Dreamspinner Press has officially released my third novel, Happy Independence Day. The story features the relationship between Terrence Bottom and Cameron McKenzie and is set in June 1969, a few years later than the prequel, After Christmas Eve, and about 225 miles farther north. Much of the action occurs in and around the infamous Stonewall Inn on New York City’s Christopher Street.
The riots play a big role in the story. Contrary to legend, the Stonewall Uprising wasn’t the first volley in the battle for homosexual rights in the United States or even the first riot involving homosexuals. In August 1966, transgender people rioted at the Compton Cafeteria in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Homophile organizations such as Chicago’s Society for Human Rights, the Mattachine Society, and similar entities had pursued legal challenges to laws targeting homosexuals with some success since at least the 1920s.
Separating fact from fiction has challenged Stonewall historians. What happened in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 is largely speculation, derived from often-conflicting accounts from alleged eyewitnesses. I say “alleged” because every homosexual within 200 miles later claimed to have been present when the riots broke out.
Opinions vary about whether a lesbian or a drag queen started the uprising. Whoever threw that first punch, the police overreacted, igniting the rage of the crowd who’d gathered to see what all the fuss was about. Surprised and overwhelmed by the unprecedented resistance, the police retreated inside the Stonewall Inn and were besieged by the angry mob until backup arrived close to an hour later.
The characters in my story are fictional. Kreema Dee Kropp and Kelsey Ryan are my renditions of the drag queen and the lesbian who may have started the riots. The Stonewall Inn is central to the story, but Terrence Bottom and Cameron McKenzie are the stars.
Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. A prelaw student at Columbia University majoring in political science, his interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie. Terrence notices the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn, but the handsome man—and rumored Mafia hustler—rebuffs his smiles and winks.
Cameron McKenzie dropped out of college and left tiny Paris, Kentucky after the death of the grandmother who raised him, dreaming of an acting career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he becomes a prostitute to make ends meet. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes, he is in way over his head, and he can’t see a way out—at least not a way that doesn’t involve a swim to the bottom of the Hudson in a pair of cement flippers.
Cameron is left with a choice: endanger both their lives by telling Terrence everything or walk away from the only man he ever loved. The Mafia hustler and the student activist want to find a way to stay together, but first they need to find a way to stay alive.
For buy links and other information, click here. To celebrate the new release, I’m giving away copies of Happy Independence Day to three lucky winners. For a chance to win, comment on any (or all!) of the stops on my release tour:
August 21 – In The Pages of a Good Book
August 22 – Love Bytes
August 23 – Viviana, Enchantress of Books
August 24 – Readaholics Anonymous
August 25 – Loving Without Limits
August 26 – In The Pages of a Good Book
August 27 – Prism Book Alliance (Review)
August 28 – 3 Chicks After Dark (Review)
August 29 – My Fiction Nook
August 30 – Oh My Growing TBR
September 1 – Star Angels Reviews (Review)
September 2 – Bookworm Bridgette’s World
September 3 – Reading Bliss