Review of Happiness and Other Diseases by Jim Fahs

•April 3, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Check out this first edition review of Happiness and Other Diseases, now available on Mocha Memoirs Press: https://mochamemoirspress.com/product/happiness-and-other-diseases

“This is not just a lovely novel, it’s a whole universe and mythos brought to life. Take a dash of Toni Morrison, a healthy dose of Neil Gaiman, and take a trip down Clive Barker street and you get a taste for what this experience is about, but Sumiko Saulson brings it to life with (their) own unique voice. Don’t miss this!”

– Jim Fahs

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1076277420

Amy Bellino’s Review of Happiness and Other Diseases

•April 2, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Check out this first edition review of “Happiness and Other Diseases,” now available on Mocha Memoirs Press. https://mochamemoirspress.com/product/happiness-and-other-diseases

“There was nothing I could not love about this novel. It made me laugh out loud and made me cry. It made me squirm in fear and squeal in delight. The main characters are very well written and you will fall in love with them. The dark humor is perfectly balanced to off set the horror. I found the interaction between the Greek Gods, Demigods and mortals fascinating. But above all, I loved that Flynn likes being tied up and tortured as long as Charlotte is the one dispensing the pain.” – Amy Bellino

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1045316757

When Black Women Say They Don’t Get Protected Enough, Believe Them

•March 30, 2022 • Leave a Comment

The latest controversy is very telling in terms of the complete lack of intersectionality in many people’s feminism. A bunch of people are completely ignoring black womens’ lived experience, and making statements that lean heavily into the “strong black woman” trope by talking about how Jada Pinkett Smith could have “easily put Chris Rock in his place.”

When black women say “we don’t get protected enough” BELIEVE THEM. Ask yourself what it is that we as a whole are NOT DOING FOR BLACK WOMEN that makes a bunch of us feel so unprotected. Please stop with the “strong black woman” stereotype statements bout Jada.

No matter how you feel about the men in this situation, please understand that these statements lean heavily into strong black woman tropes and are problematic. They also ignore large numbers of black women saying things like “black women do not get protected enough.” The strong black woman trope is used to communicate the idea that black women do not deserve the same protection as white women.

Using the idea that wanting protection is antifeminist against black women is to deny the privilege that white women have.

The notion of “chivalry” was a European notion that involved knightly codes of behavior towards European noblewomen. The feminist rejection of such codes as patriarchial should be enjoined with the intersectional understanding that such codes NEVER APPLIED to black women.

While women of entirely European heritage initially fought for equal rights in America, my black ancestors under chattel slavery were still only regarded as three-fifths of a human being.

Ignoring these facts is called white centering.

When black women say they don’t get protected enough, you should BELIEVE THEM. Not ignore them and keep telling them how strong they are. Believe me, all of us have heard that since we were children, along with numerous messages about how we should protect and nurture others while expecting nothing in return. These messages have been forwarded from the days of slavery, when we were expected to put in a lot of free, hard manual labor and be the wetnurses of the children of the people who kept us in chains.

I implore you to consider that this DOES have something to do with race. When a black man comes at another black man about things he said about the first black man’s black wife, all three of those people being black matters. Their blackness matters to other black folks, and only your privilege allows you to be color blind.

THE PROTECT BLACK WOMEN AND GIRLS ACT OF 2021

Please read about the act here: https://robinkelly.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/reps-robin-kelly-clarke-watson-coleman-fitzpatrick-introduce-bipartisan

From the article:

While the data collected on the experiences and conditions of Black women and girls is often insufficient and incomplete, we know the following to be true:

  • Black women die from pregnancy-related complications at 3 times the rate of their non-Hispanic white counterparts;
  • For every US dollar that a white man earns in the United States, Black women are paid 61 cents;
  • 60% of Black girls experience sexual assault before they reach adulthood.
  • In comparison to white girls, Black school-aged girls are four times more likely to be arrested at school and five times more likely to be transferred to another school for disciplinary reasons.

Mummies, Threesomes and Russians, Oh My! Ramses the Damned: Reign of Osiris review

•March 29, 2022 • Leave a Comment

When The Mummy or Ramses the Damned debuted in 1989, I was just beginning my love affair with the writing of Anne Rice, having started with Queen of the Damned which had been released only a year earlier. I quickly became enamored with the mysterious Ramses, who had swallowed a secret elixir granting him immortality. Going by the pseudonym Reginald Ramsey, he quickly embarked upon a steaming hot romance with Julie Stratford. She’s the daughter of Lawrence Stratford, the British archaeologist who unearthed Ramses’ seemingly mummified body, but was sadly murdered shortly afterwards. 

