Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: Hank Edwards (he/him) has been writing gay fiction for more than twenty years. He has published over forty novels and novellas, and dozens of short stories. His writing crosses many sub-genres, including contemporary romance, rom-com, paranormal, suspense, mystery, wacky comedy, and erotica. He has written a number of series such as the funny and spooky Critter Catchers, Old West historical horror of Venom Valley, suspenseful FBI and civilian Up to Trouble, and the erotic and funny Fluffers, Inc. Under the pen name R. G. Thomas, he has written a young adult urban fantasy gay romance series called The Town of Superstition. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan.
Thanks so much, Hank, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Hank Edwards: I knew I wanted to write when I was pretty young, most likely a tween. I loved reading stories with adventure, fantasy, or sci-fi and horror elements in them. I started out writing stories imaging sequels to my favorite movies. I wrote a sequel to Alien, and I wrote a story based on Skylab crashing back down to Earth and made it into a disaster movie. I think I realized I was good at writing when people started asking me “What’s next?” as if they wanted to read what I wrote.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
HE: My writing style is best described as snarky naivete. The characters will trade sarcastic quips, while cluelessly getting themselves deeper and deeper into trouble. LOL. I write gay romance across a variety of subgenres, including contemporary, erotica, and horror. The genre I always seem to come back to, though, is paranormal, and I usually end up adding a good dose of humor into the mix as well.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
HE: My first truly published work was an erotic short story I sold to a magazine. I went through a period of submitting stories to magazines like Honcho, Bear, American Bear, and the like, first through the mail and then through email. During that time, I wrote a series of short stories about a fluffer for hire who was very clumsy and a little too good at his job, getting his clients off instead of keeping them up. I tried to sell them as a serial to different magazines, thinking they could run a chapter a month, but they weren’t interested. A friend encouraged me to make the stories into a book, so my first novel, Fluffers, Inc., a very erotic and very funny book, was born and published through Alyson Publications in September 2002. A sequel was planned, but the first book didn’t sell well enough for them to continue with it, so the rights reverted back to me. In 2009, Lethe Press contacted me about publishing Fluffers, Inc. again, and then followed that up with both sequels, A Carnal Cruise, and Vancouver Nights. I requested the rights back and self-published the books in 2018, and they’ve been available ever since.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
HE: Self-doubt, social media, the fact that I’m trying to balance a day job I don’t enjoy, along with caring for my mother who’s 93 and has dementia. I can come up with any host of things to distract me. Mostly, however, it’s self-doubt. Big time imposter syndrome, and noticing that my name doesn’t come up often in social media mentions of favorite authors.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
HE: Don’t waste time. Enjoy the time and head space you’ve got now and write as much as you can, and don’t worry about who might not like it.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
HE: I am a pantser who tries to plot as I write. I use Scrivener for my writing, and each chapter is its own folder. Chapter folders may contain multiple text documents depending on how many scenes happen within that chapter. As I start a book, I kind of let the characters and the story unfold as I write. Later in the story, however, I will make notes in upcoming text documents about what should happen next for that character. Inevitably, the characters will do something completely unplanned, and I wind up having to change the notes for future chapters, but I try to have a map.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
HE: Absolutely! I read whatever I could get my hands on. The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and then I branched out to Jaws, probably too young for that, and then to novelizations of movies I loved.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
HE: This is an amazing question! Love it! Let’s see, Kill: Balthazar, the vampire from my Venom Valley series. Just way too evil. Fuck: Cody Bower, one of the Critter Catchers. Marry: Sir Gerard Fogg, medieval night from my book Destiny’s Bastard. He’s brave, honorable, and damn sexy!
JSC: What’s your favorite line from any movie?
HE: There are so many! I’m going to have to go with the classic: “Get away from her, you bitch!”
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
HE: I’m currently working on a new book in my Critter Catchers series. This is the second book in the second series arc, Critter Catchers: Level Up. It’s taken me over a year to get to 80% complete because of some personal life challenges, but I’m happy to report that the muse has been prodding me along once again. I hope to have it released later this year. I’m also about halfway through a new book in my Williamsville Inn contemporary romance series, which is a shared Universe series that includes stories from Brigham Vaughn. All the books can be read as standalone, and they all prominently feature a fictional inn in upstate New York. I’m hoping to have both books available by the end of the year.
