Wednesday, October 31, 2018

10 Silly Questions with Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde doing one of the things she loves.
Many years ago, back when I lived in Chicago, I went to see a movie that changed my life. It was called PAY IT FORWARD and it had a simple message of how simple gestures, when given selflessly with love and kindness, can have a cumulative effect. 

Little did I know that seeing the movie would send me on a quest for the book's author and that she would also become one of my favorite authors, bar none. I've probably read most everything she's written and have to confess, I rarely failed to shed copious tears when caught up in her web. That I also consider her a friend is one of my life's greatest blessings.

Be sure to check out her December release, Just After Midnight, details below. 

My intention when I wanted to do this series of questions was to ask sarcastic and silly questions and be responded to in kind. But Catherine makes her own way--read on to see her witty and wise answers... 


RR: If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
CH: It would probably be the Dalai Lama, so we’d be eating like monks. Bowls of mung beans and rice, maybe. Then again, by most people’s standards, I eat like a monk every day.

RR: Who do you think you are?
CH: I think I’m a human being. And I think, maybe more than some people, I have no quarrel with that. I don’t pretend I have everything mastered, I don’t play games to make myself believe that nothing can go wrong. I don’t cover over mistakes in that cat-like manner. (Yes, I fell off the couch in my sleep, but I meant to do that. *Carefully grooms shoulder.*) I’m not adverse to just saying, “Yeah, that was not my best thinking.” And I try to impart some of that in my work. My hope is that readers will come away feeling more human, and more as though human is an okay thing to be.

RR: What’s your problem?
CH: Hypocrites. People with no empathy. Liars. People who seem to be able to focus only on complaints. People who completely overlook a flaw in one person and all but call for the death penalty for the same flaw in another, based on nothing but their own unrecognized tribalism. As you can imagine, I’m finding our current social climate a bit indigestible.

RR: If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
CH: Absolutely I would! Because in the last six years or so, I’ve been given so much. I have everything I need and most of what I want. I helped somebody out with financing his dream a couple of years back, and when someone asked why, I said, “In the past few years, all my dreams have come true. It was time to see what other people were dreaming.” So, yes. If you want my wish, it’s all yours, my friend.

RR: Where you at?
CH: I’d like to say “Here.” You know, like the Ram Dass classic Be Here Now. I’d like to say it, but it’s easier said than done. I try to ground myself in this actual moment of this actual world as often as possible. But, let’s face it: My job is pretty much to walk through the world lost in my own head. So the more realistic answer would be “Lost in my own head.” Oh, well. At least I’ve found a way to make a living at it.

RR: If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
CH: This may sound weird. And I hope it’s not off-putting. But to get to one vice I swear I would have to add one. I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict, so I haven’t had alcohol or drugs for almost 30 years. I quit smoking in 1989. I eat unusually healthy food because my mood is not very stable when I don’t. This is not to suggest I’m perfect. Far from it. I just get obsessed with much smaller, sillier and more harmless things. Refreshing Twitter or some idiotic thing like that. But as far as actual “Big V” vices, I think I might have left them in the dust. Hate to tempt fate, though.

RR: What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
CH: I have a granola that I make from scratch, and if I do say so myself, it’s killer. Thick cut rolled oats toasted in the oven with whole almonds and walnuts and cashews and sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, all coated with honey and tahini and baked together. Am I making you hungry? Good.

RR: When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
CH: I think I’d have to say it’s a tie between Lassie and Mr. Ed.

RR: Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
CH: On a good day, I do. And it helps, in this case, to be 63 years old. The ground is noticeably more firm.

RR: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
CH: You bet I do! Always. I’m writing and publishing two books a year, so there’s always some new title I hope people will hear about. My next release is due out December 4th from Lake Union/Amazon Publishing. It’s called Just After Midnight, and it’s a novel set against a backdrop of the dressage (horse show) world. That makes it exciting to me, because I ride (novice level) dressage, and I think it lends an excitement to the book. But it’s about far more than horse shows, so a love of horses is helpful but definitely not required.

