DSP Publications has a new queer paranormal book out: Devil Take Me Anthology.
Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.
Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.
Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….
They’re one hell of a good time.
–Jordan L. Hawk
–Jordan Castillo Price
by Rhys Ford
When Xander Spade went through the Looking Glass, he wasn’t looking for salvation. He’d been running from the devil who took his soul, only to fall prey to the greatest monster in Wonderland City, the Queen of Hearts. Years later, the Queen is dead and Xander has a chance to go through the Looking Glass and back home where he belongs.
Xander’s devil wants him to find a little girl who escaped into Wonderland City, before her presence brings down an apocalypse of uncontrollable chaos to the already mad world. Along with Jean Michel, the former Knave of Hearts, Xander now is in a race against time to find the missing child before all Hell breaks loose and he loses his chance to go home.
FUNNY THING about Wonderland City—even after decades of living behind the looking glass, I’m still fucking surprised by how weird it gets.
Like how the hell does a five-foot-tall White Rabbit in cargo shorts and a fedora get his damned hairy paw to work a shotgun trigger?
“I am so fucking sick of chasing that damned rabbit,” I muttered at the knee-high hedgehog crouched into a quivering ball next to me. He didn’t look up, and I didn’t blame him. The dumpster we were hiding next to had already taken more than its share of damage from the sporadic wide-spray shots the rabbit was packing, and from the itch forming on my scalp, I knew I’d be picking pulverized brick grit out of my hair later.
If there was a later.
Back before I met the Devil and bled my soul out into his hands, I’d have thought chasing a cigar-munching white bunny with pink eyes was something I’d only run into after I chewed on a few peyote buttons.
Now it was a typical Tuesday.
Another blast struck the wall above our heads, and it let loose a storm of rubble. The hedgehog squeaked and impossibly seemed to roll into a tighter ball. His worn felt top hat was on the ground by his back feet, the brim soaking up a bit of the sewer water that dripped from the cracked metal dumpster. Its obviously hand-knitted pink scarf had become a rosary of sorts during the trouble we’d stumbled into. He methodically skimmed his tiny fingers over its tassels, from left to right.
“I just need a clear shot of the bastard,” I informed my bristly friend. “It’s just that he’s so damned fast.”
Mister Hedgehog lifted his head up just enough to give me a withering look and narrow his beady brown eyes with a clear judgment of my intelligence. “He’s a rabbit.”
Even if I had a snappy reply, I didn’t get to answer him, because my bounty, with his seemingly endless supply of shotgun shells, peppered the dumpster again and pushed me back from its edge.
The street had been teeming with people a few minutes before, but once the rabbit caught sight of me, he pulled a sawed-off shotgun out of God knew where and began to blast up the small open-air marketplace. The commotion sent everyone flying for cover. His aim was poor enough that his first victims were a seedless watermelon and a couple of cantaloupes, but it was enough of a juicy splash to serve notice of what would happen to someone’s head if the rabbit got it right.
There were a couple of women a few feet away who were hunkered down behind a fishmonger’s stall, and every once in a while I could see the stall owner’s tuft of feathers poke out as he moved around. The stall didn’t look very big—certainly not big enough for a griffin to fully hide from a rogue gunman. There were a few people on the ground covering their heads with their hands as they lay facedown on cobblestones. Occasionally one of them would draw the rabbit’s attention when they tried to skitter to the side.
Problem was, hiding behind the dumpster, I couldn’t see when the rabbit’s pink eyes were on someone else, so returning his fire with my revolver was hit-and-miss.
The Beckett Street Marketplace was set up at the end of a cul-de-sac, an old-style courtyard that once hosted tea parties and games of charades played for bored aristocrats and their long-suffering servants. Those days were long gone. The former palace gardens, with their labyrinth of walkways, were now city streets bristling with tenements and factories. But there were still signs of the deposed Queen of Hearts’ kingdom if you knew where to look.
I just tried not to look.
“Stay down,” I told the hedgehog. “I’m going to see if I can get closer.”
He might’ve made a noise, or he could have had gas. Either way, he emitted a long, wavering squeal of a sound and began his tassel counting again.
“I’m not going to let you take me in, Spade!” The rabbit fired another shot, but I couldn’t tell where he was aiming. Someone in the trapped crowd screamed, and the rabbit yelled back, “Shut your face. That was nowhere near you. I’m going to give you all fifteen seconds to get out of here. Then I’m going to come out shooting, and if anyone is in between me and Spade, I hope you’ve made peace with your maker.”
Mister Hedgehog was gone before the rabbit even began counting. He snatched up his top hat, shoved it on his head, and scurried off, his pink scarf flapping behind him. The exodus that followed was as noisy and alarming as a sugar-cube mountain covered with toddlers.
To be honest, I didn’t think the rabbit could count as high as fifteen.
I knew the White Rabbit.
He was what I liked to call a legacy bounty—a dumb-as-a-rock career criminal who couldn’t seem to catch a break, no matter what.
I knew his great-grandfather once, and let’s just say the family was never known for its luck.
