We’re so pleased to welcome author Richard May to TNA today to introduce himself and his latest novel, Inhuman Beings. There’s also an opportunity to win an e-copy of the book, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget for entry details.
Stories Told to Me
Inhuman Beings is my second short fiction collection. (The first was Gingersnaps: Photos & Stories of Redheaded Queer People.) The premise of Inhuman Beings is: what would happen if human men met non-humans and felt attraction, instead of terror? It’s full of familiar creatures like werewolves, a Greek god, and a robot but I also introduce the reader to inhumans they may not know, such as tengu and oni (Japanese monsters), Kakouhthe (the Shawnee cyclone god), and a humanoid virus on a faraway planet.
Marketing would probably classify my book as speculative fiction, that catch-all genre for works of imagination, but, to me, it’s just fiction. Yes, some of my characters happen to be monsters and certainly some of my locations might be considered a tad exotic. But general fiction is replete of monstes, albeit likely of a more human sort, and, to me, Paris and 17th Century China are pretty exotic locations, too. All fiction is work of the writer’s imagination. Otherwise, it’s nonfiction masquerading as one of its literary siblings.
As you’ll see from the table of contents page after you’ve bought the book (ahem), Inhuman Beings is divided into three parts: Monsters, Myths, and Science Fiction. There are six stories in each subdivision of the paperback. Originally, I had written twenty-one stories for the collection, fifteen of which made it into the ebook. Some of the 21 were eliminated because they needed more work, some because they didn’t fit the publisher’s plot criteria, and some because they were maybe too unfamiliar. Happily, the paperback publisher allowed me to put three of my favorites back in: “Fire and Pain,” about an S&M jinn; “Kakouhthe,” which came from my Shawnee heritage; and “Ticket to Ride,” which is one of the most autobiographical stories I’ve ever written.
In each story a human man meets a monster, god, or science fiction creature and one or the other of them feels an attraction for the other—and it’s not always the human feeling it for the inhuman. For instance in “I Can’t Live Without You” the humanoid virus feels an electrical attraction for the visitor from Terra and in “The Latest Model” the robot lusts after his male co-worker.
After attraction a relationship of some sort ensues. Often, the road is a little bumpy, as you can imagine. How does a ghost or a robot or a cyclone have sex with the living? What does one do with the uncomfortable fact he’s aroused by the man who murdered his mother? What if the object of your affection lived decades in the past and is, in fact, dead? These are uncommon obstacles. Does love win? I’m an optimist, myself. I like happy. We have all been happy. So, happy endings are realistic, at least happy for now. But we all know change happens, life goes on, and even in the best of relationships the partners aren’t always happy with each other. What happens next? I like the reader to decide.
In “Exchange of Fluids,” a dystopian future story, do the Insider and the Dog live happily ever after in the Keep? Could be or maybe not. They might not like each other so much 24 hours a day and what about the other Insiders? What if they discover Red is a dog, a humanoid dog to be sure, but still a dog. And, maybe Red won’t like wearing clothes after all.
People ask me how I come up with my stories. I don’t really. Stories tell themselves to me in my head. They always start with something visual—a photo, a painting, a dream, for instance–and, while I’m looking at the visual, a story begins telling itself to me. This does sometimes happen at inopportune times but, if somehow I can print or imprint or buy the image, it will usually shut up until I’m at my desk and staring at it again.
This isn’t always accidental though. More often I’m sitting at my desk, with the intention of writing a story for a magazine or anthology or my new collection and I do image research online, looking for the right kind of image—a Black man with grey hair and a beard, say. Thanks to the internet, I find a slew of Black men with grey hair and a beard. All I have to do is toggle through until one of the images starts telling me an interesting story, except that the stories images tell aren’t always interesting to me and sometimes none of the images tell me a story at all. Once I was invited to submit a story based on images the anthology editor provided online. This, as you can imagine, was a rare opportunity for me. Editors usually supply words, not images. So, I expected my job to be easy, at least the getting started bit. I went through the photos. No stories. I went through them again and again. I set them aside for a day. Still nothing. Finally, I remembered I had had an experience that would fit this theme. I’ll write that. I selected a photo that sort of fit the very vague image of the man I’d encountered and began to write. I made several starts, but none of them went anywhere. Sadly, I put aside the submission call and went on to other work.