The love quadrangle between Mr. Ramsey, Miss Stratford, Alex Savarell (a low-ranking noble Miss Stratford is engaged to but does not love), and a partially revived but insane and monstrous Cleopatra (Ramses’ ex, but ironically, in love with Alex now) was sort of like the supernatural Bridgerton of the late 90s. Although all of the immortal characters have supernaturally glowing blue eyes, the obvious inclusion of people of color was thrilling for people like myself, people of color who came into the Anne Rice fandom with Queen of the Damned. I had heard of Anne Rice a few years earlier, in 1985, when all of my friends in the goth community were raving about her then newly-released The Vampire Lestat (sequel to the 1976 Interview with the Vampire). I was intrigued by Akasha and other non-white vampires in QOTD

But The Mummy or Ramses the Damned was an entirely different vibe. Despite the truly terrifying scenes with Cleopatra later on in the book, it never pretended not to be a paranormal romance. Julie and Ramses’ love affair was up front and center in this novel. However, it substantially exists in the realm of horror as well, and is a fine example of horromance, the horror-romance genre. If you like paranormal romance, you’re apt to enjoy all three of the books in this series. 

Like many fans, I’d read the inscription at the end of the book, “The Adventures of Ramses the Damned Shall Continue” and was anxiously awaiting his return. I would wait another 28 years, until the release of Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra, in 2017, the first of the two books co-written by Christopher Rice. It picks up immediately after the end of The Mummy, still in the year 1914, with Ramses and Julie now engaged to be married. It introduces some new characters, notably American novelist Sybil Parker, who’s novels about Egypt seem to be inspired directly by Cleopatra’s memories. It also goes into the history of how the Elixir which granted Ramses immortality was created.

Ramses the Damned: Reign of Osiris is the third book in Anne Rice’s Ramses the Damned series, and the second one co-written by her son, Christopher Rice. It is also Anne’s final novel, as she sadly passed away on December 11, 2021. It is to the credit of both writers that the book works very smoothly and cohesively as a work, as much so as if it had been written by a single author. Furthermore, all three of the books work very well as a series, and maintain a consistent tone. While her passing makes it tempting to give Anne sole credit for this work, having read interviews with both of the Rices, and having read considerably from both of their works, I will say that Christopher’s mark is also evident on both Reign of Osiris and The Passion of Cleopatra. Most obviously, in terms of the brisker suspense/thriller type pacing. Reign of Osiris comes in at just 368 words, compared to 416 for Passion of Cleopatra and 509 pages for The Mummy. Anne Rice’s novels tend to take a more languid stroll to their conclusion, and spend more time on character development than Christopher’s do. 

In The Reign of Osiris, Queen Bektaten (first introduced in Passion of Cleopatra) is calling together all of her subjects in the months leading up to World War I. Although her intentions seem pure, even protective, not all of the immortals have agreed to be her subjects. In fact, Ramses is fairly bristling at Bektaten’s haughty manner, and Cleopatra suspects this is secretly a plot to execute her.  

Anne Rice’s recent death added an initial tinge of sadness to the reading of Bektaten’s letters for me. Without knowing who knew what, it is still hard not to compare  Bektaten’s grand and protective pronouncements to the younger immortals, whom she seems to hold in some maternal regard, to Anne Rice’s own social media posts to her Facebook fandom over the years, her self-styled People of the Page. In fact, I will say it is entirely impossible to divorce the reading of the work from grief about her passing if you’re a devoted fan. But Bektaten is definitely not Anne, and very soon, I find myself sympathizing with Ramses’ aching desire to rebel against her, as she starts to seem like a nag. Despite Ramses’ understandable feelings, everyone except he and Cleopatra seem to be madly in love with the otherwise charming Bektaten.

While Bektaten is busy composing her four-page missives, scolding the other immortals like little children, and warning them not to engage in the upcoming human war, a bunch of Russians who don’t seem to know what they’re dealing with are trying to assassinate everyone who cared about Lawrence Stratford. Fortunately, most of them are immortal now, and not in any immediate danger by the mysterious arcane magic that the Russian assassins have been toying with.

When they are not being attacked by Russians, the immortals are having hot threesomes. Cleopatra has patched things up with Sybil Parker after some initial trepidation in the second book, and is now sharing her bed, and Alex Savarell as well as her memories with the American novelist. Bektaten shares her bed with her sexy guards, Enamon and Aktamu, who are partners, which doesn’t stop Aktamu from eyeballing Elliot Savarell, who is eyeballing Aktamu and possibility Bektaten. If you’re a fan of the paranormal romance genre, none of this surprises you. 

The Russians, meantime, have some fancy necklaces that they can use to animate statues of people, and get them to go on murderous rampages. No one is really sure how they are doing this. Okay, well, maybe not noone. Someone seems to know something about it. Our hero, Ramses. But for reasons that are not yet clear, he isn’t telling anybody.

My essay is in “It Came From The Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror,” edited by Joe Vallese

•March 24, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Remember last year when a bunch of us went to see Nia Da Costa’s Candyman? I’m really happy to say that my essay about the movie (which includes talking about that particular group outing) is one of those included in It Came From The Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror, edited by Joe Vallese. It is an honor to be include amongst such greats as Carmen Maria Machado. This wonderful cover artwork is by Braulio Amada.

I am happy to announce that my essay “Centered and Seen,” a reflection on the 2021 Nia Dia Costa film Candyman (based on the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker) and the intersection of Blackness and Queerness, is one of those included in It Came From The Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror, edited by Joe Vallese. Available for pre-release purchase, it is to be released on October 3, 2022 on Feminist Press.

