Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Just Out! All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

The service was held at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist, a white wooden church with a high steeple that was on the Old Post Road. Harry, Alice, and Paul arrived early, and Harry and Alice spoke to the minister, a grey-haired woman over six feet tall, who went over what she planned on saying. Harry knew most of it already. It was going to be a short service; two hymns, a eulogy, a reading by Carl Ridley, Bill's cousin from Sanford. Alice had already met with the minister to go over some of the details of Bill's life, and the minister briefly recounted them now. Harry was glad that there was significant mention of his mother, and how devoted Bill had been to her. It was his only concern, worried that Alice had only seen Bill's life as beginning when she had come into it. But the words the minister planned on saying comprised all of Bill's life, including both his marriages, his son, his lifelong affair with books, even his infamous cooking. As Harry, Alice and the minister talked, a few early-arriving guests filtered slowly into the church...
It was a relief to sit, to hear the murmur of people behind him, and know that he didn't have to acknowledge them, at least not yet. He felt guilty that he wasn't saying anything at his father's funeral, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't trust himself to speak in public, worried that he'd be overtaken by either anger or grief, or a combination of both. He even still worried about his lisp, long eradicated except in his mind, where he often heard the echoes of how he used to speak. There'd be a receiving line after the service, and he'd have to speak then, but just to people one-on-one. Still, the thought of it made his skin feel prickly, and his breathing shallow...
Harry turned back as the minister adjusted the microphone at the pulpit. He took a deep breath to prepare himself, but the service was relatively painless...She talked about his love of the coast of Maine. "Alice spoke to me about Bill's need to see the ocean every day. How it grounded him. He found his true and spiritual home here in Kennewick, and for that we should all be grateful."
Alice dipped her head next to Harry, and covered her face with her hands. He slid toward her and put an arm around her narrow shoulders. Behind him he could hear stifled crying.
After the eulogy, Carl Ridley walked gingerly to the pulpit, a trembling sheet of paper in his hand. Tears already streaked Carl's papery cheeks before he even spread out the sheet of paper in front of him. There was a long pause, Carl smoothed back his thinning hair, but then he was speaking, saying how Bill's office was deorated by two things: stacks and stacks of books, and one poem, tacked onto the wall. The poem was "If," by Rudyard Kipling...Harry had heard the poem before, or at least the line that went, "If you can meet triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same," but he'd forgotten that the poem was a message from a father to a son. Harry tensed his jaw. His aunt, from behind him, put a hand on his shoulder, making it worse. But then at the end of the recitation--"You'll be a man, my son!"--Paul leaned close to his ear and said, "Jesus, salt in the wound." and Harry quietly laughed, feeling better...

All The Beautiful Lies

By Peter Swanson

Harry had come home to Grey Lady, his home since he was first born, upon hearing his father had died. Leaving before graduation was not really a problem. He was worried more about going home, to having only Alice, his father's second wife, there, alone. He'd admitted to himself a long time ago, when he first met his father's bride, that she was beautiful and that he was attracted to her. Alice was closer to Harry's age than to his father's. But he'd been in college and rarely went home. Now that was impossible.

He had also noticed a stranger at the funeral, a young attractive girl he knew was not a long-term resident in his home town. But he was soon busy since his father had run a local bookstore and his one assistant would need help. Harry reluctantly accepted he would have to help out at least until they knew what would happen in the future.

Still, the primary issue for him was that he was not satisfied with what had really happened to his father. He had walked the area for years without incident. What could have happened to bring about an accidental death? Only later it was changed and being treated as a suspicious death... Who would kill his father?

Toward the end of the day, the bell
sounded, the front door opening to a
customer for just the fourth time that
day...Harry went to his post at the cash
register. The customer was the woman
from the funeral, with the short dark
hair. She was wearing the headband
again. Harry felt his cheeks flush at
the sight of her. She spotted him and
walked right over, almost too
"I was wondering if you're hiring...
Of course, the role of the second wife always comes to mind at a sudden death. Still I was surprised that the novel takes us back to the earlier life of Alice, as she moved to Kennebunk, at the age of 14. Thereafter, the story moves back and forth between now and then and follows Alice's life through to the present.

It was hard to understand this character and readers will begin to question her role, her intentions, and her mental health. Especially when she makes it clear that she would be willing to accept Harry into her bed now... Let's just say the present sometimes follows history... And, as the title predicts, there will be many lies spewed out...but not enough to allow us to be sure who the villain is!

Because before long, the woman from the funeral had stopped in the Bookstore, asking about a job. But, right away, Harry knew there was more to her story as well. Would she be truthful or would he have to search out her lies as well...

Learning about your father after his death can be a traumatic experience for a son and Harry was caught in the lives, the lies of those who had filled a place in his father's life. The story flows smoothly, sharing more and more, creating suspense that keeps you edgy, frustrated, as well as feelings of sympathy for Harry, the son of a man who he thought had lived in and through his books. And perhaps he did but Harry was seeing another death after his father's, was soon in the hospital as he chased a man who seemed to be part of what was happening... Until little by little, pieces fell together...

But readers will only begin to know as Harry puts everything together... and even as the book ended, the surprise of another death neatly closes the story... Wow! This one has to be read to discover the full impact of the intrigue that occurred over many years there in Kennebunk, Maine... Highly recommended!


