The guys have an extended conversation with Frank W. Butterfield who talks about his universe of more than 50 books that began with A Nick Williams Mystery series and continues with The Adventures of Nick & Carter, Daytona Beach Books and The Romantical Adventures of Whit & Eddie. Frank talks about the origin of Nick Williams, the research he does to get the history of the books right and the 20-book 2020 series A Nick & Carter Holiday.
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Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- Arctic Heat by Annabeth Albert on Amazon
- Frank W. Butterfield Interview
- Frank W. Butterfield: website | Newsletter | Butterfield Stories Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram
- A Nick Williams Mystery series by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- The Unexpected Heiress (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 1) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- The Adventures of Nick & Carter by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- The Amorous Attorney (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 2) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- The Sartorial Senator (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 3) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- An Enchanted Beginning by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- Dorothy L. Sayers on Amazon
- Agatha Christie on Amazon
- The Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner on Amazon
- Mabel Maney on Amazon
- Glen and Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure by JB Sanders on Amazon
- The Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton on Amazon
- Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 by Nan Alamilla Boyd on Amazon
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, 1986 (A Nick & Carter Holiday Book 2) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- W. Somerset Maugham on Amazon
- Tales of the City (2019) on Netflix
- Mardi Gras, 1975 (A Nick & Carter Holiday Book 5) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- A Nick & Carter Holiday series by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- New Year’s Day, 1979 (A Nick & Carter Holiday Book 1) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- Daytona Beach series by Frank W. Butterworth on Amazon
- The Romantical Adventures of Whit & Eddie series by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- The Loveless Lawyer (A Nick Williams Mystery Book 32) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- Let’s Misbehave (The Romantical Adventures of Whit & Eddie Book 5) by Frank W. Butterfield on Amazon
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Frolic Podcast Network website
Interview Transcript – Frank W. Butterfield
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Frank, thanks so much for being here. It’s a thrill to have you on the show. Finally.
Frank: Thanks for asking me to be here and we get to do it here in lovely Daytona beach.
Jeff: Yeah, we are actually sitting live with Frank. He lives in Daytona beach. We’re here right now for the coastal magic convention, and we were able to get some time to sit down and talk with him, which is super cool.
It’s always fun to do these in person.
Frank: I’m really looking forward to it. It’s kinda cool.
Jeff: So you have, as I was looking through your backlist, you’ve got nearly 50 books, which is pretty awesome. And 32 of those are part of the “Nick Williams Mystery” series. So that seems a very appropriate place to start.
Tell us about this series and who Nick Williams is.
Frank: Well, it’s the first series, the first book in that series, “The Unexpected Heiress” is where I started. Nick is, when we start off, he is the richest man in San Francisco who also happens to be a gay private eye.
Jeff: That’s an interesting combination that you could be the richest man in San Francisco and be a PI gay or otherwise.
Frank: Well, and what he does is, in fact, the very first chapter, he turned somebody away because she kind of comes sauntering in and starts using language she doesn’t like. And it’s like, you know, I don’t really need you as a client. And then his secretary immediately, it’s like you turned away another one, but he and, Carter, which is his lover, they live actually in Eureka Valley, which is what is now known as the Castro in like a really unassuming bungalow.
And although they’ve got millions, they’re not really flaunting it other than Nick is kind of famous for if he goes out to dinner and you know, in 1953 a really nice dinner would’ve been about 12 bucks. He’ll drop a hundred as a tip, and as Carter at one point says like busboys are sending prayers, doormen everywhere, burning candles at midnight, hoping that you’ll stop in, you know, that sort of thing.
So that’s a fun part of it. But, so Nick is, like I said, he’s a private eye. He had a really difficult childhood. His mother disappeared when he was about seven, and he didn’t know where she went. And his father was pretty much absent. He was raised by the housekeeper and his dad’s chauffeur.
In a house that doesn’t exist. But if it had existed, would have been one of the two buildings on Nob Hill that didn’t collapse in the earthquake and fire. And so at one point Carter says, yeah, you know, all these pictures of Nob Hill where we see the flood mansion and there’s the only thing standing, you know, if only the camera was like a little bit to the left, we could see your grandfather’s house right behind it.
But we can’t see it in any of these pictures. So, so he grew up on Nob Hill, but doesn’t have any Nob Hill sensibility and just tries to be a regular Joe. And he’s in this relationship with Carter. By the time the book starts, they’ve been together for six years. And it’s, you know, a love of a lifetime kind of thing.
