Queer Horror

Interview with William J. Lambert III

Name: William J. Lambert III
Occupation: Author - Publisher - Author/Artist Representative
Pseudonyms: W. Lambert III, William J. Lambert,
William Lambert, Lambert Wilhelm, Anna Lambert,
Willa Lambert, Ernst Mauser, Christopher Dane.

Dog Collar Boys

Demon's Stalk

Demon's Coronation

Too Beautiful

Valley of the Damned



Do you identify as part of the GLBT community?
How can I not identify with a community that has supported my writing for all of these years?

Do let me say, though, that I initially explored my sexuality in an age that was far different from the here and now. It was pre-AIDS. "Gay" wasn't quite as chic as it has become. There was a definite derogatory connotation that kept just about everyone who was gay in the closet.

Once realizing (at a very early age), that I was attracted to members of my own sex, I did, for several reasons, make it a point to be sure my first sexual experience was heterosexual. (1) I was always able to get it up for women despite my attraction to guys; hell, I was able to get aroused by a knothole. (2) I didn't want to start with gay sex and find it so good that I never wanted to give women a try. (3) It certainly seemed to me - and was true - that by eliminating women from the sexual equation, I would deprive myself of the potential for a lot of experiences and relationships (sexual and/or otherwise), that might be pleasing and/or beneficial to my writing efforts. Could I, had I not "loved" women, have so successfully written Harlequin SuperRomances? (4) There were some pretty static guidelines as to what was good for a career in corporate America; like, going to the right prep school, following up with attendance at an Ivy-League university, being an Episcopalian, serving in the military, having a wife and children...; I didn't want to give myself more disadvantages than I already had.

Speaking of serving in the military, there was no better way to convince Army brass and fellow soldiers that you were straight than to go with the guys for one good screw of a prostitute. There was the misconception - both in the military and in everyday life on the "outside" - that there was 'straight', and then there was 'gay,' but bisexual didn't exist. I wrote an article about the phenomena for "Gay" entitled "Bye Bye Bisexual".

Today, of course, whether because of "the Plague", or - as has been suggested more than once - because I've "become so damned jaded", I've gravitated almost entirely into the role of voyeur. Though, even when I was in my sexual prime, I was as interested, during sex (whether gay or straight), in observing myself and partner, our reactions, speech patterns, et al, as I was in having a genuinely good time. Such detachment, anyone will tell you, isn't the most conducive to good sex for the people involved. On the other hand, it helped me tremendously, even helps me today, in writing convincing sex scenes.

What have you written?
It would be a long list of my published books (close to 200). I would reference my entry in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA, but even that doesn't list everything. Just the other day, while surfing on-line, I came across a couple of my books that I'd forgotten that I'd written.

Things I've done for magazines (gay and mainstream) require another long list. (I'm always surprised to find something I wrote suddenly appear in a gay-history reference book - i.e. Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of the Gay and Lesbian Movement).

As for my writings related to queer horror, there's Demon's Stalk, followed by its sequel Demon's Coronation, followed by Valley of the Damned (all for Greenleaf Classics, Inc.), Dog Collar Boys and Too Beautiful (for Parisian Press, under my Lambert Wilhelm pseudo).

What inspired you to write horror-based stories?
Well, of course, there's my inherent interest in the genre. I've been fascinated by the concept of Good and Evil battling it out in the world, ever since I first realized (long-long ago), that Heaven couldn't have been all that perfect (and likely still isn't), if there'd been the discord and resulting battle "up there" that saw Lucifer, originally an angel, ejected. And, let's face it, who doesn't like to be scared? Scary can be sexy, as I've discovered by getting an erection during more than one roller-coaster ride, or lying on my back, live ammunition fired overhead.

Are there any books or movies that specifically inspired your love of horror?
I can't let the opportunity slip to mention Bram Stoker's Dracula. The book was far more interesting, appealing, and sexy than any of the movies (past or present) adapted from it. Bela Lugosi's vampire, to tell you the truth, just didn't do "anything" for me. Nor did that Brit guy and his Madam-Pompadour coif in a more recent adaptation. I thoroughly enjoyed The Exorcist, the movie, and thought it did a much better job than William Blatty's original prose. The movie Silence of the Lambs, was good, thanks to Sir Anthony Hopkins. I try to read all the books, and see all the movies, in the horror genre, that are recommended by people whose opinions I respect and trust. But, as far as my being inspired by any author, book, or movie of the genre ...

Inspiration for me has always come mainly from necessity. I was publishing a pulp book a month (sometimes more), there for while, and I needed a variety of plot lines. It being a case of - Well, I did a western last month, a leather-men book the month before that, a college-buddies novel before that. And a sci-fi, a fantasy, espionage, and a love story ... What in the hell is left? Ah, another horror story!