Peter Swanson is the author of The Kind Worth Killing, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, and Her Every Fear. His stories and poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Measure, Mysterical-E, Soundings East, The Vocabula Review, and Yankee Magazine. His second novel, The Kind Worth Killing, won the New England Society Book Award for fiction. He has degrees in Creative Writing, Education, and Literature from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Stabbing Pencey Boudreaux by Mary Lynn Plaisance

The small wedding shower went well, she guessed, because her son's wife, Jane, closed the louver doors and blocked the doorway into the larger living room, which meant that she had uninvited Pencey at the last minute in her own home; the ultimate shun to anyone in the South.

Being shunned in the South was the lowest of lows, but this wasn't the first time she was shunned by that one. She called her neighbor and lifelong friend since high school, Laura Lee, to come over and talk.
Laura Lee was always the casual dresser with her hair up. She loved her blue jeans and button down cotton shirts. When she walked over and opened the back door, Pencey immediately began telling her what happened at the wedding shower. Laura Lee listen well, but most importantly, she watched Pencey's face.
"Girl, you mean to tell me she blocked you from entering your own living room after you were invited?"
"Yes indeed. That was some nerve of her to do that to me after she tells me I'm invited. Who in their right mind does such a thing? I come home from the hair salon, dressed, and ready for the wedding shower, and I'm blocked out of my own living room." Pencey was so upset.
She picked up the last dish in the kitchen cabinet. Her kitchen was adjacent to the large living room near the pool and it was always spotless. Jane's friends cleaned up after the wedding shower, because Jane never did any housework at all, but she sure could while saying..."Put this here. Take that from there and place it here. Come on we need to get the party going. Work, work, work. Let's go gang." But she never did anything to help...
"Laura Lee, all I got to see in my living room was a swan theme. There were swans everywhere for her friends. On the coffee table, hanging from the middle of the chandelier, printed on the tablecloths, and I saw the center piece was a nice ice swan sculpture on a table they hauled into my living room with a lattice backdrop. I didn't see a cake, but I'm guessing it was on that same table
Pencey was still shaking her head...the nerve of Jane doing this to her, and then leaving her out of the room...
"She invited the girl's mama from another state, Laura Lee. I was introduced to her when I opened the louver doors to go into the living room. That's when I saw that the door was blocked with all the gifts, but Jane at least smiled at me and said that some lady in there was the mother of the bride. I'm beginning to think that she wanted her "best" friend's family to think this was  her home. She always did tell me that she had an image to keep up. I have no idea why. She's not a movie star."
"So, again, she just stabs you in the back. How many times are you going to this that shit, Pencey?"

Stabbing Pencey Boudreaux

By Mary Lynn Plaisance

After earlier reading two books by Plaisance, The Ghost of Mavis and Under the Healing Dome, it was interesting to read an earlier novel, Stabbing Pencey Boudreaux. This dramatic story is much more likely to come directly from life--have you ever had someone stab you in the back?! It can be a friend, someone with whom you work, or even somebody within your own family...

Jane was the wife of Pencey's only son. And with her actions, Pencey rarely saw him or her granddaughter. But Jane wasn't satisfied to just separate them, she would go further to embarrass or discredit her mother-in-law whenever she could. For instance, Jane invited Pencey to help host a bridal shower for her best friend, at Pencey's home. As always Pencey opened her home...But on the day of the shower and Pencey was out before it was to start, Jane arranged the room where it was to be held, so that Pencey was unable to enter once she came home and the party started... Pencey had realized that Jane seemed to want to have the attendees think that this was Jane's home rather than Pencey's. It was indeed a beautiful home, especially in comparison to her son's home, as he worked to take care of his family...

Fortunately, Pencey had three close friends with whom she could talk and each of them thought she should fight back! But how? Jane was so vindictive that she would lie to her son and Pencey would be forever cut off. Readers see how individuals can be so cruel to others as Pencey suffers through each stab of pain Jane placed in her back... 
As they meet to support Pencey, her friends share their own stories from which they had to fight and leave... Later, they learned that somebody else was listening to those personal secrets! But while Pencey drew back from vengeance, it soon became apparent that Jane was not only a narcissist who always wanted her way, she wanted even more and was willing to do what was necessary to get it! This narcissist was also a sociopath...

Even so, readers will be drawn in as the drama and suspense gains root in Jane's actions and we discover exactly what she has planned... I was reminded of some of my own backstabbers and must admit that I was gratified as the climatic ending was very satisfactory... While this book had quite a number of proofreading errors, there are few distractions in reading and understanding the story...  This is Plaisance's first attempt at drama and suspense and reveals the breadth of imagination and creatively in her storytelling, which she has continued to develop. Do check it out!


Stabbing Pencey Boudreaux is Mary Lynn’s first attempt at drama and suspense. First and foremost, Mary Lynn Plaisance is a storyteller who has a magnificent imagination of stories that begs her to take a pen out and put her thoughts on paper. It may be her love of movies that gave her such an active imagination or her love of reading. But whatever makes the wheels in her mind roll, she keeps them rolling. She says, “An active mind is a mind at peace, no matter if you write, read, paint, have a hobby; whatever your expression is, keep expressing. The active mind is at peace. So, tell your stories. Let the pen roll. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Let the words come from the depths of your soul. Always fiction. Always drama. Always bold.” --Peace and Love. .....Mary Lynn Plaisance has been writing stories since she can remember, but her first published work was in 2004. She now has four fairy tale, fantasy books to her credit about a magical doll land called The Sha Bebe. There may be a few more added to The Chronicles of Sha Bebe, later. One never knows. You can find her books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble as well as many book stores and other sites online. Google her name. Books by Mary Lynn H. Plaisance --- Do You Believe -- In the Land of Sha Bebe ---Cajun Fairies -- In the Land of Sha Bebe ---The Wizard of Swamp Alley -- In the Land of Sha Bebe ---A Quizard is Born -- In the Doll Land of Sha Bebe.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

An Easter Hymn - Christ the Lord is Risen Today!

