Interview with Queer Horror Writer Eric David Roman

Eric David Roman: “We need to write and tell our horror stories.”  

I’d like to welcome Eric David Roman to the Blog. Eric is the author of several short stories, the novella Despicable People and Long Night At Lake Never, a Queer Horror novel about a conversion therapy camp where a relentless killer is out for revenge on both the misguided and the malicious. A native of Florida who now resides in Northern Virginia with his husband, Eric loves all things “horror, queer, and campy.” A writer after my own heart. In this interview, Eric talks about his passion for writing, his creative process, and why he feels the Horror Genre is an important part of Queer Culture.

My review of Long Night at Lake Never can be found in an earlier blog post. Check it out! 

Eric, who or what inspired you to start writing, and when did you know it was time to move beyond writing for yourself toward the oft-intimidating world of publishing?

As Lady Gaga once shouted at us, “Baby, I was born this way.” I’ve been writing since I was a kid. There was no real “spark” moment. Once I learned how to write, I was off. I was writing short stories before anyone even taught me the first thing about story structure, pacing, or characterization, but I figured it out by reading a lot. I wrote a play in fourth grade that my class put on, though I remember nothing about it except that I got to use the copy machine. It’s always the big moments we remember vividly, isn’t it? 

I remained preoccupied with writing, even in high school, when instead of paying attention, I wrote these filthy erotic stories which would get passed around. Some really ridiculous stuff all ripped off from the erotic thrillers I was watching at the time (my favorite genre of films after Horror). Then life does its thing, and I ambled along my path, always with writing as my side piece. I was giving away all my time and energy and never putting myself or writing first. All for jobs that didn’t give a shit about me in return. I remained in that cycle for twenty years until I experienced a severe bout of depression, and once I made my way through that storm, I decided life was too short for this B.S. So, I changed many things and put the focus where it belonged: on writing and myself.

What attracts you to the horror genre, and Queer Horror, specifically. How did this attraction factor into what inspired you to write Long Night At Lake Never?

I’ve loved Horror since I was a little kid. My Dad was a fan, and he got me hooked early (as all cool dads do). He woke me up one night so we could watch a late showing of the original Night of the Living Dead, and I tell you, I only made it through the first ten minutes. I bolted back to my room when the zombie started hitting the car window with a rock. But I was hooked. Then I started watching more and getting scared every time. I see now it was my earliest addiction, LOL. After I’d been scared out of my mind a few times and had a few terrified sleepless nights, the whole genre became endlessly fascinating. This is how it works when you’re a kid—you get really scared by a movie or a book and either never touch Horror again, or it becomes your way of life.

 Stephen King’s IT was the book that really solidified Horror as the genre I wanted to write in. That book terrified me, and I only finished the first chapter. Still, to an 11-year-old who shouldn’t have read it, to begin with, that opening was so brutally vivid, so frightening; it punched me in the gut, slapped my face, and called me a Homo. And I loved it. It was like watching a movie; it was that intense. The wording and flow of the sentences created visuals I couldn’t escape. I saw the yellow raincoat, the blood, the arm, that mother-effing clown! I even smelled the rain. Nothing else I’d read ever had such an effect on me. I threw the book down and never went back—because screw clowns! I’ve only read the first two chapters to this day, but the experience changed me. I learned the power of an excellent writer and the magic words could create on a page. Though I’ve read nearly everything King has written, IT remains on my bookshelf unfinished (the very copy of the book that terrified me as a kid, actually). 

So, with the movies and then reading more and more books I shouldn’t have, Horror slowly became the filter through which I see everything creatively. It’s very second nature at this point. Some writers see a mountain landscape and think of a sweeping romance or the intense action of a spy being chased by a plane; all I see are creatures crawling out from the ground, zombies shambling across, and Cthulhu rising to block out the sky.

And Long Night at Lake Never was born from my love and adoration of the slasher sub-genre, and never getting to see characters like myself in them, much less as the hero/ Final Girl—or Final Boy in the case of Lake Never. That has been changing as of late, but there’s still not enough representation. Essentially, I followed that very cliché advice every writer gets: write the book you want to read. And I wanted a gay-as-hell Friday the 13th. So that desire informed the entire process. I wanted Lake Never to play fluidly within the cinema of the reader’s mind as a slasher movie would. That idea dictated everything, from how the story was written with large chunks of “Omniscient Narration,” which I had to fight with my Publisher to keep, to how it was structured and paced. For that reason, the book has no chapters. I didn’t want the spell broken for the reader by some random page spouting a number, which would take them out of it. I wanted no breaks at all, actually, for the story to flow continuously until the end, like Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor album. 

