up and a coiled rope landed across his face. “Ow!”

Then suddenly he heard another sound.

Not Arturo’s whinny from above.

Not thunder.

This was something altogether different.

A rush.

A roar.

Shane looked quickly up to the opened heavens, then left, where the ravine ran all the way up to the mountains. And all he could whisper was, “Oh shit!”

Quickly he hoisted Jax off his shoulders.

He ripped off his drenched shirt, the weight of it slowing him down.

He took the rope in both hands in seconds made a lasso out of it. “Arturo!”

The crashing roar—the sound of a fast-approaching flashflood—grew louder and louder. There was no telling how far away it was. Minutes. Maybe only seconds.

Jax gave a scared whimper and begin to trot in the opposite direction of the coming flood.

Shane dropped the rope and tackled him. “No, Jax. Stay with me.”

With colt in one hand, Shane scrambled back to the rope. “Arturo! Are you there?”

Arturo’s head appeared over the top of the embankment. Lightning broke the sky above him. Thunder belted across the night, setting the angry clouds aglow. And getting closer by the second—

—the rush of the killer flashflood.

Shane swung the lasso over his head and threw it hard and high. The loop landed over Arturo’s head and slid down his neck.

Shane grabbed Jax and slung him over his shoulders once more. He tangled the roped around his wrists, looked up and screamed, “Arturo! Pull!!!”

As the mighty stallion backed up, the rope snapped tight, hauling Shane and the colt upward. Shane dug his boots into the muddy, collapsing wall as best he could, taking huge strides upward, trying to help Arturo as the horse pulled on the straining rope.

For the dark of the ravine, the roar became deafening.

The rope cut deep into Shane hands and wrists.

Still he pushed upward with every kick and stride.

Arturo pulled backward, his hooves slipping in the mud.

Lightning flashed, and Shane glanced left once more. That’s when he saw the wall of water appear, destroying a corner of the ravine a hundred feet away as it tore its way toward them.

“Arturo! Pull! Pull!”

Arturo gave it all he had, sliding and stamping backward through the mud.

Jax saw the wall of water coming for them and began to kick and buck.

Shane held on tight.

Pushing and kicking higher and higher.

Mud sliding under his boots.

He felt the spray of water jetting down the ravine toward them. It smacked against his face, his arms. It would only be a matter of seconds before—

—the flood hit the base of the embankment and devoured it.

Everything began to slide downward as the rushing water rose. Fast!

The wall slipped into a mudslide.

Shane’s footing went with it.

The torrent of water slammed into his feet, trying to drag them down as the flood quickly rose.


The rope lurched higher.

The flood took out half the wall.

It pulled down on Shane’s legs.

Grabbed hold of his bare waist.

Jax kicked and panicked.

Arturo pulled as hard and fast as he could.

Shane felt the tangle of ropes around his hands and wrists begin to give.

Then suddenly—

—the edge.

Shane hit the edge of the ravine.

He threw Jax to safety.

He felt Acacia bite painfully into his shoulder, trying to pull him out of harm’s way as Arturo continued pulling on the rope at the same time.

Dragging him clear of the hungry flood that ripped apart the ravine.

Flat on his back, heaving with fear, adrenaline, relief, Shane lifted himself on his elbows and in a flash of lightning saw Acacia sheltering a scared but safe Jax.

Then he felt Arturo nudge his shoulder to make sure he was okay.

Shane let out a sigh and stroked Arturo’s mane. “Thank you,” was all he could manage before collapsing on his back in the mud.

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Today the lovely and fabulous Ally Blue, author of The Bay City Paranormal Series, who I interviewed back at the beginning of the year, sat down with the sexy and talented Rick R. Reed to talk about his book, A Demon Inside. Dubbed the ‘Stephen King of gay horror’ by Unzipped Magazine, Rick boasts an impressive backlist that includes gay horror with a romantic edge, gay romance, and more recently, gay romantic comedy. While the genres may change, Rick’s passion to explore the lives and loves of gay men within his fiction remain one constant for which we can all be grateful.

