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.

Connect with Santino: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB Group | FB | GR | Tumblr


 

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Shelf Envy: Roan Parrish

Happy Friday, y’all!

Remember when I used to do Shelf Envy posts? It’s when I invade other people’s privacy by asking them to send me pictures of their bookshelves and what’s in them. Well, today, author Roan Parrish talks about her favorite authors, her recent book purchase, and book recommendations.

Thanks for doing this, Roan!

On Her Favorite Authors:

Donna Tartt, China Miéville, Andrew Smith, Tana French, Santino Hassell, Garrett Leigh … I could go on forever.

On Her Most Recent Purchase:

The last physical book I purchased was Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris, which I bought to read by the pool on vacation. I definitely got a few raised eyebrows as I sat sipping margaritas and reading about cannibalistic serial killers, but it was pretty par for the course.

Her Perfect Reading Spot:

Usually I read on this pink velvet couch that I Craigslisted in New Orleans, and nearly always my cat, Dorian Gray likes to sit with me. Well, mostly on me. Sometimes she’s even kind enough to hold my kindle!

The Most Controversial Book on Her Shelves:

Hmm, I’m not really sure any of the books on my shelves are particularly controversial. I’ve gotten rid of most of my grad school books—political theory and philosophy, which would’ve been the real controversial ones. Perhaps Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, which lives in the category of a book I really like even while I think the author is horrible and problematic. It’s difficult and uncomfortable to feel legitimate admiration for a work when you have actively loathe everything its creator stands for.

Her Book Recommendations:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander [http://newjimcrow.com/]. It’s about the ways that the U.S. criminal justice system operates as a modern day racial caste system due to the way black men specifically, and communities of color more generally, are targeted. And it insists that an analysis of mass incarceration must therefore be central to current social justice work.


Roan’s new book, Small Change came out on June 1st. The first in a series that will feature M/F and M/M romances.

Small Change
by Roan Parrish


Ginger Holtzman has fought for everything she’s ever had—the success of her tattoo shop, respect in the industry, her upcoming art show. Tough and independent, she has taking-no-crap down to an art form. Good thing too, since keeping her shop afloat, taking care of her friends, and scrambling to finish her paintings doesn’t leave time for anything else. Which … is for the best, because then she doesn’t notice how lonely she is. She’ll get through it all on her own, just like she always does.

Christopher Lucen opened a coffee and sandwich joint in South Philly because he wanted to be part of a community after years of running from place to place, searching for something he could never quite name. Now, he relishes the familiarity of knowing what his customers want, and giving it to them. But what he really wants now is love.

When they meet, Christopher is smitten, but Ginger … isn’t quite so sure. Christopher’s gorgeous, and kind, and their opposites-attract chemistry is off the charts. But hot sex is one thing—truly falling for someone? Terrifying. When her world starts to crumble around her, Ginger has to face the fact that this fight can only be won by being vulnerable—this fight, she can’t win on her own.

Roan’s Website | Amazon | Goodreads

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
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You Never Know Who Might Show Up at Your Front Door: A Guest Post by Heidi Garrett