Through the lens of horror–from Halloween to Hereditary–queer and trans writers consider the films that deepened, amplified, and illuminated their own experiences.Horror movies hold a complicated space in the hearts of the queer community: historically misogynist, and often homo- and transphobic, the genre has also been inadvertently feminist and open to subversive readings. Common tropes–such as the circumspect and resilient “final girl,” body possession, costumed villains, secret identities, and things that lurk in the closet–spark moments of eerie familiarity and affective connection. Still, viewers often remain tasked with reading themselves into beloved films, seeking out characters and set pieces that speak to, mirror, and parallel the unique ways queerness encounters the world.It Came from the Closet features twenty-five original essays by writers speaking to this relationship, through connections both empowering and oppressive. From Carmen Maria Machado on Jennifer’s Body, Jude Ellison S. Doyle on In My Skin, Addie Tsai on Dead Ringers, and many more, these conversations convey the rich reciprocity between queerness and horror.

Book Release Party on Saturday, April 16

•March 24, 2022 • Leave a Comment

If you’re in San Francisco on Saturday, April 16th between 7pm and 9pm, I would like to invite you to the book release party for “Happiness and Other Diseases,” which is coming out on Mocha Memoirs Press on March 30. The book release party, which is being put on in conjuction with the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District, will feature champagne and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a book reading, book signing with books available for purchase at $15 each. If you bring a book with you, I can also sign that.

In addition to the book reading, signing (with books available to purchase) and Q&A session, there will be prints by cover photographer Garrett Sohnly on display, with select prints from the cover photo session being available for purchase.

The event is taking place at the Folsom Street Cultural Center, at 145 9th Street, San Francisco, CA. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the Community Center.

Interview with Jeff Oliver and Gordon Reilly (Venomous Words)

•March 23, 2022 • 2 Comments

Biographies:

Jeff Oliver

Jeff Oliver was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 6th, 1982. Jeff began writing Dark Poetry at just 11 years old. Transferring darkness to paper at such a young age. There are thoughts about a troubled childhood, thoughts of love and imagination that never elude his pen. A poet by passion and a father of 8 beautiful children. His dedication to his family & his craft is second to none. Jeff lives in Western New York State. Jeff is a writer of intense emotions. His books include: Strange Sounds, Poetic Fiction: Journals of Silent Screams (Self Published) Scattered Thoughts, Volumes I, II & III. Drops Of Insanity (Cosby Media Productions). Venomous Words & New World Monsters. (HellBound Books). New World Monsters II: The Voices in Your Head & Dracula: One Twenty-Five (Publisher to be determined). Jeff will continue to write from the deepest corners of his soul. Sometimes searching his own soul scares the Hell out of him.

Follow Jeff on his largest Social Media Platform at:

https://www.facebook.com/wordsfromthesoul3334/

Books By Jeff Oliver 

http://www.amazon.com/Jeff-Oliver/e/B07YK4YF2H%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_awm_scns_share

Gordon Reilly

Gordon Reilly AKA Venom macro is a Special Operations Veteran who found macro photography of scorpions and invertebrates as a hobby. Bringing people closer to nature in a way they can observe the world of 435-million-year-old animals is his goal. His images allow for admiring the intricacy of their beauty while respecting the animal from a safe distance. He’s been noted as being one of the best to photograph scorpions in their entirety. He prefers to remain faceless; few know what he looks like or who he is. His photography is shrouded in mystery, much like the animals he photographs. “Beauty is in the details.”

Visit Gordon’s websites today:

Instagram: @venom_macro

Facebook :  https://www.facebook.com/envenomation.nation.1

VCFor live Scorpion Purchases:

https://www.venommacro.com/?fbclid=IwAR2G6i5hnIqgh6XevEcuViu5DTZDbTtP1i0U2dAp-G8wnWxMyZiT2M8KxVI

For Macro-Photography High Resolution prints:

https://venommacro.smugmug.com

“The poetry and photography in Jeff Oliver and Gordon Reilly’s Venomous Words draw you into a beautifully dark and rarely seen world. Reilly’s stunning photography of scorpions and other invertebrates are gorgeous, haunting, and fascinating. Oliver’s poetry dives deep into the more macabre philosophies of the human struggle. He doesn’t flinch! A wild and unique collaboration! Loved it!”

—John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of Ghost Heart, President of The Horror Writers Association.

Interview:

Q. Jeff, how did you get started as a writer, and poet, and what attracted you initially to dark fiction?

A. (Jeff) I embarked on my writing journey at a very young age. I didn’t have much of a choice. It was my only way to escape what was constantly pounding in my brain. I was called out of my name, hit, punched, kicked. You name it. I wrote it all down. I was obsessed about it. I dreamed about it. I screamed about it. I wrote stories about each bruise. I wrote those stories in a maddening way. To this day the abuse inspires each letter that is bled out of my decomposing soul. The love of my Wife balances the madness. So I guess I can’t really say I was attracted to dark fiction. Dark fiction has always been attracted to me. I’m just the messenger for each blood curdling scream.

