Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Don Travis for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: The Zozobra Incident
Author: Don Travis
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning
Release Date: 11/15/2016
B. J. Vinson is a former marine and ex-Albuquerque PD detective turned confidential investigator. Against his better judgment, BJ agrees to find the gay gigolo who was responsible for his breakup with prominent Albuquerque lawyer Del Dahlman and recover some racy photographs from the handsome bastard. The assignment should be fast and simple.
But it quickly becomes clear the hustler isn’t the one making the anonymous demands, and things turn deadly with a high-profile murder at the burning of Zozobra on the first night of the Santa Fe Fiesta. BJ’s search takes him through virtually every stratum of Albuquerque and Santa Fe society, both straight and gay. Before it is over, BJ is uncertain whether Paul Barton, the young man quickly insinuating himself in BJ’s life, is friend or foe. But he knows he’s stepped into something much more serious than a modest blackmail scheme. With Paul and BJ next on the killer’s list, BJ must find a way to put a stop to the death threats once and for all
Who is Burleigh J. (BJ) Vinson and Why is He Gay
Thanks to the folks at Prism Book Alliance for the opportunity to guest post a blog on their web site, giving readers some insights into the protagonist of my new novel The Zozobra Incident. This is an exclusive. You won’t find some of this background information anywhere in the book.
Also, a shout out to DSP Publications for publishing Zozobra and the next two books in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series.
When I write a novel, I constantly struggle to avoid “over describing” my major characters. This is to allow readers to paint a mind picture of these individuals for themselves. That said, I actually have a very firm idea of how BJ looks, acts, thinks, and feels. I know who he is because I created him. I know, for example, Burleigh was a family appellation (his mother’s father’s name, as a matter of fact), and that J was a MIO—middle name only. He was born September 12, 1972 and was 34 at the time Zozobra takes place in 2006.
His parents, Robert and Frances Vinson, were both educators. They raised him with a steady, firm hand and always sought to guide rather than impose. His father was a very strong influence in his life and probably knew BJ was gay before he did. Robert was supportive and encouraged his son to play football in high school and even backed his decision to join the Marines. In later years, BJ understood this was not an attempt to “convert” him; rather this was his father’s effort to provide as normal a background as possible to give BJ a rock-solid basis for deciding who he was and who he was going to be.
BJ came to grips with the fact he was gay slowly, finally accepting his sexual orientation in his late teens. Since he had a strong, supportive father and a nourishing, yet not dominating, mother in his life, he came to the conclusion his homosexuality was “hard-wired.” Thereafter, he accepted who he was without obsessing over it. He neither hid nor flaunted his sexuality. As a result, he moved easily through all the spectra of Albuquerque society.
Now, we’re not fooling anyone here. BJ’s gay because that’s the way I created him. Why? Because I wanted a protagonist who is different, who bore another burden as he went about creating a perfectly ordinary life for himself—if being a gay football player, US Marine Corps lieutenant, APD detective, and PI is ordinary. And being “queer” was a cross to bear, especially back in 2006.
But to continue: Both senior Vinsons died on January 2, 2003 in a car accident on Interstate-40, leaving their only son and heir an estate of $12 million. Some years earlier, they had provided a struggling local business a modest amount of operating capital. That business later moved to Seattle and became Microsoft. By the time of their deaths, BJ had a degree in Criminology from UNM and was a detective with the Albuquerque Police Department. A little over a year later, he was shot in the thigh while he and his partner, Gene Enriquez, attempted to apprehend a murder suspect. That occasioned both the breakup between BJ and his lover, local attorney Del Dahlman, and his medical retirement from APD.
Even though he was independently wealthy, BJ continued to live in the home his father built at 5229 Post Oak Drive NW in Albuquerque’s North Valley. The residence was located in a ’50s middle-class neighborhood, now grown a bit geriatric. The home, a contemporary red brick, white-trimmed, cross-gabled structure with stone foundations, had a basement—something unusual for Albuquerque at the time.
BJ was incapable of sitting around and living off his inheritance, so on September 18, 2005, he opened B. J. Vinson, Confidential Investigations. Referrals from his many cop friends helped turn the business profitable. He hired his mother best friend, a retired public school teacher named Hazel Harris, as secretary and office manager. What he got was a surrogate mother, whom he suffered fondly.
Eleven months after opening his office doors on the third floor of a historic building across the street from the Albuquerque Library’s main facility, Del Dahlman came to ask his help. The lawyer was being blackmailed. Against his better judgment, BJ accepted his former’ lover’s request…and thus The Zozobra Incident began.
Once again, thanks to Prism Book Alliance and DSP Publications.
About the Author
Now they tell me I have to tell you something about me. Born in rural Oklahoma, I graduated from a university in Texas with a degree in government and history. How did I plan on making a living off it? I don’t know, but somehow after a stint in the US Army, I found gainful employment in Denver, Colorado where I met and married my wife. Then we moved to Albuquerque, where I lost her to pneumonia. Despite that tragedy, New Mexico has become my adopted state. I hope my love for the place shows in my work.
I do a weekly blog centering on my writing and my personal foibles at dontravis.com. A member of SouthWest Writers, New Mexico’s largest writing association, I teach a writing class at one of Albuquerque’s multigenerational centers.
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