And now for Hank’s latest book: Grave Danger:
Things have been quiet for the Critter Catchers of Parson’s Hollow. Sure, Cody And Demetrius have critters to catch: raccoons, chipmunks, and the odd possum or two. But there’s been a refreshing lack of monsters.
Until Cody hits a man with his truck on a dark, lonely stretch of highway, and he’s shocked to discover it’s the town mayor… whose funeral they attended the week before!
Cody and Demetrius are back in the thick of things, this time trying to figure out why the dead in Parson’s Hollow won’t stay buried. The situation quickly takes an ominous and deadly turn when multitudes of the undead close in on them and those they love. While fighting for their lives, the Critter Catchers realize this time they’re going to have to up their game to win.
They just might not have enough credits banked…
Driving home from the Hollow Leg bar on a quiet, still night, Cody Bower ran over the mayor of Parson’s Hollow.
As he drove along Route 118, a winding stretch of two lane blacktop hemmed in on both sides by thick woods, his happy whistling was interrupted by a man lurching out of the trees into the path of his truck. He caught a momentary glimpse of the man’s face and registered a flash of recognition before shouting, “What the fuck?” Jerking the wheel didn’t help as much as he’d hoped. The passenger side of the truck took the impact, and the tires on that side thumped over the man.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.”
Jamming down the brake pedal, he skidded to a halt, the backend fishtailing along the road. Once the truck had come to a stop, Cody hit the emergency flashers button and stepped out.
The night was clear but dark. The moon had yet to rise, and the town didn’t have funding for streetlights this far out. Only his flashing taillights illuminated the road, pulsing a sinister red glow across the figure lying a dozen feet away. They were pushing deep shadows into the spaces between trees crowded close to the gravel shoulder. He approached a few feet, then stopped. The taillights blinked with a steady red intensity. Cody had trouble breathing, and his body had gone cold as his mind thrummed with shock. What the fuck had he done? It hadn’t been his fault. The guy—it looked like the mayor, but that was fucking impossible—had walked right out in front of him.
Whatever had happened, a rational part of Cody’s brain was certain it couldn’t be the mayor lying in the road. It had to be someone who resembled the mayor. High ranking city official or not, the truth of the matter was Cody had definitely hit him, run over him in fact, and he absolutely felt like he was going to be sick.
A sudden movement from the body made him jump and take a step back.
“The fuck?” Cody whispered.
Another movement, more pronounced than the first as the man pulled an arm in close, dragging it along the road with an eerie scraping sound. It stopped at the side of his chest, and all was silent again. Then Cody watched in horror as the man slowly got to his knees, his movements jerky and awkward, painful to watch. The steady flash of red light showed the damage to the side of his head and face, and he held his left arm at a strange angle. Cody’s stomach twisted into a brutal knot that threatened to expel the burger, fries, and two beers he’d had at the bar with Jugs. He was thankful he’d stopped drinking when he did so he wouldn’t blow past the legal limit when the sheriff’s deputies eventually showed up. Swallowing past the lump of fear in his throat, Cody took a step toward the man.
“Hey, buddy, you okay? I’m really sorry, I didn’t see you. Jesus, you came out of nowhere. Like, literally, nowhere. There’s just woods out here, and I wasn’t expecting someone to come walking out in front of me in the pitch dark.”
The man unsteadily rose to his feet. His dark suit was torn in places and splattered with what Cody hoped was mud. A dirty, frayed tie hung askew from his neck. He stood swaying slightly and staring out into the woods across from him. With a sudden movement that made Cody jump, the man took a shaky step toward the dotted yellow center line. His left arm swung like it might no longer be attached at his shoulder, and Cody feared losing his dinner if he saw that again. Then the man cocked his head, twitched it around on his neck and fixed him with a look. A rattling shudder of recognition and terror ran through Cody.
This was definitely George Clarke, the mayor of Parson’s Hollow. He’d run over the mayor of their town. That in and of itself was a terrible, awful thing. But even more upsetting was the fact that a few days ago, he and Demmy had attended the mayor’s funeral.