I give you Ally & Rick…


AB: The first thing that struck me about this book was your depiction of Hunter’s grief for his grandmother — how he gets tired of the sympathy and irritated with the attention, and the numb feeling you get after a while. It was like you’d plonked yourself right down inside my brain during the days after my mom died. You described what I felt during her funeral service and afterward exactly. 

demon npMy question doesn’t really relate to that, exactly, I just wanted to tell you how impressed I was with that bit :) Well, okay, I guess it kind of relates. It seemed to me that in a way, Hunter’s grief for his grandmother set his entire adventure in motion. What do you think? How much — if any — do you think Hunter’s deep grief for his grandmother played into his decisions down the road? I think it made him especially vulnerable to you-know-who…

RR: I’m so glad that my portrayal of grief resonated with you. Like you, I experienced many of the same things when my own mother died three years ago. I think the shock and pain of losing someone so close resonates not just for days or weeks, but for years afterward. The world we have become accustomed to is simply not the same place without that person in it. I wanted to portray how we experience many different things other than tears and sadness in the immediate aftermath of losing someone close to us; the experience can be exhausting and soul-draining, which is why Hunter felt irritated. And yes, I do think this loss, along with losing his parents at such a young age (and so violently) made him who he is and colored his choices as he moved forward, forced, finally, to be on his own.

AB: I thought it was interesting that while a lot of books follow hero’s who are "regular guys" — or if they’re rich, they’re rich playboys, ha — but this book has a hero who is rich, sheltered, virginal and extremely innocent when it comes to the ways of the world. My immediate thought was that this adventure could not have happened to anyone but Hunter. Events in his life seem to push him toward Beaumont House, events that may not have happened to someone more worldly. What do you think? Would the story have been possible with a protagonist less sheltered and innocent than Hunter?

RR: I think you’re right; the story is uniquely Hunter’s. His innocence, naiveté, and his profound sense of loss all contributed to his making the choices he did, choices that some people may consider ill-advised or even stupid, but I think they make sense within the context of the character. Beaumont House was a terrifying place and of course he should have left sooner, but it was also a sanctuary for a wounded soul who really didn’t understand the modern world that well and it also stood as a kind of metaphor for his ability to stand on his own. If he chose to flee, that would have been a smart thing to do, but in this character’s mind, it would have also been a deep personal failure.

AB: To what extent do you think Beaumont House itself and the country setting became characters in their own right? I felt like they were characters of their own, in a way, especially the house. The demon-thing was a whole other story though! **shudder**

Rick R ReedRR: I definitely think the house, with its history, its perhaps paranormal (and evil) inhabitant, and its remote location all made it a sort-of "character" in its own right. It certainly seemed to have a will of its own, and an ability to not only terrify Hunter, but also to antagonize him in many perverse and odd ways. The house and the demon were one and the same, reflections of each other. The country setting, while perhaps not a character in the same sense, did serve as an isolating factor for Hunter, making it even more problematic to leave.

AB: As I was biting my nails through the scenes of Hunter’s encounters with the demon-thing (OMG that thing was HORRIFYING, argh!), I noticed the parallels between some of the ways it tortured Hunter and some of Hunter’s real-life experiences. I won’t say exactly what those things are, because I don’t want to give spoilers *g*  But I did wonder how much of the demon-thing is created from the sufferer’s mind. Not just Hunter, but those who encountered the demon before him. So, Rick, is this demon truly, objectively, observably real in real life? Is it a creation from the mind of the tormented? Is it a combination of the two? Or are we mere humans not meant to know such cosmic secrets? (yeah I’m a Lovecraft fan, so sue me; heh)

RR: Now, that’s a question, as a creator, I really don’t think I should answer. I deliberately left things sort of ambiguous when it came to deciding whether the horror was a real supernatural entity or if it was a manifestation of mental illness. And I also deliberately made it possible for a reader to see it both ways…almost. There are definite clues though in the book that reveal whether I think the horror was real or imagined. I will just say: Remember the photograph of the house that turned up in the beginning and then again at the end?

AB: Lastly but not leastly, what do you wish I’d asked? What do you want to tell people about Hunter, about the house, and about this book in general?