1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Themes touched upon by the Hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today"

First stanza: Christ is risen, therefore sing! 
Second stanza: The grave has lost its victory.
Third stanza: Love's redeeming work is done; Christ has              opened Paradise.
Fourth stanza: Following our exalted Head, like him we rise.

General Approach

In the hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," the keynote of praise is sounded again and again. The beautiful lilies in church on Easter morning symbolize the message of joy and happiness and eternal life that comes to us. When we think of the bulb from which the Easter lily grows, we realize that the bulb was not dead in the sense of having no life at all. For that reason, even though there are many lilies and other symbols of the joy and the beauty of the resurrection, these things in themselves do not prove that there is a life after death. 

We speak about life after death in human beings we assume, first of all, that a corpse is dead, in contrast to a bulb which is not dead. We realize that when a person is dead there is no life in him. This realization forces us to come to a clear understanding of the significance of Easter--that Easter is more than a festival of spring. Easter proclaims new life. Easter is grounded in something different from anything found in nature which reveals renewal. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Let us turn again to the account in the Holy Scriptures about the death of Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus Christ was a real deal. He died mentally and spiritually and physically when he was crucified on Calvary. His resurrection therefore is truly from the dead. He arose on the third day. Therefore Wesley says, "Sing "Alleluia.'" This is a great event. Christ is risen from the dead. Death has lost its sting!

As a consequence of the fact that Christ is risen, death has lost its sting. 

While we mourn our loved ones who are lost and we miss them, yet the sting is gone. Those who believe in God through Jesus Christ are given new life and power by the resurrection; therefore, death has lost its sting. We feel that there is life beyond this world. A man who lost his loved one felt his separation from his loved one very keenly. He understood that life would not be the same any more, and yet he felt happy that his loved one was in heaven, that his loved one would be happy there for all eternity. In that sense death lost its sting for him, and he felt joyful as he thought not of himself but of his loved one who had gone before.

When a friend died, Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian pastor and chaplain of the United States Senate, commented, "I wonder what thrilling experience she's having at this very moment." After Marshall himself died, his wife wrote that she imagined that he had found the answer to his question. He very well may have rejoiced to find that Paradise is open. A great new world has been put before us, a finer, more beautiful world than anything that we have here on earth. Truly Paradise is open.

Each of the stanzas of the hymn actually gives us the Easter message, "Like Him we rise."

As Jesus arose, we too shall live. Once when a man came out the church door after the Easter service, as he shook hands with the pastor he said, "Thank you for the message." Then he added, "Of course, I don't believe the message but I thank you for giving it." It so happened that not very many weeks afterwards this man's wife passed away. As they were making arrangements for the funeral services, the man said to the minister, "Now I've got to believe what you said in your sermon last Easter. Would you say that again at the funeral services?" The Easter message is relevant. It has a practical application to us all. Easter is not a mere occasion for a ceremony; it is not merely a day for beauty and decoration. Easter is concerned with a very essential truth, with eternal life: "Like Him, we rise."

Therefore we need to have this message of Easter close to our hearts--that even in our unconscious minds. in our basic feelings and thoughts, we catch the vital importance of it and feel that "Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!... Where, O Death, is now thy sting?...Christ has opened Paradise...Like Him we Rise." Let us have this faith, and let us reassure ourselves of this faith so that we may be strong in His spirit and feel the relevance of this belief in our daily life. 

Jesus Has Risen -Vittorio Bianchini 

Friday, March 16, 2018

First Fantasy Novella by Best Selling Author Christopher Rice

One Thousand and One Dark Nights--Once upon a time, in the future… I was a student fascinated with stories and learning. I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast library at my father’s home and collected thousands of volumes of fantastic tales. I learned all about ancient races and bygone times. About myths and legends and dreams of all people through the millennium. And the more I read the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually become part of them. I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I would not be telling you this tale now. But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off with bravery. One afternoon, curious about the myth of the Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar (Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade, the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand women. Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had never occurred before and that still to this day, I cannot explain. Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to protect herself and stay alive. Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales. And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more. And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that he might hear the rest of my dark tale. As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before you now.

I loved the idea of participating in a series based upon the concept of the ancient stories--so fantastical that they kept alive the storyteller just so that the King would keep Scheherazade alive to tell another one...

When Christopher Rice was asked to participate, he chose a fantasy story that is quite lovely and romantic tale as its characters meet what could be a ghost, a genie, or other magical person who offers a candle to the young woman who happens to visit his store one day... This erotic tale has just three characters--that are humans that is...Cassidy, Shane and Andrew... This is their story...

