An interview with author Reb Kreyling

You blog, you write short stories, you’re a novelist and a poet. Do you have a preference for a particular format? Do you find it hard to switch between them?
I seem to focus on a format for a while and not touch any others. Right now that means short stories. All the short stories! As I play with characters and ideas.

I haven’t done much with novels lately because my life is just crazy and I haven’t got sucked into the worlds. Doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just haven’t been sucked in.

My poetry is more a catharsis. I don’t really write it unless I need to get some feelings out. Or it was assigned in college.

I take your picture.
Your hair flying.
Your body dancing.

I take your picture.
Tears falling down.
Frowning smiles on your face.
Eyes cloudy–salt water clean.

I take your picture.
Hands raised in self-defense.
Black and blue.
Fear etched on your face.

I take your picture.
Finally at peace.

Photographs by Reb Kreyling

As for my blogging, it’s part of my way to get my name out to readers and I try to make it more of a conversation.

Apart from blogging, do you do anything else to promote your work?
Not at the moment. If I have a sale or something I post on Facebook. And I make comments on WDC, but I don’t have an author page anywhere. At some point I’ll do more, but not until I have more books published.

You refer to yourself as a life-long writer. What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
Two things really.

I submitted what I thought was a really good, solid piece of writing to an editor. An editor I know and consider a friend. And she rejected it. What made it less hard? She didn’t know it was me until after it had been rejected (it was a blind submission).

The other is sometimes just finding time to write is sometimes a tricky balancing act.

When your submission was rejected by your editor friend, what did you do?
I’m going to revise it, although I haven’t yet. She’s actually offered a more in depth critique so I’m waiting to hear back. I’ve written a lot new since then including another story for submission to her–which also got rejected but I didn’t like it nearly as much. And yeah I did wallow around for a few days.

You primarily write science fiction and fantasy. What appeals to you most about those genres?
I like the escapist qualities of fantasy. I was always fascinated with mythology as a kid and a lot of my stories have that type of idea in them. And Narnia, oh I loved Narnia. So I always wanted a world like that to play in that was all my own.

As for science fiction, although I’m not as good at the hard science part, I enjoy the “what if…” idea of science fiction.

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
I wouldn’t say afraid to try or struggle with any genres. I’m willing to try anything once. Maybe. I’m not a huge fan of horror though. And although romance creeps into my stories, I wouldn’t say I write much romance. Because of my day job, you will probably never see any erotica under my name either. Not my real name anyway.

Do you read the same genres that you write in?
Absolutely! I won’t get any better if I don’t read in my chosen genre. And honestly I just read.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
Life inspires me. Which sounds funny considering what I write, but it’s true. I get ideas from friends, conversations, prompts, teaching moments. Just life. I also sometimes just get ideas from letting my mind wander.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
Hahhaaha. Do I have a favorite author? Come sit down and let me unroll the REAMS of authors I adore and explain why I have a Kindle now and why my moms banned me from buying books for a while. But seriously right now I would say my top four are Jasmine Walt, Pippa DaCosta, Jim Butcher, and Tanya Huff. Oh and Mercedes Lackey. My moms would say Dean Koontz, but I’ll counter with none of his recent work—he’s become too commercialized. So…five really; maybe six.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
“You just write like you got words.” From a friend on WDC. Not very grammatically correct, but it amuses me and at the time got me to write. It often prompts me to keep writing and I actually have it as a wall hanging.

Other than that? My freshman year in high school, my English teacher was always very encouraging as was another teacher in middle school.

What drives you to be published?
I don’t know that I have a drive per se. I write because I need to. If I feel I edit it into enough shape, I share my babies with other people. Sometimes that means publishing.

What defines success for you as an author?
Having someone enjoy my work and telling me so.

Your published book – When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time – is marketed as a ‘comic retelling’ of a fairy tale. Tell us a little about it.

