Blog Tour + Giveaway: The River City Chronicles by J. Scott Coatsworth

Other Worlds Ink and author J. Scott Coatsworth visits on The River City Chronicles blog tour! Learn more about the queer magical realism novel today and enter in the $25 Amazon gift card!


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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Exclusive Excerpt – The River City Chronicles

Marcos gave Carmelina a big hug goodbye. There was something about the brassy Italian American woman that appealed to him. She seemed like the type who never took no for an answer and who didn’t deal in bullshit. “See you Thursday night.”
They had exchanged cell numbers, and she promised to text him the details.
He looked around for Marissa, afraid she had taken off again while he’d been distracted. He found her talking softly with Diego in the kitchen, and was surprised when she gave the chef a big hug. She seemed to connect with everyone but him.
He sighed. They were stuck with each other for now. She was going to have to learn to deal with him. “You ready to go?”
“I’m coming.” She pushed her way past him out to the street with her usual charm.
Marcos sighed.
They walked in silence to his Prius on one of the side streets behind the restaurant. He unlocked the doors, and she sank into her seat and crossed her arms, looking straight out of the front windshield.
He got into the car and pulled on his seatbelt. This whole pouting thing needed to stop. “I’m not the enemy, you know,” he said aloud.
“Look, I get it. You’ve got the whole ‘tough kid’ thing down pat. You don’t need anything, or anyone.”
She turned away.
“When someone you love betrays you, it hurts like a sonofabitch. I don’t know your whole story, but I see how strong you are. When your parents threw you out, you got up and kept going. You should be proud of that.”
There was no response, except for a heavy sigh.
“When my parents threw me out for being gay, I didn’t know where to go. I stayed with a friend for a few days until his parents objected, and then I was out on the streets.” He closed his eyes, remembering that bleak time. All alone, eating out of trash cans, sleeping in shelters, doorways or back alleys. “I cried every night for a month, and then I got angry. It was so unfair, what they did to me. I swore to never let anyone get close to me again.”
She glanced back in his direction. It was something.
He pushed on. “I shut off my heart, so no one would ever hurt me again.” And it had worked, better than he would have ever guessed. Here he was closing in on forty, and he was all alone.
She was looking at him now.
“Once you block everyone out, you never get hurt again like that first time. But you end up being all alone.”
“I fucking hate them.”
“Your parents?”
Marissa shook her head. “They’re not my parents. When they kicked me out, my mother… Jessica… told me she wished they had never adopted me.” Her voice shook with emotion.
“Shit… you didn’t know?”
The angry look she flashed him gave him the answer.
“Look, I’ve made a mess of my own life,” he said, “but I’ve learned one thing. You can’t change the things people do to you. But you can choose how you respond.” He’d made a lot of bad choices. He’d pretty much ruined every relationship he’d ever started. But he was convinced that he had made a good one here.
“I guess.”
“Your adopted parents dealt you a shitty hand, no question. You can be miserable and sick about it, and close yourself off from the world.” He touched her shoulder. “Does that hurt them, or you?”
She was silent for a long time. He let her think. She needed to come to it on her own.
At last she mumbled something.
“What was that?” he asked gently.
“They’re my parents. They weren’t supposed to leave me!” Her voice cracked a little, and his heart nearly broke for her.
“No, they weren’t.” He released his seat belt and put his arms around her, rocking her gently.
Her arms went around him and she started to cry.
Marcos just held her and patted her back, knowing he was exactly where he was supposed to be in the universe at that moment.


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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. "PiĆ¹ 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.

Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

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.

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