Two-and-a-half-years, she reminds herself, keenly aware, once again, that ever since she became a business owner she’s tended to round down her every accomplishment, accomplishment, as if no achievement of hers will be good enough until Cassidy’s Corner is out of the red and fulfilling Internet orders from all over the world. Then everything will be better; then she will earn the respect of her husband’s fellow architects at Chaisson & Landry, men and women who currently see her as nothing more than a housewife with a love of long novels and a codependent friendship with her gay best friend. And then she will never have another insecurity in the world. Ever. If she’s not careful, this cruel, self-defeating line of thought will wash away her ambitions with the speed and ease of the rain sluicing through the gutters overhead. She’s not a teenager anymore. She has no business blaming others for the terrible pressure she places on herself at the start of every workday. And if she doesn’t watch herself, she’ll make it Andrew’s fault, too. If he weren’t so driven and successful, she wouldn’t feel the need to compete. And if he weren’t so goddamn handsome, then she wouldn’t constantly feel like she didn’t deserve him, that other women were whispering things behind her back, things like, “What’d she do to land that one? Does it involve splits?” It is fear that tricks her into seeing the blessings in her life as obstacles. It is fear, plain and simple, that twines its black fingers through the love and respect she has for her husband, pulling it apart until its strands look like chains. And nothing good in her life has ever come from treating fear like a teacher. Worse, these thoughts are just painful distractions from uncomfortable, everyday realities. Owning a business is a lot harder than she thought it would be. That’s the long and short of it. And it’s just easier to indulge paranoid fantasies than it is to balance the books, conduct bi-weekly inventories, and stay abreast of trade conventions where she might find that rare, expensive specialty item that will snag the attention of a tourist from Atlanta or a Garden District housewife wandering the Quarter after brunch at Galatoire’s. And then there’s what happened during Mardi Gras...

Since I had just finished reading Rice's latest book, I remembered that I had one other story on my long TBR list by this author...and pulled it up! It is superb...

Was it the stress Cassiday was feeling? Or was there something that was beginning to happen within her home life--with her two men--her best, and gay, friend, Shane, since childhood and her husband, Andrew... Perhaps she was so tired when she feel asleep that she entered into a magical fantasy dream... But as each moment continued, Cassday was questioning, this can't be real, even though they were all quite surprised at what had happened after drinking too much at the Mardi Gras... Now her heart and mind were torn...

If it was a dream, it was so real... It started when she was hurrying to pick up materials for a job and it had begun to rain...As she was passing a shop delicious smells flowed out to her and she stopped...The shop keeper quickly saw her and invited her in to wait until the rain slowed... As soon as she was in the shop and her materials were stacked on the floor, she turned and went to a specific candle--it was as if she was drawn into the flame itself as it produced smells she at first couldn't identify. Then she realized that there were hints of both of the men who were important to her. How strange that she would think that, because surely it was made of various scents to produce this unique assault on her senses...

The shopkeeper talked to her and immediately insisted that she take the candle as a gift--that he made candles for specific people and, surely, this one had been created for her... Later, he gave instructions...and she followed them...

And that's when the magic began and the three gold-sprinkled spirits visited...

Do you enjoy erotic fantasies? I would quickly tell you that, in my opinion, it was the writing of the author that made this story so fascinating... Setting the story within a fantasy allows readers to consider how the story affects them. The story, the timing, are elusive, suspenseful... How do we define and reveal love to those closest to us? And is attraction the basis of love, or does love evolve from friendship and caring? Readers will undoubtedly be left with thoughts--intriguing thoughts...

I think I was most interested in the inner introspection of each of the three characters as each chapter changes from one person to another. Do we ever really share our most intimate thoughts, needs, desire? If not, can true intimacy occur? In what form? The story is more exploratory in psychological musings than the average erotic tale... To me that was surely a bonus which makes me highly recommend it for those who read explicit erotic fantasies...


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Best Seller Christopher Rice Presents New Series--Bone Music!

So what do I do for my birthday? Why, I give myself a book that I wanted to read, as soon as I saw it was available! It's been awhile since I read Rice's fabulous writing... Check out A Density of Souls and The Snow Garden. I've also reblogged a previous interview frp, my other blog, which I am now merging into Book Readers Heaven...for easier viewing...

