We’re so pleased to welcome author Liv Rancourt to TNA today to chat about her newest novel, Aqua Follies, set in 1950s Seattle. She’s sharing a great giveaway too, so be sure to check out those details below.
I want to start by thanking Lisa and The Novel Approach for having me back as a guest. I’ve been working toward Aqua Follies’ release day for a couple of years now, and can’t quite believe it’s almost here.
See, about three years ago I saw a publisher’s call for submissions. They wanted stories set in the 1950s for an anthology, and for some reason the time period intrigued me. Pretty much all I knew about the ‘50s came from “Grease” and “Happy Days”, though neither of those stories suggested ‘romance novel’, you know?
Danny & Sandy might have found a happily-ever-after, and maybe Joanie really did love Chachi, but…
At any rate, I was up for the challenge, so I put my brainstorming cap on – it’s like a thinking cap, but weirder (lol!). I didn’t want to create a cartoon version of the ‘50s; I wanted the real thing. Then a friend suggested setting the story during the Aqua Follies, a variety show on the water that was part of Seattle’s Seafair celebration every year from 1950 – 1962. I didn’t know much about the Follies – or the ‘50s, for that matter – but the more I learned, the more I’d felt like I’d found the perfect backdrop for a novel.
Especially once I decided to make it a gay romance.
You can say a lot of good things about the ‘50s, but conformity was king, and it was a pretty horrible time to be gay. Men could be arrested for lewd behavior or sodomy simply by walking up the wrong street at the wrong time, and the consequences were severe. One of the primary social influences was Senator Joseph McCarthy’s campaign of fear. The Senator and his colleagues actively sought the Communists hiding behind every laurel hedge, and anyone who tried to live outside the realm of expected social behavior could find themselves accused.
I’m betting we can all relate to that, can’t we?
Against a backdrop of Follies and Fifties and homophobia, it’s still the relationship between the two heroes that will make or break a gay romance. Hopefully I’ve done justice to the feelings Russell and Skip have for each other. Obviously, my initial anthology submission didn’t work out, but that’s okay, because I like these two guys, and want to do right by them. I took the novella and reworked it into a full-length novel, and it’s this story – revised and edited and fiddled with some more – that will be released tomorrow. And I really hope you enjoy it!
Keep reading for an excerpt, and make sure you enter the rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 gift card. The $0.99 preorder period for Aqua Follies is pretty short, and the price will go up to $3.99 sometime on the release day, 6/15/17. Grab it while it’s cheap, and thanks again for having me on The Novel Approach!
About the Book
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?
“Doesn’t mean I’m not still frosted.” Skip tossed Russell the car keys and climbed in the passenger side. He wasn’t mad, exactly, just embarrassed to have given in and afraid of what he might have given away.
“Next time, you can sleep on the cot.”
Skip gave him a squint-eyed glare. “Your good looks will get you in trouble one day.”
Russell just smiled and put the car in gear.
Mom expected him to be on time for visiting hours, and they had a ways to go. “We’re going to need to agitate the gravel to get there by two.” Skip had a stop in mind before they got to Firland.
“I’ll drive as fast as John Law will let me.” Russell pulled the car onto Highway 99. They’d gone several miles, time Skip spent running through solo licks in his head, when Russell spoke up.
“How long has your mother been in the sanatorium?”
“It’ll be a year next month.”
Skip tried not to talk about her illness, so he didn’t follow Russell’s comment with one of his own. It had been rough, and there was no use in belaboring the point.
“Our neighbor was in the sanatorium for about four years,” Russell said, his conversational tone inviting a response.
Someone with manners might have asked what happened. Skip didn’t want to know. The neighbor lived or he didn’t. Either way, he lost four years out of his life.
Years Skip’s mother would never have another shot at.
They kept quiet all the way through Tacoma and the forest and farmlands of Federal Way. When they hit the city, Skip directed Russell to head back up onto First Hill. It was twenty minutes after one.
Russell cocked his head in a wordless question when they drove past the Sorrento.
“Need to stop at my apartment,” Skip said.
“Did you forget something?”
In another block, Russell pulled the car to a stop in front of Skip’s building.
“I’ll be right back.” Skip blew Russell a kiss, which made the other man squirm. “And bring you a treat for being such a good boy.”
Skip paused, frowning when Russell climbed out of the car.
“I can just wait here,” Russell said. “You don’t want me hanging around.”
But that was exactly what he did want, even though it made no sense. “Please.” Seeing Russell would brighten his mother’s day, and if she overestimated things, he’d set her straight later. “Mom doesn’t get many visitors. I’ll make it worth your while.”
He left Russell frowning on the sidewalk, and came back with a big box of maple bars and chocolate éclairs.
He handed one of the éclairs to Russell, who made a face. “You are the devil incarnate.”
“Later I’ll show you how I can suck out the cream.”
“Hardy har har.”
Skip settled into the passenger seat. “We’ve only got half an hour to get to Firland, and I hate like anything to be late. Let’s get this chariot rolling.”
About the Author
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.