Then next summer I have another new novel coming out. It’s called Have You Seen Luis Velez?, and it’s special to me. I’m just especially looking forward to that one. It’s close to my heart. Then another in December ’19, and another that I’m working on now, and it just keeps going. And I want it to just keep going. I’m doing what I love to do.

BLURB for Just After Midnight
From the New York Times bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes an uplifting and poignant novel about friendship, trust, and facing your fears.

No longer tolerating her husband’s borderline abuse, Faith escapes to her parents’ California beach house to plan her next move. She never dreamed her new chapter would involve befriending Sarah, a fourteen-year-old on the run from her father and reeling from her mother’s sudden and suspicious death.

While Sarah’s grandmother scrambles to get custody, Faith is charged with spiriting the girl away on a journey that will restore her hope: Sarah implores Faith to take her to Falkner’s Midnight Sun, the prized black mare that her father sold out from under her. Sarah shares an unbreakable bond with Midnight and can’t bear to be apart from her. Throughout the sweltering summer, as they follow Midnight from show to show, Sarah comes to terms with what she witnessed on the terrible night her mother died.

But the journey is far from over. Faith must learn the value of trusting her instincts—and realize that the key to her future, and Sarah’s, is in her hands.

PRE-ORDER Just After Midnight
Amazon Kindle
Amazon paperback

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 37 published and forthcoming books.

Her newest releases are Heaven Adjacent, The Wake Up, Allie and Bea, Say Goodbye for Now, Leaving Blythe River, Ask Him Why, Worthy, The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me With You, Walk Me Home, and When I Found You.

Forthcoming are Just After Midnight and Have You Seen Luis Velez?

Pay It Forward: Young Readers Edition, an age-appropriate edited edition of the original novel, was released by Simon & Schuster in August of ‘14. It is suitable for children as young as eight.

Other novels include When You Were Older, Where We Belong, Don’t Let Me Go, Second Hand Heart, Jumpstart the World, Becoming Chloe, Love in the Present Tense, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, Chasing Windmills, The Day I Killed James, and Diary of a Witness.

She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of How to be a Writer in the E-Age: a Self-Help Guide.

Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward was made into a major Warner Brothers motion picture. It was chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in over 30 countries. Simon & Schuster released a special 15th anniversary edition in December of ’14.

Her newer novels—such as Take Me with You, When I Found You, Leaving Blythe River, Say Goodbye for Now, etc.—have been translated into fourteen languages and achieved Kindle bestseller status in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List. Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards, and was honored with Rainbow Awards in two categories. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on  national bestseller lists, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. When I Found You spent two weeks dominating the US Kindle charts in the top three. Walk Me Home was #1 in Kindle at the same time as When I Found You held the #3 spot, causing Catherine to jump to #1 in Amazon author ranking, just above JK Rowling. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013 and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Sun and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Five of My Best Halloween Horror Treats!

It's that time of year again. My favorite holiday, Halloween, is tomorrow!

 For your consideration, I offer up five of my scariest novels and hope you'll check out one (or more!) as a Halloween treat! So, in no particular order, here goes:

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.

From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)

Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn't sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls' parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the "third eye."

Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)

What would you give up for immortal life and love?

By day, Elise draws and paints, spilling out the horrific visions of her tortured mind. By night, she walks the streets, selling her body to the highest bidder.

And then they come into her life: a trio of impossibly beautiful vampires: Terence, Maria, and Edward. When they encounter Elise, they set an explosive triangle in motion.

Terence wants to drain her blood. Maria just wants Elise . . . as lover and partner through eternity. And Edward, the most recently-converted, wants to prevent her from making the same mistake he made as a young abstract expressionist artist in 1950s Greenwich Village: sacrificing his artistic vision for immortal life. He is the only one of them still human enough to realize what an unholy trade this is.

Blood Sacrifice is a novel that will grip you in a vise of suspense that won't let go until the very last moment...when a shocking turn of events changes everything and demonstrates--truly--what love and sacrifice are all about.