Bone Music:
The Burning Girl Series

By Christopher Rice

If you've read the book,
do you agree with these potential characters?
Jason Briffel reads the transcript again. His hands are shaking. If anyone inside this roadside diner notices how badly he’s sweating, they’ll probably blame the baking desert heat outside. But it’s not the heat. It’s the same full-body reaction he experiences every time he reads the ten-year-old record of the last time Trina appeared onstage with her birth father. 
Normally the transcript focuses him, which is why he picked it up after the plate of steak and eggs in front of him failed to ignite his appetite. He thought it would collect his scattered thoughts, channel his anxiety and doubt into action. 
It’s been seven years since he showed up on the doorstep of her grandmother’s house in California, even longer since he mailed her those letters explaining how her birth father and her so-called rescue by the authorities had averted her true destiny. Her soul was being starved. Together, the two of them could reawaken that exceptional and enlightened young girl Daniel and Abigail Banning had coaxed into being.  
But today the transcript hasn’t worked its usual magic. Reading it has left him angry and confused. He’s gripped now by the humiliating memory of what happened to him that fateful night at Burnham College. He’s feeling the vise grip of the two blazer-clad security guards who’d appeared out of nowhere right after he entered the auditorium. The ones who’d threatened to call the cops as they carried him out so quickly he could practically feel the wind in his hair. 
A hopeful, perhaps foolish part of him had been convinced that someone in Trina’s inner circle would have seen the wisdom in his letters. Abigail Banning certainly had. 
Unlike Trina, who responded to his attempts at honest communication with a restraining order, Abigail replied in great detail to every single letter Jason mailed her at Haddock Penitentiary. She recognized Jason as the vehicle for her adopted daughter’s restoration, a daughter who’d been divinely gifted to her and then cruelly removed by a world that did not understand the spiritual necessity of life taking. Abigail blessed Jason with words he’d been desperate to hear since he’d first laid eyes on Trina. You will be the Daniel to her Abigail, she’d written. And in so doing, you will become become my son, too. Why hadn’t he read that letter instead of this transcript? He’s brought it with him, along with several others. They’re at the bottom of his backpack, along with the coil of rope, the rolls of duct tape, and the Ziploc bags in which he plans to put the bullets he’s going to strip from the three different guns she keeps in her house. 
Should he read it now? No, there’s no telling what effect it might have on him. Instead he searches the diner for corrupters. There’s one sitting a few tables away: pretty and young, with a blonde ponytail and a halter top that reveals just enough suntanned skin to corrupt. She taps at the screen of her smartphone. The mustached man sitting across from her gazes out at the passing eighteen-wheelers with a vacant stare that reveals all the damage she’s done to his soul. She ignores the man on purpose. Jason knows this. That morning, or possibly the night before, she denied the man sex and took great, silent, delight in the pain this caused him. Right now she’s texting a girlfriend, or maybe several, and they’re reveling in the power she lords over the man, in the pain her withholding creates in him. And she does this because she is a corrupter, one of many. And once Jason has awakened Trina to their combined destiny, she will give herself entirely to their union and help him remove women like this blonde whore from the earth. Trina will burn away the evidence of his work, just like she burned away the detritus of Abigail and Daniel’s victims. But first he has to break down her walls, show her there’s no escape. From her true calling. From her real mother. From him. These thoughts, these plans—this vision—finally give him the confidence he’s been seeking since he stopped off at this diner. He has only a few hours left in his drive, a few hours until he’ll reach the isolated parcel of Arizona desert she now calls home.

One of the first things she did when she was finally on her own was to choose and legally change her name.
Charlotte soon became Charley, a name she liked and enjoyed using. It was entirely different from her real name, Trina, and its association with The Burning Girl...

Trina's mother had been gruesomely murdered while Trina was in the car. The couple who had acted together to fulfill their thirst for violence had taken the raise as their own. Trina never knew that her "parents" were serial rape/ murderers. Until she was 7 and they started her out by giving her the responsibility to burn all that had been worn and owned by those murdered. The Burning Girl soon became what she was best known as...

And, it wasn't surprising that a stalker had started following her after seeing all of those false representative books and movies of her formative years... He had tried to talk to Charlie and she quickly put a restraining order on him...Then he talked to her adoptive mother, who was in jail. She quickly realized the potential of getting her daughter to again "work" to fulfill her earlier role in...murder...And Jason wanted to be her partner just as her adoptive father had been to Abigail, her mother...

When her birth father found her and freed her--only to then use her as the basis for books and movies about the years she lived as the child of serial killers, she was harassed and forced to say what she was told.  When she had been old enough to act on her own, she sued her father and escaped from a life she was now trying to put behind her. To do so, she had built an extremely secured home which, initially, was totally away from everybody...She hibernated, not wanting or needing to be with any people. But she had started going to local AA meetings. That's where she met Dylan...

He told her that he knew she didn't belong in AA meetings, but he did provide the opportunity she needed to talk out what had happened. They had met routinely thereafter and Charlie had shared more than she would have ever thought she could...She had begun to trust again... but was still very afraid... Dylan suggested she take medication to help...

“The world is full of bad men, Charlotte. Go find some. 
Show them what you can do.”

And that's when the major plot begins! And it breaks into an unbelievable, fantasy thriller where Charlie becomes "close" but not the same as Bionic Woman. She is a much more fascinating woman which is suited to be responsive to her special needs based on her past and what happened since then... Think, perhaps, PTSD meds with a "kick..."

I loved the way one character was brought into the story. You see, he was a bully in the same school after Trina had been freed...and he was the one who started calling her Burn Girl. But Luke Prescott is a changed man who has an interesting FBI background and also an interesting hacker brother, both of whom greatly enhance the story. Charlie and Luke slowly begin coming acquainted with the new people they now are... as do the team that is slowly developing and surrounding her with care...

Then there is a former close friend of her grandmother who had died, leaving another devastating loss for Charlie to handle... He successfully works with former alcoholics and immediately is there to help protect her when Charlie's first trouble begins...

That is, when her stalker is already in her home one day when she returns...and attacks!

The psychological suspense of the story is what drew me in the most... While I would normally move quickly through a thriller, I found there were so many brilliant gems in paragraphs that kept coming, that I slowed the pace of my reading in order to dwell on significant issues that were woven within the story that I found relevant to both my own and, I am sure, other lives who have been traumatized in some way. The writing related to Charlie's various experiences was sensitively done, and showed the breadth of knowledge and thought of the author in both character development as well as his story telling. Rice's writing is intellectually stimulating, relevant and compelling.