Honestly, that draft was a tad daunting. It can be tricky to hold tight to your vision while remaining cognizant of the reader’s ability to enjoy the story; I believe I found a way that worked. And there were more small details, many taken from slasher movies, which all had to coalesce. And not in the ways a traditional novel would, but in this “slasher film interpreted in Novel form” because that’s how I saw it in my mind while writing. I like to believe Long Night at Lake Never is the only one of its kind, LOL. But I’m a writer and, therefore, slightly delusional.

While Long Night At Lake Never has a delightful retro 80s slasher feel, the storytelling stays fresh, especially in the witty dialogue; nothing feels derivative. Yes, the story has an element of flashback, which is necessary for the storyline, but the novel remains contemporary. How important was it to keep the bulk of the narrative set in modern times, focusing on current queer culture and issues?

As much fun as it would have been to set the entirety of the story during the 80s or even the 90s—my favorite decade—those eras had a very different headspace about queer people and queer issues. Many of those conversion camps were thriving, remaining under the radar with their abuses, which would have created a very different story than the one I was looking to tell. But oh my, the 80s/90s hair and outfits I could have described—so fun! Now, if you were queer, you knew these places existed back then, but I’m talking mainstream America. Outside a joke or two about a “pray the gay away camp,” many people didn’t realize what really occurred in those places. Around 2016, the memoirs Saving Alex and Boy Erased were published, and more people began to realize and understand the abuse going on. Setting Long Night at Lake Never in the present allowed the characters to be armed with modern knowledge they wouldn’t have been privy to in earlier decades. It’s that knowledge that enables them, especially the main character, Tyler, to be all the more resilient in the face of religious adversity and fight back against their abusers—which was a very important theme to me. Abusers need to pay. Period.

While diminishing thanks to education and mainstream acceptance of gay/queer lives, “Conversion Therapy” still exists in parts of the world, including the USA, where your story is set. While this barbaric, unscientific practice is definitely a form of “queer horror,” how and why did it become the central apparatus for your novel? At any time, did you ever feel intimidated by or uncomfortable exploring this tricky subject matter as a writer and a gay man?

Long Night at Lake Never was originally a script, a not-very-good one, that I wrote to satisfy my need for a Friday the 13th with a queer cast and a gay male lead. That naturally lent itself to a conversion camp being the ideal setting. When the story demanded to become a novel, as ideas occasionally do, I knew I couldn’t just traipse through this without being respectful. 

With my research, it struck me deeply that members of our queer family had suffered in those places needlessly. I found that queer youth who’d gone through conversion therapy were two times(!!!!) more likely to take their own life. How many beautiful souls, artists, writers, musicians, scientists, and doctors did we lose because of something so asinine and archaic as bigotry in the name of religion?! It’s ridiculous. And we’re already a community that’s suffered a profound generational loss due to the inactivity in the early days of HIV/AIDS. I couldn’t lose sight of that, so I treaded carefully until I was sure I’d found the right balance. Because, at the end of the day, the novel still needed to emulate a cheesy slasher.

However, I couldn’t allow the camp to be some cheap gimmick, only there to play the storyline’s setting. There’s too much pain and heartbreak around these places to treat it as casually as that, so it was daunting to bring it all together in the way I wanted. This is why I believe, despite having the idea in like 2007, and writing that not-so-great script around 2012, that the real story didn’t come to me until I was mature enough to wrangle it onto the page properly, with the mix of nuance and panache that I believe it has now. 

So, while I was never intimidated, I was angry, sad, and upset that we’ve allowed this to go on for so long. I was constantly checking myself to make sure I was respectful while remaining within the confines of the slasher world and my desire, despite its heavy topic, to keep the novel the fun ride I wanted it to be. Horror is an excellent medium for discussing painful social issues by wrapping them up in blood and terror. And if you can get the mix right, that can be very powerful and effective.

What are your thoughts on those who believe Queer Horror exploits the genuine traumas of gay/queer people for entertainment value, thus minimizing their real-life experiences? Or do you think Queer Horror is a valid avenue for an often persecuted minority to heal through expressing anger and reclaiming power via art? In your case, fiction writing.

Cthulhu, please! Truthfully, I don’t listen to any of that; it’s all distracting noise. Let’s be honest—all horror exploits trauma because horror is, at its blackened heart, about trauma (Please say it like the fabulous Miss Jamie Lee Curtis!). Being scared is traumatic and a universal experience, so when you go to the horror section in the bookstore and start browsing the titles, know that everything there is exploitative to some degree. Because authors are exploiting our fears while exploring them. So why should the LGBTQ+ community be excluded from that? 

