The clock has been my enemy today, so for those in some timezones I've definitely missed my Flashback Friday date with y'all. But for the rest of us (and of course for you all living in tomorrow!) I hope late is better than never.
For today's Flashback, I thought I'd bring back some of my stories with unusual settings. I've been lucky enough to travel, study, and work in some hella awesome places, and the impact they had on me was deep and wide. I try to bring a sense of place -- and an attendant sense of wonder -- to all my fiction.
Why not judge for yourself with these backlist titles set in Cuba, Kenya, and Appalachia?
Commenters to this post will be entered in a random drawing for a $5 Torquere gift certificate, to be drawn over the weekend and announced here and on the Torquere Social Yahoo Group.
My very first published story was THE HUSTLER PRINCE, set in the Cuba of the 1990s.
Martín, an American anthropologist in his early thirties, is settled in
his life if still bruised from his latest break up. Then he visits Cuba
on a fact-finding mission and discovers Alexei, a charming young man
with hidden scars. Alexei introduces Martín to his dangerous and what
had begun as an attraction deepens into love. Returning home and
leaving Alexei behind nearly kills Martin.
Alexei takes matters into his own hands. Fighting to keep Alexei with
him in the States isn't going to be easy but there's nothing Martín
won't do to keep Alexei safe, even if it means asking help from a man
Also set in Cuba was BAILAME, the AZUL Color Box:
A principal dancer with a Havana company, Lola misses his big chance to defect from post-Soviet Cuba because of an injury. Left behind by his faithless lover, Lola finds his health and attitude improving as he develops a friendship with his mysterious doctor, Adán.
Adán has a secret, though, one he's guarded from everyone since he returned from medical training in Mexico. If Adán's secret identity doesn't destroy their relationship, the vicissitudes of Lola's job might. When Lola gets the chance to dance again, will he choose Adán, or his career?
My time in East Africa was a while back, but even so some of the settings and anecdotes in ASKARI (the SMOKE Color Box) are closely based on my own experiences.
Noble is an American medical anthropologist who wants to save the world. His work in Kenya is off to a slow start until he accidentally moves into a brothel. The night guard, Harry, is more than what he seems, and soon he’s helping Noble take his research, and love life, to a whole new level.
Their work among the poorest of Nairobi’s poor is challenging, and they find great comfort in each other until an old crush calls Noble away and sinister forces mass against him and Harry. From slums and whorehouses to game parks and Indian Ocean beaches, this isn’t the tour books’ Kenya, and Harry and Noble aren’t your ordinary couple! Can simple love triumph against the complex forces of corruption, prejudice, and public health crises? Or is it just a curl of smoke, ready to be blown away?
Last but not least, I did a lot of research for my story for the anthology SOMEPLACE IN THIS WORLD, partly because I've never lived in Appalachia, but because PACK HORSE was my first historical story, set during the Great Depression.
Wendall’s congressman father exiles him to the hinterland to ‘make himself useful’ after a series of indiscretions. Working as a pack horse librarian, Wendall meets Henry, and the isolated man changes Wen’s mind about getting back home.
Tell me what you think: Do you sometimes choose stories based upon their settings? What settings excite you? What settings do you avoid? What places do you wish your favorite authors would use in a story?
Thanks for having me this evening! Have a Flashy Friday, everyone!