I’ve been reading gay horror author Adrian Lilly’s The Runes Trilogy since Book 1. My blog about The Wolf at His Door is here, and I cover The Wolf in His Arms here. Now, it’s time for the third and final in the trilogy: The Wolf at War! What began as a story about a high school boy struggling with his werewolf identity morphs into an all-out battle between humans and werewolves in this final book in the series, with humans not only hoping to stop the werewolf takeover, but also searching for a cure for the lycanthropy.
Author Adrian Lilly took some time to chat with me about his writing and his love of horror.
Boys, Bears & Scares: What inspired you to write a werewolf series?
Adrian Lilly: I love werewolves. But traditional, rip you to shreds werewolves that are half-man and half-beast. I find the idea of a beast lurking just under another person’s skin the epitome of fantasy fright. I highly suspect the werewolf myth is how early people explained serial murderers.
BB&S: Why did you decide to make the main characters gay?
Adrian Lilly: I just decided I wanted to write gay characters. I flirted with it in my first draft of the book, and I just decided it felt like the right thing to do with this story. The subject matter worked well with a gay sensibility.
BB&S: Your werewolf trilogy started like Teen Wolf, focusing on one character coming to terms with the beast within, and ends more like Planet of the Apes, with an all-out human vs. hairy war. Did you envision the trilogy’s story arc this way from the beginning, or did it develop as you wrote?
Adrian Lilly: I originally had a very different ending for the first book, and I had planned to end it there. I also didn’t have the characters as gay—more of a bi-sexual flirtation. As I decided to re-write the book with gay characters, I also thought about where else the story could go. I sketched out the three book series at that time. I always allow myself room for inspiration, however. Sometimes when you’re writing, inspiration hits, even if it isn’t what you had planned. You write it, because it feels right.
BB&S: With themes of government and country, rebels and resistance, and even prejudice and profiling, was the third novel intended to reflect issues facing society today or is it meant as simple entertainment?
Adrian Lilly: I’m a very political person, and I have a very strong sense of social justice. I don’t try to hide that in my writing.
BB&S: Now that your trilogy is complete, are you going to miss the story and the characters?
Adrian Lilly: Yes, though I think I ended the series in a place where the characters and readers will be satisfied. I also left myself just a bit of an opening…if I feel like it.
BB&S: Are there other popular creatures of the horror genre you’d like to tackle? And if so, would you once again make gay characters the focus?
Adrian Lilly: I have another werewolf novel coming out in early 2016 called The Moon in Your Eyes, but it has no gay characters. And I also have another series I’m developing called The BlackBird Mysteries that has two gay male leads, who are an odd couple that must work together to solve mysteries. They are not in a relationship, but there’s tension. All manner of fantastical creature will show up in the series. I hope to have immense fun with it.
BB&S: Let’s get into your horror head. Who are your favorite horror authors?
Adrian Lilly: Oddly, I don’t read that much horror. I’ve read Robert R. McCammon, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. Right now I’m reading Ann Vickers by Sinclair Lewis. It was written in 1933, and deals with many social issues, such as the suffrage movement and prison reform. She’s an early feminist heroine.
BB&S: What are your favorite horror subgenres?
Adrian Lilly: Hauntings and possessions top my list along with werewolves and animal attacks. Jaws is still one of my all time favorite books and movies.
BB&S: What scares you most in horror movies or books?
Adrian Lilly: I think the human atrocities scare me the most. Serial murderers. Scenes where a child is in danger always make me feel a bit fluttery in the belly. And cats. Put a cat in danger, and I’m on the edge of my seat.
BB&S: Horror mixed with comedy. Yes or no?
Adrian Lilly: Yes. Absolutely. I love Evil Dead and Bruce Campbell.
BB&S: Sex and nudity in horror. Yes or no?
Adrian Lilly: I won’t complain with a male butt shot or the unfathomable full frontal.
BB&S: Final girl or final guy?
Adrian Lilly: I love my final girls! And my final guys. And when everyone dies!
BB&S: Who are some of your favorite scream queens?
Adrian Lilly: I have a very special place in my heart for Amy Steel. Neve Campbell kills it. Katharine Ross had a few good roles, and Janet Leigh is the original. Also, Olivia Hussey isn’t normally considered a scream queen, but she nailed it in the original Black Christmas.
BB&S: Favorite iconic horror baddie?
Adrian Lilly: I feel like I’m supposed to say Jason, Freddy, Michael, or Ghost Face, but…I have a special love for the killer in The Burning. It’s an overlooked camp classic from the early 80s, and he kills everyone with hedge clippers. That takes a special talent. Added bonus, I’m a firm believer in capital punishment for pranks gone awry, so his overzealous murdering of every teen in sight seems just.
BB&S: What are some of your favorite horror TV shows?
Adrian Lilly: I love me some old school, like Outer Limits and Friday the 13th the Series. I rarely watch television, but I thought the UK version of Being Human was brilliant. I watched a couple seasons of The Walking Dead before it jumped the shark.
BB&S: What songs or artists might be on your Halloween party playlist?
Adrian Lilly: “Everyday is Halloween” by Ministry, “The Wolf that Lives in Lindsay” by Joni Mitchell, The Halloween theme, “O Fortuna,” “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon, “Bad Moon Rising” by CCR, and, since it’s a mix, I’d toss in a Moonlight Sonata remix.
BB&S: Finally, back to your writing. Do you have any other horror projects in the works?
Adrian Lilly: Yes! Plenty. As I mentioned, The Moon in Your Eyes, as well as a Christmas Killer novel I’m working on, and a haunting-type novel as well. I also have a book in process about an agoraphobic trapped in an apartment building with a serial murderer.
BB&S: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Adrian!