About Bennett Bay
& Big Cypress County, FL
Bennett Bay was conceived from bitterly cold, dark winters and nostalgia. In the midst of bleak Minnesota winters, I desperately wanted to go to the warm, happy place of my youth. A place that was always warm and sunny. A place where there was always a faithful dog by your side. A place where you could get naked, go swimming and “mess around” with your buddies. I wanted the Florida of my youth. I wanted the old Florida I heard about in stories from my grandparents and great uncles and aunts. A Florida that was a bit more southern than it is today. A Florida that was a little bit cracker, a little Spanish, a little colonial, a little bit funky beach community, and a little bit back-country swamp. I needed a place that was all of Florida condensed down into one thick broth of good, old-fashioned southern drama. And so I began writing.
One of the hallmarks of southern writing is setting as character. The thread that ties these very different stories together is the setting of Bennett Bay and Big Cypress County. Hurricanes, rising water and life next to the bay impact the lives of these characters, it shapes them. I invite you to grab a glass of iced, sweet tea, kick back in your favorite chair, and enjoy this little trip to Bennett Bay. Hopefully you will laugh a bit, but be warned, you may catch a fright or shed a tear or two along the way. Beware, there are ghosts out there and the spirits in the swamp can be restless. Oh, and don’t forget to pick-up a t-shirt while you’re here.
I will be adding more to this site as my writing schedule allows. The aim is to include the “historical” backstory and more information about the fictional businesses and organizations found in the greater Bennett Bay region of Florida.
These three short stories are foundational in the series. They establish the setting for Bennett Bay and Big Cypress County and introduce situations and characters that weave their way through the rest of the stories in this series.
This story introduces us to the tragic story of Tony Gallo. He makes appearances in Return to Cooter Crossing, Steamboat Days and Of Paradise and Purgatory, the first book in the Santo Domingo series.
A tropical storm is battering Bennett Bay, a small town on Florida’s Gulf coast. Tony’s trying to close a sale on a house. The commission on this property will be a life changer but it just isn’t going to happen. He fights his way home through the storm to find a mysterious envelope waiting for him. Will it add more misery to a bad day or will it be a ticket to move on?
The Broken Heart
This story introduces us to Zach Thorensen, Stan Wolf, JJ Jackson and a number of other important characters in Big Cypress County. We get to visit Swan Landing and meet Cob Swan and Boz for the first time and the story introduces a bit of the supernatural that lies below the surface of the swamp.
Zach has a broken heart. He moved down to Florida to retire, restore a boat, and get over the death of his husband. However, restoring a boat is easier than mending a broken heart. He finds the dark waters of the Big Cypress River run deep and you can find family, home, and new love in unlikely places. Of course, a bit of vodou and the nudge of a ghost can always move things along.
The Demise of Bobby & Clyde
This haunted house story establishes the setting of the Stark mansion, which will be an important element in The Deadly Dare, the follow-up to Return to Cooter Crossing.
Clyde really loved Bobby. He wanted to give his man the world. He thought robbing a bank would be the way to do it. That was his first mistake. The Demise of Bobby and Clyde is a short ghost story set in the boondocks of Big Cypress County, Florida. A classic haunted house tale with a couple of gay bad boys. Warning: It doesn’t end well for the guys, but there is a lot of ever after.
Return to Cooter Crossing
Aidan Quinn is having a good day, possibly the best day of his life, at least since moving to Dublin. He just received word that his degree committee approved his PhD and he’s on his way home, with lamb chops, chard, and a bottle of wine. Time to celebrate in the little cottage he shares with his mentor and lover, Dr. David Stokes. But, something is wrong when he gets home. Dr. Stokes has found a new student to “mentor.”
Like any good Irish-American lad, he gets drunk and heads home to his mother. He hopes to find himself and make plans for a new future in the quiet backwater town of Cooter Crossing. But, he forgot what it’s like being part of a large family in an extremely small town. He gets off the plane in Tampa and finds his little sister is pregnant and won’t tell anyone who the father is. His next two older brothers, Danny and Dillon, are keeping secrets, and the oldest, Rory, shows up with his son, Sean, expecting Aidan to help him navigate Sean’s coming out.
Just as Aidan thinks he’s finally getting ahead of the family drama, and settling back into life in a small Florida village, someone shoots him. And people start dying. Will he find a way to put all the pieces back together? Will he find a new direction for his life? And, what really happened to Mrs. DeWitt’s prize rooster?
This is a work in progress. Steamboat Days is the annual Memorial Day celebration in the town of Blackwater on Lake Jackson, with steamboat races, bluegrass music, barbecue and a reenactment of a Civil War battle. Many of the characters from the Bennett Bay stories come to celebrate over the long holiday weekend. Of course, family drama ensues. There may even be a dragon and Bear, the large black Newfoundland, is back.
The Deadly Dare
This is a work in progress. In the follow-up to Return to Cooter Crossing, Sean, his boyfriend Ethan, and Parker go to work at the summer camp on the island in the middle of Lake Jackson. Across the lake stands the abandoned Stark mansion, the most haunted house in Florida, calls to the boys and a dare is made. Will all of the boys survive?
This is a work in progress. This story takes place after The Deadly Dare. Boz and his boyfriend Cob took a “time out” over the summer and he went to Georgia to visit his father. On the way back home, Boz meets Nick, an older guy heading down to Bennett Bay to live with his aunt and start his life over after his fiancé broke up with him. Shit happens and we get back to the mystery of who was behind the killings and toxic dumping in Return to Cooter Crossing.