From Untreed Reads
For Amazon Kindle

Voices slam through the corridor of his wounded mind. The words of his dead sister cry out. His parents' taunts fill the silent room where he sits and waits--waits for the murderous rage, filling him with strength, driving him to kill, to touch the cold flesh, taste the warm blood--to feel alive again…

A witness has seen him, but his killing only turns her on and now she wants to protect him. His wife suspects him, but the private detective she hired cannot stop him. Joe MacAree fears nothing--except that he may no longer be human. The thirst that drives him is relentless, moving deeper and deeper into his own shattering, private realm, where each murder is a delicious new gift of life, where revulsion is beauty, and the obsession will never let him go.

"A harrowing ride through cutting-edge psychological horror, this one's got a vicious bite. Rick R. Reed's Obsessed is a twisted nightmare." - Douglas Clegg, bestselling author

From Untreed Reads
For Amazon Kindle

Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon CafĂ©. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!

As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.

From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Vampire Romance, BLOOD SACRIFICE

Blood Sacrifice is my only full-length vampire novel. It moves restlessly between present-day Chicago and 1950s New York City and the art scene in both times and places. It also asks deep questions about immortality, art, and love. And I like to think it's pretty scary!  




What would you give up for immortal life and love?

By day, Elise draws and paints, spilling out the horrific visions of her tortured mind. By night, she walks the streets, selling her body to the highest bidder.

And then they come into her life: a trio of impossibly beautiful vampires: Terence, Maria, and Edward. When they encounter Elise, they set an explosive triangle in motion.

Terence wants to drain her blood. Maria just wants Elise . . . as lover and partner through eternity. And Edward, the most recently-converted, wants to prevent her from making the same mistake he made as a young abstract expressionist artist in 1950s Greenwich Village: sacrificing his artistic vision for immortal life. He is the only one of them still human enough to realize what an unholy trade this is.

Blood Sacrifice is a novel that will grip you in a vise of suspense that won't let go until the very last moment...when a shocking turn of events changes everything and demonstrates--truly--what love and sacrifice are all about.

Elise Groneman stares out the window, stomach roiling. What she has is like stage fright. She gets it every night, before she ventures out of her tiny Rogers Park studio apartment on Chicago’s far north side. It’s always been amazing to her that just a few minutes’ walk to the north is the suburb of Evanston and a different world; there, the streets are tree-lined and clean, the homes palatial, the condos upscale, the restaurants grand, and the stores exclusive. Affluence and culture preside. Yet here, on Greenview Street, one encounters abject poverty, crime, the detritus of urban desperation: tiny brightly-colored baggies, fast food wrappers, condoms, empty alcohol bottles, even pieces of clothing. The sidewalks are cracked, the grassy areas choked with weeds and garbage. Here in Rogers Park, the normal folks―the ones who travel on the el to work downtown every morning―stay inside, so as not to mingle with people like Elise, or the man outside her window right now, who’s screaming, “What the fuck do I care what you do, bitch? It ain’t no skin off my ass.” Elise glances out and sees the man is alone. A boy cruises by on a bicycle that’s too small for him. The bike is stolen; either that, or he’s a runner for some small time dealer, delivering and making collections. Sometimes, there aren’t many options for moving up the ladder.

But this neighborhood is all Elise can afford, and, unless she picks up more clientele soon, she may even be crowded out of this hovel she begrudgingly calls home. Once, she shared the place with someone else, but those days, for better or worse, are long behind her.

Elise moves to the window, attempting to obliterate memory by the simple act of staring outside. Dusk has fallen and the sky belies the earthbound life before her. The sun is setting, the sky deep violet, filtering down to tangerine and pink near the horizon. If she keeps her eyes trained on the riot of color and shape to the east, she can almost forget where she is.