We must look at these detractors and question if their observations are valid and worth our time or simply spewed nonsense. Most of the time, it’s the latter. Also, are these individuals really just gatekeeping? Horror is naturally an inclusive genre because anyone can come to the fire, sit down, and tell a scary story in whichever medium works for them. So—yes, it is the best avenue for queer writers/artists to explore our community’s collective anger, fear, and oppression. And we need to. We need to write and tell our horror stories. Some questions can only be asked within the horror genre. There are observations of our human condition and societal conditions that can only exist through the lens of horror. We must be brave enough to sit with them, feel them, and write.

Graphic violence and gore are expected elements in horror, and Long Night At Lake Never doesn’t disappoint. The tension in this novel is brilliantly paced, but the creative and quite visceral death scenes are the real “blood and guts” of this story—so to speak. Was there ever a moment when you thought you’d gone too far with the violence? Is there a line that can be crossed, or is horror an “anything goes” property? Any scenes in the novel that didn’t make it into the book?

I loved writing all of those scenes sooooo much. It was the easiest part for me. The romance between Tyler and Chris? Now that stressed me out, LOL. I don’t know what that says about me, but I kept nervously waiting for my publisher or editor to say, “You know what, this is a bit much.” Truthfully though, I was never worried about the gore being an issue. There’s a lot—A LOT—worse out there, frankly. I did fear my disdain for organized religion, which I do not sugarcoat, would incite some response. To date, it hasn’t. In fact, it’s done the opposite. I’ve had a few readers, who are heterosexual, tell me how the story opened their eyes to how queer people go through a lot of B.S. just for being who they are. I use these interactions to measure my success; this means more to me than sales numbers. And also with other gay men who’ve reached out to tell me how amazing it was to see themselves in my novel. That warms my blackened heart. And really, are we even truly living a full queer life if we’re not upsetting the religious zealots of the world?

Plus, it all comes down to your intention when dealing with gore/violence in the story. I wanted it to be brutal, but at the same time, we’re still having fun. All of my stuff is written with a wink. Yes, this is intense and gory, but it’s still just a fun horror story. (That unintentionally rhymed!) And gore/violence always comes down to a few crucial things. How well is it written, because oh boy, does that matter! There’s a fine line between “Ewww, that’s F’d up! Yeah, I can’t finish this.” and “That’s F’d up. I’m sticking around!” And also, does the gore/violence serve the story, or is it just there to be gory and violent? Readers can tell when something is salacious for the sake of being salacious. To me, it’s all about what the story dictates. Lake Never is a love letter to the violent slashers of my youth, so it was always going to pack a punch with its kills. There’s no room for simple throat slashings or stabbings here. But while writing, I realized these deaths are really the counsellors’ punishment for their crimes against the queer community, and that needed a certain amped-up level of brutality, so it’s more satisfying when they get their comeuppance. Did I mention I overthink things?

And what’s funny is I’m the least violent person ever. I don’t even kill bugs. I don’t like guns. Not a massive fan of seeing actual death/violence. Like yesterday, I was sad for half a day because I saw this video of a beached whale who’d died. Like it’s 2023! We can’t get a whale back into the ocean?! However, when I sit down to write—!

And yes, Horror will always be the genre where anything goes, and that’s for good or bad, just like with “freedom of speech.” It’s the only genre where we face the true darkness of our human experience and can explore the communal fears of the supernatural. Horror exists in dark places. Some writers skim the surface; some wade in till their feet can’t touch the bottom anymore; and some dive so deeply they dredge the human soul and leave readers shaken. And each of them has stories worth exploring.

Sadly though, there are missing pieces to Lake Never. Everything that was written remained in the book, except for some minor backstories, which ultimately hindered the pace. With the pacing being so crucial, they had to go. Sometimes one must be a cold, heartless editor of their own work.

What is the best and worst advice you’ve ever received regarding writing or publishing? Drawing from your own experiences, your “learned lessons,” what advice would you give other LGBTQ+ writers looking to tackle the horror genre from a queer perspective?

The best advice I ever got was not to go backward when writing; just keep pushing forward. Don’t stop and go back and start fiddling; there’ll be time for that. Just keep writing. Now, I don’t listen to that, mind you, cause I’m a messy bitch with a messy process, but it is good advice. 

The worst advice I’ve received so far is—or maybe I overheard it and didn’t pay it any mind. Anyway, it’s concerning what you have to do with most of the feedback you get. Take what resonates with you, and leave the rest behind with a smile and a thank you. But if you want some learned wisdom, here it is: never hide your queerness, weirdness, or nerd-ness—let it fly unabashedly! Remain authentically yourself, no matter how hard it is. Especially now. And don’t give a shit what anyone thinks ’cause I promise you’ll be happier.

