He just discovered why his dad died. Now ‘tis the season for a rampage of revenge…
“If you like your festive stories dark and twisted, Freddy Cruz has a gem for you. Allow Me to Ruin Your Christmas is packed full of secrets, lies and diabolical characters you’ll love to hate.” _ Adam Hamdy, bestselling author of The Other Side of Night.
Beckett needs his eyes bleached. Catching his mom and his favorite pod-caster doing things that will get them on Santa’s naked and naughty list is enough to turn his stomach. And after he agrees to officially meet the new boyfriend, his slightly nauseous Yuletide cheer devolves into rage when he learns the guy was involved in his father’s death.
Driven by the need for vengeance, the incensed son sets out to stuff the home-wrecking grinch’s stocking with burning coal—by going after the los-er’s wife and daughter. But as Beckett’s gore-trimmed plan descends into chaos, another ghastly secret could send him into murderous overdrive.
Is he about to unwrap a no-holds-barred retribution spree?
Allow Me to Ruin Your Christmas is a perfectly gruesome revenge thriller. If you like characters pushed over the edge, dark acts, and family drama, then you’ll love Freddy Cruz’s bloodstained holiday treat.
So Freddy, welcome. Good morning. Welcome to Discovered Wordsmith. How are you today?
Freddy: Wonderful. Thank you
Stephen: so much for the invite. Yeah, it’s good to have you here. I can’t wait to find out about this book. It’s perfect timing for the time of year, . Yeah, it’s, no, please go ahead. Oh no. You go ahead. I was just gonna say, tell us a little bit about yourself where you live, some of the things you like to do besides writing.
Freddy: Yeah, absolutely. I am in the greater Houston area, technically Richmond, which is about a half an hour outside of downtown Houston. I am an entrepreneur who owns a media company that centers around storytelling and helping brands and individuals share their stories with the world. So it, writing books and doing podcasts and helping with podcast production is, it’s really all intertwined.
Stephen: I agree. I like that cuz I’ve heard a lot more about nonfiction, writing it in a story style and companies telling their story through their brand and all that. And it kinda sparked me, my idea of working with kids, not just on writing books and stories, but stories and video games and how they can, get into the video game industry by writing instead of having to code.
Everyone thinks you got a code and there’s so much more to it.
Freddy: Yeah, absolutely. In video games, The best video games, at least in my humble opinion, is are the games that are story based. We got, I don’t know how old you are. I’m 47, so I grew up with Atari 2,600 Snooze. Yeah.
And, but Nintendo 64, man, we got Metro, we got Legend of Zel. Frogger was fun, but I where’s the story in that You get splat hit by a truck. But
Stephen: those, but it still fun several seasons of a cartoon, so if they created something
Freddy: there. Yeah, absolutely. But yeah, no, it’s like that journey that you go on and it gets you it gets you sucked in, then next thing you know, it summer’s over and it’s time to go back to school.
Stephen: So yeah, I, I’m, I, same age and I agree with you some of those. A lot of people now complain about, oh, that game sucks because the graphics weren’t that great. I grew up on a Commodore in a Atari. If the game was fun, that was all it mattered, the graphics? Yeah. But it’s so funny now you got so many independents doing eight bit graphic video games after everyone was saying, oh, we need better graphics.
And not always true. Not in the video game world.
Freddy: So yeah, everything old is new again, .
Stephen: Exactly. Except us, right? ? Yeah. Oh
Freddy: God. Don’t remind.
Stephen: All right you live in Houston, so you haven’t been getting the cold weather like we have up here, .
Freddy: Yeah. No, absolutely. And we live three years in Minneapolis, so we know all about cold and so yes.
Okay. Yeah, so the cold weather up there, it’s much like the heat down here where you could be native and you just don’t get used to. But I will say when we lived up north there was a threshold and it wasn’t free. The technically freezing mark, it was 20 degrees at some point when it, when the weather was, when it got up to 20.
All right. I can go outside with a dog and we can go play and that was it. But if it wasn’t the teens or lower, forget it.
Stephen: Yeah. And the wind and all that. Definitely. Yeah. Okay. Your book we’re gonna talk about is Allow me to Ruin Your Christmas, and it’s a great time of year for that which title is very intriguing.