The chase was already going to shit by the time the rabbit ducked into the Stews. It was difficult to see the late afternoon sky through the tightly clustered tenements, and the threat of rain clung to the air—a snap of electricity with the crackle of brimstone overlaid the fetid aroma of the warrens. I caught a few glimpses of its milky-sienna cloud cover, and the swirling specks of black ash kicked up from the smokestacks swarmed in a faux murmuration and scattered under the hot June winds. The summer heat never let up, and the incoming storm would only make things muggy and cloying and work the slums’ simmering anger right to the razor’s edge.
If I was lucky, I would be able to grab the rabbit and get out of the Stews before the storm hit.
But much like the rabbit and his ill-fated and now-headless great-grandfather, I was never known for my luck.
The rabbit got up to eight, and then I took my chances.
I didn’t know exactly where the rhino was going, but he gave good cover, especially since he was shuffling on his hands and knees. I timed my sprint, dodged between hulking bodies and shadows, and hoped the rabbit wouldn’t notice a blur of movement going the wrong way. I went down hard on my knee when my foot got caught in the ruffled hem of an old woman’s long dress and my boot slid out from under me. She hit me with her purse and caught my chin with its bamboo handles, but I didn’t stop to check if she was okay. Her elderly, hunched-over body was enough to let me know she was human, from the other side of the looking glass, just like me.
Wonderland City and its people were different, less human. Births were rare and usually not welcome. People—especially the ones who looked human—aged at such a slow rate, it was impossible to tell how old anyone was. Yet I’d never seen a looking-glass person as old as the woman I’d nearly stampeded over. She must’ve been at the end of her life when she traded her soul to come here and was trapped in its eternal amber stasis, where she felt every ache and pain of her decrepit body.
I’d like to say I was smart and made that deal when I was in my late twenties, but if I’d been smart, I never would have said yes to the man with the wicked smile when he found me lying in the middle of the back-country crossroads I’d been dumped on.
So instead I was here—hunting rabbit.
“All I need to make this day extra special is a fat little pony with a flower crown,” I grumbled to myself as I worked across the cobblestones on my belly. Clutching my revolver in one hand made the going difficult, but I couldn’t go into the situation unarmed, especially since the rabbit had a shotgun. “I don’t even know the name to that stupid opera.”
But I hummed it to myself all the way over.
The rabbit hadn’t seen me. I found him holed up against a stack of books that were a moldering pile of cracked spines and damp pages. It hurt to see the novels exposed to the harsh elements of the Stews’ weather, but not a lot of people in Wonderland read. I saw no sign of the bookseller. If I had, I’m not too sure I wouldn’t have shot him too, just for what he let happen to the books.
But I couldn’t get sidetracked, not while the White Rabbit still held the cul-de-sac hostage and I hadn’t gotten paid for the high price placed on his head.
Rhys Ford is a firm believer in love and let love, short walks to a coffee shop and having a spare cat or two. Most days she can be found swearing at her laptop and trying to come up with new ways to kill off perfectly good random characters. Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawaii then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain. Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur, a black Pomeranian puffball and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a purple Bella coffee maker.
Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her lovely wife and wayward cats. She is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy, as well as an avid coffee-drinker.
Jordan L. Hawk
Jordan L. Hawk is a nonbinary queer author from North Carolina. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave them a lifelong love of things that go bump in the night. When they aren’t writing, they brew their own beer and try to keep the cats from destroying the house. Their best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon and other online retailers.
TA Moore genuinely believed that she was a Cabbage Patch Kid when she was a small child. This was the start of a lifelong attachment to the weird and fantastic. These days she lives in a market town on the Northern Irish coast and her friends have a rule that she can only send them three weird and disturbing links a month (although she still holds that a DIY penis bifurcation guide is interesting, not disturbing). She believes that adding ‘in space!’ to anything makes it at least 40% cooler, will try to pet pretty much any animal she meets (this includes snakes, excludes bugs), and once lied to her friend that she had climbed all the way up to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, when actually she’d only gotten to the beach, realized it was really high, and chickened out. She aspires to being a cynical misanthrope, but is unfortunately held back by a sunny disposition and an inability to be mean to strangers. If TA Moore is mean to you, that means you’re friends now.
C.S. Poe is a Lambda Literary and EPIC award finalist author of gay mystery, romance, and paranormal books. She is a reluctant mover and has called many places home in her lifetime. C.S. has lived in New York City, Key West, and Ibaraki, Japan, to name a few. She misses the cleanliness, convenience, and limited-edition gachapon of Japan, but she was never very good at riding bikes to get around. She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued two cats—Milo and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to sidetrack her from work. C.S. is a member of the International Thriller Writers organization. Her debut novel, The Mystery of Nevermore, was published by DSP Publications, 2016.
Jordan Castillo Price
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal sci-fi thrillers colored by her time in the Midwest, from inner-city Chicago to various cities across southern Wisconsin. She’s recently settled in a 1910 Cape Cod near Lake Michigan with tons of character and a plethora of bizarre spiders. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” girls with tattoos and boys in eyeliner. Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her mind-bending trilogy Mnevermind, where memories are made… one client at a time.