You cannot quiet the Censor or Critic—or however you refer to that nagging voice in our brain. It’s ever-present, so you’ll drive yourself crazy trying. WRITE through that loud annoying bitch instead. Let them yell as loud as they want at you but keep writing and writing. Even if it’s B.S., even if you’re going to delete it all the next day, keep writing. Show the Censor/Critic that what it says doesn’t matter. It’s not easy and takes work and practice, but I’ve found writing through it is less exhausting than trying to silence it outright. It’s not even telling you the truth anyway. Find two or three writer friends (not readers—writers) who you know will always be honest with you about what you’ve written. I don’t get Beta Readers, frankly. Too many people throwing in their 2 cents about my work. No, thank you. I’m very confident in what I write (even if it sucks, remember being a writer is mainly being delusional anyway). Plus, I’ve got a small enclave that I consider myself very lucky to have found, and I trust them implicitly because they’re not “yes men.” They’ll tell me, “Nah, that can be better.” or “Yeah, this doesn’t work as you think.” You need more of that to grow as a writer than you do a “Wow, that’s so good’

And finally, ’cause I’ve rambled on enough, write the stories that are dragging at your very soul to be written. The ones that nag you at night, even if you see no outlet for them. If it’s hounding you, it must be written. Period. It’s a disservice to your gift to ignore an idea thinking, “No one’s gonna read this.” Yes, someone will, and they may love it! Or maybe it sits in a drawer, and that’s okay, too, as long as it’s written. I’m very spiritual about my writing; I see it as a sacred connection to a Creative higher power—since all these words/plots/ideas come from somewhere. I know it’s not this messy misfiring brain of mine. So, trust the Creative. Keep writing. And—take lots of breaks to do some random dancing.

Regarding your writing, what does the future hold for Eric David Roman? Any plans to revisit the horrors of Long Night At Lake Never?

I’m going to keep writing the stories that come to me. They’ll probably all have queer MCs because I want to write more horror stories that feature our community. And I’ve seen through the response to Lake Never that there’s a desire for that. And if that means I have a harder time getting into publishing’s Top 5, as many have alluded I will, then so be it (also, screw them though, ‘cause it’s my goal, and again, running on delusion here). Plus, I know there’s an audience out there, and it’s growing.

Oh yes, we’re going on back to Lake Never, baby! I’d crafted this whole idea for the sequel when writing the first one, but I couldn’t get the story ideas to coalesce as I started working on it. And the more I worked it, the more the damn thing fell apart, like my mental health after any minor inconvenience. So, I deleted everything that was written, which was a bit, and simply started over (there’s a tip, kids, cause James Cameron did the same thing with his first draft of Avatar 2, and now that rewritten mess is the 4th highest-grossing film ever). It taught me not to be beholden to the original idea if it’s not working and to move on. I didn’t even keep the new characters I’d created, just started fresh. It put me behind, like the stressful kind of behind, because I know there are people who want the sequel (and it’s so rewarding to say that, but also—the pressure!). But I love what I have now, and it’s coming along nicely, so I know Lake Never fans will also love it.

On top of that, I have a collection of some truly great and effed-up short stories that are all put together in this very fun and unique framework (which I won’t divulge just yet). I hope to have that out this year because I’m really proud of it, and queer main characters helm every story. One of the stories was just published recently. I want to find the best home for the collection and my other completed Horror novel, a YA Horror story. So, the age-old question hounds me again; do I self-pub or find a press/agent? I want them to have a good home ‘cause they are my babies. But, like all writers, I also want them out in the world so I can beg people for reviews and get a little praise. I mean, I’m alone in an office all day wrangling imaginary people to do what I want on the page, and being told I’m pretty (or ya know, a decent writer) just helps the whole process. Yes—it’s madness, but the best kind.

Thank you, Eric, for taking the time to chat with me and providing engaging answers to my questions about your writing journey and love of Queer Horror. I’m looking forward to the release of your short story compilation and, of course, waiting with bated breath for that Long Night at Lake Never sequel. 

Long Night At Lake Never is available for purchase on and For more information about Eric David Roman, visit his website at and follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can check out more of his work, including the Long Night at Lake Never Playlist, by clicking the following link:

One comment

  1. This author is also one of my favorite Instagrammers – he’s kind, funny, and incredibly supportive of other writers, regardless of genre. Just a quality human being all around. I’m so very happy to see him get the recognition he deserves. Outstanding interview, Ryan!

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