We’re thrilled to have a guest post today from QSFer F.E. Feeley Jr., author of the soon-to-release (March 30) book Still Waters:
Unofficially, I have been writing all my life. In college, it was my writing that really carried me through. But in that time, my work had to be sort of direct and to the point, it had to be business like and I had a hell of a time keeping flowery language out of the work I did. But I held my own.
I have been writing M/M ficiton for the past four years. I was always a big reader. Always. But there were no stories that reflected my life. I was always on the outs. I always admired these authors out there who were able to crafte entire worlds, entire universes, that captured my attention. Especially Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. I had no clue this genre existed. Sure, I knew there were gay books and movies, but was seriously lacking in them, was a happy ending. They were usually dark, morose, tales of people who fell in love and whose lives were ripped apart because of who and what they are. It was tough to watch. It was thought to consume, due mostly because from the observer’s standpoint i twas like, “this is what my life is going to end up like.” But now, thanks to women writers, thanks to a changing world, gay people have a fighting chance. And I think a lot of that stems from gay people becoming a part of the mainstream of American and Global life. Now, I want to add my voice to that struggle, I want to write novels where people in the future look back and see what the world was like when it was a little less free.
Still Waters is about the love between two people who are thrown together under extraordinary circumstances. Both their worlds have been stripped away and both of them are seeking resolution. Its a story of hope, love, betrayal, justice, fear, and of course, ghosts. But its also about the lengths people will go to to maintain an image.
Still Waters is the world right now, as I see it. It is that struggle for equality. It is the dangerous place gay people and people in general have entered into where ambition of freedom is met with ambition of the status quo. I feel like this country has entered into a new Gilded Age of not just economic policy but one of social policy as well. The attitude is, and has been for quite some time, that there are problems out there, issues out there, but as long as it looks good on the outside then everything is A-ok. Yeah we know gay people exist but as long as they stay hidden, they’ll be fine. They’ll be safe. And right now a lot of LGBTQ people are emerging from the shadows, coming out into the light of the world confident in who they are, and summarily rejecting the patronizing language and belief systems of certain groups and these groups are losing their minds. While its a triumphant time for us, its also a very very dangerous time to be gay in this world. This book, along with its paranormal aspect, is a way for me to let these groups know, I know, what they are up to. This is me fighting back. Thats where its inspiration comes from.
Every character in the book is a part of me, in some way. Even the nasty ones. That’s just the reality for a writer. Maybe that’s something readers don’t want to deal with, but it’s a reality. Because it comes from me. Writers who say the opposite are full of shit. Nobody wrote those other characters.
I love Stephen King, of course. Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling etc. Who do I most connect with? I have to say John Inman and Jamie Fessenden. Their work is brilliant and they write characters I can connect to.
It is part of the Memoirs of the Human Wraiths, which is a collection of stories in the same vein. The series started with The Haunting of Timber man, continued on to Objects in the Rearview Mirror and now Still WAters. However, they are stand alone novels. You can read them chronologically and backward if you want. My objective is to annotate the struggle of gay people in this world and I hope I pull it off.
I have a novella coming out April 25th entitled Indigent from Cool Dudes Publishing. It was short story I wrote right after I submitted Still Waters to DSP. Its a funny story really, but, the day my husband and I got our keys to our house, it was hot outside. We both were exhausted from moving things in, but we needed to go out and get some things from Target. And we were driving down the freeway, I got off at the exit, and saw a homeless man standing there. I handed him a couple singles (it was all I had on me), turned the corner, and burst into tears. I cried so hard I thought I was going to have to pull the car over. I thought to myself, I have a home and he doesn’t. I used to buy into the belief that if you worked hard enough you can have anything you want. But I realized after years of chasing that carrot that those who propagate that silly belief system is that it really doesn’t have much to do with work at all. Because if labor was the standard by which we accumulated wealth, than single mothers would be the richest demographic in the country. And while hard work is an element to success, there is a whole lot of luck that comes into play at the same time. And when I realized that dynamic, it was heart wrenching, because I understood where that man was. i’d been there before. I’d been hungry. I’d been worried about my next meal, and where I was going to sleep, and desperate. So, after Target, after we got the house put to some semblance of order, I sat down and dealt with that the best way I knew how, by writing a story. It was a freebie on my blog for awhile, before Cool Dudes saw it and offered to contract it for an charity anthology that takes homeless kids off the streets in The U.S, The U.K, South Africa, and Australia. i jumped at it. The anthology will be called Indigent so look for it on the 25th of April and lets show the world we are better than those who hold that stick. We are better than the mouthpieces out there who hate the idea of poverty but instead of doing something about it, blame the poor.
As far as next projects, its always up in the air for me. I never know whats coming or what will trigger a story. But I promise I’m open to the doorway of creativity swinging wide again.
Before I go i want to give a shout out to several people, Brandilyn Carpenter, DSP, Sue Adams, Elizabeth North, Jamie Fessenden, Cate Ashwood, and Gloria Lakritz and of course, my husband, John for encouraging me to keep going. You all are instrumental to my success and have become a welcome addition to my life. Thank you.