Then Greenleaf wanted me to do a monthly book about "ordinary" gay guys with S&M inclinations. Your ordinary gay guy isn't apt to be involved with warring factions in Heaven or Hell, be on a space ship, or be blowing up a Russian bridge. The plot lines became more mundane: the accountant coming home from work to his lover in the "dungeon" of their basement; the bookkeeper coming home for work to his lover tied to a bed in their upstairs attic.

My inspiration to return to any genre, including horror, remains, with few exceptions.

How has the gay community reacted to your books? Has this reaction changed over time?
On the whole, it's been a long-run very positive and very supportive reaction. If I've had my share of bad reviews in the gay press, what writer, who has written more than one book, hasn't? Not to insinuate that I've received only positive reactions. If the gay community hadn't reacted positively to the majority of my literary output, I would have moved on to some other profession long ago. Even now, involved with author William Maltese (and his efforts to take his probably gay detective, Stud Draqual [see any similarity to "Dracula" there?], to a more mainstream audience), I've no complaints. The first book in that Maltese detective series got great reviews in the gay press, here and in Germany (where it went German-language), and is already officially "Out of Print" in the U.S.

I’m curious whether people were much more or less uptight about connecting gay-folk with horror during this time? Were you ever seen as giving heterosexuals more reason to hate queer-folk
You know, I rarely got feedback, horror-oriented or otherwise, as regards my writing, except only as far as publishers were more and more anxious to have more and more of the same, leading me to suspect my stuff was selling enough to make acceptable profits. Truth told, I had little exposure, either, to other gay novelists. Neither I, nor most of my gay friends, regularly read gay novels, considering them (as they actually were) “one-handed readers”, and preferring literature with less sex and more plot line. As for queer horror, there really wasn’t all that much of it at the time to judge any positive or negative reaction to it, other than noticing if it did or didn’t (it did) sell on the market place. Certainly, I can’t recall any incident where anyone publicly blamed one of my queer horror books for his dislike of queer-folks, or who found my horror any more an unusual or unacceptable thematic than was my sci-fi, mystery, espionage, S&M … et al … plot lines.

Based on what you said, it really sounds like a tremendous percentage of the gay community must have read your books. Is this the case? Were pulp novels incredibly popular then, something that was shared by almost all glbt folk?
Certainly, enough of the glbt community read my books to warrant publishers anxious to get their hands on more and more of my gay-oriented output. As far as “almost all of the glbt folk” reading them, I think not. Sure, I met gays who had read them. But did a tremendous percentage of the gay community read my books and/or or any other gay-oriented (and/or any –oriented), books, for that matter, at the time? I’m not at all sure they did, except by possible way of satisfying their curiosity as regards a genre fairly new to the market. By genre, I refer here to “gay” and not to “gay horror”. Gay books were still something of an anomaly, following Greenleaf’s very first gay book, Song of the Loon, having made such an impact on the market. Gay books, in those days, as now (a gay publisher only recently reminding me that sex-lead books prove far more profitable than plot-lead books), written primarily to “get off” readers. Any plot, including horror, was so secondary in the pulps of those days (even these days), as compared to the primary function of portraying sex-sex-sex, it’s a wonder the horror thematic (or whatever) came through recognizable. Which is something critics of pulp (past and present) should take into account when they complain “very little, plot here”; the whole purpose of the pulp, especially the gay pulp, being to produce sexual arousal, not to enlighten the mind or be true to subject matter other than the sexual. There being enough gay innuendo within the mainstream books of today to have genuine fans of literature headed in that direction, as opposed to picking up a book published by, say, Millivres Press, whose main purpose remains “getting guys off”. [Most gays, by the way, read The Advocate, in those early days, because there wasn’t much of anything else to read, by way of gay periodicals (with the exception of Gay out of New York); The Advocate of those days far different and more gay-sex exploitive than it is today. In this day and age, of course, the glbt community has a whole wide range of international, national, and local gay periodical reading material)].

Have you had any frightening fans?
The majority of us writers, unlike film and rock stars, aren't 24/7 followed by fans and/or paparazzi. Personally, I've been pretty much shielded from fans, scary, strange, or otherwise, by publishers who just never bother to forward on fan mail. And, of course, I've written under so many pseudonyms, it's sometimes hard for fans to figure out which persona I am at any one time.

That said ... And, let me preface by saying my horror-genre fans never proved more frightening or strange than fans of my sci-fi or romance or male-adventure/espionage, or fantasy, or ... whatever ... novels. When I was writing for Harlequin, I had women thinking the only way I could so probe their psyche was to be a woman in a man's body. Some sci-fi fans thought for sure I'd been picked up by aliens, electronically locked to a spacecraft examination table, and ... well, you know.

I made the mistake, when writing my queer-horror Dog Collar Boys, of setting it in Seattle, where I was living at the time. I made the additional mistake, while researching that book, of spending three months wearing a dog collar whenever I went to gay bars, just to check reactions. When the book came out, it didn't take anyone familiar with the Seattle gay scene long to figure out who wrote the book (although I'd stopped wearing the dog collar by the time the novel hit the stands). What resulted ...