When the Prince Didn't Come in Time: (Sleeping Beauty) by [Kreyling, Reb]

I know this is supposed to start “once upon a time” but since it doesn’t end “happily ever after,” I’m not going to bother. I didn’t mean to kill her. Honestly that wasn’t my intention at all. I mean I grew up in the shadow of a great big hulking relic from another time. How was I supposed to know she was waiting for her prince to come? The stories never told us that. All they said was that she was asleep and would sleep for a hundred years. Can I help it that I hit that hormone driven age just as she hit those one hundred years? I’m telling you it seemed like a really good idea at the time. Sneak into the castle, kiss the princess; hey, instant wife or concubine or whatever.
When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time by Reb Kreyling

I can’t say too much or it gives away the whole thing but it’s based off a quote from the David Crosby/Phil Collins song Hero. And wonders what would happen if someone other than the prince kissed Sleeping Beauty. The narrator is a bit of a sarcastic smart mouth which is where the comedy comes in.

You can get When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time free on Smashwords until the end of July, or you can also buy it at Amazon.

You can also check out Reb’s blog and her portfolio.

Rise Up

Each piece of armour, selected with precision and ridiculous overthought, sat in a pile on the corner on my bed. I stood in my underwear and tried to inhale peace and tranquility, but only managed to suck in a faint taste of dust and desperation. This was it. This was the point of no return.

I drew on a pair of jeans that were so tight they redefined the term ‘skinny jeans’. I nearly fell, and ended up in an ungainly sprawl across my unmade bed. I tugged until my fingers ached, inching the jeans up my thighs. There was something ridiculously satisfying about gliding the zip up and pushing the button through the hole. I stood up and did a few knee bends, reminding myself that walking like a bow legged cowboy wasn’t part of the plan.

A white crew-neck T-shirt followed. It had that brand-new, straight-off-the-shop-shelf blindingly white glow, but I’d run through it through a wash cycle so it had that comforting fragrance of fabric softener. It smelled like home, even if home was an illusion. Maybe I just liked the smell. Was it lavender? Jasmine? I tugged it on over my head, wondering at the train of my own thoughts. Was I really contemplating fabric softener perfumes right now? I smiled a little, kind of amazed that I even could.

I left the jacket for now, and reached for my pride and joy – a pair of knee high vegan-leather boots. They’d cost me a shitload, but they were perfect. As I slid one foot in, then the other, I felt my smile grow. Fuck yeah, I loved these boots.

I sat down on the chair that accompanied the desk in my room, and reached for the items I’d set out earlier. I started with the tinted moisturiser. I’d thought about using a proper foundation, but I found the moisturiser had a more natural feel. I could forget I was wearing it. Nothing about this look was supposed to be subtle, and comfortable wasn’t what I was going for either, but fuck it, I wanted to be… me. I wanted to feel real. Fan-fucking-tastic, but real.

I applied the eyeliner with a steady hand, grateful for the wonder that is Youtube and the people who put makeup tutorials on there. You really can find anything online these days.

I finished my makeup and speared gelled fingers through my hair. I was going for that carefully mussed look, the one that says I don’t mind getting dirty, but also screams ‘You want this!’

When I was happy with my hair, I anointed myself with a cacao and amber scent that made my senses tingle. I grabbed the jacket that matched the boots, and glanced around the room before sweeping the few items I’d used into a backpack and reaching for the door handle. Shoulders back, chin up. I looked amazing, and I knew it. Tonight was my night.

I walked down the stairs, and was nearly at the front door when my father yelled my name from the living room. “Liam!” I spun on one heel and cocked an eyebrow. “What the hell are you wearing?” he growled, looking me up and down. “You look ridiculous. Are you wearing makeup?” I nodded, smirking. “Boys don’t wear makeup! You look like a goddamn girl! Tell him, Margaret. Tell him he looks like one of those pansy sissy boys. I didn’t raise no goddamn pansy. Get back upstairs and wash your face.”

I reached for the handle behind, and swung the door open. “No,” I replied. I wasn’t wasting emotion on this argument. Tonight I was embracing myself, and anyone who didn’t like it could go screw themselves. I’d had enough of caring about other people’s opinions.

“If you walk out of here like that, you can forget about coming back,” he spat. I smiled. Goddamn predictable as always. Good thing I’d packed my shit and had somewhere else to stay.

“Don’t wait up,” I tossed over my shoulder as I sauntered down the drive. I ignored the blustering and smiled up at the evening sky. Oh yeah. Tonight was definitely the point of no return.