As long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the truths that my physical senses cannot explain: the mystical things occurring on this planet. Writing fantastical stories is my testament to these other layers of reality.
There are many ways of looking at our world. Imagine sitting at home, perhaps in your living room. There’s a knock on the door. When you open it, a funny little woman is standing there. She is about half your height, and a plaid crimson kerchief—knotted under her hooked chin—covers her head. Her dress is sack-like over her square body. She’s wearing an apron that could use a good ironing and she’s carrying a battered brown suitcase that’s almost as big as she is.
“As long as you’re staring, a glass of water would be nice,” she says.
Despite her gruff manner, you sense something mysterious about this stranger, and to be honest, you’re dying to know more about her. When she crosses the threshold of your home, a strong wind slams the door behind her. You both jump. There hasn’t been a breeze all day. In fact, it’s sweltering and heat waves have been rising from the melting pavement for weeks.
When you offer it, she almost grabs the glass from your hand, and you can’t stop your staring—even though you know it’s rude—as she drinks in noisy gulps.
“What? You’ve never seen a spring faerie before?” she asks.
Before you can answer, she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. “Guess not, there aren’t many of us left. And I haven’t been to the Mortal World, since…”
She stops. Her deeply etched face softens. Something like sorrow pools in her dark brown eyes. She waves her hand. “That’s not what I’m here to talk about.”
Your heart tugs. You want to pull her from that sad place. “What’s in your suitcase?”
She points to the table. “I’ll show you.”
The suitcase is filled with eyeglasses. There are so many. Some have square black frames, others have round wire frames; there are a few speckled frames with octagonal lenses. You spy a pair of purple ones.
She shoves a pair of thick black glasses into your hand. “Put these on. Tell me what you see.”
With the eyeglasses settled on the bridge of your nose, you can’t see anything but yourself. You blink. You can see your hands and feet, your legs and toes. But the spring faerie—if that’s really what she is—is just a blur. You pull them off. She trades them for a pair of wire rims. With these glasses you can see her and your home.
“What’s your name?” you ask.
“Flora.”
“Like flowers blooming.”
She nods and looks away with that whiff of sadness.
Again, there is something about her that pulls at your heart. You think of the miracle of spring after a long hard winter, and that she shouldn’t be sad—if she really is a spring faerie.
“But…you don’t have any wings,” you say.
She smoothes the wrinkles in her apron. “Not all faeries do.”
“But—”
She almost jerks the wire-rim spectacles from your nose. You reach for that purple pair. She doesn’t stop you. Now, you can see down the street; your eyes travel the highway. Your view elevates, as if you are a bird. Soon you see the entire city you live in. With each pair of glasses, you see the bigger world.
When Flora tucks the temple arms of a pair of red frames behind your ears, perspective zooms around you. It’s like the lens pulls you into outer space, and you can see the entire world and all the billions of people who live on Earth.
Your heart flutters in your chest; it’s a lot to take in.
“Now—” Flora hands you a pair of fuchsia glasses with tiny rhinestones embedded in the frames. “Try on these.”
When you put them on, you’re able to see beyond the physical entirety of the world into the things that you’ve always known exist, but since you can’t see, touch, smell, or hear them, sometimes you’ve doubted. But you’ll never doubt again, because now—with these special glasses—you can actually see the bonds of love that death can never sever, the strings of fate that wrap the brown paper package of all our lives with twine, the tide of time that alters us, even as we never change…
But most importantly, you’ve seen that you belong here, on this planet. And you know—without a shadow of a doubt—that everything fits. Including you.
“I don’t ever want to take these glasses off,” you say.
Flora is already cramming the rest of them back into her bag. “Then don’t.”
Don’t you wish life offered a pair of glasses that can magically make everything clearer? You’ll see your path brighter than the burning lights of the Vegas Strip. Decisions become infinitely easier to make and you’ll have the ability to see everyone for who they truly are? Sigh. – Joy

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie is a fairy tale fantasy series that bridges the Mortal and Enchanted worlds. The main character, Melia, is an eighteen-year-old half-faerie, half-mortal. She lives in Illialei, a country in the Enchanted World, with her two sisters and their mother. Melia’s father has been exiled to the Mortal World, and her best friend is a pixie.
When the story opens in the first book, Melia is troubled by her dark moon visions, gossip she overhears about her parents at the local market, and the trauma of living among full-blooded faeries with wings—she doesn’t have any.
As the series unfolds, the historic and mystical forces that shape Melia’s life are revealed. Each step of her journey—to find the place where she belongs—alters her perceptions about herself, deepens her relationships with others, and enlarges her world view.
In The Dragon Carnivale, book 3 of The Queen of the Realm of Faerie, energies in the Enchanted World are shifting and new alliances are forming; the Battle of Dark and Light has begun. Melia is desperate to make things right with Ryder, the young priest from Idonne, but first she must warn the half-bloods in the Mortal World that Umbra is coming for them, and face the powerful Dragonwitch and her spectacular Dragon Carnivale.
The first two books in the series: Nandana’s Mark and The Flower of Isbelline are currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. Nandana’s Mark is free.
The Dragon Carnivaleis scheduled for a June 18, 2013, release.
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