Q. To Gordon, how long have you been a photographer and how did you get your start?

A. (Gordon): I first picked up a camera roughly 3 years ago. I had always wanted to try detailed macro imaging. Once I got started I couldn’t resist wanting to see “more”. I started my Instagram page venom_macro  after a fellow hobbyist whom I didn’t know had seen a few early images that I did. He coaxed me into starting a page and it grew pretty rapidly.

Q. Whose idea initially, was this project and where did the idea come from? What inspired you to do this type of book?

A. (Jeff): Gordon came to me one day on social media and asked if we could collaborate on Instagram. I was down at first until I saw his Macro-Photography… I was blown away by the detail of each of his hauntingly beautiful images. So I said “Fuck It” Let’s write a book! This will be epic! So we did and here is the final result. Venomous Words. It was both of our ideas.

Q. How did the two of you meet and start working together?

A. (Jeff): We met on Instagram messenger. It’s how it usually happens these days. We instantly clicked and started working on the book right away. Hundreds of hours were put into this book. The writing and the photography were fused together into an innovative collaboration. It is indeed the first of its kind.

(Gordon): One night I was checking my Instagram explore page and I saw Jeff’s poetry and it really intrigued me. The more I read his work I couldn’t help to think how the words paired so well with the images I was creating. Basically I reach out to see if he’d be interested in doing a simple collaboration. After speaking to Jeff via messenger we decided to do a post to check how it would be received within my follower base. It was welcomed and got really good responses. The rest just fell into place. Jeff is a maverick. He found inspiration through my images which in turn made me want to photo EVEN MORE! It’s been a wild ride so far and it’s only getting better!

Q. What kinds of special photographic techniques is Gordon using for all of the magnificent close-ups in this book?

A. (Gordon): I use various lighting techniques to illuminate the subject from all angles. I prefer a “showcased” style image where the viewer is immersed into the animal itself without the distraction of backgrounds. I believe it centers the animals very well and allows the viewer to enjoy the small intricacy of each. You basically see EVERY detail. Being a self-taught macro photographer I spent a lot of time studying some of the best photographers’ work. The macro community is absolutely outstanding. I received much advice from the top photographers in the field. The beauty is in the details! It takes much patience to allow the subject to settle for a photoshoot. I stack my images. Meaning, most of the images you’ll see in the book are roughly anywhere from 20-50 images stacked together to increase the depth of field (focus). As you can imagine subjects do tend to move which can ruin an entire photoshoot. You have to be patient, learn the behavioral characteristics and wait till they give you the optimal position.

Q. Initially, there were some challenges with getting a publisher or printer who was able to handle the higher resolution images that you needed printed for your book. Tell me a bit about those struggles in that journey and how things finally panned out.

A. (Jeff): I searched for over a month for a publisher and nobody would take it. One said yes then backed out. Some lashed out at me for inquiring about it by calling me pushy and narcissistic. (Eye Roll)  Some kindly said they were not interested. Then when I reached out to James Longmore and Xtina Marie over at HellBound books James said yes and took on the project. Now here we are. HellBound books have been amazing and are highly recommended.

(Gordon) It was extremely important to me that the images were seen in the resolution they were photographed in. It had to be top notch and our publisher really listened to what my vision was to convey the details to our audience.

“With equal parts dedicated to vengeance and metamorphosis, Venomous Words is an engaging and thought-provoking collection.”

– Steve Stred, Splatterpunk Nominated author of Sacrament and Mastodon.

Q. The way you have the images and the poetry join together so that they resonate with one another is truly unique. How did you decide which images would go with which photos? Did you write poetry specifically for certain images, or take photos for certain poetries, or did you have both of them already created and decide which ones were together the best?

A. (Jeff): So It happened like this. Gordon added amazing photos to the document. Gordon also wrote the descriptions for each creature. I then studied each photo and description for a few minutes and let whatever wanted to escape out. Kind of a freestyle mindset. It’s how I write. No script, no filter, it just flows out. I also added a few that I already had written out if they fit with the photograph.

Q. Do you relate to the creatures in the images, and if so, how?

A. (Jeff): I had to relate with each one in order to fuse the correct words into the creatures. I didn’t relate before I started this project but I surely do now. I was thinking: How do they know when to use their venom and when not to? Hunting techniques, eye color, size of stinger, and most importantly venom toxicity. I learned a lot writing this book.

(Gordon): Jeff really paid close attention to all of the info I was able to give him on each specimen. His inspiration runs wild and it really matches even better than I originally expected. I believe there’s a duality of beauty and danger with each image. The final image of the book, “The scorpion heart” really shows this well.

Q.  Although spiders and scorpions can be scary, they aren’t innately horrific, as they are natural creatures. How do you feel about the different ways that people view the insects that are portrayed in your work? Do you think that sometimes they are feared unfairly? Scapegoated and people do not see their true beauty?

A. (Jeff): We made them beautiful and scary. So is this book the best of both worlds? We are about to find out. I never knew anything about any of these creatures until I met Gordon. Now I know quite a lot. These creatures are not scary to me. They are definitely not scary to Gordon. He also breeds Scorpions at his home. Feared unfairly? Yes. Now people will see their beauty in these highly detailed photographs.