That horse has bolted…

“It’s a bad break. We need to get him to a doctor.”

Sam gritted his teeth against the pain while he listened to the McKenna brothers argue over what to do with him.

“I know,” replied Jack, “but it’s a good half day’s ride to the house and it’s damn near dark now. It’s not safe. He’s going to have to wait until morning.”

Sam breathed deeply, trying to find the strength to fight the pain. The last thing he wanted was to look like a weakling, a child, in front of his best friend Mike, and Mike’s older brothers. He was the youngest, but it didn’t mean he’d bawl like a baby or he needed rushing to the doctor for the smallest scratch. Okay, it wasn’t scratch, it was a broken arm, but still… “I’ll be fine,” he grunted. He looked up to find the other three men staring down at him, identical frowns on their foreheads.

“We don’t even have any painkillers, Sam,” Mike protested. “Dude, that’s gotta hurt.”

“I’ll be fine,” Sam repeated.

Jack’s face changed as he thought. Jack was the oldest of the McKenna brothers, with Riley between him and Mike. Sam and Mike had been best friends forever. “I might have something…” Jack murmured.

The other two brothers spun to look at Jack with narrowed eyes.

“What do you mean?”

“What have you got?”

They spoke in near unison, both clearly curious.

Jack smirked, and Sam tensed. It was bound to be something terrible, knowing Jack’s sense of humour. You’d think he’d be the responsible one, being the oldest, but he wasn’t. He loved dragging the younger guys into whatever mischief he’d cooked up.

When Jack drew a bottle of whisky from his saddlebag, jaws dropped.

“You can’t give him that,” hissed Riley. “He’s underage! He and Mike aren’t legal yet!”

Jack rolled his eyes. “I wouldn’t normally, but he’s broken his arm, Riley. He needs something for the pain. We can’t head back tonight, and even if we did, the trip’s going to be hard on him. This,” he lifted the bottle up, “will make it easier.”

“Oh god,” groaned Riley. “We’re going to be in so much trouble.”

Mike was grinning gleefully. “We won’t tell anyone, will we, Sam?”

Jack frowned. “You can’t have any. It’s for medicinal purposes only, and you ain’t hurt.”

“No way! If Sam’s drinking, I’m drinking!”

Despite the pain throbbing in his arm, Sam had to chuckle at the familiar sight of the brothers squaring off.

“What’s it gonna hurt, Jack?” asked Riley, playing the peacemaker as usual.

“Yes!” Mike did a fist pump and turned to grin at Sam.

Jack grumbled, but eventually gave in. “Set up camp first. Mike, since you’re all excited, you can take on Sam’s usual duties. Ah ah ah….”

Sam froze in a crouch and looked up at Jack.

“Sit your ass back down.”

“I can help.”

“Nope. You need to be as careful with that arm as possible, or you’re going to make the damage worse. Sit down, and let Mike do it.”

“It’s fine, Sam,” Mike yelled out as he ran to find firewood. “I got this!”

With a relief he didn’t really want to admit to, Sam leaned back against the saddlebags behind him and let the pain wash over him. The throbbing was radiating all the way up his arm and into his head, not to mention the searing pain every time he accidentally moved his arm. He knew he’d get through the night, but he wasn’t looking forward to it.

“Here,” Jack said, leaning forward with a small glass of whisky. “Sip it. Don’t gulp.”

Sam reached out with his good arm and took the drink. It smelled strong, with a faint hint of ash that reminded him of his father’s cigarettes. He sipped and gasped as the liquid hit his throat.

“Easy,” Jack cautioned. “Just let that settle and then take another. Slow and easy does it.”

Sam took another sip. He wasn’t sure he liked the taste, which seemed to be of smoke and chemicals, but if it was going to help with the pain in his arm, he was happy to give it a shot.

It wasn’t much longer before Mike was giggling and Sam was falling asleep. The warmth of the fire and the whisky combined to relax him, and the pain in his arm wasn’t bothering him as much anymore.

“You good, Sam?” Riley leaned over to ask. “You want me to help you move so you can go to sleep? Probably the best thing for you. Be a good idea to get a decent night’s sleep, since the ride in the morning will be hard for you.”

