Author: Liv Rancourt
Book: Aqua Follies
Page/Word Count: 200 pages, 60K words
Categories: Gay Romance, Historical Romance
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 good things might happen. 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?
“What’s the word from the bird?” Ryker clutched an unlit cigarette between his fingers.
I saw the man of my dreams. Skip covered his grin with his hand, picking a tamer response. “I want some red meat.”
“You and me both.” Ryker lit up, blowing smoke across the table. He was small and dark with a slicked-back duck butt and a greaser’s sneer. Whenever the subject came up, he claimed he got his coloring from his little Welsh grandmother. Skip usually asked if the milkman had been Italian.
Ryker usually told Skip to get bent.
Skip recognized most of the usual crowd, the musicians, the waiters, the kind of people who were out and about when late night turned into early morning. He extended his long legs under the table. After so many hours in the aqua theater’s small orchestra pit, his knees and calves thanked him for the stretch. Since Ryker was blowing smoke over his half of the table, he guessed he could take up some extra floor space.
The waitress came over, her blue-green uniform barely buttoned over her buxom chest and a fine black net covered her peroxide curls.
“What can I bring you gentlemen?” She directed her question at Skip. He aimed her at Ryker with a good-natured toss of his head, sending curls spilling into his face. All the pomade in the world couldn’t make his hair behave.
“How ’bout a burger with a side of titties…um, taters?” Ryker’s grin broadened the harder she blushed.
Skip kicked him under the table and gave the waitress an apologetic grin. “I’d like a steak and a large Coke.”
She passed them menus and stalked off. Ryker flirted with every woman he came across. He’d meet the right girl at some point, but till then, he put himself at risk for getting slapped unless Skip intervened.
An older, grumpier waitress came to take their order.
“It’s your own fault,” Skip said, glad there was still a waitress willing to help them. He needed to get to bed before his alarm went off in the morning. Four thirty was gonna come early. Getting to bed after midnight just made him hate his job at Boeing even more.
The grumpy waitress scratched their order on a pad and shuffled off, and Ryker tapped his cigarette against the edge of the plastic ashtray. “I wanna get my hands on that little dark-haired aqua baby we saw tonight.”
Skip disguised his laugh by flipping his hair out of his eyes. She was cute, but not his type. None of the water ballet girlies were his type. Their coach, now, the one who’d been stalking along the deck like Poseidon in chinos? Skip didn’t try to hide his grin. Tall and broad and clean-cut, he was the kind of man who caught Skip’s attention.
A fellow could get arrested if he happened to cross a vice cop, but Skip hadn’t been caught yet. He’d give a strange man a friendly smile, just to see what would happen. Tonight he would have had to be dumb and blind not to notice the flash of interest the man at the lake had done his best to hide. Nothing would come of it, but a guy could dream, couldn’t he?
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.
5 Questions with Liv Rancourt:
Thanks so much for having me as a guest! Since this is my second visit, I chose questions I didn’t answer last time.
- As an author myself, I know inspiration is everywhere and can strike at the most inopportune moments (like in the shower, when you don’t have anything to write with!). So, what was the inspiration behind Aqua Follies? It started out with a publisher’s call for submissions, looking for stories set in the ‘50s. The novella I submitted get a lovely rejection – really, the editor was very nice! – but I wasn’t ready to let the story go. I liked the characters and was fascinated by having the ‘50s as a backdrop for a gay romance, so I went back to work and rewrote it as a novel. The different social dynamics at work in that decade fascinated me, and I wanted to write about it.
- What is your writing process? (i.e. plotter or panster, explain) Never met an outline I didn’t love. (lol!) Seriously though, a few years ago I would have described myself as more of a plotter, but now I’m pretty much in between the two extremes. I’ve been working with a co-writer, Irene Preston, and in addition to being a fabulous writer, she’s pretty much a pantser. It’s been great for me to work with her, to learn another style of doing things.
- There’s a big leap a writer takes from putting words down on paper for the love of it and actually publishing those words for public scrutiny. What was that journey like for you? When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer, and I’ve always had a knack for putting words on paper. I wrote off and on, mostly journaling and (horrible) poetry, hitting the occasional creative writing class in college and after, though I never took it seriously. My career, then marriage, then family were my priorities.Then I hit my late forties and realized if I didn’t get busy, it was going to be too late to reach my lifetime goal of “being a writer”. About the same time, I injured my back, so I couldn’t sit for long enough to crochet or do fancy needlework, my main hobbies. I couldn’t stitch, but I could lay on my belly and write with pencil and paper. I started writing stories, one word led to another, and here I am.
- What do you think makes a good story? Wow. This is a great question. At the most basic level, I think the reader needs to care about the characters and what happens to them. Beyond that, the definition of a great story is up to the reader. Like, I can’t be bothered with most literary fiction, preferring genre stories, where the underlying assumption is that the main character is capable of surviving the challenges they face. But judging from what you find on the New York Times Book Review, not everyone agrees with me. 😊
- What can readers expect from you next? Irene and I are about ¾ of the way through with the first draft of Nocturne, the next book in our Hours of the Night series. If you’ve read Vespers, or our holiday novella Bonfire, be prepared. Thaddeus and Sarasija are being tested in all kinds of new ways. (Mwah-hah-hah…see the quickie below about evil masterminds…)
5 Fun Quickies
- Favorite curse word: Depends on how tired I am. The eff bombs get fast and furious when my filter gets sleepy.
- You’re auditioning for American Idol. What’s your song? My dream is to sing lead in a Dixie Chicks cover band, so it’d probably be “Long Time Gone” or “Sin Wagon”.
- Over or under (toilet paper, of course): Just do me a favor and replace the roll. (I have teenagers. It’s a thing.)
- Weapon of choice: Words
- Evil mastermind, easily convinced partner in crime, or innocent bystander: You could make an argument that all writers are evil masterminds, so…