Tell us a little bit about this book and why you wanted to.
Freddy: Yeah, first first and foremost, I gotta tell you because I love the story. I was talking to Tweet t Sutherland during season one of my episode of my podcast rather. And And she was asking because every now and then I’ll pull my last question because it’s Freddy’s huge Ask podcast.
It’s an interview form. So the last question, every now and then I’ll say, Hey, so this is Freddy. See Ask podcast. What would you like to ask me? And so I asked tw that question and she asked me what I was working on. And so I told her about the book. It’s it’s a thriller. It’s set in Houston around the holiday season.
Oh, what’s it called? And I told her that I wasn. Sure about the title yet, and I had a couple of working titles, like he Ruined My Christmas and then I forget what the other working title was, and then I just, for some reason it just came out and then I’m thinking, maybe allow me to Ruin Your Christmas.
And she started laughing. She thought that was funny. And so I’m like, okay, here’s a best selling author who likes the title. And so she just basically affirmed what it.
Stephen: Absolutely. That’s great. Yeah. It’s a fiction book. What is it? Is it you’re ruining all the kids by telling them about Santa Claus?
Tell us a little bit about the story without giving it all away. Yeah, sure.
Freddy: Coincidentally, it but not really has to do with Santa, but rather two unsavory individuals. One is college aged the other is middle aged. And so the college. Discovers the older guy in a very compromising position at home with his mom.
And so it’s, it just all goes downhill from chapter one. He discovers that they’re having an affair. He’s married, and then he discovers that this guy had something to do with the death of his. And so from that plot point which is just a few chapters in, so this isn’t really giving anything away from that plot point, it just all goes downhill for both of ’em.
Stephen: it’s not a like Christmas horror slasher movie is my first thought reading that title. ? Yeah.
Freddy: Yeah. It, I don’t wanna say it’s not slasher because. There is some death. Okay. And I’ll leave it at that. Okay. But yeah, thing, things go south really bad for both individuals.
Stephen: I, I love that because I like to watch a lot of horror movies leading up to Halloween.
And I like to watch a lot of good Christmas movies in December, but November was this. So I compromised and I watched Christmas horror movies in December, so it’s like that transition in. Yeah. So this sounds like it’d be like a great movie. So let me ask you that. If someone asked you, would you like to see this turned into a movie or a TV show?
Freddy: I certainly wouldn’t turn down either offer, but I feel like a series would prolong the success of the franchise. Yeah. I. For some reason, I don’t know that this particular book would work in a series format. My first novel is probably out of my three, is probably the only one that will work, that would work in a series format.
The other two including this one would be more apropo for a movie. But, what do I know? I don’t produce film or tv. So I could be totally off base here, .
Stephen: So what does, like genre, do you classify this in? Is it an action, is it thriller? What do you think it.
Freddy: It’s labeled.
When you look under Amazon, it’s labeled as a mystery and a thriller. Okay. Yeah. Right with a holiday theme. Yeah. A twist of, I don’t wanna say just because people die, that it’s horror, but people die and there’s some ruthless, there’s some ruthlessness in the book.
Okay. And so that’s why I’m not really sure that it I’m, I tend to think that it does delve into horror. I’m just not so sure that just because people die, yeah. Because people can die in a comedy.
Stephen: We, we, yeah. We, it seems like books nowadays are really getting away from that strict classification and you get lots of little bits here and there.
think Netflix system of just using tags is much better to, oh, I like gritty and horror and I, so I like this, yeah. I think that would be good. So can you think are there any books out there that are of similar for people that have said, oh, I’ve read that sounds like I’d like Freddy’s book.
Freddy: I don’t know that there’s a, a particular comp. I will say though, that if you, so my favorite authors are Chuck Pollick, the Mastermind behind Fight Club. I love Carolyn Kipp the author of the U series. So those are my two favorite writers. And so if anyone likes that kind of style, the gritty, dark humor very strange kind of fiction, transgressive creepy fiction, then you will like this.