RR: I wish you had asked me how this book fit into my body of work. I have had many labels applied to my writing: horror, suspense, mystery, thriller, and increasingly, romance, and I think A DEMON INSIDE is one great example of what I am trying to do in a lot of my work, which is to merge romance with horror or the paranormal. At its heart, you could look at A DEMON INSIDE as a love story, between two men certainly, but also as a love story of the self and discovering one’s own strengths and weaknesses. A DEMON INSIDE is the book I’d most recommend to ardent fans of horror and it also represents a direction I think I am moving further away from with the newer things I’m writing–I’m finding there’s more and more to be said about the connections people make when falling in love–and that fascinated me. Love and terror are actually, in many ways, both physical and emotional, two sides of the same coin.

AB: I very much enjoyed reading this wonderfully scary book, and I enjoyed serving as the delightful Mr. Reed’s interrogator *g*

RR: Thanks, Ally.

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Promotional Blurb:

Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: "Destroy Beaumont House." He’d never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And who—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, a caretaker for the estate next door, but is the man salvation…or is he the source of Hunter’s terror?



It didn’t take them long to round the curve of the driveway and all at once, Beaumont House stood before them. Just as Hunter had imagined, its imposing fieldstone looked solid and formidable against the bright blue autumn sky. Double oak doors, appearing in remarkably good shape, Small%20DEMON%20INSIDEwere outfitted with black wrought iron hinges and fixtures, all without a trace of rust. The windows reflected back the sky and the few clouds in it, looking almost black and empty. Hunter fancifully thought of them as eyes and shivered. Yet, not a single pane was broken or cracked. The glass did not even look dirty. He paused, staring at the house, feeling an odd sense of déjà vu, but couldn’t recall how he could have even seen the house before. Ian, beside him, was silent. In awe, Hunter said softly, “God, Ian, I never would have guessed.”

Ian sucked in some air. “It is beautiful, isn’t it? Even more than I remember.”

Hunter took in more details: the roof was covered in black slate tile and again, looked in perfect repair. Black shutters fronted each of the windows. The house put Hunter in mind of what he imagined an English manor would look like and he briefly imagined red-jacketed foxhunters galloping through the grounds. There was a widow’s walk around the rooftop and to one side, a rounded tower completed the imposing façade.

All of it looked move-in ready.

Hunter scratched his head and turned to Ian. “I thought you said the place was falling down.”

“I assumed it was.” Ian’s expression revealed troubled thoughts beneath. He took in the house, eyebrows furrowed. “I mean, no one has been here for decades. The place should be in shambles, broken windows, doors off their hinges, weeds growing through the floors… Yet, it looks so well maintained.” Ian paused. “I don’t understand it. I took care of the property taxes for your family, but never paid out anything for upkeep. This is weird, Hunter.”

Hunter didn’t want to voice it, but he agreed. Aside from the overgrown vegetation outside the house, the place itself was almost pristine, as if someone still lived here, let alone not having been inhabited for more than half a century. Hunter began to wonder if all the overgrown trees and other flora could be tamed into a manageable yard and garden.

“The inside is probably a mess,” Ian said, weakly.

Hunter began striding toward the house. “You do have a key, don’t you? And I would withhold judgment on the interior if I were you.” Hunter paused just outside the double doors, waiting for Ian to catch up. He took in the detail of the floor-to-ceiling French windows on the first floor, how each was topped with intricate designs in leaded glass.

Ian was making his way through the weeds, toward Hunter, cursing as he stumbled. “Yes. I have a key.” He caught up and extracted a large, old-fashioned key from his jacket pocket, coated with rust. Hunter knew Ian could say nothing about the house, but also knew the lawyer would not deterred. “How do you propose to cut through all this?” He gestured at the trees and briars choking the lawn and driveway.

“Simple. I’m sure Wisconsin has a good supply of gardeners and landscapers, many of them, I’m sure, looking for work. They have skill. I have money. It could work. Can we go inside?”

“No guarantees this key will even fit.” He came alongside Hunter and inserted the key into the lock. The doors effortlessly opened, aided by a gust of wind behind them. There was not even a creak.

Hunter was astounded. And chilled. The massive foyer, with its curving staircase up to the second floor, its crystal chandelier, its marble-tiled floor, and its mahogany paneled walls—was spotless. There was not a trace of dust or grime anywhere. The chandelier sparkled as it caught the sun’s rays coming in from outside. The wood gleamed.

Hunter turned to Ian, confused. “Are you sure no one’s been taking care of upkeep?”