These 32 books, by the way, are the complete series of the mysteries. So book 32 is the last one. The action, speaking of Sacramento, happens there at the very end. Like the culminating event happens on the steps of the, it’s not the Capitol. It’s, but it’s one of the state office buildings. Just a few months after governor Reagan is inaugurated.
The first series goes from 53 to 67. And a lot of things happen, Nick and Carter ended up moving to France after. They kind of are afraid that J Edgar Hoover is going to finally like move in and try and do something to them. So they get French citizenship basically by buying it and then have all these adventures and France and Africa and Italy and then come back to the U S and have more adventures.
And so that series ended with book 32 and then I started a new series, which is two books and just called the Adventures of… Cause I didn’t want to be tied into writing mysteries and I almost did that book 20 cause I was like 20 is a really good number. Like that’s a good place to start. And then I was like 32 is better because in a display. It’s like eight book titles with four rows. The part of me that likes symmetry was very pleased with that. So I was like, 32 is perfect. 33 would be one too many 31 isn’t enough. So that’s where we start. And everything that I write is in that same universe. So I have multiple series, but they’re all interconnected.
Jeff: That is so cool. Cause I didn’t get that aspect of it as I was kind of researching. I could tell a lot of it was connected.
Frank: I do not put it out as an obvious thing upfront.
You have to be into the books to begin to realize, Oh, these characters actually work in this series. Also, you know, and they’re coming in, and I try not to like advertise that too much, although it’s fine that people know it, but it’s more fun to me to let people kind of discover, Oh, these are actually all
Jeff: Easter eggs.
Frank: Yeah. After a fashion. Exactly.
Jeff: When you created Nick, did you envision this whole universe and all these books?
Frank: Nope. it wasn’t until, so I started the first book was may of 2016. It actually, it published on June 1st again, makes me very happy symmetry wise and I wrote that one, “The Amorous Attorney” and The Sartorial Senator” back to back.
Then I wrote a prequel called “An Enchanted Beginning,” which tells their backstory that goes from like 47 until 50 and explains to people that they refer to and talks about kind of how they got together and what happened in the intervening years. And then I wrote the final story one morning. I kind of woke up and I was like, I need to write this book.
That’s about when they die cause I need to kind of know where this is going. And I won’t to talk about the details. Although if there’s some books, you already kind of know what’s going to happen cause it’s discussed. Because I do have one series that’s contemporary. But, when I wrote that, then I realized, Oh, I have a lot of books to write because I could kind of see the pacing.
And I thought, yeah, from in the span of years that I’m looking at. That’s a lot of books. And at one point I was like, because of my numbering system, how I keep internal stuff, but there’s only two digits. And I was like, well, I can’t have a series that has 100 books in it, so I need to at least break them up into segments, you know?
Because I could easily see a hundred books just with Nick and Carter.
Jeff: That’s awesome that you have that much going on in the universe, that you see that far ahead.
Frank: I wanted to know because they’re, as they moving into time where I’m alive and I’m aware of what happened in there, you know, in the part of the world that they live in.
I started thinking, well, you know, my first thought was like, well, will they survive? Like will they be alive in 1994 which is a big question. And yes, they will. But a lot of the people that are in the books early on probably won’t because you know, just what happened with AIDS in case anybody is not aware of what I’m talking about and being in, because all of this is centered in San Francisco.
Jeff: What was the origin for Nick and Carter? What sparked all of this?
Frank: There’s multiple origin points. There’s Dorothy Sayers, who’s one of my favorite mystery authors and her Lord Peter main character. And in fact, I have a version of Lord Peter who shows up, in the late fifties, and becomes kind of an integral part of their lives.
So there was Dorothy Sayers a little bit, Agatha Christie, Perry Mason. I had spent a lot of time, I used to drive all over the country. I have another job where I can basically be anywhere I want to be. And I spent about four years crisscrossing the U S and Canada. And when I was doing that, I would like entertain myself sometimes by making up stories in my head.
And one of them was a Perry Mason where Perry and his private investigator were a couple. And then, Della, his secretary was like in love with Gertie, the receptionist, and they had like an on and off relationship, and it was kind of like on the rocks and stuff. I was gonna call it Merry Pason, so they would always talk to as Mary Mary, but it’s M E double R Y.
Anyway, so those three, but the real clincher is Mabel Maney. And if you don’t know who Mabel Maney is, you really need to rush out and find if you have any interest in the Hardy boys or Nancy drew. Mabel Maney is the lesbian twist of “Nancy Drew.” She wrote three books. The first one is called “The Case of the Not So Nice Nurse,”.
