I met Andrea Speed on the Literary Nymphs m/m chat held over Easter weekend. I was really taken with the bold and imaginative premise of her Josh of the Damned books, and I'm pleased as punch that she's agreed to join us today for a guest post and a giveaway.
Blurb for the Josh of the Damned Triple Feature:
What most people call a hellish shift, Josh Caplan calls a normal evening. After all, he works nights at a convenience store beside the mouth of hell, selling snacks to zombies and lizard men.
Some monsters are odder—and more dangerous—than most. Like the rampaging, oversized mustache who skips the Pringles and eats the customers instead. Or Cthulhu’s half-brother Stan, who doesn't know how to take no for an answer . . . or where to put all those tentacles.
But killer facial hair and inept hentai beasts pale in comparison to the monster even other monsters fear. When hell’s big boss demands a sit-down with Josh, she reveals a destiny bigger than he’d ever imagined—or wanted. You'd think preventing the apocalypse would net Josh more than minimum wage and a hot vampire boyfriend, but it turns out saving the world can be a pretty thankless job.
Josh of the Damned Triple Feature and the other Josh books are available from Riptide Publishing:
Take it away, Andrea!
I love writing horror. I know I leave myself open to weird glances and intimations there’s something wrong with me (which I’ll gladly cop to), but that really kicks in when I admit I like to write humor as well. You’d think they were opposite ends of the spectrum, but I contend they go hand in hand, like chocolate and peanut butter, or chocolate and ice cream. Chocolate and almost anything, really.
But horror/comedy is a little different from writing a straight horror or a straight comedy story. The two have to be balanced delicately, because too much horror can easily overwhelm any joke. Getting it just right can be hard, and my editor deserves a lot of credit. This does make me wonder, though – why isn’t there more horror/comedy, especially in the m/m genre?
I’ll be the first to admit that horror/comedy may work at its best on screen, where you can throw in the slapstick and gross out comedy that seems so natural with this genre. (Evil Dead 2 and Dead/Alive both function as cases in point.) But horror/comedy in print works too. So why not more? Some is just not enough. I issue a challenge to all writers – more horror/comedy in the m/m genre! The time is now. Show me what you’ve got.
What do I have, though? I have my Josh of the Damned series, about a convenience store night clerk, Josh, who happens to have the shift from hell. No, really – there’s a portal to a hell dimension behind the store, only active at night. So he spends most of his shift selling burritos to zombies, chips to lizard guys, and chasing werewolves out of the parking lot, where they turn cars into chew toys.
The whole impetus for the idea was simply the idea that this kind of service industry job, where I have to serve people and be nice to them, would be my kind of hell. I’m a curmudgeonly, eccentric writer; I’m not valued for my people skills. But here is a man, a poor bastard, whose shift is even worse than the typical one. Or is it? Josh is a laid back kind of guy, which helps, and he quickly discovers the job isn’t all bad. After all, he catches the eye of a very hot vampire, so there are perks. But he deals with not only your typical monsters, but unusual ones, such as lovesick yetis, angry giant mustaches, and Cthulhu’s half brother Stan, just to name a few. Josh may long for a normal job, but I don’t see him getting one any time soon. And I hope we’re all glad for that, because I really don’t want to write about a typical clerk job. I can only stand so much horror.
Excerpt from the Josh of the Damned Triple Feature:
What Josh didn’t know—what no one who wrote vampire stories seemed to know either—was that getting bitten by a vampire was exactly like sex.
The bite itself didn’t feel like much because the fangs were so sharp. But once the teeth were in and sucking the blood out of you, a pleasurable wave of warmth washed over you, orgasmic and post-coital at the same time. Colin said it was something in vampire saliva, a kind of a drug that vampires themselves were immune to. Vampires really didn’t feed on fear or get turned on by it—or at least your average vampire didn’t, according to Colin—and this natural chemical guaranteed a pliable victim more than happy to let you kill them.
Of course, Josh didn’t want to die, which was why he’d put off letting Colin bite him until tonight. Yeah, Colin hadn’t ever tried to bite him without permission, which had earned him bit of trust, but still Josh couldn’t help being nervous. How could he have known Colin was being honest with him? He was a vampire, after all. Maybe all the myths weren’t true—and how could they be, as several of them were contradictory?—but Colin wasn’t exactly human anymore, and Josh seemed to have some kind of natural human bias. He’d thought the store was ridding him of that, but obviously not fast enough.
Josh was actually kind of disappointed when the drug effect started to fade, reminding him where he was: on the roof of the Quik-Mart, enjoying the warm night. The sky above was dark and only randomly speckled with faint stars, as there was too much light pollution to see more. Though the Quik-Mart was pretty alone here since the Nifty Lube across the street had shut down and the Waffle Shack had moved to a bigger location. The Quik-Mart was the only sign of civilization for about two miles in any direction. Maybe the hell portal was unconsciously driving everyone else away.
It had been a relatively warm night, but now the breeze had a cool bite that made him shudder, and seemed to make the high fade. Also, he was starting to feel the gravel under him, beneath the thin blanket.
Josh couldn’t remember if they had or hadn’t fucked. Right now, all he could remember was agreeing to let Colin bite him, and then everything had become wonderfully hazy. It was like riding on a wave of liquid ecstasy.
His eyes finally focused on Colin staring down at him. “Are you okay?” Colin asked.
“You never told me getting bitten was this awesome.”
