Happy Tuesday, everyone, and Happy Release Day to Rick R. Reed! Rick has graciously agreed to come tell Genre Talk all about his new Horror-Romance, A Demon Inside, which is available for purchase right now from DSP Publications. He’s also brought us an excerpt, but first, let’s have a look at what Rick’s newest is all about.
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s 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 with whom—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, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter’s terror.
Carole: So, Rick, you’ve visited with us before to talk about your Suspense-Thriller IM and how it was difficult to pin it to just one genre. Now you’ve got A Demon Inside, which is categorized as Mystery-Suspense but is pretty heavy on the Romance too. So if I ask you to tell us about your genre, which one(s) are we dealing with?
Rick: Do I have a genre? Am I restricted to only one? Can I check more than one box? See, I love writing—and reading!!—all different sorts of genres. My favorites for both are romance, horror, dark suspense, and thrillers. I suppose, since this post concentrates on my latest release, A Demon Inside, I should tell you about my love for horror. I think I love horror because it’s a very pure genre, with a very pure objective: does it frighten you? Just like the key question for comedy is: does it make you laugh? Horror has the same emotional touchstone, how the author gets you to that fearful place can vary, but he or she must hit that bottom line—to scare you. I find the best way to do that is to appeal to our universal fears, which have to do with protecting our own lives and those whom we love. Horror in a way is like romance, because it’s about distilled and universal emotions, often with the same signposts—rapidly beating heart, uptick in respiration, and so on….
Carole: You’ve been writing M/M for quite a while, since before it was really a genre. You must have seen a lot of changes from then until now.
Rick: When I first began seeing the term m/m romance, I wasn’t even aware I was writing it. I thought I was just writing stories about people I knew (i.e. gay people) and their desire to love and be loved, possibly the strongest and most universal of all desires. When it became a “thing” I realized that I didn’t always color within the lines (my endings might be happy for now, for example), but I think there is room for diversity in m/m romance, just like there’s room for it in life. And thank god for our differences, as well as what brings us together.
Carole: Tell us about A Demon Inside
Rick: I think A Demon Inside is a bit of a throwback to the gothic horror novels of the past, set in contemporary time and place. It’s the story of an outsider, a sheltered young gay man, fleeing the world and its pains to hide away in a big, old, and foreboding house he inherited. Of course, the house, he comes to find is not empty, but occupied by a presence more fearful than anything from which he tried to run. It’s a very traditional kind of horror story, but with a gay twist.
Carole: A Demon Inside is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels, but at the same time, there’s as much Romance in this book as there is Horror, isn’t there?
Rick: There is. At its heart, as with almost anything I write, there’s a love story. What’s fun about this is the suspicion I build that the love interest could also be the source of the fear and danger.
Carole: Ah, keep ’em guessing, yeah? That’s why they call is suspense! 😉 Speaking of, this is always my favorite question: Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of A Demon Inside?
Rick: Short answer: I don’t know how I thought of it, but I once had the realization that one of the most horrifying things I could imagine is to awaken in a pitch-dark room, thinking I’m alone but then to hear someone nearby whispering my name. Just the idea of that gave me chills…and Hunter experiences that in A Demon Inside…and it was really that little thing that inspired the whole story.
Carole: Wow, it is a little thing, but it packs a disturbing punch, doesn’t it? *shudder* And hearkens back to so many classic horror tales. So are there any movies or TV shows that have inspired you when it’s come to your horror works?
Rick: When I was a little boy, I was a huge, huge fan of the horror soap opera, Dark Shadows. I used to run home every day to watch it. I had Barnabas and Quentin posters on my wall, a scrapbook and even the series soundtrack album. I believe that series, and its trafficking on horror tropes, was definitely an inspiration.
I would also mention a couple of movies that probably also taught me a lot about horror and especially how things unseen can be scarier than in-your-face gore and blatant shock value. Those are: The Haunting of Hill House and Carnival of Souls. They’re both so moody, atmospheric, and truly nightmarish. They stick with you.
Carole: They really do. THoHH especially has one of the best opening paragraphs of all time, in my opinion. And no doubt your work will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it.
Thanks so much, Rick, for being with us here today, and much success with your new release.
And thank you, Awesome Readers, for spending time with us today. Please enjoy the following excerpt from Rick R. Reed’s new release A Demon Inside, then scroll down to the bottom of the post for the buy links.
Excerpt: Hunter stands in front of a blackened Beaumont House, transformed into a silhouette by the dying crimson sky behind it. One by one lights come on in the house, small pools of light. By themselves the double doors of the house open. Hunter backs away, then stands paralyzed, staring at the open doors as if they have issued an invitation to him, which, in a sense, they have.
The night air cools around him. The red sky deepens in hue, displaying swatches of lilac, deep purple, and blue. The orchestra of frogs, crickets, and cicadas grows louder in proportion to the quickly encroaching darkness.
Hunter shivers, and the house looks more and more tempting—warm. But he feels an unreasonable, unnamable dread. The warmth, he thinks, is deceptive. The house is calling to him, he’s sure, but it’s a siren’s call, with purposes he won’t even begin to fully understand until he’s walked firmly into its clutches.
Just as he is about to turn away, he glimpses figures moving inside. He turns back slowly and sees his parents on the curving staircase, about halfway up. They stare at him, their expressions impossible to read. His mother raises a hand, beckoning.
He needs no more incentive. He hurries to the house, picking up his pace as his parents turn, ascending the stairs into the shadows. As Hunter crosses the threshold, his parents vanish into darkness.
He can hear their whispers, though, as he mounts the steps. He gets to the top and sees them at the end of the corridor, watching him. Hunter feels tears gathering in his eyes and starts to run to them.
And slams into a mirror.
He steps back, disoriented, and looks in the opposite direction, but there is only a hallway, almost pitch black, awaiting him. Turning back, he looks again into the mirror and sees the same dark, empty corridor.
Suddenly he is surrounded by whispers, snatches of conversation, music… all of it fading in and out like someone spinning an old-fashioned tuning dial on a radio. Frozen, Hunter stands peering into the black, trying to force the rapid adaptation of his eyes to pinpoint the source of the noise.
Where has all the light gone that he had seen from outside?
He is seized by fear, his heart pounding, hairs standing up on the back of his neck, a scream trapped in his throat. All around he can feel a presence. Blindly he dashes down the hallway, hands outstretched, groping. Webs stick to his face, Insects attach themselves to him until all he can feel are sickening crawling sensations all over his body. Ahead in the dimness, something with a hairless tail and glowing eyes skitters into the darkness.
A light comes on at the end of the hallway. Gratefully Hunter lunges toward it.
He gasps when he enters the room. It is his grandmother’s bedroom, right here in Evanston. With his fist Hunter stifles the scream about to emerge. Nana lies propped once more on the pillows, her eyes engaging and imploring him.
“Destroy Beaumont House.” His grandmother makes the command over and over again, a litany, her voice dead and toneless. Soon other voices join in, people hidden in shadows in corners of the room. The chorus rises in volume until it hurts his ears.
And then it stops. Hunter moves toward his grandmother, but before his eyes she morphs into something else, something scaly with feral yellow eyes.
About the Author: Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Thanks to everyone for joining us for this edition of Genre Talk, and thanks, as always, to Lisa and the gang here at The Novel Approach for letting us come and pretend we know what we’re doing for a little while. Please join us next time when we drag Luchia Dertien into our genre circus and sic the scary clowns on her, just for giggles. 😉