Shelf Envy: Santino Hassell

I’m so excited to share Santino’s shelves and his passion for books. I love getting an author’s insight with regards to what influenced their craft as writers so reading about his inspiration is such a delight. We all have that one novel or that one author that blew our minds at one point in our lives so it’s great to see how far those favorites have influenced Santino. This guest post is chockful of great recommendations if you want to celebrate Pride month in all its queer glory so keep reading and discover some fantastic LGBTQ reads.

Thank you, Santino for letting me pick your brain a little bit. I adore these recommendations and I can’t wait to read your series!

 

Who are your favorite authors?

Big question, but if I narrow it down to paranormal and southern gothic horror, I’d say Jordan Castillo Price, Christopher Rice, LJ Smith, Sergei Lukyanenko, Poppy Z Brite, Charlaine Harris, and JR Ward. Of them all, I’d say I always find myself going back to Price’s psychic cop series—Psycop—and her series about a vampire hunter who falls for a swaggering bloodsucker—Channeling Morpheus. And I’m always excited when Rice releases a new book, whether it’s paranormal erotica or horror.

When I started editing and revising Insight, the first book in The Community trilogy, I was really inspired by both Rice and Price. Some of Rice’s books have this southern gothic atmosphere that I’m absolutely addicted to, and the entire idea of this huge psychic community running parallel to the rest of the world but remaining secret was inspired by Psycop, where the knowledge of psychics led to them being experimented on and used in various ways.

What was the last book you purchased?

The last book I purchased was The Mistress Files by Tiffany Reisz. I’m drafting a F/F novella, and this anthology just called my name. Her writing is so intense.

Where do you usually read?


What is the most controversial book on your shelves?

Probably Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite. It’s a southern gothic horror with queer vampires, queer grunge kids, and all kinds of blood lust and danger. It’s a book I adored as a young person because it was the first book I read with SO MANY queer characters, and I was always addicted to that kind of drippy romantic atmosphere (which I tried to reach that level in both Insight and Stygian, my paranormal southern gothic romance), but I reread as an adult and realized the treatment of the women in the book is intensely problematic.

What is the one book you would recommend to everyone you know?

Channeling Morpheus by Jordan Castillo Price, which contains the first several novellas in that series. There’s just something really special about Michael and Bill’s story. Michael starts out with a vendetta against all vampires to get revenge for his slain friend, but then he meets Bill… the vampire he falls for. There is a lot of sex in the first couple of novellas, but after the connection between them is made and solid, their relationship evolves until they’re constantly questioning who they are and what they want from this quest of Michael’s. Is Michael, a vampire hunter, actually the bad guy since he sometimes makes bad choices? Does he actually hate vampires or… does he want to become one?

It’s those kinds of questions, the hard questions that really make you think about these characters and their actions, that I wanted for Insight and now for Oversight. The main characters in The Community are up against this organization that they were always told was put in place to protect them from non-psychics, but now they have to come to grips with the reality that they’ve been living a lie. And that they can trust no one but each other.


Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

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