But the denizens of Greenview Street make sure she stays reminded. They stroll the night in an attempt to escape the heat, the hot, moist air pressing in, smothering. They call to one another, using words she had barely heard, let alone used, back in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where she had grown up: nigga, motherfucka, homey. Fuck used as an adjective, verb, and ejaculation (but rarely, ironically, utilized in a sexual context). Snatches of music filter out from apartment windows. Cruising vehicles pass by, bass thumping hard enough to cause the glass in her windows to vibrate. She has picked up names of artists like Bow Wow, Def Soul, and Trick Daddy as she walks the streets. Elise puts a hand to the screen, testing the air. Will there ever be a breeze again? She wonders if her neighbors would recognize any of the names attached to the music she loves, names like Vivaldi, Smetana, Bach. Other music fills the street: arguments and professions of love shouted with equal force. Headlights illuminate the darkening night, which is also lit by the flare of a match here, neon there, and sodium vapor overall. The world glows orange, filling up not only the streets of the city, but the sky, blotting out the stars.

East of her churn the cold waters of Lake Michigan, and Elise imagines its foam-flecked waves lapping at the shores. She’d like to pad down to the beach at the end of Birchwood Street, kick off her sandals and run across the sand and into the water, its cold obliterating and refreshing. She wishes she had the freedom, but east is not her path. Her way lies south, to Howard Street, purveyor of pawnshops and prostitution.

Her destination.

Elise turns to survey her cramped apartment. Near the ceiling, industrial green paint peels from the walls to reveal other coats of grimy paint no color describes. Metal-frame twin bed, sheets twisted and gray, damp from sweat and humidity. Next to that, Salvation Army-issue scarred oak table, small, with the remains of this night’s meal, a few apple peelings, a knife, and a glass half filled with pale tea, darkening in the dying light.

It’s a place no one would ever call home. Elise’s apartment is utilitarian, a place to work, to sleep, to eat. It’s little more than shelter.

The only sign of human habitation is her work: huge canvases mounted on easels, bits of heavy paper taped to her drawing board. Much of her work is done in charcoal and pencil, but the palette of grays and black remain constant, whether it’s a sketch or a completed painting. Her subject matter, too, is always the same, although the variety of choices she has to explore is endless. Elise likes to draw intensely detailed renderings of crime and accident scenes, aping the cold, clinical detachment one might find in a book of crime scene photographs. Here is a woman, slumped beside a corduroy recliner, a gunshot ripping away half of her head (the blood black in Elise’s rendering), beside her, a half-eaten chicken leg and the Tempo section of the Chicago Tribune, folded neatly and splattered with her gore. There’s a man lying beside a highway, the cars a fast-moving blurred river. His head has been severed from his body. On the wall she has masking-taped a nightmare in quick, staccato slashes: a young woman strangled and left to lie in the pristine environment of an upscale public washroom, clean, shiny ceramic tile, untarnished metal stalls. Another woman, looking bored, checks her lipstick in the mirror. Near Elise’s floor is a small, intricately detailed drawing done in charcoal: two lovers lie in a bed of gore, the aftermath―one presumes―of discovery of their union by a jealous lover. The woman has a sheet discreetly covering her up to the neck. The man lies splayed out in a paroxysm of agony. And why not? His offending penis has been slashed from his body. Is that it on the floor beside the bed, a smudge of black, nearly shapeless?

Where is all the color? Elise herself wonders as she dresses for the evening. Color has been leached out of her world; it is getting increasingly difficult to be able to remember what color was like and thus, increasingly difficult to duplicate its varied hues on paper or canvas. Color, it seems, is but a hazy memory out of her past.

Enough of art analysis, she thinks. It’s her days she has designated to her art. Nighttime is when she prepares for her other job, the occupation that keeps a roof over her head. The job which perhaps is responsible for stealing the color from her vision.

Enough! Enough! Enough! she thinks. Put the introspection behind you. It’s time now, time to become a creature of the night, an animal doing what it must to provide its own sustenance.

She rummages in the apartment’s lone closet, pulling out one of her “uniforms,” clothing that helps identify her occupation as much a mechanic’s jumpsuit, or a waitress’s ruffled apron and polyester dress.

Tonight, she dons a short black skirt bisected by a wide zipper ending in a big silver loop. Over her head, she pulls a white T-shirt, tying it just above her waist. In combination with the low-riding skirt, it perfectly frames her navel. Elise pulls the skin apart and plucks out a piece of lint. She completes her ensemble with dark seamed stockings and spike heels. These are the tools of the trade as much as the brushes, sticks of charcoal, and pencils littering her space.