The nurse, the character is based on Cherry Ames. But in Mable’s book, she’s known as Cherry Aimless. And then she, in San Francisco, she meets Nancy Clue who’s drunk at a bar dealing with her latest breakup. And the two of them fall in love. But it turns out that, Nancy Clue is not the best girlfriend in the world.
So it’s all this, it’s basically openly lesbian and gay characters cause the Hardley Boys are also like, they’re brothers. They’re both in love with different guys. and it turns out the Hardly parents all, it’s not what it seems to be, but there’s a 50 sensibility with a camp sensibility that’s kind of almost off the charts.
And so it was a combination of all of those that kind of brought Nick to the fore. The truth is Nick kind of arrived fully formed, and I can say like, yeah, there’s a little bit of Lord Peter. There’s a little bit of like that Mabel Maney kind of like everybody is gay. And I’ve had reviewers say like, why aren’t there all these gay people in this book?
This would not have been normal. And my reply to that is, well, that’s a little bit of fiction, but I think it probably would’ve been more normal than you think, because if you were in a closed society in a closed culture where you weren’t able to talk about it, you would’ve had mostly gay friends. And they wouldn’t and it would have seemed like it was everywhere.
That’s how it was for me in the early eighties or in the mid eighties that all of my friends were gay and everything he did was gay because we were in a closed culture more so than we are today. So those are, that’s kind of where it came from. But Nick and Carter, cause they kind of come as a package.
they just kind of arrived fully formed. I didn’t do any, and so I didn’t do any plotting. I didn’t do any strategic like trying to figure out who Nick should be, that he just kind of messily tells me who he is as well as the other characters.
Oh, there is one inspiration I left out. The person who inspired me to start writing and actually to get back into the whole world of gay fiction cause I had kind of stopped reading gay fiction cause everything I was reading was really sad and people were dying all the time.
But the person who inspired me to get back in it was JB Sanders, John Sanders, who wrote the Glenn and Tyler series, and I found an audiobook, his first book called Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure. And if they’re kind of similar because Glen like inherits all this money.
Years ago I wrote somebody who was suggesting how to write mysteries had written a book about, it was like, it’s so much better if you just go ahead and make your detective a millionaire because then you don’t have to deal with that. Because in fact, Sue Grafton is on the record as having said she really wished she’d made Kinsey Millhone a millionaire because she was really tired of like, where was the suit money going to come from?
That was always like, and she was always driving her beat up VW up and down 101 all the time. So I kind of was like, yeah, that’s it. That just does make it easier. But John J B’s book had really inspired me too, because his book is basically about how happy they are. There’s a plot and there are things that happen and it’s interesting, but it’s mostly about how much in love they are and how much they’re enjoying getting to know each other and how much, because it’s the beginning of their relationship.
The two main characters just, and all the little things that happened is they kind of come out and they go out and do this and do that. And it’s, as I told him the first time I sent him an email, I was like, it’s like you put the happy back in gay. Because for me, from what I had been reading, which was all centered in the 90s and the 80s everybody was dying and everyone was sad and all of a sudden here with some happy people and that was what I wanted to write about.
I mean, there are sad things that happen, but Nick and Carter are generally happy.
Jeff: What is your series Bible like at this point?
Frank: This is radio. You can’t see that I’m pointing to my head, I don’t have a series Bible. I should have had one. What I do have is the database where I can, like, it’s not a database of like facts and figures, but I generally can remember what it was and sometimes I make mistakes and then sometimes people will be like, is that the right name?
Cause I have, I, there’s one lawyer, one of the main characters at the beginning is Jeffrey Klein. Who’s Nick’s second or third lover really, and also was this lawyer who helped him, like when he inherited all this money, helped him figure out what to do with it. And Jeffrey disappears. And so then Nick gets a new lawyer whose names for the books have been variously Kenneth Dixon and Kenneth… I can’t remember the other one, but when I even, I haven’t gone back and fixed all of them, but Kenneth’s last name keeps changing. And I have no idea why. So I’m, you know, I make those kinds of mistakes every now and then, but I have a pretty solid team of beta readers who help keep me on track.
And if I did a series Bible, it would be, it would have to be in a database. Like it’d be this really long piece of paper.
Jeff: It almost be a book on itself at this point.
Will: Now of those influences that you’ve just mentioned, a lot of them are from the 30s, 40s and the 50s. Is that part of the reason why this particular mystery series is essentially historical?
Frank: Well, I love that time period. I would not to be absolutely clear, I do not want to go and be in that time period.