Ian shook his head slowly, walking more fully into the foyer. Hunter lagged behind, following his gaze as he looked into the living room, or what Hunter supposed in those days had been called the drawing room. It too was perfection. The windows gleamed, spot-free, in the sun. The wood floors looked freshly polished. The large fieldstone fireplace—a focal point—appeared to have been freshly swept, with a stack of logs on the grate inside, awaiting the touch of a flame.

“I have never authorized a payment for upkeep. Not in all the years I’ve been responsible for your family’s holdings.”

Hunter felt a chill. “Well, someone must be taking care of the place. It couldn’t just stay this way by itself.”

“Indeed. But why?”

Hunter would have liked to tell Ian not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the truth was, he too was as disturbed by the appearance of the house as Ian seemed to be. Delightful and pristine as the place was, it simply wasn’t—natural.

“I have no idea.” Ian turned to Hunter. “This is giving me the creeps.”

Hunter would not admit he was having a similar reaction. It would be all Ian needed to hear, enough for him to urge Hunter back into the car. “Who knows? Maybe there’s some neat freak in the village who comes by and takes out his obsession on the house.”

“That would give me the creeps as well.” Ian turned, his gaze roaming across the drawing room and foyer. He looked pale. “This sounds completely strange and I hope you’ll forgive me, but I don’t want to stay here anymore. My suggestion is we both go outside, get in the car, and head back to the city. On Monday, I will make arrangements for a demolition crew to come in and tear down the place. Then we can see about selling off the land.” Ian looked to Hunter, hoping, Hunter thought, for agreement.

“I want to see the rest of it. We came all this way.”

“That’s your right,” Ian said softly. “But I don’t want to stay here anymore. I’ll be in the car when you’re finished.” He strode quickly toward the front doors, which still hung open.

Hunter watched him go, wanting to call him back. Ian paused, just outside the door and turned around. “Be careful. And be mindful that you may spend your trust fund allowance heating this place, lest you be entertaining any thoughts of moving in.” And then he was gone.

Hunter swallowed, standing in the middle of the drawing room. Fingers of dread played up and down his spine. Hairs stood up on the back of his neck. It wasn’t just the perfection of the place that made him feel so odd, it was another sensation, one he was just now becoming aware of.

He was being watched.

© Copyright 2010 Rick R. Reed

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Ethan Day Interviews Josh Lanyon about Somebody Killed His Editor


We are here today talking with the Grand Poobah of gay infused mystery & mayhem, author extraordinaire…Josh Lanyon. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about Somebody Killed His Editor, the first book in his Holmes and Moriarity mystery series. As one of those unfortunate souls still grieving over the loss of Adrien, I will now admit that this book made for a giant step in my wound-licking recovery. It has everything any smart-mouthed little homosexual, such as myself, could ever want – a murderously yummy and delicious libation that was equal parts The Thin Man & His Girl Friday mixed with a dash of the back stabbing bitchery of All About Eve. I started to go back and add the word, ‘gay’ to that last sentence before deciding that was pretty well implied. : )

PROMO-block04032011EditorEthan: One of the most interesting aspects of the book was that you set it within the confines of a murder mystery lit retreat – for who else other than those who write about it day in and day out could be so blasé about the fact that someone was knocking off attendees. It allowed for an infusion of wickedly funny humor which as you may have guessed, is something I particularly enjoyed. While I initially suspected you were merely attempting to make me happy…I decided to go ahead and ask all the same. Did you set out wanting to mix murder with laughs or was that something that fell into place naturally after creating all the who’s that wound up populating your who-done-it?

Josh: Hey there, Ethan. Thanks very much for having me on the blog. This is such a treat. SKHE was my first deliberate attempt to write “funny.” Meaning that the situations and the characters’ responses were intended to be larger than life and hopefully amusing. You know, as opposed to the hard-hitting strict realism of my other crime fiction. :-D

Ethan: I must say how much I enjoyed Christopher. He’s a little bitter, stinging from the loss of a long-term relationship which sounded just awful whenever he described it. Yet he still longs for it in a strange way – I loved that juxtaposition – that something was better than nothing. He’s none too happy to be forty, as if all but ringing his own death knell…the end is nigh. His professional life is tumbling down around him thanks to the waning popularity of his long running Miss Butterwith series, about a little old lady who solves mysteries with her cat. That right there was enough to get me laughing as the Angela Lansbury wisecracks began lining up inside my head. If you could, talk to us a little bit about where he came from? Were there any particular inspirations for this guy? And what, if any, experiences did you pull from your own life that made it into this lovably sarcastic, mass of yummy goodness?