(Gordon): Arachnids are vilified often. I really wanted to bridge the communities by showing every aspect clearly without losing the audience. In each description, I give subtle info on each specimen to inspire people to want to know more about the scorpion hobby and keeping invertebrates all together. They may look scary, but in all honesty, they, like many other creatures, simply want to exist. Yes, there is no doubt that some of the scorpions featured in this book are the most venomous in the world,, however, the true intent was to awe people with the images and create a desire to learn more. I think knowledge reduces the fear factor whilst still respecting each animal for what they are and the damage they can cause if taken lightly.

Q. For each of you, what projects are you currently working on and what can we expect to see from you in the future?

A. (Jeff): We are working on Venomous Words: The Internal Breakdown. It is the second volume of our collaborations. This time Gordon will be flowing into my poetry in a reverse ripple effect. In the first volume I fused my words into his photographs. This time he’s fusing his photography into my poetry. Pretty cool huh? I have 4 other projects as well that I’m working on like a mad man. I’m not playing. I got kicked out of recess in grade school because I was not playing. (Joke) I’m not egotistical I promise. Confidence can be confused with that easily. Venomous Words is only the start of a long journey of many epic collaborations from Gordon and I. Now we have just one more question for you…

Are you ready?

(Gordon): I’m always working to find new angles to show the audience. I typically add different lighting techniques which furthers my skill set making each image better and more interesting. As Jeff said, “Are you ready?” Says it all! The images for the Internal Breakdown are even more intriguing. We are bringing something to the table that most overlook simply because it’s not easily seen with the naked eye. Now, the audience has autonomy to dive deep into the macro world and enjoy the incredible poetry that goes with it! This is truly a one of a kind partnership.

Sexy shifters and cybernetic love triangles

•March 6, 2022 • Leave a Comment

I am really excited that my story “Dwayne’s Baby Daddy” has been accepted into the Anthology Blerd 2: Couple’s Therapy. It is the story of a love triangle involving three African-American werewolves.

Mariah is in an open marriage with Jamal, even though she herself has no interest in having another partner. Jamal has a relationship with Dwayne, which predates his marriage to Mariah. The three have been making things work for the last three years by keeping some separation in their lives. Mariah knows about Dwayne, but has never met him.

Jamal and Mariah have been trying to conceive, to no avail. Things become complicated when Dwayne, a transman who was not even trying, becomes pregnant. That’s why Jamal and Mariah are in couples therapy.

I would like to personally thank Penelope Flynn , Valjeanne Jeffers, Quinton Veal , Nicole Smith and Cinsearae Santiago-Reiniger for helping me to embrace writing paranormal romance and erotica. Some of my queerest writing is in the Paranormal Romance genre. I am really grateful that they have been so encouraging about me writing queer characters in the genre. These are all black editors and publishers, and you should support them.

Now, what I’m saying is that I have paranormal romances in all of these people’s anthologies. Although, “Asi’s Horror and Delight” in Slay: Tales of the Vampire Noir leans more towards the horror genre, and could be called a horror romance. As you probably know by now, mocha Memoirs publishing is also putting out my paranormal romance Happiness and Other Diseases. “Asi’s Horror and Delight” is a story about a witch who tries to swindle a god by having her vampire companion (a kind of vampiric werebird) to seduce him.

The We-Ness Trilogy, a three-story arc that appears in Valjeanne and Quinton’s Scierogenous 2, involves a love triangle between a sentient cybernetic implant, his host, and her fuckboi friends with benefits. I am very proud of the character development and the world-building in that story.

“Sweetness” is a short story in Cinesearse’s anthology, Beasts and Babes. It’s the disturbing tale of a werepig, set in a post-apocalyptic world where werepigs, when not in human form, can be legally hunted for food. In the story, he tries to seduce his captor, a seasoned hunter, and convinced her that he would be better as a companion than sold to the slaughterhouse. It’s pretty twisted.

“Dwayne’s Baby Daddy,” the story that just got accepted into Penelope’s Blerdrotica 2: Couples Therapy, is actually a relatively wholesome tale. Well, wholesome if you feel like polyamory is valid. It stays firmly in the paranormal romance genre, in fact, I would say that it is romance leaning, and it doesn’t get dark, but keeps it sweet and sexy. Like the We-Ness Trilogy, it is classified as erotica because it has a healthy number of sex scenes in it.

Some Call It Puppy Love: Review of Love and Leashes

•March 3, 2022 • 1 Comment

Love and Leashes (2022) is a cute, funny and well-written Korean romantic comedy starring Seo Ju-hyun as Jung Ji-woo, a serious office worker who is constantly being told to smile, be cute, and defer to others less, both by her boss and office staff, and by well-meaning women in her life such as her mother and best friend, who fear she will never find a man if she doesn’t conform. Because it debuted on Netflix (last month on February 11, just in time for Valentine’s rom-com season), a lot of people mistakenly believe it’s a series. It’s not – it’s an approximately two-hour long motion picture.