Stephen: Okay. All right. Now, I’ve heard of Chuck I haven’t heard of Carolyn. What’s that series like? I’ll put some links, Freddy’s favorites in the show notes. Yeah.
Freddy: The u yeah, the U Series follows someone who is a who’s a serial killer. He ends up being a serial killer, but the u the U in the U series, he is talking, it’s written in the second person, so he’s talking to his victim.
Soon to be victim. And the second person, so you’re reading it and it’s like he’s reading the book to you, like he’s narrating to you. Wow. So it’s Hey, you came into the bookshop and look at you wearing this. Oh yeah. You are doing this. Oh, you’re gonna be doing that. Yeah. And the the narrative that the style is just on point.
On point. Yeah. And a Netflix series, so anybody listen. May have seen the Netflix series and not realized that it’s based on a book. I do prefer the audio book over both Netflix and the actual, pages. Just because Santino Fontana is one hell of an audio audio book narrator. He is just flawless.
Stephen: Nice. Yeah I’ve had a couple audio books I prefer over the written book and partly because of the narrator they just nailed it
Freddy: what’s your favorite audio book?
Stephen: I’ve got two of them and they’re one’s good, what I normally read, but the other one’s a little off. My favorite two are the odd Thomas books which I can’t remember the narrator at the moment, but he just nailed the tone of the book and the.
The voice of the main character, so well that I just, I’ve listened to it multiple times. And then the other is way off what I normally listen to, but it’s the silky Stackhouse books that the True Blood TV show was based on. For some reason her voice talking is just, Way fits the, again, the tone of the whole book.
And I listen to that whole series and I normally would not pick up like a Paranormal Romance book, but it really works
Freddy: for me. . Okay. It’s called the Soki What? Soki
Stephen: Stackhouse Mystery Novels. It’s the, how do you spell that? How do you spell that? Soki, S O K I E. And Stackhouse S T a C K House.
Freddy: Huh? I’m writing it down for people that are not watching, I’m writing it down. All right, cool. Yeah. . All right.
Stephen: Yeah. If you’ve ever watched True Blood, it’s the books that, those, that TV show was on. It’s Southern Romance Vampires.
Freddy: Interesting. Yeah. You ever been to oh gosh, now I’m spacing on the name.
It’s outside. It’s about an hour outside of Atlanta where they did the other Vampire series. The Vampire Diaries.
Stephen: Oh no, but I’ve heard you can go and visit. Yeah.
Freddy: Yeah. And they film one of the one of the Halloween movies there. And there another classic movie. It’s a really cool, quaint kind of country town.
It’s a long drive, like well over an hour. It’s not quite two hours. But yeah, it’s it’s interesting. It’s a nice little town. You go and you. Fresh, homemade hand turned ice cream, and the food’s really good. And see where the slashes were. Yeah, just going. Yeah. And then there’s a map.
There’s a map of of all the houses where the where the vampire, where the quote unquote vampires lived in the, from the Vampire Diaries. And this was right, right before Covid started to get real serious. It was March 2020. And my family and I we had gone. And and here we’re just, it’s me, my wife, and two teenage girls who are hooked on Vampire Diaries.
And and we’re walking through this neighborhood and standing in front of homes, taking pictures of people’s houses. And I’m like, y’all. This is embarrassing . And normally teenagers are embarrassed by their parents. But hear me being the dad, I’m like just cross my arms, my hand over my face.
Nobody noticed me. Nobody noticed me. But yeah. Yeah, that’s something you can do.
Stephen: I was in New Orleans last year and I went around cuz there’s been multiple movies shot there. I went to the square where the one James Bond was. I looked up N C I S, new Orleans, the different spots. And it’s hilarious because they have this.
Place they go in to go to their headquarters and it’s marked, and you can go to it and it’s a somebody’s garage. There’s nothing in there that they really walk into. They just film the outside parts, then go somewhere else to film the rest of it. It’s hilarious.
Freddy: Yeah, it’s incredible what they make it look like.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. It fools you. But I got a picture there, so I’m like, Ooh, . For this book people that have read it, what have, what’s the feedback?
Freddy: The book is, I don’t know, at the, I don’t, we’re recording on November 10th, so I’m not sure when the episode will be out, but it’s only been out for a few days.