Josh: I’m glad that you found Christopher’s dilemma funny because it would be easy to veer into bleakness–I had to watch for that all the time. That, though Christopher’s pain was real, he stayed entertaining. I think his situation is all too common, though maybe not in m/m fiction. The hard thing about the odometer flipping over isn’t so much the wear and tear on the tires as the realization that you haven’t traveled nearly as far or as fast as you expected. The forties are often a huge time of change. I have so many friends dealing with health issues, changing jobs, changing partners — and facing the fact that they’re not going to be who they always wanted to be when they grew up.

Ethan: Another thing I truly enjoyed about Editor was the way you used the setting – tweaking the whole ‘locked room’ sub-genre in a way that opened up the story a bit by allowing for multiple changes in the scenery, while still leaving that sense of helplessness that accompanied being stranded in a remote location with a murderer. It gave the story a claustrophobic feel yet made more a much more cinematic back drop. I’m not a writer of mysteries, but I assume just like each of your characters, in the case of Editor, the setting became every bit as important. Talk to us a little about that decision, especially with regard to this being the first book in a series. Were you even planning this to be a series from the beginning, and if so do you plan on using this same formula for each book?

Josh: Yep, this was intended as a series from the first. I knew it would give me a venue to bitch about publishing and aging and the difficulty of building a life with someone when you’re no longer a kid and you’re sort of set in your ways. I hope most readers will find the mysteries competently executed, but each one is a play on beloved mystery trope. All She Wrote is a classic Manor House Mystery (except with Kit at the helm, it goes in screwy directions). The settings are crucial to the fun.

Ethan: You’ve also utilized one of my all time favorite themes with Editor, which is having Mr. Macho be the one clamoring for commitment while our lovably neurotic hero seems to be forever trying to wriggle out of it. At times, getting pinned down by the love of his life has Christopher more nervous than anything else. I love it when the guy who’d normally be the one everyone else was trying to land, becomes the one AllSheWrote72webstruggling to get what he wants the most. Was this type of role reversal an intentional choice or did it just come about naturally once you knew who your characters were?

Josh: I wanted to do something very different from the Adrien English series–something different from anything I’d done so far. I think making J.X. younger than Christopher was one of my better impulses because it gives him a vulnerability he might not otherwise have. Though he’s more practical and experienced in a lot of ways, when it comes to their relationship, J.X. is the idealistic and romantic one.

Ethan: I absolutely love J.X.! The bantering between he and Christopher is the kinda stuff I live for. I’ve always thought a good banter was the best kind of foreplay. And J.X.’s success and enlarged ego makes for a perfect foil to Christopher’s contrasting fear and bitterness over the way his life has turned out. J.X. is the all around good guy, the boy next door turned literary rock star. I love that the beyond the lust and sex there’s also jealousy over the fact his best selling, full-throttle crime novels are now more popular than poor Miss Butterwith. It’s nice when two men can still want each other while remaining competitive with regard to who’s got the biggest…career. It’s so much fun to watch that dynamic unfold. I’ve been in love with all my characters while writing their stories, but with some I’ve known from the beginning it was going to be a one picture deal. Others I could feel that a sequel had to be done. So I have to ask. Why these two guys for a new series? It’s a very real commitment of time as an author. What was about them that made you realize you’d want to spend so much time with them?

Josh: Well, I knew it was time to bring the Adrien English series to a close. Er, a hiatus. So I knew I’d have room in my schedule for another series, and one thing I kept hearing from readers was that they wanted to see Adrien and Jake continue on solving crimes together. The AE series wasn’t really that kind of thing, but I knew I could do that with a story where the romantic subplot revolved around two guys trying to build a life together, but there needed to be enough genuine differences and conflicts and complications to make that story interesting.

As you say, with the majority of stories we write, even if we don’t wrap up the ending with ribbons and bows, the story is basically resolved. With J.X. and Kit I knew they might have a believably bumpy road, but not so bumpy that the story couldn’t be a lot of fun and very romantic.