I don’t want the smells. I don’t want all the smoke. I don’t want the fact that like there was like cotton wool. These were your choices. Like, no. Even in San Francisco, like everything feels hot and sweaty and gross to me. I’m a huge classic movie person and I have always watched classic movies.
And felt like I was like digging into the screen and I wanted to move all the actors out of the way so I could see what the setup look like. I wanted to see what look like. And I love it when there’s a classic movie where they have an actual outside shot, like in New York or San Francisco, and you can actually see what things look like because there’s a lot of history even in a movie.
I’m a, kind of a historian by advocation. And I just love history and I love cultural history as well. So yeah, that’s why, that’s why it just made sense that that would be set in the 50s and that that’s where it would start. And it’s not so much those books, although those books, because one of the things I love about Sayers is that if you want to know what Britain was like in the late twenties and early thirties read her books, it’s very topical.
There’s in fact a website devoted to like, what does this word mean? What is this brand? What are they talking about? Because she doesn’t explain anything because she’s writing for her contemporary audience. And so the stuff she writes about, you have no idea what she’s referring to. And I tried to do that as well.
I try not to explain too much and I love it when somebody is like, I’m reading your book. And then I’ve got Google. And I’m like having to research what the words are because yeah, that’s, I kind of want that to happen. I don’t want to be too, like sitting on top of people and being like, I know you’re kind of stupid, so I’m gonna explain what this means.
Will: I think generally, contextually you can tell what’s going on. Even if you, maybe you don’t understand the specific reference, you get the meaning. You can infer it.
Frank: And if you want the specific reference, I try to leave enough so that you can Google and find out what it is. Because there’s a part of me that wishes I’m not going to do this, but there’s a part of me that wishes I could like make a multi-format kind of book where like you could like press something and then all of a sudden you could see the movie, or you could like, so that you could, as you’re walking through their reality, you could start seeing pieces and parts of it, but maybe one book.
Jeff: So if somebody out there listening who wants to undertake that contact, Frank.
Frank: Yes, exactly. That would be a great thing.
Jeff: Because that would be super cool. Almost DVD extras.
Will: Speaking of DVD extras. One of the things that I’ve loved so much about the Nick and Carter books is your author notes at the end where you explain some of the inspiration and some of the historical context and some of the research that you’ve done for each of the books. First I want to know what made you decide to put those in the back?
Frank: Well, it started off because in the first book, I was relying heavily on, I can’t remember how it happened, so I’m not going to get this exactly right.
But I realized I needed a book about gay San Francisco in the 50s because there were certain things that I knew I didn’t know enough about. So I got a book by a woman who I think is now a professor at Cal Berkeley, but at the time was at Sonoma State. And, her last name is not going to come to me, but it’s called “Queer San Francisco.”
I put references and they put her in acknowledgments in several books because she does have like this whole list of, these are all the bars, like the bar where Nick and Carter meet is in her book, and it only existed for like six months.
And my favorite part of that bar, by the way, side note, is that the name is lovey Parisian. Not lovey Parisienne it’s lovey Parisian. And I had to go back and I’ve had people like, tell me, you’ve made a typo. I was like, no, that was just a bunch of Queens who were like didn’t really realize what French actually was, which I can totally see.
That’s not difficult to imagine. It was because of her book and I realized I really do need to acknowledge what she said. And then I thought, I really need to acknowledge these other things and also explain a few things. Particularly like I wanted in that first book to explain the competition in San Francisco at the time between the four newspapers, the “Examiner,” the “Chronicle,” the “Call” and the “Bulletin.”
One of the pivotal things that happens in that book, it has to do with the “Examiner” and George Hearst, who was the oldest son of William Randolph Hearst, the guy who was the original owner, or the one who made it a big paper. I wanted to explain all of that. Without, like having Nick like sit and think, Oh, the history of William Randolph Hearst…
Will: Or in conversation, “as you know….”
Frank: Yeah, right. Exactly. I really don’t like that at all. So the writing the historical note, sometimes I spend a lot of time on it and then sometimes I get to the end of the book and I realize everybody really should know everything that I’ve already said, and so I’ll just be like, I’ll say a few things, but yeah, it’s a lot of fun to do that.
Jeff: How much of the research are you having to do for each book because you’ve generated… The first one came at it, as you said, in 2016 so in just four years, you’ve generated all of these books.
Frank: Well, the main way I researched the books is first I go to the newspapers. For whatever the beginning date is.