While loving both the previous novels by this author, the "concept" of the medication and the reason for its trial and error approach, provided much to ponder...and a wonderful goal should anybody ever develop such a medication... I am so looking forward to the next in series, having pre-ordered even if it doesn't come out until next year! Charlie's a woman who has gone through trauma like no other... But will she be able to continue to keep the "potential" of the drug under control??! I loved this book and is easily added as a personal favorite! For women, this just might be a must-read for several reasons, at least in my opinion...


Christopher Rice is the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award and is the New York Times bestselling author of A DENSITY OF SOULS and the Bram Stoker Award finalists THE HEAVENS RISE and THE VINES. He is the head writer and an executive producer of "The Vampire Chronicles", a television show based on the bestselling novels by his mother, Anne Rice. Together they penned RAMSES THE DAMNED: THE PASSION OF CLEOPATRA, a sequel to her bestselling novel THE MUMMY OR RAMSES THE DAMNED. BONE MUSIC, the first installment in his new Burning Girl series, was released March 1st, 2018, and the sequel, BLOOD ECHO, will be released in February 2019. With his best friend, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher hosts the YouTube channel THE DINNER PARTY SHOW WITH CHRISTOPHER RICE & ERIC SHAW QUINN (#TDPS). THE DINNER PARTY SHOW began as a podcast and Internet radio show. You can download and stream all of their episodes at He lives in West Hollywood, California. Visit him at

Join Discussion With Christopher Rice, New York Times Best Selling Novelist! A ReBlog

[New York Times Best Selling Novelist, Christopher Rice, graciously agreed to an interview here at Book Readers Heaven... I was thrilled! Excited! A little fearful to be asking a well-known author my type of questions... You all know I get a little personal on topics that interest me...LOL So here goes...]
Good Morning Chris! I'm so happy that you agreed to visit! I'm a new fan, so you'll find I ask some fairly in-depth or personal questions as I try to get to know a new author (for me). 

I picked the first picture of what you look like today as a self-assured successful writer, but at the time you wrote your first two books, this young man didn't appear quite so confident, or maybe it's just because you look like you were indeed very young then!

When did you first start writing?
 I started writing when I was in college. I went to college with dreams of becoming an actor, but when I arrived at Brown I soon learned no one there shared that dream. I didn’t get called back for a single audition my freshman year.  Before then, I’d been a voracious reader, and I’d always nursed some fantasies that I’d eventually write material to perform in. So when my primary outlet was taken from me, I defaulted to another. No one could stop me from writing. They didn’t have to publish it or do anything with it. But they couldn’t stop me from connecting with my imagination in that solitary and  fulfilling  way. 

As the son of a well-known author Anne Rice, did you gain your interest in writing from her... or from your own personal desire to write?
I think I avoided the idea for a long time because of her fame. And even when I finally started pursuing writing obsessively, which was in college, I was focused entirely on screenplays and stage plays. I transferred to NYU’s Dramatic Writing program, believing that I would never write a novel, that I didn’t even have the muscle for prose. And when I did finally write a novel, it felt like an accident. I took a short story I’d written and started tinkering with it and the tinkering didn’t stop until it was the length of a manuscript. 
Now I can see advantages of having Anne Rice as your mother, but, come on, really, do you enjoy working along with her, combining signings, for instance?
The joint signings are a trip. I love them. They’re laborious, for sure, but they’re also wonderful. When I fly solo, there aren’t anywhere near as many people. On my own I do mostly quiet readings with groups of twenty or thirty people. With her, it’s like a wonderful circus. And the babies. We both love all the babies people bring up in line. She insists on holding every one. 

LOL...Just like she once held you!

You mentioned that you knew that if you did start to write, you would want to write the books you'd personally want to read... May I assume that is because there are not many books with homosexual characters as lead participants in the novel? I can think of this as the only reason since surely you have some favorite authors from through the years? 

This is partly true. There are a lot of books with gay main characters, but there aren’t many books in which those characters are active heroes or heroines. The MM romance genre is mainly where this is happening, and many of its authors are women who enjoy writing about two men together. They’re producing some wonderful stuff too. But this trend is more recent, and when I first started writing there were very few gay detectives and no gay superheroes. The most popular novels with gay protagonists back then were social chronicles. They were works of activism, many of them were focused on the AIDS epidemic and its terrible cost. Those books were wonderful and necessary, but they weren’t what I wanted to write. From the start, I’ve been attached to genre labels. I’ve wanted to write the type of books I devoured as a young person but with full inclusion of gay people. 

Just so you know, yes, I am going...there...The two books that I've read are actually your first two books recently republished with additional material. The Density of Souls and The Snow Garden have gay men, yes... But there were very few actual sex scenes in these books. Has your work changed since then? If so, how and why? 

Well, I’ve recently published several works of erotic romance, THE FLAME
and THE SURRENDER GATE, both of which are set in the same universe, The Desire Exchange. In both of these books, the stories themselves are focused on sex and sexuality; so yes, there are a lot more sex scenes in some of my books now. But just two books ago I started working in supernatural horror with THE HEAVENS RISE, and it was wonderfully liberating. I started publishing very young and so my work has evolved considerably, I feel, since my first novel. My God, I hope it has. It’s been almost fifteen years now. 

Well, I just downloaded The Flame so I'll let you know what I think later...