I’ve got a couple of reviewers who says it’s a haunting and chilling revenge thriller. There’s a gentleman who was recently on my podcast who. Was gracious enough to blurb it and he was like, the, these characters are diabolical and you’ll love to hate them. And yeah, it’s so far so good.
My beta readers seem to like it, and it was just, it was interesting. It was a different, it was a different writing experience for me because I have never written from the first person. I’ve never written first person present with two characters in alternating chapters. And so it was a neat format for me to to explore.
And like I said, it, things go very badly for both individuals and in the book’s, darkest moments. It was strange. What kind of took over as I was writing it and then like the feeling. It like I’m writing these scenes and it felt like I actually did something. Oh, wow.
Like I wrote the, I only wrote them, but it felt like I was actually engaged in the physical moment and
Stephen: in your mind kinda took over your body and made it feel like it had done what it
Freddy: had. Yeah. Yeah. And I hate. I hate to sound like that kind of author. Oh, my characters made me do it. But no, that’s a real, it’s a real thing.
And there was one particular day where it was during the, one of the most conflict written passages of the book. And I had written two chapters, so obviously it’s alternating first person present, so it was one character did this one thing in one chapter to the guy, and then the guy who had it done to him is writing it as, so he’s narrating as it’s happening to him and it, I had to step outside and I couldn’t write for a couple of days because it really messed with my head.
Stephen: make sense? That’s intense. Yeah, that’s intense. Cuz you’re the one writing it. You get that people reading books that like, wow, that, if you, it’s almost it I liked quantum physics and I always say, maybe there’s something coming in from another world. You’re just channeling what’s there.
Maybe you have an ultra ego that did experience it and you connected .
Freddy: Yeah. And it makes you, it really makes you wonder.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. Let me ask you this, Freddy, is your house haunted?
Freddy: No, not that I know of. The do will. Oh, , that’s my dog, .
Stephen: I was in here, I’m like, why didn’t see somebody come in?
Just check .
Freddy: Yeah. My kid my younger daughter will tell you that when she was a little girl, she would have dreams about a little girl in her room.
Stephen: And I’ve talked to some other kids and people with the same type of thing.
Freddy: Yeah. And as a teenager I’ll tell her, yeah what better you than me kid?
Yeah. Yeah. I never tell her. I never tell the eight year old version of her that . But as a teenager,
Stephen: Now you can pick on, I just said that to a friend. We’ve, all our kids are above 20 and we were saying, playing a game and said something. It’s man, isn’t it great when the kids grow up big enough that you can like, be mean to ’em, and not get in trouble?
Cause they’re adults. Yeah.
Freddy: Scar them for
Stephen: life. Yeah. Yeah. So is your book self-published or do you have a publisher?
Freddy: It is indie published through Tuscany Bay Books.
Stephen: Okay. Is that your own or is Somebo some other publishing? Yeah,
Freddy: it’s somebody else’s press it’s Richard Pellis Press out of California.
Stephen: Oh nice. Okay, great. And we talked about the TV show. Do you have a website?
Freddy: I do. You can go to, for anybody interested in allow me to Ruin Your Christmas. The website is ruin my Christmas dot.
Stephen: Nice. So do you get a different website for each of your books?
Freddy: No, this is just a what do they call it?
A, a, it’s just a rebranded link that redirects to my website.
Stephen: Okay. Oh, I like that. Yeah. Okay. That’s an idea for, yeah, there’s
Freddy: a technical term. Yeah, there’s a technical term for it and I forget,
Freddy: Yeah, redirect. Something like that. Yeah. Redirected website.
Stephen: So what are your plans for your next book now that this one’s out?
Freddy: Yeah. I’ve had a couple of ideas of what I’d like to write for my next fiction book, but I’m at a point where I think with 2024 coming up, I know next year’s 2023, but the five year anniversary of my first book is gonna be in 2024. And I feel like it behooves me to do a sort of remix of my first novel and with a new cover with expanded beginnings, middles and endings, and I was wrestling around with maybe an idea of, Maybe journal entries from one or two of the characters.
