Welcome to author Dale Cameron Lowry and the Myths, Moons, and Mayhem blog tour! Dale is both a contributing author in the anthology as well as its editor, so be sure to check out the full list of authors and the giveaway details below.
Halloween Is for Outsiders
My family moved to the United States when I was eight years old. It’s where my parents were from, and my older brother and sister had started school there. But for me? I learned how to speak while living in Spain, and I’d started my schooling in the Netherlands. Going to America was like moving to a foreign country. Actually, it was more than that. Because I’d been to lots of “foreign” countries before—every spring and summer break, the whole family would pile into the station wagon to drive off to some new part of Europe.
But America wasn’t anything like Europe. It was huge and sprawling, and almost everywhere you went, people spoke English. Television stations broadcast shows around the clock, and restaurants left huge bottles of ketchup on the table that you could pour all over your food without anyone—not the waitstaff, not the other customers—looking at you funny. The supermarkets took up entire city blocks. And sidewalks? They were really hard to find.
In other words, America was strange.
My parents decided the fun way to introduce their kids back to the U.S. would be to fly from Rotterdam to San Francisco, then drive across the country to our new-to-me, old-to-them home on the East Coast. We visited a redwood forest, where I was as fascinated by the squirrels as by the enormous trees. (Holland has squirrels, but I’d never seen one while living there.) But what really threw me for a loop were our stops at the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon. If my parents had wanted to convince me the United States was on a different planet than my previous homes, those monuments would have been good ways to do it.
I soon learned that school was different, too. At my international school in the Netherlands, my classes had been made up of 10 to 15 kids from half a dozen different countries. My fourth-grade class in the States had thirty students, and all of them were American. Despite my successful efforts to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the start of the school year, my classmates smelled an outsider. Several were quick to inform me that my hand-me-down clothes were several years behind the times.
At least some of them spoke Spanish.
There were a lot of American things I didn’t understand. Especially holidays. Why did people set off fireworks in the middle of summer on the 4th of July, but not for New Year’s? What was Labor Day about? Why did Christmas sales start in October?
I wasn’t supposed to feel this way. I was American. This was my home. But it didn’t feel like it. I had to learn a new culture all at once, and from the reactions of my classmates, I was making a lot of mistakes.
Then Halloween came. My family had celebrated it in Europe, but it was pretty low-key, with a costume party after school and pumpkin-carving at home. This would be my first time experiencing the true meaning of Halloween: Trick-or-treating! All-you-can-eat free candy!
I was a little scared to go out into the dark, knocking on stranger’s doors. What if they could tell I’d never done this before? What if they thought my costume was stupid? (I’d thought of it in a moment of inspiration and homesickness—I would go in a Dutch traditional outfit, wooden shoes and all!—only to realize the day of Halloween that all the cool kids dressed up as something terrifying or trademarked.) What if they gave me a trick instead of a treat? What if they simply refused to give me any candy?
We knocked on the first door and said, “Trick or treat!”
Handfuls of candy were dropped into our buckets.
The same thing happened at the next door, and the next.
My fears left me, one by one. Other kids out trick-or-treating waved and told me I had a neat costume. Some guessed that I was someone from a fairytale. Others thought I must be the kid from the Dutch Boy paint cans.
They asked me how I could walk in wooden shoes. “It’s more like marching,” I explained. “Also, it helps to wear an extra pair of socks.” They were impressed.
Even when we got to the house with all the lights off, cobwebs strewn across the front door, eerie pipe organ music playing out the windows and—most ghastly of all—a witch in glow-in-the-dark make-up crooking her finger with a creepy, “Come here for your candy, my pretties,” I wasn’t afraid. At least, not afraid in the way I’d been ever since starting school in the States—that constant fear of doing yet another wrong. Nope. This time, it was a visceral, adrenaline-fueled fear. It felt awesome.
I dashed toward the witch, grabbed a couple pieces of candy from the open baby coffin next to her, and bolted away—well, as fast as one can bolt in wooden shoes—while shouting, “Thank you!”
My parents did not let us eat our entire buckets of candy upon returning home. But that was okay. I didn’t need the candy to be happy. I’d just experienced my first American holiday where I didn’t feel out of place. I was just like all the other kids wandering the neighborhood, looking for sugar and a good scare.
It’s probably no coincidence that I’m attracted to romances about outsiders finding moments and people that give them a sense of belonging. Several of the stories I selected for Myths, Moons, and Mayhem, a paranormal anthology of gay ménage romance and erotica out this month from Sexy Little Pages, fall into that category—like Clare London’s “Inside Man,” where a ghost floating on the edges of human society finds a way to connect with a young gay couple. Rhidian Brenig Jones writes of a young Welsh farmer who doesn’t fit his parents’ expectations in “Celyn’s Tale,” and his journey toward a new home. In “When The Big Moon Shines” by Carl Redlum, a college student feels like his life is over when he begins shifting into a werewolf; his mouthwatering gay neighbors are the only two people who can see him for who he really is.
My own contribution to this anthology, “The Cave,” also plays on these themes. Its main character, an American photographer named Ethan, feels out of place on a paleontological expedition in rural Madagascar. But while he can never completely fit in this unfamiliar culture, he manages to find a sense of belonging in the arms of two loving men.
Come to think of it, aren’t all romances about finding a place to belong?
Whatever you have planned for Halloween, I wish you happy one full of laughter, a fun scare or two, and forgetting your biggest fears.
About Myths, Moons, and Mayhem
Myths, moons, and mayhem make the perfect threesome—and so do the men in this anthology.
Enjoy nine erotic stories of paranormal ménages a trois fueled by lust and magic, where mystical forces collide with the everyday world and even monsters have their own demons to conquer.
A werewolf gets a lust-fueled lesson on fitting in with the pack, a professor unlocks ancient secrets and two men’s hearts, and a pair of supernaturals find themselves at the erotic mercy of a remarkable human. Ghosts, fairies, aliens, and mere mortals test the boundaries of their desires, creating magic of their own.
Editor Dale Cameron Lowry brings you tales by favorite authors such as Rob Rosen and Clare London, as well as by newcomers to the genre. The paranormal lust and polymythic beings of Myths, Moons & Mayhem will spark your fantasies and fuel your bonfires.
About Dale Cameron Lowry
Dale Cameron Lowry’s number one goal in life is getting the cat to stop eating dish towels; number two is to write things that bring people joy. Dale is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love and a contributor to more than a dozen anthologies. Find out more at dalecameronlowry.com.
To celebrate the release of the paranormal gay ménage anthology Myths, Moons & Mayhem, editor Dale Cameron Lowry and Sexy Little Pages are giving away trick-or-treat baskets filled with delectable paranormal, scif-fi, and ménage ebooks (epub or mobi) for your reading pleasure.