Hullo, everyone, and thanks for joining us for another edition of Genre Talk hosted by the fab team here at The Novel Approach Reviews. Today we have DSP Publications author Michael Rupured here with a guest post, and an excerpt from his new Historical/Mystery & Suspense novel No Good Deed. So without further nattering from me, let’s hand the reins over to Michael and enjoy the ride.
No Good Deed: On Christmas Eve in 1966, Philip Potter, a kind-hearted Smithsonian curator, wraps up his last-minute shopping. Meanwhile, his lover of several years takes his own life back in their home. Unaware of what awaits him, Philip drops off gifts at a homeless shelter, an act of generosity that will later make him a suspect in the murder of a male prostitute.
Following James’s shocking death, two men enter Philip’s life—and both drive yellow Continentals. One of them, though, is a killer, with the blood of at least six hustlers on his hands. And both are hiding something.
As Philip is about to discover, no good deed goes unpunished.
Thanks for the opportunity to talk about historical fiction on Genre Talk. As a reader, I enjoy reading just about anything I can find. Genre matters much less than interesting characters and a good story. Hold my attention and I’ll keep turning the pages until “the end.”
My favorite stories span many genres. The best take me someplace I’ve never been before. Some genres appeal to me more than others, but historical fiction is a longtime favorite. Learning about the past is a lot more interesting in fiction than in history textbooks.
Writers like James Michener, Taylor Caldwell, Diana Gabaldon and many others transported me to unfamiliar times and places. Entertaining stories kept me turning the pages. Learning something was icing on the cake.
The stories I write reflect my eclectic reading interests. Half my books take place in the 1960s—just long ago enough to meet the fifty-year requirement to be classified as historical. I’ve published a thriller (Until Thanksgiving), historical/suspense (Happy Independence Day), contemporary comedy (Whippersnapper), and with No Good Deed, an historical mystery.
My initial plunge into writing historical fiction was a fluke. The reader in me didn’t want to let go of the characters I’d created for my first book—especially Philip Potter. I wanted to know more about him and what precipitated his interest in homeless gay youths. His reference to the suicide of a lover thirty years earlier seemed like a good place to start. No Good Deed is the result.
My stories are “true enough for government work.” Some say I write mainstream fiction with gay main characters. Before DSP Publications, my stories were packaged as m-m romances. I’ve felt like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. Although many of the characters in my stories are in relationships, romance is not the central focus. Truth be told, I can’t write romance. When I’ve tried, reviews—good and bad—often begin with “this is not a romance.” Presenting No Good Deed as a straight up historical mystery gives readers a much better idea of what to expect.
Setting No Good Deed in the Washington DC of 1966 required extensive research. Fortunately, dear friend and fellow author Maurice Dorsey lived out and proud in our nation’s capital during the 1960s. Hearing from him about the way things used to be was a revelation. A good story is always my first priority, but showing how very much life in the LGBT community has changed since then quickly became important to me as well.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to publish with DSP Publications. A special shout out to AgnstyG for creating a beautiful and interesting cover. Thanks, too, to Lisa and everyone else at The Novel Approach for giving writers outside of the m-m romance genre a platform to tell readers about our books.
On behalf of Elizabeth Noble and myself, we at Genre Talk concur and add our thanks to Michael’s. And thanks as well to Michael for joining us here, and sharing his thoughts, as well as bringing along the following excerpt from his new Historical/Mystery & Suspense release No Good Deed:
Someone pulled on Philip’s shoulder, tugging hard. He willed his body to cooperate and rolled onto his back. Ice slid from his eyebrows, down his cheeks, and into his ear. No wonder he was so cold.
A gloved hand touched Philip’s cheek. He heard a deep voice with a Southern drawl, sweet and slow like honey. “Sir, can you hear me?”
Philip rubbed his lashes with shaking fingers and opened his eyes. The flashing lights played across the man who knelt beside him. “Yes,” he answered.
“Are you all right?” The man brushed snow and ice from Philip’s coat.
Philip glimpsed the stranger’s profile in the flickering light. He moved his legs, shook his arms, and turned his head from side to side. “Honestly, I’m not sure.”
“Can you sit up?” The man offered his hand.
Philip grabbed it, and, with a lot of help, pulled himself into a sitting position. “Thank you, Mr.…?” He looked up and stopped shivering. His breath caught in his throat. The handsome man who’d come to his rescue belonged in the movies.
The stranger gathered up the last-minute gifts scattered across the sidewalk and placed them in the tattered Sears & Roebuck shopping bag. “Beauregard Carter. Want to try standing up?”
Dazzling blue eyes peered back at Philip as his shivering resumed. He didn’t know when he’d ever been so cold. With less help than he’d needed before, Philip rose to his feet and trembled from the cold on quivering knees. “Philip P-P-P-Potter,” he barked out as his teeth rattled together. “I d-d-d-d-don’t know w-w-w-what h-h-h-happ—”
“Your faggot boyfriend blew his brains out.”
Pain poured over Philip like a wave of boiling water. “No!” He wailed, pressing his knuckles into his cheeks. Cold chills racked his body, and he would have hit the ground again had Mr. Carter not jumped to his rescue. Philip clutched Mr. Carter’s lapels, sobbing and shivering. “Why?” He repeated the word over and over as strong arms kept him from falling and steered him away from the curious spectators.
The crowd didn’t seem to notice. Their attention was focused on the apartment building’s entrance, watching as police came and went. Philip stepped away from Mr. Carter, pulling a white silk handkerchief from an inside coat pocket. Cold impeded his speech. “I’m so sorry” came out as a strangled moan. “Thank you for helping me, I’m forever in your debt, and don’t let me keep you any longer” remained mere thoughts. Philip stared at the ground, fingering the handkerchief along the edge where his sister had embroidered his name in black thread.
“I’m not going anywhere, Mr. Potter, until I know you’re okay and have somewhere to go.” He grasped Philip’s arm. “You really don’t need to be alone right now.”
Responding to the gentle pressure pulling him forward, Philip fell into step behind Mr. Carter, the folded handkerchief slipping from his hand.
“Come with me. My apartment is a block away. Is there someone you can call to come and get you?”
It took Phillip a minute to realize he’d been asked a question, and another to respond. He was shivering so much his teeth rattled. The answer came to mind right away, but it was frozen in his head and couldn’t get out. Philip came to a stop to focus on answering the question. “M-M-M-Mary.”
“Good,” Mr. Carter said, grabbing Philip’s elbow. “You can call her from my place and warm up while you wait.”
Philip heard the words but had no sense of their meaning. He focused on lifting one foot and then the other, placing each back on the icy ground with care to keep from falling. Whether they walked a block or many miles, Philip couldn’t say. He placed his faith in the hand that led him through the silent night.
Author Bio: Michael Rupured writes “stories true enough for government work.” He grew up in Lexington, Kentucky and, since 1998, has lived in Athens, Georgia. He’s an avid fan of SEC sports—especially Georgia football, Kentucky basketball, and women’s gymnastics. He enjoys running, working out at the gym, and playing with his long-haired Chihuahuas, Tico and Toodles. He joined the Athens Writers Workshop in 2010 and has since published Until Thanksgiving (2012), Happy Independence Day (2014 Rainbow Award runner up for historical fiction), Whippersnapper (2016), and No Good Deed (released by MLR Press as After Christmas Eve in 2013).
Thanks again to Michael, and to all of you, for spending time with us today. Join us next time on Genre Talk when John Inman stops by to tell us about his upcoming Spiritual release The Second Son (available for preorder now).