And I go like a day or two behind. And then I read the front pages or the first three or four pages of each paper of the “Chronicle” and the “Examiner” just to kind of see what was going on so I can get a feel. And now that I’m in the 70s the “Examiner” was so great in the 50s because it was so right wing and it was so red baiting and they kind of like are becoming more like the “Chronicle.” They’re moving a little bit to the left. They’re moving a little bit more mainstream. And so it’s like reading the two papers. It’s like, Oh, this is boring. Like this, like the 53 papers and 54 papers that was like, you think there were two different cities they were reporting on because of how they would do things.
So I start with the newspaper and then I just as the story evolves. I just find out what I need to know about because I’ve made some serious errors, which I cop to totally. The number one is, it’s not really super mega obvious if you don’t know what it is, but in the first edition of the first book.
There’s a funeral at Grace Cathedral, which is on Nob Hill, which is catty corner to the building that at the time Nick’s father lives in. So there I say there, they walked down California street and then walk up the steps and into the cathedral. But the cathedral started in the 20s. In 1931, they stopped building it because they didn’t want to spend money during the depression.
I think they had the money at the time, like in a foundation, but they wanted to give that to like feeding people who needed to be fed. So up until the early sixties the cathedral looked like a giant had come along and sliced half of it off and to take it away because it literally, there’s like, it looks like half a slice of bread.
It’s really odd. And I didn’t know anything about that. I knew what it looked like in the early nineties what I used to like. I lived around knob Hill and I used to see it all the time. So one of the best beta readers I ever had contacted me and was like, first of all, I’m an Episcopalian and that’s not the way you refer to the Bishop and that Grace Cathedral, you couldn’t walk up the steps in California street because they weren’t there.
You had to go over to Jones. And walk up the street, those steps. And it was over on the side because there was no front door and it was really kind of weird. But everybody dealt with it. And so I, when I kind of figured out what he was talking about, I went back and fixed and then I put in the historical notes is that it didn’t have at the end that says, I fixed this ever since then.
I began to realize if I think a building is somewhere, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. And so I go and I’d try and find every building I refer to, every person that I think, okay, that person is there. Like I just wrote a short story about Martin Luther King Day, the first one in 1986. And I really, really, really wanted to include Bayard Rustin who was an openly gay, well later, openly gay, who really was the strategic brains behind a lot of what King did. I had actually put him in the story and then I was like, wait, where is he? I knew he died the next year cause I was living in New York when he died. And then I moved to New York in 87 so I was like, well where is he now? It’s like, well of course he’s in New York because he was running a foundation and he would have been in the New York parade or maybe might have gone to Atlanta to go to that parade cause the Atlanta parade was the really, really big one.
So I was like, Bayard Rustin isn’t going to fly to San Francisco. Even if there’s a gay billionaire, he’s like, Hey, would you come to San Francisco and hang out with us? Like, no, I have not Bayard Rustin in particular. Like, no, I’m not doing that. So I had to kind of go back and rewrite. But it’s that sort of thing.
I tried to make sure that the people I think are in the place that they’re in, that they actually are. And then when I go and research those things, I find little nuggets and pieces that get added into the story.
Jeff: I really love the whole newspaper thing that you start with the newspapers as the root of what you’re doing.
Frank: Oh, and “Life” magazine and “Time” and “National Geographic” because there’s archives for all of those.
Jeff: When you were doing the original 32, did you have it in mind like, I want it to start around this event or this moment, or is it just the progression of the Nick and Carter timeline?
Frank: The way I’d like to talk about Nick and Carter is they’re completely unabashedly ahistorical. There’s absolutely positively nobody that they relate to. The first publicly out person coast-to-coast was Harvey Milk. That’s 1976. So before then, there were no, there were lots of out people, but they were out to a smaller arena. Nobody was literally out to the entire country where it was talked about, like on the evening news. So Harvey Milk is the first person. So Nick and Carter are represent like, cause that’s what happens in the first book is they’re nationally outed, which of course wouldn’t have happened. And there was no such term at the time. But they’re, so they’re ahistorical, and you could even say quasi fantastical figures that are moving through historical events. They’re not changing the events. They’re formed and effected by them. So there’s like still Stonewall and still the riots in the Tenderloin at Compton’s Cafeteria that happened in 66 that all is still happening of their, you know, they kind of contribute to some of it and they’re kind of on the sidelines of it.
But one of the things that happens in book 25 I think we first meet some of the guys from Mattachine. The San Francisco Mattachine, which was an early gay rights organization, which would not have called themselves gay rights, by the way, that we call themselves a homophile organization. And they were not having Nick and Carter at all.