Back to the books I've read so far, The Snow Garden and Density of Souls [Please click over to read my reviews if you haven't already)] 

Frankly, I loved them as they were because you took the time to allow us to know the characters. And, before you mention it again, I would love to read the sequel of The Snow Garden if you do decide to write it! 

I was impressed 
and thoroughly enjoyed both books but found them totally different in style. Dare I say the first somewhat more personal perhaps--perhaps somewhat based upon your own life?--yet with chilling scenes, while the second was much more literary and suspenseful. Do you have a preferred genre and what have you been publishing since your first two novels? 

I like suspense. Even my erotic romances have suspense in them. I like the idea that the world of my characters is going to be seriously upended before the novel’s over, maybe even right as the novel begins, and that the resulting changes won’t all be negative. I think that’s the idea that ties all of my books together. Violent change is often the only solution to an interminable state of secrecy and deception, which is how many of my books begin.

I noticed that, in both books, there are major female friend characters with whom the main character becomes involved. Given some of the other things covered, would you say that these individuals represent an emotional support important to gay men that they don't necessarily receive from their partner? I say that because both of the female friends seemed to be more emotionally connected to the main character than are the other male characters…

I’m not sure. In my earlier life, most of my most important and lasting friendships were with females. It wasn't until adulthood that I really developed close friendships with other men. Part of that had to do with coming out. First I had to come out of the closet, then there was a period where most of my friendships with gay guys were highly sexualized and it often wasn't clear whether something was going to be friendship or something more. Then, later, things sort of stabilized and I was finally in a place where I could have important chaste friendships with other men. Today my best friend is a man, another novelist, Eric Shaw Quinn. We do The Dinner Party Show together. ( 

Let's start with A Density of Souls... How did you arrive at the title and could you share what it means to you? As your Debut novel, why did you choose the story as written?

The title was with me long before that novel was. Construction wise, the book was several different storylines I’d been experimenting with as screenplays. They were all tied together by a tremendous amount of anger I was holding onto about being a closeted gay kid in high school. 

There is certainly a plethora of dysfunctional issues, including alcoholism and my understanding that was not unusual in Louisiana. Did I understand that right? 

Louisiana has a different relationship to alcohol than most of the country, that’s for sure. 

I enjoyed the scene where Stephen steals a picture at School.  The interesting characteristic that body beauty is an important attraction for most gay men... I'm not so sure that is only something important to gay men, however, LOL... 

On the other hand,   Jeff was more supportive to Stephen so is there some point where personality and other issues becomes the dominant factor in looking for a long-time partner? And just to add a questions for your fans--would you consider marriage at some time in the future? Wondering minds surely want to know…

I’ll consider marriage if I ever fall in love. How’s that for an answer? 

Great Answer!

But yes, physical attraction is important when you’re younger, but I think it changes over time. Stephen’s character is defined by a deep sense of self loathing and a deep sense that he isn't masculine enough to be socially acceptable. So he lionizes any man that represents what he considers to be a masculine ideal. That’s not how my own sexuality operates today. Those aren't really the terms anymore by which I choose to view potential mates and partners.  So I’ll say this much - I’m not still single because I've been holding out for a supermodel. 

Although I have read other books with homosexual characters, I enjoyed your books much more. Basically, the books were wonderfully written with two story lines that were amazing and brilliant in many ways... The one thing I realized was that the books were sharing the lives of your characters--good, bad, or otherwise--not based upon their sexuality, but rather on those routine events, places and actions that make us all unique. By doing so, I became intimately involved with your characters just as I would with others... Is this what you meant by wanting to write the books that you would want to read yourself? 

Very much so and thank you for your kind words. 

Taking that a step further, are your stories based, at all, on your own life or the lives of people you've known in your life? And would you be willing to share how? 

I blend things, and I blend characters. I take certain events and make them turn out differently than they did in real life. And to create characters, I often take several different people and mold them into one. I’m not very good at non-fiction. It usually turns into comedy or satire when I try to write it on my blog. So for dark suspense, there needs to be a sense that I’m working in an altered landscape, and then I feel more free to take chances. But that goes with the territory when you’re writing a genre novel. There are certain set expectations you have to fulfill. Some writers use tropes, some writers use cliches, and often the difference between the two is a matter of personal opinion and a function of the person’s opinion of the entire genre in which you’re writing. 

Knowing the difference between time periods when these novels were originally published, I found myself thinking about your characters as if they were living their stories in the present time. I'm not talking about details, but rather the decisions made then and now. For instance, it seemed clear to me that boys, say, athletes, may have participated in sexual interactions with other boys in early life... but did not consider those gay activities. Girls on the other hand, at that time, probably continued to keep their sexuality a part of their secret life as opposed to sharing among friends. Do you agree? And do you think the openness that now exists would change those parameters. In fact, although I think your books are timeless--at the same time, I would hope that Stephen's experiences as a youth would not occur today??? 

I agree with you here. The atmosphere inside of American high schools has advanced by leaps and bounds since these books were published. Bullying and teen suicide are still big problems, but one of the reasons they’re problems is that gay kids are coming out in numbers they never did before, certainly not when I was in high school. My first boyfriend came out in high school and it was practically a local legend in New Orleans when he did so. Because it was just unheard of then. Around that same time, my friend Corey Johnson, who is now on the Manhattan City Council, made headlines when he came out to the fellow members of his high school football team. It was a very different time, and a book about a gay kid struggling through high school today would have to reflect that new reality. 

