This was a tough story to write. I wanted to deal with the issue of identity, especially from the perspective of a young man coming out. Doubly hard is that I can only view this from the outside in, but I hoped that my empathy would carry me through.
Here's what I wrote for the introduction: I originally conceived of Nancy Goats in 2002. I’d written a straw man short story, but wasn’t exactly happy about how it turned out, so I held onto it for awhile. The biggest issue was that although I wanted to write about gay issues, especially because of a recent rash of gay bashings in L.A. at the time, I didn’t want to be disrespectful to anyone. Thanks to Mikey Huyck and Mike Oliveri for looking at early versions of this and providing advice.
Thanks also to my Kuai Lua instructor in San Pedro, Mark Nunez, for not only teaching me Hawaiian blend jujutsu, but also for letting me be the bouncer at several MMA matches before UFC was a big deal. That gave me the opportunity to see firsthand fighters and their trainers in small octagon matches in downtown L.A. and Wilmington. I met the normal and the crazy. Most often I couldn’t tell the difference between
Thanks also to Kevin Sessums for his memoir, Mississippi Sissy. Reading this amazing piece of work reminded me that I had yet to finish Nancy Goats and inspired me to complete
So I wrote it. Delirium Books solicited a novella from me for their series and I decided to turn this one in. Serra did the amazing cover (it's a humanized goat in drag), then it came out. For awhile there was nothing but crickets. Then came two reviews back to back. Both of them slammed the book. Both condemned it for not being horror (I think it is). Both also had problems with a thing that happens just over halfway through the book. I can't go into it here, because it is a major spoiler, but there were several foreshadowing events.
So I sat down and talked with my dad about this book. First of all, let me tell you two things. 1. My dad is an English PHD and a full professor. 2. My dad never reads my work. For some reason, however, he read this one. Interesting, because it is pretty damn violent and not something I'd consider suitable for a Whitman scholar (My Dad's book is just there) and an expert on everything Shakespeare. Still, he parsed the violence, understanding that it was needed. When he finished, he called me. He said that he admired my skill with this story, because although it's violent and although it's decidedly horror, it is at its core a literary story.
Before all of you all go getting your pants in a pretzel, what he meant by that was that the story was centered around the emotional well-being of a character and the issue of identity, rather than anything concrete or physical. There was no quest. There was no physical goal. All there was was a figurative understanding that had to be attained before the story could conclude. I thought this was interesting and appreciate that my dad read one of my books. I also appreciate his comments because I think it puts some of the reviews in perspective. Not that these guys don't read or can't understand a literary story, but I camouflaged it too well. They weren't expecting it. They thought they were going to get a straightforward horror tale of violence and payback, but instead they got something else. Now I get it.
Undead Rat blurbs the story wonderfully: "Nancy Goats is violent but not gory. It’s full of hatred and dehumanization because of differences between people. And it’s about one young man who has struggled to make an identity for himself and then having to fight to resist the Family Pain’s attempt to brutalize and strip away his humanity; lest Paco truly becomes a goat."
Try and pop on over to Undead Rat's Website and give him some props, if nothing more than to click his Publicity Box on top.
Nancy Goats can be found in three places. It's at Amazon for Digital. It's also at Darkside Digital and will get you discounts on other Horror Mall products. And there's also 10 copies of the limited hardcover left at a reasonable price.