They do not want their money. They don’t want to deal with them because every person who, and this happens with multiple people, every person who is out locally, if they get touched by Nick and Carter and are seen in their presence, then any secret that they’re still, any cloak that they’re still using gets pulled off.
So I did that with like Somerset Maugham. I’d written entire book where Nick and Carter are living like four blocks from Somerset Maugham in Nice. And then I was like, Whoa, that’s a terrible mistake. Like he, he would have, and then I thought, no, he would have kept as far away from them as possible. He would have been like, I don’t know them. I don’t know who you’re talking about. Because if he was seen being connected to them, then it would have outed him. I didn’t really have a plan as to like, these are the historical events they need to encounter. In fact, I skipped over Stonewall. I skipped over the assassination of JFK, although it seems like they’re going to be involved in that, but I skip over it.
Mainly because I don’t really want it to be about the things that everybody knows about. I do spend a little bit of time talking about the Compton Cafeteria riots because that’s not really well known , but I don’t put them in that action also because I don’t want them to interfere with agency that people have that has nothing to do with money. When one of my longtime readers found out that Nick and Carter die and they die in their eighties this person got very upset and was like, they’re so rich. They could live to be like, and I’m like, you know, money actually really doesn’t solve that problem.
Cancer kills you no matter what. And. There are plenty of cancers that plenty of people die from who are very, very wealthy. It can help, but it doesn’t cure. So in that same kind of vein, I didn’t want to put them in a historical context where they would be interfering with other people who did amazing work with very little resources.
So the backstory is always like, they’re secretly funding, but nobody knows. There’s a whole bunch about that. Not in writ large, but like in little tiny pockets.
Jeff: And I like how you pick elements that are perhaps not as well known. Stonewall’s told a lot. I’ll be honest that I didn’t know, this is my bad gay history, I didn’t know about Compton’s until they got mentioned in the Netflix “Tales of the City” reboot.
Frank: I don’t really remember where I first heard about it, but I came across it in that book, the “Queer history of San Francisco.”
I read several things, contemporary stuff that was written because there’s an archive of kind of the street kids in the Tenderloin could organize themselves because they prompted the riot to happen.
They actually kind of, it’s like Rosa Parks. They kind of staged it. They forced it to happen, and there’s a great little archive where there’s like this kind of street zine that they’re doing. and there’s ministers who were supporting them like, Cecil Williams, who is a big deal in San Francisco who’s still alive.
He kind of helped them, and in those stories, they’re not like in the contemporary stuff. They’re not talking about how they’re oppressed. They’re talking about how they’re throwing off the shackles, and that’s one of the things I also want to include in this, but I didn’t know as much about it. I know a lot more about Compton now than I would’ve ever thought I would know because when I lived in San Francisco, I don’t remember anybody ever talking about it because I don’t think it was really well known.
Jeff: You mentioned just a minute ago that you had the Martin Luther King Day story. This year you’ve been putting out stories so far for each holiday. You had new year’s, you had Martin Luther King Day, you had Valentine’s day with that very immediate follow of President’s Day a few days later.
Frank: And then in a couple of days we’re getting Mardi Gras.
Jeff: A, this sounds like a lot of fun. B, it sounds like a lot of work to keep up with all the holidays. How many holiday books are you doing in for this year?
Frank: Twenty. And I’ve already written four them. So I’ve, Valentine’s Day had written back in 2018. Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day and Easter I’d already written. So I’m going to just update them a little bit and cleaned them up a little bit and include them.
But yeah, so we’ve got St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, which will be Decoration Day because it’ll happen in the 30s and I’m really looking forward to that one because Nick and his sister, Janet, take the, I don’t remember the, I can’t remember the name of this streetcar, but the streetcar that goes out, Geary, out to Playland, which was like an amusement park that’s long gone.
That was at the ocean. That took, it was like a big, like four block thing that was really large and then mostly be them like riding the tilt-a-whirl and throwing up. It won’t be a long story, I just want to write a story about the two of them, like having fun outside of the context of the hell that they’re living in, basically because of course they would have had 10 bucks to spend, which means they’re kinda like basically the richest people at Playland that day. So they can do anything you need as much as they want and suffer the consequences as a result. So do that.
And then like July 4th and blah, blah, blah. And the last one will be Boxing Day, which unless something happens between now and then, that can’t think, well, I don’t think that, well, I don’t think that’ll occur.
Will be set completely in Australia and I still have to make sure that Boxing Day is as big a thing in Australia as it is in Canada, in the UK. I think it is. I could, I’m probably wrong though, so that may change, but if anybody has read the series, they know why Australia is an important thing and why Nick and Carter going back to Australia is very significant. So it’s at some point in these stories, they’re going back to Australia. I’m not quite sure when.
