My guest today is Kiran Hunter, author of dark GLBT fiction, whose debut novella “Bedevil” has been very well received including by me.
I’m a bit of a scaredy cat so avoid true horror stories but Bedevil is nicely creepy while not having the squick factor that so much horror involves.
Hello, Kiran, and thank you for joining me today.
Elin: “Bedevil” has a strong paranormal theme. Have you always been interested in the ‘unseen’ threats that dog our footsteps?
Kiran: I grew up fascinated by the ‘unseen’, or perhaps more accurately the ‘occasionally glimpsed’. I still love anything dark or unsettling… or with a hint of wickedness, so don’t find anything paranormal threatening – I like that tingle down the spine. I always thought there were creatures lurking in the shadows or dwelling in reflections that I might just catch sight of out of the corner of my eye if I was lucky.
Elin: Have you any personal experience of paranormal occurrences that you could, or are prepared, to share with us?
Kiran: I hear snatches of sentences out of nowhere, usually a female voice and usually when I’m completely engrossed in writing or reading. ‘She’ can be so loud she makes me jump. I used to work in a hospital records store – a claustrophobic room with rows of floor to ceiling shelving. I’d have the impression someone had walked into the room and would get up to see who it was, but no one was there. A strong smell of perfume also lingered in the room – even when it was unlocked first thing in the morning, as if someone had just left when the door was opened.
Elin: I really enjoyed that “Bedevil” concerned a relationship that was in trouble rather than being ‘boy meets boy’. Which do you prefer writing?
Kiran: “Bedevil” definitely isn’t a romance, and I was aware when I was writing it that I was colouring a little outside the lines in as much as it seems that most e-published gay fiction appears to focus on romance and happy-ever-afters. I wanted to write something more sinister but still erotic. I haven’t written anything traditionally romantic so far, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
Elin: I was raised in a small village and loved it but I’m well aware that while I found the closeness comforting, others find it intrusive and claustrophobic. Which side of the fence do you fall?
Kiran: I grew up in a small village and when I was in my teens I began to find it claustrophobic. I never really had anything in common with other kids, and my interests lay way outside the boundaries of village life. Much like Rippington, the village in Bedevil, the local pub was where all the gossiping took place and where scandals evolved or were revealed.
Elin: Harbinger House is almost a character in its own right. Was it inspired by any real building?
Kiran: I love derelict churches, ruins, and empty houses and will often go off at the weekend with a camera to take photographs. The idea for Bedevil was inspired by an overgrown house I’d walked past for around 10 years. It was stunning even when it was covered by ivy and crowded by trees. I was never sure if anyone lived there. There was a car ‘parked’ in the front garden, almost smothered by plants and in the winter there would be a single, bare light bulb glowing in an upstairs window. Shortly after I wrote Bedevil I saw that the jungle had been chopped down and the house revealed.
Elin: You have written very compelling characters in Tim, Gareth and Luka. Of all the characters you have written, who is your favourite, which gave you the biggest kick to write and who were you glad to see the back of when the story ended?
Kiran: I tend not to write completely likeable characters – another reason Bedevil maybe doesn’t fit into the romance mould. I like Luka. He is supposed to exist for only one reason, a sexual being blessed (or cursed?) with an insatiable appetite. However, as the years have passed he’s become lonely, driving away anyone who lives in the house where he is bound to stay. Gareth is an arrogant, insensitive man (I think), perhaps even a little cruel – he dismisses his partner’s fears, yet when he discovers those fears are not unfounded he continues to brush aside Tim’s concerns. However unlikeable a character may be there are none I’d like to see the back of as such.
Elin: I see from your website that there are more tales to come. Can you share any details of your WIPs?
Kiran: I’m working on the follow-up to Bedevil, currently entitled Devilment. We’ll find out more about Luka and perhaps we’ll get to see Gareth redeem himself a little. And maybe Luka will escape his prison… one way or another. I’m also writing some erotic shorts and have a much longer term project lurking in my mind.
Elin: Any chance of an excerpt – either from Bedevil or from a WIP?
Kiran: Sure! Here’s an excerpt from Bedevil:
Gareth slammed the car door shut and activated the central locking system. It was later than he’d hoped; the sun was setting, a flock of birds wheeling up into the sky before turning back on itself and settling in the trees surrounding the village church. Almost pretty, he thought, turning on his heels to take in the rest of the scene. Almost, but not quite… Good God. He cleared his throat. Tim wasn’t going to like this. “Well, there it is, I think. Somewhere in there,” he said.
“What? That?” Tim followed Gareth’s gaze across the road. “No! Look at the place!”
The gate squealed in protest, as if it hadn’t been opened for decades. The sun had almost disappeared, the tops of the trees surrounding the house now brushed with a pink glow and the garden beneath consumed by shadow.
“I suppose it could have been beautiful once upon a time. It’s a little overgrown,” Tim said.
“Adds to its charm.” Gareth hoped he sounded convincing.
“Erm, not sure charm is the word you’re after.”
“Let’s take a look. Reserve judgment until we’ve seen inside the place.”
With Tim a footstep behind, Gareth made his way up the path, negotiating crumbling concrete and easing past rampant shrubs. Beside the front door, a plaque was just visible through the ivy clinging on to the building. He pried the stubborn stems away from the wood to read the carved words beneath.
“Well, that’s reassuring, Gareth. Harbinger of doom, and all that.”
“Curious the place isn’t called that on the deeds…just 20 Willow Green.”
Gareth slid the key into the lock and turned it. There was a moment’s hesitation before the catch clicked and the door eased open an inch, as if the house wasn’t quite ready for them. He smiled at Tim and, with a dramatic flourish, gestured for him to enter first. Tim shook his head.
“After you. The place is yours.”
“Ours, Tim. It’s ours.”
The warning cry from the rusting gate ripped his senses awake, but his mind was slow to follow. All Luka was aware of at first was the agony of sound and the warm trickle of blood from his ears. His muscles stretched as he moved, tendons almost tearing from the bone as he unraveled his body from its fetal position. He wailed with the new pain—a feeble echo of the metal against metal outside. His first intake of breath rasped down his throat and burned into his lungs. He clamped his mouth shut and breathed in deeply through his nose. The house was different—the odor of dust and mold and damp was still there, but something else too. The protesting gate had heralded the arrival of new flesh. He could smell it.
A river of cold air flowed across his pain-wracked body, caressing his arms, his chest, his legs—the outside world finding a way through a crack in his prison and reawakening his nerve endings to remind him of what he had been without for so long. Touch. Skin against skin. Breath on skin…
When Gareth Balaam inherits Harbinger House, he thinks his problems are over. But they’ve only just begun. Harbinger House has a dark past. Shrouded in mystery, what may have occurred within its walls is still a matter of conjecture. The locals at the pub talk about the place in whispers. Gareth’s partner, Tim, thinks the house is haunted.
Gareth doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he does believe Tim is using the house as an excuse to not work on their relationship. Their trip to the country to bring them closer seems to be doing the opposite. Tensions and resentments flare, and through it all, someone is watching…