Tomorrow is the official release of my new male/male novella Stepping Stone Not Doormat! This is the third book in what wasn’t intended to be a series about drag queens who perform(ed) at a club in Boston. The series started with I Should Tell You, which released in March 2014, and continued in Last Chance Tattoo, which released in August 2014.
Although Last Chance Tattoo takes place in a different state and shares only one character with I Should Tell You, Stepping Stone Not Doormat is a direct sequel to ISTY. The main character is Solara Flare, first introduced as the “drag mother” of one of the main characters of ISTY.
When I wrote ISTY, Solara, inspired by real-life drag queen Latrice Royale, stood out as an incredibly fun character to write, and I made up my mind that someday, she would have her own story. And apparently readers liked her too. In one review of ISTY, the reviewer questioned whether Solara would become the lead in a future book. After that, how could I say no?
Meanwhile, my publisher Loose Id put out a call for reunited lovers stories, and so I gave Solara a former lover, Navon, who shows up in Boston unexpectedly. But as I began to brainstorm their story, something was missing. I knew why Navon and Solara had broken up: Solara is a recovering drug addict who used heavily during their initial relationship, and Navon ended the relationship when Solara was arrested for burglary and possession. What I didn’t know was how Solara had found her way from Los Angeles, where that occurred, to her current home in Boston. Nor did I know why she chooses to use her stage name and female pronouns in her daily life despite identifying as male.
As I was struggling to put the pieces together, I saw a link on Facebook about domestic violence in gay couples. The link led to an article that included statements about how often male victims of male abusers aren’t believed; that male-on-male domestic violence is sometimes passed off as “just a fight”, or the victim is blamed for not defending himself.
As soon as I read that, I knew the rest of Solara’s story. How she fled across the country and changed (not legally) her name and pronouns to escape an abusive lover, believing that he would face no consequences. And that gave me Navon’s reason for finding Solara: To tell her that her abuser was dead and had left behind something that had once belonged to Solara.
Solara is a strong character who has overcome a lot, but even now, nine years after coming to Boston, sometimes her past weighs her down. But she fights to have a good life, and I hope readers will take encouragement from her.