Sam smiled, but it felt a little lopsided on his face. “You guys are the best,” he murmured. Did his voice sound right?

Riley laughed, and the other two sat forward with eyebrows raised.

“What’s so funny?” they asked.

“Sam’s a bit pickled.”

“Maybe,” Sam mumbled, feeling his cheeks heat. “My face feels funny.”

Jack burst into peals of laughter. “Shit, Riley, don’t give him any more! He’s wasted!”

Riley wrapped an arm around Sam’s shoulder, careful not to jostle him. “You’re not truly wasted until you tell your friends that you love them, right, Sam?”

Sam felt a wave of ice wash over him. He stared up at Riley with wide eyes. “I wasn’t gonna tell him!”

The laughter from the other three faded into uncertainty in the face of Sam’s expression. “Dude, he didn’t mean you really loved us. It’s just something drunk people say,” Jack said. “And he didn’t mean love love, just mates. It’s not a gay thing. Chill, dude.”

“Oh shit,” Sam whispered. He looked up at Riley with worry in his eyes. “I fucked it up, didn’t I?”

“Fucked what up?” Riley asked.

“They didn’t know, but I thought they knew, but they didn’t, but now they do,” Sam babbled.

“What?” Riley frowned and smiled at the same time. “What did they know? Or not know? Shit, I’m confused.”

“Wait,” said Mike, “does this mean Sam’s in love with me?” His eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open.

Jack slapped a hand under Mike’s chin, causing him to howl in protest as he narrowly missed biting his tongue. “No, you dumbass,” Jack said, rolling his eyes. “He’s not in love with you. Who would love you?”

“Shut up. I’m loveable.” Mike looked over at Sam and Riley. “I’m totally loveable, right, guys?”

Riley laughed. “Sure, Mike, whatever you say.”

“Sam?” Mike asked, crawling around the fire to where Sam and Riley sat. “Tell them, Sam. Tell them how loveable I am.”

Jack groaned. “Dude, you’re fucking wasted. No more for him either, Riley.”

Riley reached over to push Mike away. “Don’t touch his arm, Mike.” He eased back and looked down at Sam. “You okay? You’ve gone quiet. Tired?”

“Um…” Sam tried to gather his wits, but his head was foggy and his thoughts were slip-sliding all over the place. “So, does that mean you guys know I’m gay or is it still a secret?”

For a moment, the only noise was the crackling fire, before Mike let loose with a loud “Fuck!”

“Mike!” Jack and Riley scolded in unison.

“What?!” he protested. “That’s…. That’s… Fuck!”

Jack pushed himself to his feet before walking around to cuff Mike on the back of the head.

“Ow! What’d you do that for?”

“Shut your mouth before you say something you regret, dumbass.”


“Shut it,” growled Jack.

Mike slumped, his mouth in a pout.

Jack circled around to crouch in front of Sam, careful not to get too close to the fire behind him. “Sam, you okay?”

“I dunno,” mumbled Sam. “I think I’m drunk.”

Jack laughed. “Yup, you certainly are. So is Mike.”

“Yeah,” said Sam with another lopsided smile. “We’re drunk.”

“So…” Jack drew out the word. He looked up at Riley as if seeking inspiration.

Sam felt Riley shrug.

“I’m guessing Mike didn’t know that you’re gay, huh?” Jack offered.

“Nah,” said Sam. “Nobody does.”

“Uh huh,” Jack nodded. “Is it okay that we know now?”

“I dunno,” shrugged Sam.

Riley squeezed him with the arm still wrapped around his shoulders. “Yeah, Sam, it’s okay.”


“Yeah,” Riley and Jack replied.

“Okay, good, I guess. I mean…” Sam trailed off and closed his eyes. “I’m tired. And I think I’m drunk.”

The older men laughed, and Riley withdrew to help rearrange Sam’s saddlebag so that he could lie back and use it as a pillow.

“Mike will be okay with it too,” Riley whispered. “He was just surprised.”

“He was?” asked Sam.

“Yeah. Not that you can tell now.” Riley gestured to Mike who lay on his side in the dirt, snoring. “Just give him time to get over his hangover and adjust to the news, and he’ll be fine. Now, get some sleep. And for god’s sake, don’t roll onto your arm in the middle of the night.” Riley reached down and rearranged Sam’s limbs into something resembling the recovery position. “Good night, Sam.”