... a lesbian caused a scene by insisting she followed a "summoning formula" from the book and "not one goddamn 'thing' appeared!" As if, were I privy to such a formula, I would copy it verbatim into the text of one of my books for amateurs to summon demons as easily as tourists, at Disneyland, conjured Mickey Mouse or Goofy.

... an elderly gentleman insisted he had Gregiano Medeena's Love Spells and Other Mischief-Making and needed an adept to summon an incubus for sex with his young wife. Was I available? As if I regularly communed with spirits.

... more than one trick commented: "Damn that was good sex! Now, let's summon Anaroth!" More than one - unfortunately - not joking.

A really talented young artist, specializing in drawing phantasm, recently tracked down several of my horror novels and asked, after having read them, if he could include me (based on a photo taken of me at the time I was writing those horror stories), in his proposed drawing: "Coronation of William (by Lucifer)." Since I suspect this particular artist will one day be very famous in his field, do I really want to be so prominent in one of his renditions of Hell likely to be looked on so often by his fans, for years to come? Granted, Michelangelo once painted his enemies in Hell (on a wall of The Sistine Chapel?), but ... anyway, he (the phantasm artist, not Michelangelo) says I can burn the picture if I don't like it. If I do set it afire, will it smell of brimstone? Just kidding!

What do you think the climate was for glbt people overall during that time? The stuff you read makes it sound like queer-folk were constantly on edge, worried that they’d be arrested, or beaten, or killed. Was that the case, in your opinion? If so, do you think that made glbt folk more or less prone to reading horror?
What we didn’t have at the time, which does exist today, is the general consensus (by gays and/or by straights) that glbt folk are just another vocal community, courted by politicians and advertisers alike. Back then, gays existed, everyone knew they existed, but they were like the crazy Uncle Bob whom no one really liked to notice, let alone mention. When anyone made himself so obviously a crazy Uncle Bob as to be noticed, he could suffer for it. I remember several people getting beaten up outside gay bars. I remember policemen regularly appearing at gay drinking establishments. What I don’t remember is anyone in the gay community being other than comme-ci, comme-ça affected by it. Maybe I was so unaffected because I looked upon my gay life-style as I looked upon my straight life-style, merely as fodder for what I might or might not write about it. [Keeping in mind that I was regularly publishing straight erotica novels and mainstream magazine articles at the time].

The military establishment, of course, was certainly gay-paranoid. They were always “209”ing gays and drumming them out of the service. Just after I got assigned to Korea, I was taken on an orientation of the base that included a tour of the local Servicemen’s Club restrooms where new metal toilet-stall walls had been inset to replace the bored-through predecessors used by the latest group of “queers caught and sent packing”. However, even within that hostile environment, a gay community thrived, complete with love affairs between officers and enlisted men, and big holiday blow-outs at the villas of a local resort, Walker Hill. While there were gay soldiers who expressed fear of detection to me, on more than one occasion, I never felt personally all that vulnerable, especially after I learned all of the power games which existed within the military, and how successfully to play them. Assigned back in the States, I never seemed to have difficulty (maybe my friendly vibes?!), in being adopted by the local gay military clique which, despite being careful around the work place, spent each and every weekend ensconced within some local gay hotspot.

Did any of this make gays more or less prone to read horror? In those days, it always seemed to me (and to the publishers) that gays read pulps just to “get off” on the sex scenes. Any book’s elements of horror (sci-fi, romance, leather-man … et al), merely the picture frame for the real purpose of an enjoyable jack-off.

Do you have any future projects in the works?
I always have something in the works. If, however, you refer to anything horror genre, there's nothing but one project I've had on the back burner for a very long time. Otherwise, I'm involved with author William Maltese, having published his first Stud Draqual mystery under my own imprint, distributed through Millivres Press. We've decided to publish the second book in that series, Thai Died, through Green Candy Press the first of 2003.

Where can people get your books?
Most of them, except for ones I've worked on with William Maltese, are officially out of print. You can, though, find them (less and less frequently, however), on-line, on sites like bibliofind.com, or in Gay Studies catalogues. It still surprises me to find my books in Gay Studies. More surprising is how books I wrote in the seventies that sold for less than a couple of bucks each now have $25.00+ price tags. Had I been blessed (or cursed?) with ESP, I would have stocked up on comp copies, hoarded them until now, and sold them off on eBay for a small fortune.

Queer Vampires Queer Werewolves Queer Ghosts Queer Demons Queer Dark Thrillers Other horror beasties Frequently Asked Questions GLBT horror books Movies and TV shows Other websites of interest Original queer horror stories Articles Chat with others Interviews with queer horror folks Search this site Give feedback to team Miscellaneous