But one story does not a collection make. The ones in Inhuman Beings all began with images, but I didn’t write them with the intention of creating another short fiction collection. It was only after three stories had found their way into periodical or anthology publication that I realized the three of them were headed somewhere: they were all about men becoming involved with not-men. All right, I said to myself, let’s see where this train is going!
About the Book
Title: Inhuman Beings
Author: Richard May
Release Date: June 15th 2017
Genre: Gay Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Erotic
Blurb: Fall in love with a shapeshifter in San Francisco, a ghost in Scotland, or a vampire in Russia. Time travel to 1920s Mesopotamia, 1600’s Africa, or to ancient Greece before time even existed. Find yourself on a distant planet, in love with a creature whose very being can destroy you, or in a post-apocalyptic world, drawn to a mutation created by the destruction of Earth.
Enjoy these 18 erotic stories about romantic encounters between men and not men–monsters and myths, gods and demons, science fiction and fantasy. Each story is the stuff of nightmares–and of dreams.
“With Inhuman Beings, May seductively crosses the boundaries of time and space, the real and the imaginary, in these spellbinding tales of love and lust and things that go bump, not to mention hump, in the night.”
– Rob Rosen, editor of the Best Gay Erotica series
“Inhuman Beings is an enormously imaginative, genre-crossing work in the tradition of Peter Cashorali’s groundbreaking Fairy Tales but with greater breadth and franker eroticism; an impressive achievement.”
– Michael Nava, author of the Henry Rios novels
“Inhuman Beings represents a seminal work in gay male erotic literature that draws on the threads and yarns of our cultures and civilizations. Tales from many countries and eras transport you across the globe and through the years, making this book one that will stand the test of time.”
– Wayne Goodman, author of Better Angels
“Richard May’s new collection of short fiction contains an international menagerie of legendary creatures. There’s a Hindu god, a Native American cyclone spirit, a Chinese rain dragon, a moody Jewish golem, a sadistic Iraqi jinn, and more. Fans of the homoerotic melded with the speculative and the paranormal will savor every page of Inhuman Beings.”
—Jeff Mann, author of Country and Consent
“The beauty of this collection lies in its imagination – May is doing nothing less than writing a gay mythology, complete with monsters and fairy tales, imagined futures and refreshed pasts. His bold infusion of desire into mythology and encounters with the paranormal is unique, bracing and insightful. Inhuman Beings is full of a kind of sacred frivolity.”
—Trebor Healey, author of Faun and Eros & Dust
Clocks told me it was after midnight, the new last day for the Daberleys at Enscombe. I climbed the central staircase, thinking of all the feet which had trod before me.
My father’s bedroom felt freezing so in quick order I stripped, not bothering to hang my clothes, and slid under the heavy blankets. Sleep came quickly but I was awakened soon after, or so it seemed, by the sound of footsteps in the hall outside my room. I was groggy and pulling myself into sitting when the bedroom door opened and the shadow of a tall man stood in the doorframe.
“Aren’t you afraid?” he asked in Stephen Taylor’s voice.
“No,” I lied, jumping out of bed and turning on the lamp, only belatedly covering myself with underwear tossed aside.
“But I do want to know what you’re doing in my house in the middle of the night.”
“I come here often,” was all he said as he entered the room and closed the door. I made ready for him as he came across the carpet but he just sat, slumping in the armchair.
“He killed me, you know.”
About the Author
Richard May’s short fiction has been published in his collections Inhuman Beings and Ginger Snaps: Photos & Stories (with photographer David Sweet), his series Gay All Year on Amazon Kindle, in anthologies like Never Too Late, Best Gay Erotica, and the Lambda Literary nominated Outer Voices Inner Lives, and in literary journals, including Bay Laurel, Chelsea Station, and Hyacinth Noir.
Rick also organizes the monthly Perfectly Queer book reading series with his partner Wayne Goodman in Oakland CA at Nomadic Press: Uptown and in San Francisco at Dog Eared Books Castro, individual LGBTQ Pride Readings for visiting authors, the annual literary festival Word Week in Noe Valley CA, and an online book club Reading Queer Authors Lost to AIDS.
Rick is from Sacramento CA and Brooklyn NY and now lives in San Francisco. He has red hair and truly believes in all things ginger. Another genetic stunner: he is 19th cousin to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
Please follow him on social media at facebook.com/richardmaywriter, @rickmaywritr on Twitter, and richard.may1313 on Instagram.