Elise flips back her long whiskey-colored hair, and leans close to the mirror. She lines her lips with a shade of brown, then fills in with glossy crimson. Cheapens her green eyes with thick black kohl. Elise pulls her hair back, away from her damp neck, and up, pinning it all together with a silver barrette adorned with the smiling face of a skull. Pentagram earrings. Tonight a witch, creature of the night.

Then she turns, hand on doorknob. The night awaits: exhaust fumes, traffic, the chirping of cicadas.



RJ Scott - $20 Amazon Gift Card

Angel Martinez - $25 Pride Publishing Gift Certificate

V.L. Locey - $10 Redbubble Gift Card

Jordan Castillo Price - Ebook or Audio of Reader's choice plus JCP Swag Pack

J.L. Merrow - Ebook of both newly re-released werewolf novels Camwolf & Midnight In Berlin.

Rick R. Reed - Ebook of A Demon Inside from DSP Publications

K.A. Merikan - Paperback

Charlie Richards - $20 Amazon Gift Card

Amber Kell - $20 Amazon Gift Card

Eli Easton - $20 Amazon Gift Card and second prize of ebook copies of Gothika #1-4

Charlie Cochet - 3 x $10 Amazon Gift Cards

Meredith Russell - $10 Amazon Gift Card

Alex Jane - $10 Amazon Gift Card and Ebook from back catalogue.

Stormy Glenn - $20 Amazon Gift Card and backlist ebook.

Annabelle Jacobs - $10 Amazon Gift Card and backlist ebook

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ten Silly Questions with St. Sukie de la Croix

Sukie (left) and me at Halsted Street Market Days, Chicago, late 1990s.
Some twenty-five years ago, when we were both practically children, I met Sukie de la Croix at a meeting of the Newtown Writers in Chicago. Once he laid eyes on me and heard me read my writing, he was swept off his feet, in the deepest form of love imaginable.

He's never been able to say no to me, hence his agreement to answer these ten silly questions. His acquiescence, of course, has nothing to do with his wanting to promote his latest book, The Memoir of a Groucho Marxist: A Very British Fairy Tale

Without further ado, and without even saying adieu, here are his responses to my indelicate probing.


RR: If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
SC: I would invite Jim Morrison from the Doors and we would eat each other.

RR: Who do you think you are?
SC: I’m not the person I used to be and I’m not the person you think I am. Nor am I the person I expected to become. Who do I think I am? I’m a deranged woman hiding behind a waterfall clutching the sun in one hand and a quill in the other. I am snarling at the world and screaming like a banshee.

RR: What’s your problem?
SC: Other people.

RR: If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
SC: No, I wouldn’t. As my father often said, “I wouldn’t give you the snot from my nose.”

RR: Where you at?
SC: I am the person your parents warned you about, so I am everywhere.

RR: If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
SC: Chocolate eclairs with a creamy cocaine filling.

RR: What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
SC: A British one called Weetabix.

RR: When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
SC: Margaret Rutherford. I also resemble her for the rest of the day.

RR: Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
SC: You can shove things into a hole in the ground, but nothing, I repeat NOTHING, is ever going to be shoved into my ass. Don’t be fooled by my girly ways.

RR: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
SC: The quote below and my new book, The Memoir of a Groucho Marxist: A Very British Fairy Tale, which go hand in hand.

“I wish I could say I was dyslexic but I’m not. As a child, I was just strange when it came to language. I didn’t understand why all words had to mean something. To all outward appearances I was a student at Fosseway Junior School, but in reality, or sur-reality, I spent most of my school day unscrewing light bulbs at the Salvador Dali School of Fish Giraffes in Aspic, where I took classes in Worm Sewing, Castle Mirrors, and the Great Spanner Toenail. Schoolteachers were wasted on me. As was education itself.”

