To start with I’d like to thank Dani and the rest of you at Lovebytes for having me back as a guest. I like blogging, and always appreciate the chance to connect with readers.
Today’s post is to celebrate the release of Aqua Follies, my m/m romance set in 1950s Seattle. See, they say to write what you know, which goes a long way toward explaining why so many of my stories end up set in my home town. (Well, not technically my home town – I wasn’t born here, but have lived here most of the time since 1974, so it counts. 😊 )
At any rate, as a backdrop for a good book, Seattle’s one of my favorite cities.
Seattle’s a lot younger than New Orleans and not nearly as large as Los Angeles – my other go-to cities. There are things about Seattle that come to mind fairly easily, like the Space Needle, or guys throwing fish in the Pike Street Market, or other guys wearing plaid flannel playing loud, buzzy rock n’ role. The trick is to hint at the essence of the city without having a character playing grunge in the Market with the Space Needle in the background. (Which would be hard to line up, because those two landmarks aren’t all that close.)
The Seattle I know is polite, and a little distant. We know more ways to describe a cloudy day than just about anyplace else in the country. All that overcast filters the light, making everything just a little bit pearly. That means when the sun it out, the sky is bluer and the trees are greener than you could ever imagine.
Our inclination toward good manners makes Seattle a tolerant place. We joke about living inside our blue bubble, but our history of open-mindedness predates the current political toxicity. As a port city, Seattle saw a massive influx of young people during the Second World War. A percentage of them – mostly men, but some women too – who’d grown up in small towns, out on the farm, unable to find anyone who shared their inclinations, were suddenly in a place to meet all kinds of sympathetic souls.
And the Seattle Police Department (bless their hearts) were willing to ignore the existence of certain same-sex establishments in the Skid Road neighborhood, as long as the proprietors made their weekly payments.
Yeah, Seattle has a history of graft and corruption, too.
I didn’t know all this until I started researching Aqua Follies, and I learned a whole lot from the book Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging by Gary Atkins. In some ways, the city plays more of a role in Aqua Follies than any of my other books. The combination of influences built into this story would be hard to duplicate any place else.
Now keep reading for an excerpt from Aqua Follies, and I do hope you’ll enter the rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 gift card. Some lucky dog’s gonna win it! (lol!)
Aqua Follies Blurb
The 1950s. Postwar exuberance. Conformity. Rock and roll.
Russell tells himself he’ll marry Susie because it’s the right thing to do. His summer job coaching her water ballet team will give him plenty of opportunity to give her a ring. But on the team’s trip to the annual Aqua Follies, the joyful glide of a trumpet player’s solo hits Russell like a torpedo, blowing apart his carefully constructed plans.
From the orchestra pit, Skip watches Poseidon’s younger brother stalk along the pool deck. It never hurts to smile at a man, because sometimes good things can come of it. Once the last note has been played, Skip gives it a shot.
The tenuous connection forged by a simple smile leads to events that dismantle both their lives. Has the damage been done, or can they pick up the pieces together?
The phone in Skip’s apartment rang twice in quick succession. His ring. Not the neighbor’s long single ring or the long-short from down the hall. His ring on the party line.
What the heck does Lou want now?
He rolled off the bed, catching himself right before he landed on the floor, and picked up the receiver.
“Skip? It’s Russell.”
The air left Skip’s lungs as if he’d been shot with a gun. He didn’t want to talk to Russell. He wanted to forget. Dragging his fingers through his hair, he marshalled some words of his own.
Behind the silence on Russell’s end, a car’s horn honked. Women’s voices. Street noise. He isn’t on a train. “What are you even doing? Where are you?”
“By the tavern, on Second Avenue and, ah…” The background noise got muffled, as if Russell had pressed the receiver against his chest. “Washington, I think.”
“Well, what’s your story, morning glory?” Skip dropped into the one comfortable chair, hunched over, propping his elbows on his thighs. Whatever the story was, he had a feeling he wouldn’t like it.
Russell took so long to respond, Skip tracked most of a conversation happening out on the street, something about a liquor store with beer on sale. When he couldn’t wait any longer, he tried again. “Russ?”
“I’m sorry. I have a favor to ask.” A rapping noise interrupted him. “Just a minute,” Russell said, though Skip couldn’t tell who he was talking to. Again the sound from the phone was muffled, with only broken phrases making it to Skip’s end.
“Sorry,” Russell said after a moment.
“You keep saying that.”
“What?” Stress zinged over the line.
“I’m so… Wait.” Russell chuckled, and Skip finally took a breath. His whole body buzzed with tension. It was only about six o’clock, plenty early enough for…all kinds of things.
“I was wondering if, well, could you meet me down here for a drink? Please?” Russell sounded cool, the way he’d sounded when he told off Officer Murphy after the jam session.
Must be nervous. Skip’s resistance softened, but drinks at the bar would surely end up further than he wanted to go. “I’ll pick you up, and we’ll go get a burger somewhere.” He’d just been lying around feeling sorry for himself, anyway.
“I would offer to pick you up, but—”
“You left your rocket at home.”
The rapping sound started again. “There’s a guy who might die if I don’t give him the phone booth.” Russell sounded irritated, and Skip had to smile imagining Mr. Midwest’s glare.
“Be careful. He might want to do perverted things to you.”
The silence between them got real heavy real quick. “But I don’t want to do perverted things with him.”
The weight on the final word left Skip with little doubt about his meaning. He didn’t know why Russell was still around, but real quick decided not to look a gift horse in the muzzle. “Walk out of the Square.” Skip wasn’t one bit ashamed of the roughness in his voice. “Toward the totem pole. I’ll be down there in ten minutes.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
About Liv Rancourt I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.
Where to find Liv