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The road back to bestsellerdom can be deadly.

Thanks to an elderly spinster sleuth and her ingenious cat, Christopher Holmes
has enjoyed a celebrated career as a bestselling mystery writer. Until now.
Sales are down and his new editor is allergic to geriatric gumshoes.

On the advice of his agent, he reinvents his fortyish, frumpy, recently dumped
self into the sleek, sexy image of a literary lion, and heads for a Northern
California writers conference to try and resurrect his career. A career nearly
as dead as the body he stumbles over in the woods.

In a weirdly déjà vu replay of one of his own novels, he finds himself stranded
in an isolated lodge full of frightened women—and not a lawman in sight. Except
for J.X. Moriarity, former cop and bestselling novelist. The man with whom he
shared a one-night stand—okay, maybe three—long ago. The man who wants to arrest him for murder.

1107Someone was howling—a thin, breathless cry that was, in fact, more breath than cry.


Far from splitting the night, my bleat barely carried three feet, so I had no trouble hearing my attacker’s exasperated, “What. The. Fuck?”

I knew that voice.

I bit off the rest of my screech and sat up, wincing as pain shot up my spine. I was sitting in a puddle, ice-cold water soaking through my trousers. The last time I remembered being decked had been a playground rumble at Our Holy Mother. I’d been thirteen. My bounce had been better back then. Now I felt like I’d wrenched every muscle in my already worn-out body. And my back…I’d be lucky if I wasn’t crippled for a month. I wiped the mud off my face.

“I am so going to sue your ass,” I spluttered.

“Well, what the hell are you doing out here?” J.X. demanded.

No apology seemed forthcoming. Also, I couldn’t help noticing, neither was help from the lodge. Were we too far away to be heard? Not a happy thought.

“What do you think I’m doing? I’m going to my cabin.”

“Crawling on your hands and knees?”

“I wasn’t on my hands and knees till you knocked me down.”

“You sure as hell were skulking in the bushes.”

“I heard something—you—and I was making sure it was safe.”

He continued to stare down at me. I wished I could see his face. His motionless outline caused my scalp to prickle. Then he reached down a hand.

His hand was warm on my chilled one. Again I was aware of his wiry strength. He wasn’t much taller than me, but he was in a hell of a lot better shape. He pulled me to my feet and dropped my hand.

“What are you doing out here?” I asked, uneasily rubbing the twinging small of my back.

“Grabbing a log for my fireplace.” He reached past me and picked up a nice stout sawed-off limb. “It’s going to be a cold night.” He picked up another log. “Here’s one for you.”

“Thanks.” I stepped out of range, trying not to be too obvious about it. Not that I didn’t appreciate the gesture, but there was something unconvincing in his manner. What had he been looking for out here?

J.X. still held out the log. I took it gingerly.

“I’ll see you to your cabin.”

“Oh. Okay. Thanks.” I remembered my minibar set up. “Hang on.”

I limped back to where I’d set down the tray. Everything was as I’d left it. I lifted the tray and nearly dropped it. J.X. stood right behind me, log in hand.

I managed to save the gin. The tonic water, ice bucket and glass slid off the tray and landed in the mud.

“What is it with you?” I demanded and thrust the log and the tray at him. I knelt, gathering up the fizzing bottle and glass. The scattered ice cubes winked dully in the pallid moonlight.

“What the hell is this about?” J.X. indicated the tray.

“What the hell does it look like? I’m planning to drown my sorrows.”

“That’s not going to solve anything.”

“I’m not trying to solve anything.” I added pointedly, “I’ll leave that to the experts.”

“It’s your head,” he said. “Come on.” He put his hand under my arm as I started to rise, and I nearly lost the entire load again.

“Do you mind?”

“Sorry. Jesus, you’re jumpy.”

“I can’t imagine why.” I rebalanced and set off—limping—down the path.

“Do you really have a bad back?” he asked, behind me.

“No, it’s just something I say to get chicks.”

He didn’t respond, but as we reached the edge of the meadow, he caught me up so that we were walking side by side. “This way.”

I followed him down the dirt path that cut across the open field toward the cabins. The sodden clouds had parted and a lackluster moon gilded everything in unnatural light. In the absence of the rain and wind, the stillness seemed uncanny.

© Copyright 2009 Josh Lanyon

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