BLURB for The Memoir of a Groucho Marxist: A Very British Fairy Tale
On September 16, 1951, Darryl Michael Vincent, a fairy boy-child, fell out of a badger hole in Midford Woods. He grew up in a prefabricated house with his mother, Doreen, his father, Stanley, and a red butterfly called Karl Marx. He was born six years after World War II ended and the City of Bath in the West Country of England was still pockmarked with bombsites, the people bruised by the death of loved ones. Amidst the rubble, ration books, and despair, the fairy boy-child attempted to fit in. It soon became clear that Darryl Michael Vincent was not a regular boy-child. There was something different about him. Very, very, different. He was a Groucho Marxist.

As a Groucho Marxist, formal education was wasted on him. And so, Darryl Michael Vincent was educated in Midford Woods by fairies, the souls of homosexuals long gone from this mortal Earth. He opened books, dived into well-thumbed pages, and swam in a soup of words. In this woodland school, helped by psilocybin mushrooms and opium, he was taught by Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Rupert Brooke, and other occupants of Midford Woods.

Most important of all, Darryl Michael Vincent dipped the ruling class into bowls of custard and left them on the train track for the porcupine waitresses to laugh at.

BUY The Memoir of a Groucho Marxist: A Very British Fairy Tale
Amazon Kindle
Amazon paperback

St. Sukie de la Croix is an internationally published journalist, columnist, fiction author, playwright, and photographer. In Chicago, he has written for Outlines, Windy City Times, Nightlines, Nightspots, Chicago Free Press, and Gay Chicago. As a historian, de la Croix has published dozens of articles about Chicago's gay history, scripted and acted as tour guide on the Chicago Neighborhood Tours' gay history bus, and written a ten-week series on Chicago's LGBT history for the Chicago Tribune.

Monday, October 15, 2018

BIGGER LOVE, Now Available for Preorder, is Already Getting Raves!

"A tone of authentic tenderness and yearning, completely without artifice, suffuses Reed's engaging Appalachian tale of high-school gay love."

Coming out worldwide on November 13. BIGGER LOVE dares to challenge notions of gender conformity and romance in a small-town high-school setting. #ownvoices

Respected and widely-read librarian book review publication BOOKLIST says:

"A tone of authentic tenderness and yearning, completely without artifice, suffuses Reed's engaging Appalachian tale of high-school gay love. Truman's self-confident demeanor, complete with makeup and glitz, masks his fear of more ridicule and beatings. He longs for the big city, where "he could be the person he was meant to be . . . with bright lights, skyscrapers, and . . . cosmopolitan people," even though he keeps busy, directing the senior play. When a gorgeous young man, Mike, boards the school bus, Truman is drawn to him, then discovers that his single mom's suitor, George, is this mysterious stranger's dad. Reed beautifully conveys the loving mother-son bond, an unusual facet in romance novels, to great effect as Truman, though jealous of George, struggles to become a man, support his mom in their "run-down house," and develop a meaningful relationship with Mike. A romantic coming-of-age struggle that succeeds on many levels." (Whitney Scott)


Monday, October 1, 2018

BIG LOVE and the Characters Who Bring that Love to Life

Big Love contains three of characters I think I’ve fallen in love more than any characters in any book I’ve ever written. I think that favoritism comes from the fact that:
  1. My main characters, two high-school school teachers and a pivotal student, are capable of inspiring deep emotion but at the same time, they’re flawed human beings with whom I think we can all identify to an extent.
  2. They’re all, at least in part, me at different stages of my life and my coming out process. Big Love is not autobiographical, but I believe every writer leaves a personal stamp on each of his or her characters (and they on him!).
So, in this post, I want to get you up-close-and-personal with three brave men whom I believe you'll love as much as I do and tell you about their relationship with me and with the delicate process of coming out.

 Our first character is Dane Bernard. Dane’s a little older than your average character in a gay romance, in his forties, and living a very settled life as a high school teacher, with a wife and two adolescent children, a boy and a girl. To look at him, you’d think he had the perfect, settled life. The American dream, the source of contentment. But look closer and you’ll see a man who’s hiding his most essential self under a mound of shame and secrets. See, Dane is in the closet and thinks that, because of the people he’d hurt if he were honest about his orientation, he can never come out of that closet.

