My two novels explore the lives of real and imagined Queer and Trans ancestors living in mid-century San Francisco. I’ve conducted over fifty interviews with LGBTQ elders about their lives, and their experiences animate every page.
Blackmail, My Love
This illustrated noir mystery is set in the Dark Ages of Queerdom: 1951. Josie O’Conner searches for her brother, a private dick who disappeared while investigating a blackmail ring targeting lesbians and gay men. Josie adopts Jimmy’s trousers and wingtips as well as his investigation, battling to clear his name, halt the blackmailers, and exact justice for the mounting number of Queer corpses. Along the way she rubs shoulders with a sultry chanteuse running a dyke tavern called Pandora’s Box; gets intimate with a red-headed madame operating a brothel from the Police Personnel Department; and conspires with the star of Finocchio’s, a dive so disreputable it's off limits to servicemen — so every man in uniform pays a visit.
In 1954, police raided a lesbian bar called Tommy’s Place in San Francisco, arresting two bartenders for serving alcohol to minors. Salacious headlines expanded the charge to “recruiting school girls into their academy of dope addiction and sex perversion.” “Thrill Spot” is a fictional version of the raid, which is the stuff of legend: a lesbian vice academy, swaggering butches, police corruption, political intrigue, and angry legions marshalled by the PTA. Josie returns as a bouncer who considers her job a sacred trust. Dark humor and seductive prose infuse this story of desire, betrayal, and the power of community-building. Woven throughout the narrative are original newspaper accounts of the raid and its aftermath.
“Thrill Spot” is currently looking for a publisher!
When the novel is published I’ll be leading another round of walking tours in North Beach. If you’d like to hear about the novel reaching print, or join the walking tours, please email me and I’ll notify you!
Also check out my short story, “White Horse,” in Oakland Noir, edited by Jerry Thompson and Eddie Muller.