“Night, Riley,” Sam mumbled.

Forging Friendship

I jolted out of my daydream as a foot caught me across the shins, sending me sprawling. The heels of my hands skidded along the grass as I tried to break my fall, smears of green and brown streaking up my wrists. My breath wooshed out as I landed, my backpack thumping into my lower back. As my chin thumped down on the ground, I was grateful I hadn’t been standing on concrete.

A shoe-clad foot smacked into my ribs, dislodging the left earpiece of my ipod, and the jeers and taunts filtered through.
The slurs and obscenities were unimaginative, to say the least. I knew better than to point that out though. I rolled in the direction of the kick, but my backpack was still on my back, preventing me from facing upwards. Not sure there was any point in seeing their faces though. They weren’t hiding from me. They knew damn well they were safe from any consequences. Even if I went and saw the dean or the principal, their rich-ass parents would pull some sob story and save them from any fallout. I’d probably end up expelled, knowing my…

I yelped as a foot caught me in the jaw, damn lucky that I hadn’t bitten right through my tongue. I was still reeling from the blow when a kick caught me on the side of my stomach. I gasped for air, drawing my knees up and wrapping my arms around my head. Someone placed their foot on my backside, shoving hard, causing my defensive pose to unravel and I sprawled forward. A blow to the temple had me seeing stars, and it took me a minute to register that something had changed.

“You all right?”
The voice came from close by, as if someone were kneeling beside me. A guy. I whimpered, unable to expose myself in case the danger hadn’t really passed.
“Jesus, you okay? They’re gone. Can you sit up? Shit, do I need to call an ambulance?”
I shook my head, but I wasn’t really sure. That last blow to my head had left me dazed.
Large warm hands grasped my shoulders, and I whimpered again. Despite myself, I winced. Could there be a more pathetic sound? Puppies whimper, not men. Only, I wasn’t much of a man, was I?

“Sorry, sorry,” came the voice again. “I’m trying to help you up, not hurt you. Can you sit up? Um….” He trailed off.
I pressed my palms against the ground and heaved up, my arms shaking. I rolled to a sitting position, wincing at the pain in my chest and my jaw. My backpack pulled me off balance, so I struggled to pull my arms through the straps.
“Let me help.” He gently tugged the straps down my arms and helped me ease the backpack off.
I slumped forward and pressed a hand to my ribs. With effort, I lifted my chin to look at my rescuer.

Just my luck. I’m a pathetic, dribbling mess and he’s gorgeous. I lifted one shoulder to wipe my chin on my t shirt just in case I really was dribbling. Drooling? Ugh. I bet he didn’t even need to style his hair, it just fell into perfect waves as he rolled out of bed. And those eyes! They should be illegal! I stared into them, imagining myself disappearing into their depths.

I jolted when his hand landed on my shoulder, my whole body lurching with the movement.
“Sorry,” he apologised again, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he frowned at me. “Are you with me? I think you need to get checked out. Maybe you have concussion. What’s your name?”
I dragged in a deep breath and pressed my palm harder against my ribs as pain shot through me. “Mason,” I said.
“Okay, Mason. I’m Ben. How’s your vision? You seeing double of anything?”
“Nope. Not unless there’s only one of you,” I joked.
He smiled at me. “Wanna try standing?”
I grabbed the warm hand he offered me. I swayed slightly on my feet, then released his hand and stepped back when I realised I was still holding on to him. My foot landed on the side of my backpack and I went sprawling backwards, my fall only arrested by his grasp as he snatched me back upright.
“Shit, maybe you were better off sitting. Damn it.” He looked around, but I wasn’t sure what he was looking for. “I really think you need to be checked out. I wonder…” His warm gaze stroked over me and I felt like I was about to melt into a puddle where I stood. “You think you could make it to my car if I helped you?”

He had a car? I had figured he was a high school student, same as me. Maybe a year older, but… I cut off my train of thought as I realised he was still waiting for an answer.
“Sure?” I offered.
He flashed me a quick smile then wrapped an arm around my waist. “Let’s give it a go.”
I found myself concentrating so hard on the warmth of his arm and the strength of his shoulder beside me that I barely noticed the aches and pain from my beating. I glanced up at him, only to find him staring down at me, our faces just centimeters apart. I quickly looked back down.