Circumstances unlock the closet door, tragic circumstances (as you’ll see when you read Big Love), but nonetheless Dane has no longer got a reason to keep his gay self a secret. Tentatively, he begins to come out. The events in the book force him to come out quicker than he might have wanted or felt comfortable with, but once he’s out and on the other side, he finds the air there is very much worth breathing and very liberating.

I was Dane at one point in my life. As far as I knew, no one knew I was gay. I was married to a woman, had a wonderful little boy, and was living the perfect suburban lifestyle. No one could see that I wore a mask every day and in my darkest hours felt that no one, not friend or family knew who I was. And if they did, my greatest horror was that they would no longer love me. Like Dane, I eventually emerged from my closet and as it was for Dane, it wasn’t always easy. Like Dane did, I found more people stuck by me and still loved me than I thought would, but some did fall away. So I understood Dane’s pain, his anguish and secrets when I was writing. I also understood how a gay man could successfully function—at least for a time and relatively speaking—as a husband and dad. But most of all, I understood and brought to you, dear reader, the joy Dane eventually found in loving himself and that one special man who comes into his life right when he needed him most.

Our second character is Seth Wolcott. Seth’s what I consider the perfectly evolved gay man. Although he’s not perfect, by any means! He’s still smarting from a recent breakup and he’s prone to falling on his ass, in more ways than one (as you’ll see when you read Big Love). But I said Seth was perfectly evolved and that’s because he’s my counterpoint to the other two characters in the book, Dane Bernard and Truman Reid, who, despite a vast age difference, are both dealing with coming out for the first time.

Seth is the character I wrote who demonstrates what it can be like when you love yourself and live your life openly and honestly. With Dane, who’s facing the potential of his first romantic involvement with another man, Seth is not only an object of affection and desire, he’s a role model—one he can and does fall in love with. For Truman, our bullied freshman, Seth is somebody he can look up to and see that by embracing who you are with no shame, you can lead a normal and happy life.

Like Dane, our married, closeted man, I think I also have aspects of Seth. Like Seth, I’m now pretty settled in my gay existence. I’m actually neither proud nor ashamed. I just am. It’s kind of like my height or the fact that I have green eyes. It’s no big deal and yet it’s everything. It’s simply a fact of life.

So it is for Seth.

So it is for me.

Our third character is Truman Reid. It’s no accident that Truman and I share the same last name (albeit spelled differently). My teenage self and Truman have in common a lot of the same heartache growing up. It’s also no accident that Truman shares a first name of a celebrated gay author, Truman Capote. See the picture of the young Capote? In my head, my Truman looks very much like the beautiful young man Capote was at the time his first book, Other Voices, Other Rooms, came out.

Truman is the character I love most in the book. He’s a mess in some ways and in others, one of the most evolved characters. Like Truman at the start of the book, I endured teasing and bullying throughout most of my junior high and high school years. I know his pain. And when you read the opening scene of the book at the first-day-of-school-assembly and how Truman is terrorized, know that I was recreating something that happened to me when I was Truman’s age.

The difference between Truman and me is that I took a lot longer to deal with my shame and conflict over who I was than he did. I didn’t have his teachers, Dane Bernard and Seth Wolcott, to help me accept myself. I didn’t have Truman’s wonderful mom, Patsy, who said to him:

  “God made you just the way you are, honey. Beautiful. And if you’re one of his creations, there’s nothing wrong in who you are. You just hold your head up and be proud.” 

Although make no mistake—I did have a wonderful mom. She just wasn’t as evolved in her thinking as the fiercely loving Patsy. I suspect—and hope—that you will love Truman as much as I do. And I hope that you will help cheer him on his journey from being a bullied victim to an out-and-proud kid who loves himself fiercely and accepts no less from others.

Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay. But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men.

And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

Dreamspinner Press ebook
Dreamspinner Press paperback
Amazon paperback (buy the hard copy and get the ebook for .99!)