Her love interest, a similarly named Jung Ji-hoo (portrayed by actor, rapper and singer Lee Jun-young) is a new hire at her marketing firm. Although he is new, and a bit younger than she is, due to the sexist culture in their workplace, he is her senior in the office (although not a supervisor). A coworker jokes that they’ll be confused for each other. Their abrasive and sexist boss (played by Seo Hyun-woo) immediately points out that, aside from their gender difference, Ji-hoo is the kind of pleasant, polite, and frankly, cute behavior he’s been hoping for from Ji-woo. Although she is smart and hard-working, her refusal to conform to gender norms is causing friction in the office place.

Ji-woo and Ji-hoo’s name confusion invariably leads to a case of mistaken identity, and a series of hysterical slapstick comedy scenes later, Ji-woo discovers Ji-hoo’s secret. He is kinky. Since she already has her eye on, him, she decides to do a little research to see what she might be getting herself into if she pursues this.

Ji-hoo also has his eye on Ji-woo. Her assertive, non-nonsense manner and sober bearing are what he finds attractive – things she is constantly being criticized for. He defends her, and beyond simply accepting her for herself, thoroughly enjoys who she is. One of the delightful things about this film is how, over the course of their relationship, she starts to perform better at work. When they eventually get into a contractual kink relationships, one of the terms of the contract is that Ji-woo will continue to bear herself in an empowered way. Although it is sad that it takes her being involved for her mother, best friend, and female coworkers to stop asking her to smile more and be more demure, it is also pretty real. This happens a lot.

As a kinky person, I would like to say that Love and Leashes gets a lot of things right.  Ji-hoo is a part of an online kink community, and has a lot of knowledge on the subject, even though he has not yet had a dominant. It deals with his break-up with a previous partner (who was disturbed by his kinks) well. Other subjects it touches on are difficulties that can come up in negotiating romantic and sexual relationships when in a D/s relationship.

The relationship starts out with simple pet play – a kind of D/s play where the Dominant roleplays a pet owner, and the submissive, often but not necessarily on a leash, roleplays an animal. That is where the movie gets its name, Love and Leashes. In this case, Ji-hoo is being a puppy – and a specifically female puppy at that, named Miho. Although the initial play scenes are cute, awkward and comical, the actors have good sexual chemistry in all of the kinky scenes, which adds both intimacy and hotness to them that only levels up as the movie goes on. Actor Lee Jun-young’s cute puppy dog faces at a lot to the convincingness of the puppy play, for anyone who has actually played with a human pupper.

In a lot of ways, Seo Ju-hyun’s character Ji-woo is what you’d call “the straight man” in this comedy – a term used to describe a serious character that the others bounce off of in a comedy. Because Ji-woo is intelligent, hard-working and studious, they are able to convincingly have her do a lot of research on kink without breaking character. This creates a lot of “teaching moments” for those newly acquainted with kink in the audience.

Although combining romance, sex, and BDSM are more common than the online article Ji-woo consults might suggest, it correctly asserts that there are issues when those come into play in a power dynamic relationship where one partner is Dominant and the other submissive. It does a very good job of showing what can go wrong, as well as how do to do it right when it comes to pairing D/s dynamics with sex and/or romance. It also gets into difficulties that can arise in office romances, without ever becoming preachy or losing the romantic comedy vibe.

In the end, it is a sweet movie that is not overly saccharine or sentimental. It is also a rare film that shows a female dominant character in a way that is humanizing. While Ji-woo becomes cooler, more confident, and sexier as she goes further down the rabbit hole with Ji-hoo, he remains the main eye candy as the clothed Dominant/half-naked submissive trope gets a little feminist here. But both of the characters remain very human. It was a fun film with sexy kink scenes and a playful romance and I say check it out.

—-

My book Happiness and Other Diseases is coming out on March 30 on Mocha Memoirs Press. It’s a kinky paranormal romance that teeters on the bleeding edge of horror. The Book Release Party is on Saturday, April 16 from 7pm to 9m at the Folsom Street Community Center in San Francisco’s Leather Cultural District. Drinks and appetizers will be served. My online class Love & Monsters: On Paranormal Romance makes its debut on March 15 at the Speculative Fiction Academy.

45 Black Men in Horror – Part 3

•March 1, 2022 • Leave a Comment

As you probably know, 60 Black Women in Horror and 100+ Black Women in Horror started out as a series on this very blog back in 2013. It was a series of three blogs, 20 Black Women in Horror, 20 More Black Women in Horror, and 20 Black Women in Horror 3. It just kept getting bigger and bigger until it eventually became the book 60 Black Women in Horror. Then, 80 Black Women in Horror. And finally, 100+ Black Women in Horror. Linda D Addison has been saying since 2018 that someone needs to do a list of black men in horror. A couple nights ago when we were recording a panel on curating diverse anthologies, she brought it up again. And I committed to putting together a list. Currently, I have 45 men on the list, which I will be publishing as a series on this blog for February – Black Heritage Month. Each post will list 15 writers. Find them all here: List 1, List 2, and List 3.