Allow me, please, a more updated question related to that...  Given that it seems to be "big news" when a professional athlete comes out, what are your thoughts about what environment really exists in the U.S. now or where you would prefer to see it? 

We’re not there yet. We’re close. But we’re not where we need to be. It may seem like we are, but the fact is, until a public statement of homophobia can end a politician’s career as effectively as a public statement of racism does today, then we’re not there yet. There are still large quarters of the country, very powerful quarters, which abuse religion to justify their personal prejudices and sexual confusion. Until these quarters lose their political power, their ability to control congressional elections, and their ability to bully the leadership of the Republican Party into accepting anti-gay positions they don’t personally believe, then the battle is far from over.

Well said... 

In A Density of Souls, it seemed that there were more strong feelings within families than I expected. In my own life, although there was always secrecy, I have known homosexuals in all part of my early school and on into my professional life, that never seemed to affect interpersonal relationships. Was that because I was blind to what was happening? That I was accepting of the individuals matter of factly...or just was never in a situation where bias and prejudice existed? By the way, I thought your book ended in the best possible manner, given all that had happened. Why was keeping the ending so important to you, if you can share without giving the story away? 

It isn’t sexuality that damages people. It’s sexual secrets that damage people. I think the strain on the familial relationships you see throughout the novel comes from the secrecy, not sexuality. So, if in your own experience, the homosexuals you knew were open with everyone about their identity, you probably weren’t witnessing the same kind of strife that’s depicted in the novel. I’m glad you liked the ending. I wanted the ending, however dark, to also be ambiguous in a certain way. My mother, interestingly enough, had a very different read on it than most readers. She actually thought it was fairly upbeat. As for spoilers, I hate spoilers in general, especially with my own books, but with other people’s books and movies as well. 

On the college campus, .I saw a professor who ignored his personal desires and chose to marry, only to have a bad marriage... If you were in a professional position where your sexuality would become an issue professionally, what would you today's world? 

There’s no going back for me now, so it would be hard to consider the question. I’ve also had a very supportive family, which I think helps.

The Snow Garden became a personal favorite for me, so the only real burning question for me is, why choose Hieronymus Bosch's (1450-1516), The Garden of Earthly Delights, as such a central part in the book? Also, who created the central panel in the original home of Eric Eberman? And why did he turn the house over to his grad student--for his research proposal??? And, would you be willing to share your own personal opinion of this work, either supporting or speaking against known criticism…

If there’s a hell, Bosch painted it. We had a print of his hanging on the wall of our house when I was a little boy, and ever since then I’ve been obsessed. Eric Eberman was a character profoundly tortured by his sexuality. Bosch’s nightmarish landscapes reflected his inner life entirely. So it made sense to me that this respected professor would find himself in thrall to these academics who truly believed they could conquer sexuality with intellect alone. Personally, I do believe in a higher power and I do believe there’s much to the experience of life beyond what we can perceive from moment to moment, but I’m not a Christian and so I don’t believe hell or the concept of hell. It’s far more likely to me that this plain is closer to what we would describe as hell and what comes next is a more peaceful stage, a place where we can actually put to use what our souls have learned on this plane through repeated trial and error and loss. 

I've noted some comments from individuals on your various pages noting "thank yous" for your books. Have you purposely set about providing books for the homosexual community? If yes, why? Do you think there will come a time (when?) there will be no need for gays to look only to those authors willing to write from their own experiences? 

This is very moving. Thank you for saying this. I wrote the book I wanted to read. I’m still doing that, in a sense. I might make a decision to shift to a certain genre, but in that case, I write the book that I would like to read in that genre. Writing is such a lonely business, and it’s so fraught with failure, that you really have to be in love with your own work to stick with it as a profession. When I wrote my first two books, there was no GLEE. Ellen hadn’t come out yet. There just weren't the diversity of representations of LGBT people on the small and big screen that there are now, so you *had* to go to books to get them. That’s no the case anymore. Or it’s the case in different instances. You’re not going to find any really great ongoing gay romance series on T.V. right now. For that, you have to go to books still. 

The reason I ask this may have already answered by your response to your desire to write what you want to read... My question relates to where you see your future, genre-wise. I believe most of what you write now is suspense/thriller, correct? Ever considered a romantic suspense for instance? Fantasy or SciFi? Have you considered co-authoring with your mother? And could you also share what you have coming up in the future?

 I’ve just published two  works of erotic romance, both of which involve suspense, THE SURRENDER GATE and THE FLAME. I have considered co-authoring with my mother and we might have an announcement about a project along those lines very soon! I’m publishing another erotic romance called KISS THE FLAME later this year, in November 2015. This will be the third book published in The Desire Exchange series and I’m very excited about it
My very best wishes for your continued success! It's been great sharing with you and I do hope you consider a sequel to The Snow Garden. In the meantime, I'll be seeing what it means to exchange desire...And I just had to add one more pic... Very Cool Dude! I think he should be your main character in a period book about the age of that camera...Suspense, of course! Thanks again for visiting!

Note: This discussion was previously published (with an updated video) on a blog that I no longer use since it didn't get as much coverage...I am in the midst of moving most articles to my main this is actually a new post here! Enjoy!