Horror and Romance by J.A. Rock
My co-writer Lisa Henry and I have often joked that we’re not sure how we ended up writing romance. We both generally prefer dark stories full of violence and dark forces and ambiguous endings—and yet we ended up writing a whole lot of stories where people fall in love and end up relatively happy by the close. “Why are we not fulltime horror writers?” we’ve often asked.
I think the answer, for me at least, is two-fold. One: I like having both genres in my life, as a reader and a writer. I do, on occasion, enjoy optimistic stories that highlight the best aspects of human nature. I also really like darkness and pain. And two: there’s some overlap between horror and romance. Horror often pits love against terrors both familiar and unseen. A cursed marriage or the ghost of a jilted lover might provide the catalyst for a horror story. Partners find themselves in opposition because one of them is seeing things the other doesn’t. And everyone knows in a horror movie you don’t split up, because once you’re alone, terrible things happen. Love can be the root of horror, but it can also be the force that stands against it.
I’ve never been totally sure whether some of my work counts as horror. Minotaur utilized horror-based imagery and themes, but was probably more urban fantasy than horror. The Grand Ballast featured a dystopia, but humans were the real danger in that story, and I saw the surreal/creepy elements as enhancing a story about human nature, rather than being the novel’s focus. I don’t really consider either novel a romance, but both novels feature love (or at least human connection) as a conquering force. “Beauties,” from All in Fear, features the horror genre’s something-is-increasingly-not-right-here trope, but it’s also sort of a courtship story as well. What appealed to me about All in Fear in the first place was the chance to be part of such an amazing group of authors telling queer stories that are horror with “the possibility for romance.” I think romance that blossoms in darkness makes for some of the most compelling love stories of all.
What seems especially cool about queer horror-romance is its added symbolic layer. Queerness is no stranger to having to overcome terror and antagonistic forces. Queerness has, historically, been perceived as a type of not-rightness, a monstrosity, a frightening unknown. To make queer people the ones battling the true “frightening unknowns,” to ask their love to stand up against fear and darkness, is awesome. Because we queers have been playing that game for a long time.
Title: All in Fear : A Collection of Six Horror Tales
Author: Steve Berman, K.J Charles, Avon Gale, Roan Parish, Kris Ripper, and J.A. Rock
Publisher: Open Ink Press
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Page Count: 288
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty and Ana
Horror wears many faces, and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear.
Six of the top names in queer romance join forces with Open Ink Press to bring you a deliciously unsettling horror anthology slated to release December 1st, 2016. All in Fear will feature chilling new and original stories from KJ Charles, Roan Parrish, Avon Gale, Kris Ripper, J.A. Rock, and Steve Berman. Coinciding with the winter holidays, the anthology will focus on the traditional macabre elements of horror coupled with the possibility for romance.
Company by Roan Parrish
Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.
Love Me True by Kris Ripper
Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.
When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.
How could he have possibly been so stupid?
The Price of Meat by KJ Charles
Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?
His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman
Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?
Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale
STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:
REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]
ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.
ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.
Beauties by J.A. Rock
When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.
Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.
Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.
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About J.A. Rock
J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.Website Blog Twitter Facebook Newsletter More Reviews