Promise, Michigan is very much like every other small town across the state. Built on the edge of a lake, the homes sit in neat little rows in cute little neighborhoods. During the summer Promise bustles with tourists who come to spend their vacation dollars and enjoy the lake’s refreshingly cold water. But Promise holds a terrible secret. In the center of the lake is an abandoned island where a curse is rumored to wait for victims, unabated and deadly. Most think it’s just a story, something used to keep kids out of trouble. Still, everyone gives it a wide berth. Everyone except Bret and Adam. They dare to venture out the night of Bret’s birthday. When they declared their love and promise to get married, they believe no one else heard their whispered words—but they are wrong.
Five years later Adam dies, and Bret returns to his family to heal. But someone is killing the people of Promise in random acts of violence. Bret, with the help of FBI agent Jeff McAllister, must discover the identity of a murderer with death on his mind and revenge in his heart.
She loathed Adam. Loathed what Adam meant to him, who they’d been, what they were. Bret felt the anger rise like bile in him, but he just shook his head as Kaiser nudged at his hand, feeling the tension in the room.
“Well, I’m sure he’ll turn up just fine,” she said. “Your father will be home in a few days. You may want to get a head start finding campus housing. I mean, the fall is coming quickly, and it’ll take your mind off your friend.”
“Fiancé,” Bret replied.
“Excuse me?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.
“Fiancé, Mother. I am not leaving behind someone I love because—”
“Please, don’t try to dignify what the both of you do as love.”
“Oh, right. Because that’s what you and Dad have? Tell me, when Dad had his affair with—what was her name… Jessica?—was that love as well?” Bret fired back with a smile on his lips. His mother’s lips puckered, and he watched as her fury grew.
“You little son of a bitch, how dare you—” she said, growing furious, but Bret put up a hand.
“Tell the truth? Look, let’s just keep from jumping on the merry-go-round of knives, shall we? Stay out of my way, and I’ll stay out of yours. Deal?” he asked.
“Fine. But I will be telling your father when he gets back,” she sniffed, putting her hands on her hips and then dropping them in outrage as Bret suddenly burst into laughter.
“Oh no,” he said, grabbing his heart. “Oh, please don’t tell Daddy. What will I do with his disapproval?”
“Oh, you don’t care much about his approval, I know. Your father cheated on me because he couldn’t handle having a gay son. It disgusted him,” she said venomously.
The statement would have hurt him if he hadn’t turned her off a long time ago. He still wanted to slap her. But instead, he decided he’d hit another way.
“Mother, your husband cheated on you because when we moved here, his wife became Queen Ice Bitch of Promise Lake. That, and Jessica was twenty-three. So don’t put your Stepford bullshit on me,” he fired back.
She took an angry step forward, and Kaiser let out a menacing growl that caused her to hesitate. However, the look of fury on her face was replaced with one of stone calm, something that scared Bret even more than their heated war of words.
She was beginning another “how dare you” statement, which had become common since her discovery of Bret’s sexuality, when Kaiser let out a series of very loud barks that caused them both to jump. The reflection of two lights across the kitchen wall caused Bret to turn as a car pulled into the driveway.
“Kaiser, come on,” he said, snapping his fingers.
The dog turned from the window and looked at Bret before wagging his tail and following him on his way to the stairs that led up to his room.
“Where are you going?” his mother demanded, and Bret turned and was about to respond when a car door slammed and a voice tore through the night—and right into his heart.
“Bret! Bret!” The voice sobbed and broke the second time.
The tortured sound hit him like a truck. His heart skipped, and the truth he was yet to discover, the hand fate had held, was shown for the first time. Bret’s mouth went dry as his throat constricted, and he swore if he were to try to step forward, he would fall flat, but with another shout of “Bret!” he ran forward. He knew the voice, and Kaiser was hot on his heels while his mother complained about the racket they were causing.
Bret hit the door, his heart lodged in his throat and his knees trembling. Kaiser rushed between his legs to the person standing in the light of the car. Bret’s view was obscured as the beams from the headlights stole his night vision, but Kaiser knew the newcomer and got out of their way as they came into focus.
It was Timmy, Adam’s older brother, and the look on his face screamed through Bret’s body like electricity as realization dawned horribly in his mind. The cards were being laid out on the table.
“No.” Bret sobbed, shook his head, and brought his hand up to his mouth. As if shaking his head would somehow slay the dragon, he reached out for Timmy as his knees finally gave out on him. Timmy fell too as he gathered Bret in his arms, as Adam’s mother and father shrouded both boys in grief.
Kaiser, unsure of what was happening, raised his head toward the sky and let out his own mournful wail as they wept, their tears soaking the parched concrete driveway with the truth.
Adam wouldn’t be coming home.
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I was born and raised in the city of Detroit where I graduated from high school. Afterward, I joined the military and now am a published author here at Dreamspinner Press. Married to the love of my life (John) who lets me write horror novels. I write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Well, the other things that go bump in the night. So, if you’re not too scared of the dark, check out my books, I’m sure you’ll like ’em.