  1. Sean Demory

Sean Demory is the brains behind Pine Float Press. He cowrote Slow Boat to Fast City with A.E. Ash, Marshall Edwards, Orrin Grey, and Steven G. Saunders. He is also the author of Zobop Bebop, The Ballad of the Wayfaring Stranger and the Dead Man’s Whore, Philomena Unbound, Sycorax Resplendent, and Aglaeca. His works have appeared in the anthologies Palookaville and Aglaeca. His short story “Make Him Talk,” appeared in the quarterly Postscripts to Darkness, and his short story “Bad Beat” appeared in Raygun Revival.

You can find him online at https://pitchaweek.wordpress.com/ and https://sdemory.livejournal.com/

  1. Jamie Grimes

His short story “I Will Not Walk In Darkness” anthology Georgia Gothic, produced by the Atlanta chapter of the Horror Writers Association. His short story on the Blacklight podcast, and his short story “High Water Slack” was first published by the IGNYTE Award-Winning publication NightLight. Both stories appeared on the Nightlight Takeover edition of the PseudoPod podcast. He is a horror blogger and podcaster whose articles appear on PseudoPod.

Find him online at https://www.twitter.com/Jamie_L_Grimes

  1. Justin C. Key

He is the author of The Perfection of Theresa Watkins, Spider King, and Balancing the Equation,  He cowrote The Ball Hog with Christine Chang. His works are published in Bridge To Elsewhere Anthology (2022), Some of the Best from Tor.com, 2020 edition, Don’t Touch That: An Anthology of Parenthood in SFF, Vital Anthology, Realm, Interstellar Flight Magazine, Nightlight Podcast, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2017 (#732), Lightspeed Magazine: Issue 135, August 2021, Plasma Frequency Magazine: Issue 15: January/February 2015, Crossed Genres, Kyso Flash, Plasma Frequency Magazine, The Colored Lens, Fiction 365, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, (F&SF, #753). Find him online at https://justinckey.com/

  1. Rodney Barnes

Rodney Barnes is an American screenwriter and producer. Barnes has written and produced The Boondocks, My Wife and Kids, Everybody Hates Chris, Those Who Can’t, Marvel’s Runaways, American Gods, Wu-Tang: An American Saga, and is currently an executive producer/writer on HBO’s Untitled Los Angeles Lakers drama. He has written the horror comics Killadelphia, Elysium Gardens, Nita Hawes’ Nightmare Blog, as well as the comics Quincredible, and Monarch. His studio Zombie Love Studios put out the animated features Florence and Normandie, Crownsville, and the soon-to-be-released Blackula.

Find him online at https://rodneybarnes.com/

  1. Greg Elysee

Greg Anderson Elysee is a Haitian-American comic writer, educator, filmmaker, and model. He is the writer and creator of the comic series Is’nana the Were-Spider, which has garnered 5 Glyph Awards including Best Writer and Story of the Year. He is also the writer of The Gentleman: Darkness of the Void and Marassa, both for Evoluzione Publishing. Anderson Elysee’s work frequently incorporates various themes of Black spirituality in hope of showcasing often misinformed beliefs into more positive narratives.Greg Anderson Elysee is a Haitian-American comic writer, educator, filmmaker, and model. He is the writer and creator of the comic series Is’nana the Were-Spider, which has garnered 5 Glyph Awards including Best Writer and Story of the Year. He is also the writer of The Gentleman: Darkness of the Void and Marassa, both for Evoluzione Publishing. Anderson Elysee’s work frequently incorporates various themes of Black spirituality in hope of showcasing often misinformed beliefs into more positive narratives. Find him online at https://webwaycomics.ecwid.com/

  1. Newton Lilavois

Newton Lilavois is a comic book writer and publisher of Dream Fury Comics. He writes the supernatural horror comic series Crescent City Monsters.The story follows Jonas, a blues musician and sorcerer practicing Creole Magic, who’s determined to track down who put out a bounty on him. Gian Carlo Bernal is the illustrator. The comic’s completed three separate successfully funded Kickstarter campaigns resulting in three complete issues, has been making its way around the comic con, indie comic and black comic circuits ever since. It has also been featured on a number of podcast and vlogs.

Find it online at https://dream-fury-comics.myshopify.com/

  1. David Crownson

He is the author of the comic series Harriet Tubman : Demon Slayer. When slave owners can’t stop the powerful ninja warrior Harriet Tubman, they enlist the help of vampires, demons, witches & werewolves to stop her. Harriet Tubman must lead a family of runaways to freedom while battling an army of darkness. He is the owner of Kingwood Comics, which publishes the title. Issue One was created by David Crownson (Author) Courtland Ellis (Illustrator), Joey Vazquez (Illustrator), Dana Verde (Editor). On Issue 2,  Josh Burcham replaced Courtland Ellis on the illustration team. The team for Issue 3 was David Crownson (Author), Courtland Ellis (Author), and Sylvain Repos (Author). Find Kingwood Comics online at https://kingwoodcomics.com/

  1. David F. Walker

David F. Walker is an award-winning comic book writer, filmmaker, journalist, and educator. Walker is best known for his work in comics, including Shaft: A Complicated Man (Dynamite Entertainment), winner of the 2015 Glyph Award for Story of the Year, and its sequel, Shaft: Imitation of Life. He has also worked as a the writer on Bitter Root, Vol. 1: Family Business, The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of an Extraordinary Life, Power Man and Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Boys are Back in Town, Bitter Root, Vol. 2: Rage & Redemption, Power Man and Iron Fist, Vol. 2: Civil War II, Bitter Root #1, Occupy Avengers, Vol. 1: Taking Back Justice, and Nighthawk: Hate Makes Hate.