“Yes I did. You just never believed me.”
“Well . . .” he didn’t know what to say that. So instead he worked on sitting up, which took him a moment, and even then Colin had to help him. Colin was shirtless, showing off his lean, muscular chest that had just a bit of hair, and while he was pale, it was “computer programmer” pale, not “deep sea albino fish” pale or “high school Goth girl” pale, which was good. Josh wasn’t racist at all, but guys who were too white seemed a little icky.
Colin was buttoning up his jeans as Josh watched. He raised an eyebrow, and asked, “Are you back yet?”
“Yeah, course I am,” Josh said, looking down and noticing for the first time he was naked. Oh wow—had they really had sex? How could he have no memory of it? “I think being bitten by a vampire is the best drug I’ve ever had. You should market it.”
“And acknowledge we exist? No thanks. From what I understand, you humans have weird myths about us.”
Josh found his underwear and pulled it on by scooting around a bit. It was the best he could do right now, as he wasn’t sure he could stand just yet. You know, it wasn’t that he sometimes didn’t smoke pot with his roommate—although no one enjoyed smoking a bowl as much as Doug—but he had never been much for drugs, just because they always seemed to be hyped as more enjoyable than they actually were. But right now, he was pretty sure he was majorly fucked up, and holy shit, would he do it again in a heartbeat. “Like what? You drink blood.”
“Yeah, but I don’t burst into flames in daylight, and why the fuck would any sane being sleep in a coffin? That’s just messed up.”
Josh considered what he’d said as the words sank in slowly, like his brain was suddenly molasses. “I thought you said you didn’t like sunlight.”
“I don’t, but that’s just ‘cause I burn easy.”
“I thought you just said—”
“I mean sunburn, Josh, not catch fire.”
“Whatever you say, undead boy.” Josh finally spotted his pants in a crumbled up ball about ten feet away. Never had ten feet seemed so far. “Um, so when do I come down?”
Colin had finished with his jeans, and now seemed to be looking for his boots. So much for the “vampires could see in the dark” myth. “Good question. I’m not really sure, time runs different here. I didn’t take that much, though.”
“You better not’ve. That was the deal.” Josh rubbed his neck, searching for puncture marks. Colin had said that the same thing in their saliva that functioned as a drug could also speed healing, so most victims’ bites healed up right away. Given the right circumstances, vampires could feed on people with them being none the wiser. Now that Josh had experienced it for himself, he could only imagine that would work if the person bitten was drunk, high, or asleep. Or the vampire was having sex with them. They’d think they’d had the best high, sleep, or sex of their life. Or all three at once. Josh felt like all of those things had just happened to him.
“Bothered by the yeti lately?” Colin asked, presumably trying to be conversational. Was there anything weirder than post-coital small talk? Or maybe it was just him.
“It’s come around once or twice. Don’t worry, I haven’t accepted any gifts.” He didn’t tell Colin, but he was sort of flattered by the attention, and the yeti actually seemed kind of sweet in an oversized, insanely-powerful-monster sort of way. Like Frankenstein, but fuzzy.
There was a scuffling noise down below, and Colin looked over the edge of the building. After a moment, he slapped the wall and yelled, “Get!”
Josh didn’t even need to ask, although he did anyway. “Are the werewolves back again?”
Colin sighed loudly, shaking his head at whatever he was looking down at, which was probably a werewolf peeing on a car. “Yeah. What pests.” Glaring down, he shouted, “Go home, you fleabags! Don’t you have some hikers to maul?”
It had been a bad werewolf night. It wasn’t true they came out during full moons; they seemed to come out whenever the hell they wanted, and they were tremendous pains in the ass. They were basically big, ugly dogs. Oh sure, they could probably wolf you if they bit you, but for the most part they just chased cars and peed everywhere, although sometimes when they caught a car they tore it to pieces. Wasn’t as bad as tearing people to pieces, Josh supposed.
They liked to hang around the cars they damaged—many of which were so trashed they got abandoned in the parking lot, making the Quik-Mart look busier than it actually was.
But they rarely if ever came into the store. They just prowled the parking lot, digging through the dumpster and using bumpers as chew toys. Even the zombies seemed to dislike them, and the zombies didn’t dislike—or react to— much of anything. Colin once said werewolves were the sewer rats of the supernatural world, and while Josh thought maybe that was some kind of vampire vanity, he was beginning to see his point. He would love to arrive at the Quik-Mart one day and not find the outside ice machine reeking like a flophouse mattress. And don’t even get him started on the piles of werewolf poop! Not only did they stink like really bad dog turds, they were also twice the size, and often had recognizable chunks of things in them—bumper hitches and rocks and Taco Bell wrappers, and occasionally a finger. He wanted to leash and muzzle the lot of them, but he wasn’t brave enough to try.
Annoyance seemed to take the edge off the haze, so Josh was able to crawl over to his pants and retrieve them. He wasn’t quite ready to stand up, though, so he had to squirm into them. “There’s no, like, werewolf repellant?”
“Not that I know of,” Colin replied. “They don’t like silver, but they’re so stupid they all but have to lick it to even determine what it is. If you were to be honest, you’d call them weredogs, not wolves, but I don’t make up the labels.”
“So if they bite you, you become a werewolf?”
Colin looked back at him with a shrug. “I have no idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a venereal disease.
Thank you Andrea! And I want to mention, Andrea also has books available from Dreamspinner Press: