I left my old Kentucky home in 1996 for a temporary assignment in Washington, DC. My fortieth birthday was just around the corner. I was bitter about being over-the-hill and—once again—single. The change of scenery would do me good. I rented out my house, packed two cats and all my worldly possessions into a rented truck, and drove to DC.
For the next eighteen months, I lived in an apartment two blocks from Dupont Circle. A colleague hooked me up with a great group of gay guys who invited me along to parties and showed me around town. I may have been over-the-hill in a college town like Lexington, but in DC, Stella got her groove back.
Until Thanksgiving, my first novel and the first Philip Potter Story, was inspired by my time in DC. The characters and story are fictional. Bits and pieces were inspired by real people, places, and events. That’s why writing fiction is so much fun—nobody knows what’s real and whats made up.
Josh Freeman is interested in Thad Parker, who lives with Philip Potter in a big fancy house near Dupont Circle. Philip is Thad’s uncle, but Josh assumes they are lovers and, as there are other fish in the sea, moves on, catching the attention of a serial killer.
No Good Deed (the second Philip Potter Story), was inspired by a conversation in the first book. Philip mentions a lover who’d killed himself thirty years earlier on Christmas Eve. Until Thanksgiving is set in 1996, so the suicide had to take place in 1966. Since astute fans would already know it happened, I decided to start the story with that Christmas Eve suicide.
Reading up on gay life in the 1960s was a refresher course on the way things used to be and a reminder of how very far the LGBT community has come. Looking back helped me to appreciate where I am today—where we all are today. The contrast between then and now inspired much of the story.
The characters from No Good Deed stayed with me. I’d heard about the Stonewall riots and started thinking of ways Philip and some of his friends might have been involved. As I learned more about the riots, the story for Happy Independence Day — the third Philip Potter Story — came together.
The details around the Stonewall uprising make for a great story. There’s a Mafia connection, corrupt cops, ties to a political campaign, chorus lines of drag queens facing off against the riot police — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The uprising is the backdrop for a story that practically wrote itself.
The fourth Philip Potter Story — my current work in progress — is set in 1972. Kreema Dee Kropp returns and is enjoying the role of house mother at the shelter. I’m not far enough into the story to say much about it, but I’m calling it Cold Revenge. As always, I’ll keep you posted.