Maybe a short story or novella, like a prequel or a sequel or both. I don’t know what that, I don’t know what the five year anniversary remix would be. Other than it’s going to have new artwork and it’s going to be kick ass because I feel like since since 2018 writing my my.
Manuscript. I feel like I’ve learned a lot as far as storytelling and plotting and character development. So much so that with my third novel I didn’t work with the, with a developmental editor. I plotted it out and allowed myself a little bit of grace to let the characters tell me what to do.
But I I did work with a copy editor and proof reader. For reference. But I did not do, I did not use a developmental editor for the first two books I did. And I feel like I learned a lot through each, through working with each of these women. And it was like, it was almost like going to to a writing school.
When When you get a really good developmental editor, that’s what it’s like because they don’t cherry pick. For instance, the. With the second book she literally told me, you lost me as a reader. Wow. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m self-loathing, but I welcome one of my friends who does public speaking training.
He calls it hot and cold feedback. So hot being positive, cold, being negative. I love cold feedback. I just do, I think that’s where a lot of growth happens. Because if someone is just gonna be, Hey, Steven, great job. And then the one time you actually do something that is not right, your whole world comes crumbling down,
Stephen: So I, I totally agree. Same thing. I learned a lot from my editor and grew a lot from that. And I, I’ve had people. Let read my stuff. Oh yeah, that was great. I’m like, that doesn’t help me. I can’t get better. I would rather people tell me, this is what’s not good, what I don’t like before I release it, and then it flops and I don’t make any money and nobody else reads it.
And you know you want all of those things. That’s why you’re writing it, know? yeah. And they don’t understand. I’m. You’re not attacking me personally. You’re helping me improve because I can’t see my own flaws. I want that and ask that. Now, if somebody’s being a troll and just starts attacking you personally, it’s ignore them.
They’re not helping you either. .
Freddy: Yeah. I feel like that’s why I feel like that’s why in order to write fiction, I think you should be at least 30 or at least 30. That way you’re, you’ve got the emotional maturity. That’s what they claim. Yeah. That’s what they claim. But no, I think it it, it takes a certain set of, I think you have to have a level of thick skin because if you’re younger, you’re still discovering yourself.
And it could be to get that kind of brutally honest. Can really stifle your growth and make you not want to ever write again.
Stephen: Yeah. Agreed. Let me ask, do you have any favorite bookstores you like to go to?
Freddy: You know what I do? There’s one in Southwest Houston called Murder by the Book, and the website is murder books.com.
That. Don’t let the name fool you. They sell all kinds of books, but I just love this place. It’s a nice little shop. And they host authors from all walks of life, from all genres. They go in during covid, they were doing a lot of the virtual signing virtual event. But they hosted me for, from my first book, but they’ve had Brad Thor, they’ve had Ruth.
We in February, January or February, I forget. I’m gonna, I’m gonna host a live q and a tentatively speaking with Brad Taylor. So Nice. Yeah. It’s just a, it’s a fun place. It’s a fun place. They got a they’ve. A space for for q and a events. So you can squeeze about maybe 30 people into the little space.
And you got the table with the chairs and the mics and yeah it’s a fun, it’s a fun spot for uh, for anyone who wants to learn about their favorite writer.
Stephen: Good. I’ll put a link to their website. I like to, help bookstores out some too, if we can do that’s great. All right.
Before we move on to the second half and talk some author stuff for everybody listening if they said, Hey, Freddy, what’s this horror Christmas book about this murder Christmases, why should I get this and read this? What would you tell ’em?
Freddy: I would tell them that if they are tired of the feel good Christmas movie specials on tv, and they just need something different, this is a book for.
If you are tired of characters that just always do the right thing no matter what. This is the book for you. We’ve got perfectly flawed individuals doing terrible things, and they have no idea that they’re doing terrible things because they think that they’re doing them for all the right reasons.
They don’t see their flaws. And I think that’s what makes for a great story, is perfectly imperfect. People doing crazy, insane things, and they have, they’re totally self.
Stephen: Great. All right. Freddy I appreciate you talking to us and sharing your book with us. I wish you luck and we should have this episode out before Christmas so everyone can get the book and read it to get in that Christmas spirit.