J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer magical realism book out:
A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.
Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.
Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.
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Matteo stared out the restaurant window into the darkness of Folsom Boulevard. It was getting dark earlier as summer edged into fall. Streetlights flickered on as cars drifted by, looking for parking or making the trip out of Midtown toward home.
The sign on the window read “Ragazzi” (the boys), lettered in a beautiful golden script just two months old. Investing in this little restaurant his uncle had left to them when he’d passed away had been their ticket out of Italy. But now with each passing day, as seats sat empty and tomatoes, pasta, and garlic went uneaten, the worry was gnawing ever deeper into Matteo’s gut.
Behind him in the open, modernized kitchen, Diego was busy cooking—his mother’s lasagne, some fresh fish from San Francisco, and some of the newer Italian dishes they’d brought with them from Bologna. The smells of boiling sauce and fresh-cooked pasta that emanated from the kitchen were entrancing.
They’d sent the rest of the staff —Max and Justin—home for the evening. The three customers who had shown up so far didn’t justify the cost of keeping their waiter and busboy on hand.
Matteo stopped at the couple’s table in front of the other window. “Buona sera,” he said, smiling his brightest Italian smile.
“Hi,” the man said, smiling back at him. He was a gentleman in about his mid-fifties, wearing a golf shirt and floppy hat. “Kinda quiet tonight, huh?”
“It always gets busier later,” Matteo lied smoothly. “Pleasure to have you here. Can I get you anything else?”
“A little more wine, please?” the woman said, holding out her glass so the charm bracelet on her wrist jangled.
“Of course.” He bowed and ducked into the kitchen.
He gave Diego a quick peck on the cheek.
His husband and chef waved him off with a snort. “Più tardi. Sto preparando la cena.”
“I can see that. Dinner for a hundred, is it? It’s dead out there again tonight.”
Diego shot him a dirty look.
Matteo retrieved the bottle of wine from the case and returned to fill up his guests’ glasses. “What brings you in tonight?” Maybe they saw our ad.…
“Just walking by and we were hungry. I miss the old place though.… What was it called, honey?”
Her husband scratched his chin. “Little Italy, I think?”
“That’s it! It was the cutest place. Checkered tablecloths, those great Italian bottles with the melted wax… so Italian.”
Matteo groaned inside. “So glad you came in” was all he said with another smile.
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Brad was rousted from bed by someone pounding on the front door. Who the hell was coming by at ten thirty p.m.? He grabbed the bat he kept next to the bed.
“Who is it?” Sam asked blearily.
“I don’t know. I’ll find out.”
Sam sat up, and Brad smothered the urge to jump back in bed. Screw their visitor. Sam looked adorable with his sleepy eyes and blond hair sticking up at odd angles.
The pounding sounded again.
“Want me to come with?”
“No, just be ready to call 911.” They were downtown, after all. Things happened here, sometimes. “I’m coming!” Brad shouted to whoever was knocking. He pulled on his robe and clambered down the stairway to the front door. “Who is it?” he called, bat held at ready.
“Brad, it’s Marcos. I need your help.”
Marcos… the web designer? He unlocked the door. “How the hell did you get my home address?” he asked, staring at the man. “You do know I’m married, right?”
Marcos grinned sheepishly. “I know. You had a fundraising party here last year for the Center, remember?”
“Oh, crap. Yeah.” He’d forgotten all about it. “So why are you here?”
“I need your help. Remember that girl, Marissa?”
“Yes. What happened?” He was starting to regret having shared the information with Marcos. If anything had happened to her as a result, he could lose his job.
“She’s in trouble. She called me from the County Jail up on I Street.”
Brad scratched his chin. “Why did she call you?”
“I don’t know. I left my number for her where she hangs out. I guess I was the only one she could think of.”
“Maybe so. Many of these kids don’t have anyone. Hey, come inside. It’s cold out there.” He let Marcos in and closed the door.
“Who was it?” Sam was standing at the top of the stairs in only his white briefs.
Marcos looked up and whistled.
“Just our web designer.”
Sam blushed. “Um, sorry. I’ll leave you guys alone.” He vanished into the bedroom.
“Come have a seat.” Brad ushered Marcos into their small living room.
“Congratulations, Brad. The hubby’s quite a catch.”
Brad cleared his throat. “Marissa?”
“Oh, yeah, sorry. She said she was framed. She needs me to come get her out, but I don’t think they’ll let me, since she’s underage. You know people there, right?”
Brad nodded. “What was the officer’s name?”
“Um… Donna? Dorothy?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“I’ll come with you and see what I can do. What will you do if they release her to you?”
Marcos shook his head. “I don’t know yet. Get her home and in a warm bed for tonight. I can figure out the rest tomorrow.”
Brad touched Marco’s shoulder. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because she’s me twenty years ago.”
Brad nodded. “Okay, let’s go. You brought your car?”
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a little yellow bungalow in East Sacramento, with two pink flamingos by the front porch.
He spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.
He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.
Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com
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Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