Thank you so much, Charlie, for inviting me over to the Purple Rose Teahouse to talk about my new release, After Christmas Eve. You’ve really done a nice job. The place is gorgeous!
To celebrate the 10/11 release of my second novel, I’m giving away 10 copies (ebooks) through an 11-stop blog hop. To enter, comment before midnight, October 25, 2013 on any of my posts on the eleven participating blogs. Be sure to include an email address.
My first novel, Until Thanksgiving, takes place in 1996 in Washington DC. I happened to have lived in DC that year. You might say the main character and I were… roommates. We went to a lot of the same places and knew all the same people. Setting the scene was easy because I could draw on my memories.
After Christmas Eve is a prequel, inspired by a scene from the first book when Philip Potter mentions to his nephew something about a lover he’d lost thirty years earlier. For a novel to be considered historical fiction, the story needs to take place more than fifty years ago. After Christmas Eve is set in 1966. If I’d just waited a few more years….
As an eight-year-old living in Lexington KY at the time the story takes place, my memories weren’t much help. So I turned to Maurice Dorsey, a friend I’d made during the eighteen months I lived in DC. His firsthand accounts of gay life in the sixties opened my eyes to a history I didn’t know nearly as much about as I thought.
Writing what I knew—or thought I knew—had been my credo. Committing to Philip’s story put me way outside of my comfort zone. But I blazed forward, knowing Philip would tell me what I needed to know. And he did, throwing in more than a few surprises.
Here’s the blurb:
As Philip Potter wraps up his last minute shopping on Christmas Eve, 1966, James Walker, his lover of six years, takes his life. Unaware of what waits for him at home, Philip drops off gifts to the homeless shelter, an act of generosity that later makes him a suspect in the murder of a male prostitute.
Two men drive yellow Continentals. One is a killer, with the blood of at least six hustlers on his hands. Both men have secrets. And as Philip is about to discover, James had kept secrets, too. But James wasn’t trying to frame him for murder…
*This is the second of eleven stops on the After Christmas Eve Blog Hop. Excerpts appear in serial form along the hop, beginning with my post at http://www.shiraanthony.com.
Sweet, sensitive James would explain his fascination with ballet, share his excitement upon first seeing The Nutcracker, and reveal his dream of performing the role of the Snow King. He’d tell his father how much he’d learned from the classes he and Philip had saved up for him to attend, and explain why he needed to quit his job to train full-time under the tutelage of Mary Day at the Washington School of Ballet.
Philip had met the doyenne of dance at a fundraising gala for the arts. She’d insisted James drop whatever he was doing to study with her full time and had raved about his natural grace and beautiful lines. The cost of her lessons had given Philip pause, but only because he thought she should back up her words with a scholarship or find a patron to pick up the tab. Still, considering the sacrifices James had made while Philip was in graduate school, he’d do whatever he could to help James’s dreams come true too—including swallowing his pride and accepting a handout from the father who’d had nothing to do with his son for the last six years.
Philip hoped Roland Walker would see how James’s eyes blazed when he talked about loving to dance and sense his son’s passion for ballet. He’d have to be blind to miss it. Wouldn’t a father do anything he could to help a child’s dreams come true? Whatever differences they might have, James was Roland’s son. Wouldn’t any man want his son to be happy?
As they’d never met, imagining Roland’s part of the conversation was more difficult. Given the man’s reaction to finding out his son preferred men to women, Philip suspected that not one thin dime of the fortune he’d made in plastics would go toward ballet lessons for his son. Still, James wanted to try.
Unlike Philip, who’d always known he wanted to work at the Smithsonian, James had struggled to find his passion. In the time they’d been together, James had jumped headfirst into a host of careers ranging from welder and sculptor to gardener, house painter, and then on to singing and playing several musical instruments. A half-hearted stab at acting had landed him in a local production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Philip remembered how horrified James had been about having to dance in front of an audience when he got the part.
Like an indulgent father, Philip had gone along with James’s desire to dance, believing in the back of his mind that like the rest of his short-lived occupations, dance too would soon fall by the wayside. But that hadn’t happened. James loved to dance as much as Philip enjoyed historical artifacts. Recognition from Mary Day had upped the ante. Her interest in James proved he was meant to dance. Finding his calling had changed him. If a lack of money prevented James from pursuing his dream, Philip didn’t know what would happen.
They’d gone over the numbers a hundred times. James could quit waiting tables to concentrate on his dance career. Philip’s job at the Smithsonian paid enough to support the two of them. But tuition for the Washington School of Ballet was out of reach.
Way out of reach.
Continued on 10/15 on Tali Spencer’s blog (http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com)
Buy link: MLR Press http://www.mlrbooks.com/
Web site: http://rupured.com