Back in April, I took a trip to Ludington, Michigan to visit someone special. The town, on the shore of Lake Michigan, caught my imagination, and I chose to set a couple of books there.
The first of those books is Last Chance Tattoo, which releases tomorrow from Loose Id. Loose Id had a submissions call for stories about homecomings, and I thought Ludington would be a perfect place for someone to come home to. Maybe someone who hadn’t wanted to be there but now had no choice.
It took me a little time to completely put the ideas together, but then it came to me. In addition to meeting the theme of that call, I wanted to do a follow-up to my March Loose Id release, I Should Tell You. Not necessarily a direct sequel, but something related. And then it came to me. Toward the end of ISTY, a new drag queen joins the show the main characters of that book work for. She’s described as young and unwilling to change her stage name of Rainbow despite feedback from the more experienced performers.
Even though that character is only mentioned briefly and doesn’t even have any dialogue in ISTY, I knew I’d found one of the lead characters for Last Chance Tattoo. “Rainbow” became Radford “Rad” Morris, the youngest son of one of the most prominent families in Ludington, who had gone to Boston to try to make a life at age eighteen, after he came out to his family and they turned their backs on him. Now, five years later, Rad has failed at his drag career, has had his heart broken by his much-older lover, and has nowhere to go but home.
Finding a love interest for Rad was a bit more difficult. The title of the story came to me pretty quickly, so obviously the other main character had to be a tattoo artist. Someone who had a reason to be in Ludington instead of, say, Detroit or Grand Rapids. And then Dorsey Bellamy popped into my head. A man who had come to Ludington not because he necessarily wanted to be there, but because it was far from Detroit, the city where his lover was murdered three years ago.
Once I had the characters, I had the story. Rad is staying with his grandmother, the one family member who accepted him unconditionally, and trying to keep the rest of his family from learning that he’s back in town. Dorsey keeps to himself and just wants to be left alone, for the most part. Both have reasons not to trust, and especially not to love, but both overcome that.
Last Chance Tattoo officially releases tomorrow, August 12, but is up at the link I posted in the second paragraph. And here’s the cover…