I didn’t understand why he was helping me. He was gorgeous and built, clearly one of the popular crowd, and didn’t he realise I was gay? If anyone saw him helping me…
He paused our journey toward the car park that was still a few meters away and turned to face me. “I don’t give a shit what people think. If they’re so small minded and bigoted that they’d judge me for helping someone in need, then their opinions are irrelevant. Who cares if you’re gay? You’re still a person, and no one deserves to get beaten up for something they have no control over.”
My eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head. “Ahhh….” I scrabbled to get my brain back on track. “Did… Did I say that out loud? I only meant to think it.”
“You shouldn’t even be thinking it. You shouldn’t even… Argh, don’t get me started.” He took up his position beside me and we started off again. As we reached a dark brown sedan that looks like it had seen better years, I leaned back against the cool metal and realised I’d left my backpack behind. “Oh shit, my backpack! It’s got all my school stuff in it and my…”
He swung it off his shoulder.
“Oh. I didn’t see it there.” Duh, obviously. I didn’t even remember him picking it up. Maybe I was concussed. Or maybe this guy, Ben, was so freaking hot he was melting my brain cells.

He asked me questions as we drove to the hospital. About myself, what I was studying at high school, my family, even questions about the family dog. I was puzzled by his interest, but flattered, until we pulled up at the hospital and the metaphorical lightbulb in my brain came on. Of course, he was just checking I was alert, and wasn’t going to doze off into a coma. He wasn’t actually interested in me. God, I was stupid. I would have smacked myself in the forehead, but frankly I hurt enough already.

We had to wait an hour to see a doctor, and by then I was stiff and aching and my head felt like chipmunks were practicing the anvil chorus in there. Ben knew pretty much my entire life story by then, but hadn’t shared a lot about himself. Typical. No, I shouldn’t think like that. A typical guy would never have bothered to check if I was okay, let alone take me to A&E to see a doctor. Really, typical was about the last word I should use to describe Ben.

The doctor said I had mild concussion, and was told to take some over-the-counter pain relief and ensure someone checked in on me over the next 24 hours. Ben drove me home, and I wasn’t sure if he was unsurprised at the dump I called home, or if he was just very clever at hiding his expression.

“There’s someone here who can check up on you?” he asked as he parked up against the curb.
“Yeah,” I replied, careful not to nod in case my aching head rolled straight off my shoulders. “One of my folks will be home at least.”
Even as I said it, the front door opened.
“Mason! Where have you been? Your boss rang.”
I groaned. I had totally forgotten about my after school job at the bookstore. “I forgot to call him. I, uh, had an accident and Ben took me to the hospital.”
Ben climbed out of the car, and walked around to shake my mother’s hand. Seriously? Who does that anymore?
“Sorry we didn’t think to call, ma’am. Turns out Mason has concussion and so he probably shouldn’t be working in any case. The doctor said he needs to rest for at least 24 hours.”
Watching my mother fall under Ben’s spell, I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one who found him irresistible.

“Mason,” he said, nudging me.
I glanced up, my cheeks heating as I realised I’d been lost in my daydreams again. “Yeah?”
“I’ll pop by tomorrow and make sure you’re feeling better, okay?”
“Why?” I waved my hand at him. “You don’t need to. I really appreciate your help today though. Thank you.”
“You have so many friends that you can afford to turn a new one away?”
“What?” I frowned at him, then tried to uncrinkle my forehead as frowning apparently doesn’t go with concussion headaches. “You… What?”
He laughed, and I knew I was doomed.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” He nodded at my mother. “Ma’am.”
I stood stiffly by my mother as we both watched Ben clamber back in his car and drive off.
“So, new friend?” she asked as I shuffled my way up the path to the front door.
“Mum, don’t start. I’m 99% sure he isn’t gay. I’m sure he would have said so.”
“Maybe not. But he seems like a lovely young man. Now, you park yourself on the couch, and then I want to hear the whole story.”
I groaned. “Can I at least have some Panadol before the interrogation?”