OUT NOW ~ Parasite by Ridley Harker ~ #Interview #Excerpt #Giveaway

Author Interview

  • How would you describe your writing style/genre?
    I’d say that my genre is queer horror. Lately I’ve been experimenting with gay erotic horror and I’ve really been enjoying that. I have an obsession with villains, gothic settings, and gay or bisexual trans men protagonists. Some of my inspirations are Billy Martin (formerly Poppy Z Brite), Clive Barker, and Gemma Files.
  • What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
    Oh boy. That was The Midnight Theatre, which I self-published on Amazon. Loads of people do great work in the self-publishing industry, but I wasn’t one of them. The Midnight Theatre was a novella about a burn-scarred, cat hoarder of a vampire hunter who partners up with a circus performer vampire to solve a murder. I’ve since taken it down; I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, and after the Ferguson Protests I can’t have a character working with the STL police. That said, I think with some heavy retooling I could use the main characters for a short story or another novella. Vampires will be back in vogue again sooner or later. They always come back!
  • What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
    I’m sure that I’m on some sort of government watch list from all the weird Google searches I’ve done. I’ve experimented with preserving animal bones for several stories. I’ve got quite the collection of bones now. All humanely harvested from road kill or natural causes, of course.
  • Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.
    My mum and I took a lovely vacation up to Mackinac Island, Michigan for a short story about Alexis St. Martin and Dr. William Beaumont. Nothing ever came of the story, but now that I’m in grad school I’ve decided to write a homoerotic historical fiction about them for my thesis.
  • If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
    I used to think that if anyone saw my writing I would have to step in front of a bus or something. Times have changed, somewhat, and it’s more acceptable to be gay now, but even so I would tell my younger self not to care what others think. There’s never a good reason to step in front of a bus!
  • Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
    I read every single review I’ve ever gotten. I love good reviews of course, but I especially like the ones telling me that I’m going to hell for writing queer horror. Those are hilarious.
  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?
    It took me four years to write Parasite, but I was also working full time and dabbling in a dozen other stories. Now I’ve got more focus. Sort of…
  • Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
    I’ve just always loved queer horror. When I was little my mum was horrified because I’d love the Disney villains instead of the heroes. I blame Disney for queer coding their villains. Fantasy used to be my favorite genre, but then in high school I discovered Lost Souls by Billy Martin (Poppy Z Brite) and life just hasn’t been the same since. I still write fantasy occasionally—I’ve got a heroic fantasy series about necromancers sitting on the backburner—but I think everything I write has a tinge of horror in it.
  • Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
    Half of my protagonists are gay trans men, like myself. I think representation is important. For example, if I had known you could be gay and trans, I would have come out of the closet as such back in grade school! So now I’m out and proud, and so are my characters.
  • If you had a grant to write any book you wanted as a freebie without worrying about sales, what kind of story would you like to tell?
    I’ve got an idea for a fantasy book called Rat Kings that I’ve been dying to write, if I could ever get the plot hammered out. I’ve got all the characters and the world designed. It’s a darker, heroic fantasy, with the main characters being anti-heroes and villains. My ‘elves’ are all over six-foot tall, intersex magic users and the ‘orcs’ have gunpowder and revolvers. There would be unconventional love interests and unreliable narrators.
  • What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had from an editor?
    Sadly I learned this after Parasite was already completed, but filter words and “was verb-ing” language can really take you out of a story.
  • What’s the funniest or creepiest thing you’ve come across while researching for one of your stories?
    I’ve found some crime scene photos when I was trying to describe what water-logged corpses look like. One of the images was a child’s corpse. Those were a little disturbing. Not because of the content—I’ve been through EMT training and seen corpses before—but because I wonder about who took the pictures and put them online.
  • What does success mean to you?
    Success to me means fanart. I would love for someone to do some fanart of my characters! Or fanfiction.
  • What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
    I’ve got an unpublished collection of erotic horror stories revolving around queer men. So far tales include feuding conjoined twins, a resurrected witch, a vampiric grimoire, a hive-minded creature that reanimates the dead, the fountain of youth under a moldering Colorado sanitarium, and a corrupted youth minister who gets more than he bargained for after picking up a cultist. Amongst other tales!

Book Info

Length: Novel / 82,500 Words / 347 Pages
Genre(s): Horror with a Gay Romantic Subplot
LGBTQ+ Identities/Pairings: Trans, Bisexual, Gay, Ace/Asexual, M/M
Tropes/Categories/Keywords: horror, body horror, monsters, action, anti-hero, first love, even evil has loved ones


Seventeen-year-old Jack Ives is used to being unlucky. His only friend has just moved away to college, his parents are alcoholics, and he’s relentlessly bullied by the town psychopath. All that begins to change with the arrival of a handsome but quirky new student, Lucien, who wants to be more than friends.

Their newfound happiness doesn’t last, however, as a strange new illness strikes the island. Fishermen go missing, and the villagers left behind aren’t themselves anymore. When Lucien is suspected to be the cause of the outbreak, can Jack overcome his teenage hormones and save Eldrick Isle? Will he even want to?

Warnings: Abuse, alcoholism, animal death, bullying, graphic violence/gore, guns, homophobia, misgendering


Lucien wanted to hit something. He wanted to lash out and make himself feel better by making someone else feel worse—Spencer, preferably, but Lucien was too upset even to fantasize. Something scuttled under the floorboards beneath him. Tiny claws on warped wood. A nearby hole in the floorboards… Vermin would have to do.