So to be 20, I went ahead and mapped them out and, just so I would know. And then I was like, Oh yeah, now I really all I have to do the next book, have to write this Memorial Day story, I have like, and then July 4th, so I have a lot of, Oh, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I forgot about those, which will be sad. Little stories probably because there’ll be Nick’s mother and Nick’s father. In both cases.
Jeff: And your time hopping around in these two. Like you mentioned, Decoration Day is going to be in the 30s and some of the other ones have been more…
Frank: Well, New Year’s Day was ’79. One of my favorite reviews that I got on Goodreads for that one was this woman, I assume it’s a woman did a DNR do not read. And didn’t leave an actual star rating. But left a comment and if she’s like, I really couldn’t stand the amount of debauchery and I was like, it’s 1979 the most debauched time in the United States that has ever occurred.
Cause it’s basically like the whole story is about mostly about coke and people like doing coke and selling coke and buying coke because it’s 1979 and it takes place in Dallas, which was a very debauched place at that point in time.
Jeff: So you’ve got all these other connected universes to what started as the mystery series. Tell us about some of the other tendrils that have come off.
Frank: Well, so I have a series that’s set here in Daytona. Actually, I have two series that are set here. I have one that is the first book takes place in 1947. I’ve written four books and it took about a year off. I’m actually, when I leave here, I’m going to the library cause I need to go back and read the newspapers again.
Jeff: Tell me you’re doing this on microfilm.
Frank: I really, really wish newspapers.com would swoop in and image all of them and then put them up in their massive, fabulous archive. But that if they’re coming there and they’re not here yet, so yeah, there’s the morning paper and these evening papers, I need to go back and read them.
The next book will be set in 48 and it’ll center around bike week. So that’s in Daytona Beach and it, there’s five characters who have voices, have POV, says, there’s Tom Gerald, who’s an attorney here in town. There’s Ronnie Christian, his lover.
They’ve known each other since they were in high school in Tallahassee, and they ended up here in Daytona beach. There’s Alice, who is Tom and Ronnie’s maid who’s black and lives over on around second Avenue, which was the black part of town. That’s near where, Bethune-Cookman University is.
So she lives on the North side of Bethune-Cookman and she is friends with Dr. Bethune who is for whom Bethune-Cookman is named, who was an amazing woman by the way. Friend of Eleanor Roosevelt’s really powerful person and did a lot of stuff for the community in this town. A lot. There’s Alison, then there’s Marveen who lives about five blocks North of here.
Then there’s Howie who is, a kid who is the, basically Tom’s real first client of any of any notion in the first book. And he ends up kind of learning to be a PI under Ronnie’s wing. So, we’ve done four books that took us to the end of 47. And then this first book is going to be, like I said, March of 48.
The other series that I’m doing is contemporary, and it also takes place here, and it’s Whit and Eddie and I’m Eddie. The Whit and Eddie books are basically my live memoir. Eddie’s history is my history. I’ve changed some things to protect the innocent and the guilty, to be quite honest, to protect myself from lawsuits.
But Eddie and I, our history diverge is in about 2014 so. Eddie ends up working for the guys who inherit Williams Jones, which is the company that Nick and Carter own, after they pass away. And then Whit is a professional football player who retires, who was playing for fictional expansion team in San Antonio, owned by the guys who own Williams Jones and then there’s an insta-love. Cause there’s a lot of love in my books cause it’s Nick. Nick is like the King of insta-love. He can like, there’s, in fact in the Mardi Gras story, he, there’s a very direct example of him like looking at the crowd on bourbon street and there’s some guy that they’ve just met and he looks and he’s like that one.
That’s the guy. And then Carter goes over and finds the guy and brings him over, and sure enough, they have all this stuff in common, and they ended up falling in love instantly. So Nick orchestrates Whit and Eddie falling in love from beyond the veil as the ghost, as they do, and blah, blah, blah.
And then things happen. So I’m five books into that, and that happens here. Whit and Eddie live. So we’re on the beach. If you go in a straight line over to the river, they live right in the, in that, in that block or the blocks South of there. In an old house that is a really cool arts and crafts house that I’d love to get inside sometime and take a look at.
Jeff: That is so cool. I mean, I love interlocking universes anyway, and the way that you’ve locked all this together I think is just the coolest thing.
Frank: It’s a lot of fun. It really, really, really is a lot of fun. Oh, and Ronnie from the forties and fifties books is actually still alive as of this moment, and is 103 and it’s still like, and has become like, he don’t care.