You can find him online at https://twitter.com/DavidWalker1201

  1. Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown is the Eisner and Ringo award-winning writer and co-creator of such books as The Punisher and Black Panther for Marvel, Rotten Apple for Dark Horse Comics, and Bitter Root for Image Comics. He has also written for On the Stump Volume 1, Civil War II: Choosing Sides #4, Black Manta (2021-) #1, Aquamen (2022-) #1, The Quiet Kind, Red Sonja Valentines Special (2022) (Red Sonja (2019-2021)), Marvel Hero Project Superior Salvador, Marvel Hero Project Soaring Seamus, The Forgotten Lake Secession, and Asylum Press Sampler #1.

Find him online at https://twitter.com/Cbrown803

  1. S.A. Cosby

S. A. Cosby is an Anthony Award-winning writer from Southeastern Virginia. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Razorblade Tears and Blacktop Wasteland, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book, the Sun Sentinel’s and BookPage’s #1 Best Mystery of the year, a Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinalist, and was named a best of the year by NPR, The Guardian, and Library Journal, among others. He is also the author of My Darkest Prayer, Ride Like Hell, and Brotherhood of the Blade: The Invitation, and Brotherhood of the Blade: Vol 2: House of Swords. His work has appeared in Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America, and Cheapjack Pulp 317. Find him online at https://twitter.com/blacklionking73

  1. DL Russell

D.L. Russell has been published in various anthologies and magazines since 2007. He has been publishing since late 2009 when he launched the ezine, Strange, Weird, and Wonderful Magazine with the goal of supplying writers and artists with less name recognition to have another option to showcase their work. He eventually moved into publishing books via Strange, Weird, and Wonderful Publishing with Sharon Black, and eventually to his own publishing company, Black Books Publishing, Inc. He is the author of Hell Is An Awfully Big City: A Collection, and is the editor of Nobody Goes Out Anymore: Futuristic Fiction Post Covid-19, 21st Century Black Erotica: Pleasure, Pain, Lust & Love in the Era of Cell Phone Selfies and Social Media. Payin’-2, and A Big Book of Strange Weird and Wonderful (Volume 1 and 2). Find him online at https://dlrussellbooks.com/

  1. Terence Taylor

Terence Taylor Is an award-winning children’s television writer, whose work has appeared on PBS, Nickelodeon and Disney, among many others. After a career of comforting young kids, he’s now equally dedicated to scaring their parents. His short horror stories have been published in Dark Dreams: A Collection of Horror and Suspense by Black Writers, Voices from the Other Side (Dark Dreams, #2), Nightmare Magazine 49: October 2016. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! Special Issue, Northern Frights 1, Dark Dreams 3 and Whispers in the Night. He is the author of Bite Marks: A Vampire Testament and Blood Pressure. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America East. and can be found online at http://doyoubelieveinvampires.com/

  1. Vince Churchill

Dark fiction author Vince Churchill has over 15 published works. He is the author of Seven, Midnight Eternal, Goodnight My Sweet, Pandora, The Butcher Bride, The Blackest Heart, The Dead Shall Inherit the Earth,  The Dead Shall Inherit the Earth was featured in XBOX Magazine’s ZOMBIES! Collector’s Edition as ‘One of The 37 Greatest Zombie Triumphs.‘Vince’s short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies including The Undead, The Horror Library – Volume One, and the Black Quill award-winning Midnight Walk. He was also a list contributor in the Book of Lists: Horror. Vince has created erotic fiction with Hyde & the upcoming graphic novella, The Presence. His most recent work is an illustrated children’s book, RUN! Find him online at https://vincechurchill.com/

  1. Daveed Diggs

Daveed Daniele Diggs (born January 24, 1982) is an American actor, rapper, singer and songwriter. He is the vocalist of the experimental hip hop group Clipping and in 2015 originated the roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the musical Hamilton, for which he won both a Grammy Award and Tony Award. Since leaving Hamilton in 2016, he has had a recurring role on the television series Black-ish, and co-starred in the film Wonder. Diggs also wrote, produced and starred in the 2018 film Blindspotting, which earned him a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead. He wrote The Deep with Rivers Solomon, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. Find him online at https://twitter.com/DaveedDiggs

  1. Evan Davis

Evan Davis’ short story “The Scars of Eliza Gray” can be found on the Nightlight Podcast. His short story “The Bells of Kraeden” appeared in The Common Tongue Dark Fantasy Magazine (Issue #3 / June 30, 2021).  His short story “30,000 BC” appeared in The Chorochronos Archives (JayHenge Publishing). His short story ”The Sixth Gun Conspiracy Letters” appeared in Hidden Histories (Third Flatiron Anthologies Book 26). His short story “High Noon” appears in The Society of Misfit Stories Presents… (February 2021)He also has work The Bards and Sages Quarterly

Find him online at https://thelightofday.blog/