He brought his index finger to his mouth and bit down, worrying at the skin with his teeth until it broke. He tasted blood. The takeout bag sat beside him so he picked up a fry and, after seasoning it with blood, tossed it toward the hole. And then he waited.

A whiskered nose appeared first, followed by a furry brown face and black, beady eyes. A rat. The animal snatched the fry and disappeared back into the darkness. Lucien smirked and licked his finger clean. He absently probed the torn skin with his tongue until it was smooth again. Then he paused, momentarily forgetting about the rat. Something on his fingers tasted off.



Some sort of grease.

He glanced dubiously down at the soggy french fries, holding his breath and waiting for disaster to strike. Nothing happened. His stomach rumbled. He licked his lips again. The scent of greasy, fried potatoes became too tantalizing to resist, and he reached into the bag and pulled out a fat, golden fry. He shouldn’t—years of lectures told him he shouldn’t—but a rebellion brewed deep inside him. He sniffed, and his stomach gurgled in approval.

Lucien popped the french fry into his mouth. It was cold. The texture was strange: crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. He had to chew before he could swallow. Grease coated his tongue.

His nutrient shakes were garbage.

Lucien scarfed down the entire bag of fries and then licked his fingers clean. Jack had left his milkshake behind, and Lucien drank that as well. The shake had a familiar texture, but the flavors… What would hamburgers taste like? He was going to find out.

An ear-piercing squeal erupted from beneath the floorboards. Lucien smirked into his straw and waited, listening. Judging from the sounds, more than one creature had taken his bait. The rat dragged itself out from the crevice. Little clawed toes curled in on themselves, and beady black eyes bulged out from their sockets. The bald tail became discolored, patchy and waxen. It flopped onto its side, its chest heaving madly as it labored to breathe. A black substance leaked out from its jaws, followed by a tiny, purpled tongue. It shuddered violently, and then it lay still.

Lucien didn’t notice. The paper cup crumpled in his grasp, and the remains of the strawberry shake dripped down his wrist. Behind his dry, irritating contact lenses, his pupils dilated. Lucien clutched at his belly, smearing milkshake across Jack’s borrowed shirt. It was like having shards of glass in his stomach, stabbing into his intestines. Ripping. Tearing. Sweat soaked his skin. He staggered to his feet and gagged. Waves of nausea threatened to bring him to his knees. His throat burned, and his stomach lurched.

He was going to be sick. Sick in the middle of Jack’s private sanctuary. Lucien clamped a hand over his mouth and stumbled toward the guest room. The door’s hinges screamed in protest when he fell against it. He landed heavily on his knees. The floorboards were wet and slimy, blackened with rot. They sloped toward the center of the room, where he saw the stony lip of the well peeking out from amidst the wreckage. The house was strange, but he had no time to explore, not when his stomach lining was burning its way up his esophagus.

Lucien dug his fingers into the moldering floorboards and dragged himself forward. Up close, the well stank. The putrid fumes of fetid water rising up to meet him suggested something had fallen in recently. Lucien leaned over the well’s side and vomited. The remains of french fries and strawberry milkshake hit the water below with a liquid slap. Strings of shredded tissue and dark, brackish blood soon followed.

Unbidden tears streamed down Lucien’s cheeks. He choked on a sob and then choked again as something else slithered its way up his throat. The edge of the rotten boards gave beneath his clenched fingers, turning to splintery pulp. He tried to clamp a hand over his mouth, tried to keep it inside, but it was too late. Lucien curled in on himself, his mouth opened wide in a silent scream. His eyes rolled back behind his lids, and the world went dark.

It splattered onto the floor. It resembled a fattened leach, pulsating and slimy, and was the size of a large rat. It wriggled about, leaving behind a trail of black sludge. An alien kudzu sprung from the mess and cemented itself to the floor. Lucien opened his eyes, watching as the thing squirmed away from him. He felt a muted sense of alarm as it neared the edge. His head was foggy. He should grab it. Before it was too late, if it wasn’t too late already.

His fingertips scrabbled against the wood, mold and sludge filling the spaces beneath his nails, but his arms wouldn’t obey. He managed to brush the spongy tail of the creature before it tumbled over the edge and into the darkness below. It hit the water with a faint, echoing splash.

Lucien struggled to catch his breath. Empty and frail, his chest felt like a cage of papier-mâché. He rolled onto his back, panting. His eyes fluttered shut. Something moist crawled across his arms, up his ankles, under his jeans. It slithered through his hair. He was too tired to object. He wanted to sleep. He didn’t want to think about what could have happened if he had eaten in front of Jack. Or worse, if they had been in the middle of the crowded diner.

Inky blackness rose up to meet him, and Lucien didn’t resist.

About the Author

Ridley Harker is an up-and-coming horror author who delights in all things gay and spooky. Influenced by Billy Martin (Poppy Z. Brite), Clive Barker, and Gemma Files, his favorite books are those with enemies to lovers, great villains, and queer main characters. Horror-romance is his favorite genre. He lives in the Middle of Nowhere with his two dogs, a grumpy old snake, and a host of pet tarantulas. Ridley is currently working on his MFA.

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