So he’s like, you know, reading people to filth and it’s a lot of fun.
Jeff: So we know there’s more holiday books coming this year, anything else we could expect in 2020?
Frank: Oh, well, yeah, probably about 15 or 20 more books. The next, the book I’m working on right now is called “The Biker Who Got Bumped Off,” which is about the 1948 Bike Week here in Daytona. It’s all about, it’s a trial and there’s actually been elements of this already discussed in the Whit and Eddie books. Ronnie spends a lot of time moping and no one can really figure out what it is. And it has to do with what happens in this trial. And in the very last Nick and Carter book, or the mystery, the one, Passion takes place in Sacramento, in that book, there’s a, a guy who shows up in San Francisco who was involved in that trial, and it happens that Tom and Ronnie are visiting Nick and Carter at that time, and they’re like, Oh, we know that guy because we back in 48 and blah, blah, blah. Then the next book will be a book three in the, “Adventures of Nick and Carter.” And it’ll be the continuation of the TV show that Nick is in the middle of producing, which is like kind of Diahann Carroll-esque but in set in the 70s… we don’t have enough time for me to explain this, but I love this story so much.
The main character who’s in, who’s like the star of this TV show. It’s a black woman who is a millionaire in 1970 and so the show, CBS won’t take it. So it’s going to go into syndication immediately. And in fact, in a Whit and Eddie book, the one that came out back in December, Eddie talks to a couple of the characters who are black and it says, have you ever heard of this TV show “Touch of Rouge?” And one of those, like, that’s my mother’s favorite TV show ever. When it finally came out on DVD, I bought them and I’ve watched them all and I have a copy and like, and they’re just like, Oh, because like, it was like this powerful black woman. Like Diahann Carroll was a nurse that was great.
That’s better than being a maid, but this woman owned her own business. Like it was a big deal. So that was fun. So we got more of that. And then after that we’ll be Whit and Eddie and, speaking of TV, they’re building a studio out, west of town and they’re gonna bring movies to Daytona beach because they now own a movie studio called Monumental, which I have borrowed the name of Monumental Pictures from “Singing in the Rain,” if you’d like to sue P O box… But I just couldn’t stand not using that name. So it’s Monumental Pictures that’s producing the TV show in the 70s, and then Whit’s going to be the star of a TV show that set here in Daytona beach that’s kind of like “Baywatch” meets “Brothers and Sisters” kind of thing.
Jeff: Okay. Lots of stuff on the plate this year.
Frank: Yeah. So my goal is, I still have not achieved it. My goal is to do three books a month, so one in each one of the series, and we’ll see if I forget there. So far, the best I can do is two, but really every month I’m like, okay, this is the month I’m going to do three.
So we’ll see.
Jeff: That’s awesome.
What’s the best way for everybody to keep up with you online, to actually find out what all this stuff’s coming out and what comes up next in the pipeline?
Frank: Well, my website is frankwbutterfield.com and the W is important because there are other Frank Butterfields, believe it or not. So frankwbutterfield.com, that’s how you can get in touch with me. Get signed up for the newsletter. I’m also on Facebook. I’m sorta kind of on Twitter. Well, the nobody really finds me there. I’m also kind of on Instagram, if you’d like pictures of the ocean, that’s what my Instagram feed is. All pictures of the ocean.
Jeff: We did our mandatory ocean picture when we got here this morning.
Frank: So yeah, the best way to reach me is either through Facebook or on the website and on the website I have links to all my books and the whole setup. As far as what’s coming next, because of the way I write, I don’t really have a what’s coming next until I have already gotten into the writing of it.
And then I began to like drop hints as I find little tidbits of interesting things I’ll like do post, cause I have a group on Facebook called Butterfield Stories. I’m sure it could come up with a better name, but that’s why I started with, where I do like drop little things of like this when I find hilarious ads or things on the newspapers from the times that I’m looking at.
I just will mention something about it, but that’s where I, mostly I give people about a five to seven day notice that there’s another book coming out. That’s why I don’t have, I don’t do preorders. I don’t have a, I really do write just as the book comes to me.
Jeff: All right, well we’ll definitely link to all of that in the show notes so that people can find what’s out there and you know, check in multiple times a month to see what you have released.
Frank, thank you so much for coming and hanging out with us a little bit today, and it’s been so great to hear about this massive Nick and Carter universe.
Frank: Well, thank you very much. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a real pleasure to meet you guys in person and get to do this. Really great.