We are thrilled to have Scotty Cade with us today as he celebrates his upcoming release Knobs out on the 22nd April.
Scotty Cade here. First I’d like to thank Sinfully Gay Romance for allowing me to tell you a little bit about “Knobs,” my newest release and the history of the Citadel. Later in the posts you can read an excerpt and I will be telling you how you can win a book from my backlist.
So when I was asked to write these blog spots, I posted on Facebook and asked my fans what in particular they would like to know about Knobs, besides the premise of course. The answers came in fast and furious and included a history of the Citadel and what all this “Hell Week” stuff is all about, The inspiration for the book, Character interviews with each main character, as well as a little about cadet life. I have six blog posts to do so I can cover all these requests with one or two to spare. So here goes. Sinfully Gay’s post will be about the history of the Citadel and Hell Week. I hope you enjoy.
Before we get started, here is the blurb for Knobs.
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 22nd April 2016
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance
Angus Conrad (Gus) McRae is a privileged Charlestonian following family tradition and attending the Citadel, harboring big dreams of a military career. With the infamous hell week behind him, he quickly realizes being a Knob (a freshman cadet) is just as tough—especially for a man like Gus who must keep his sexuality a secret. Then a sudden dorm reassignment places him in a room with one of the football team’s top players: working-class jock Stewart Adam (Sam) Morley—and life gets increasingly complicated.
Gus can’t imagine a man like Sam as gay, yet there’s something between them—exchanged glances, the occasional innuendo. Sexual tensions rise, leaving them more than friends but less than lovers. Gus and Sam know there’s too much to lose and they must keep their attraction hidden. If they fail, they risk destroying their hopes and dreams for a prosperous future in a military world that’s not yet ready to accommodate masculine gay men.
The Citadel was established in 1842 and was originally located on Marion Square in beautiful downtown Charleston, SC. Today the picturesque campus, which was moved in 1922 to the bank of the Ashley River, is home to 24 major buildings and over 3,400 men and women enrolled in over 20 full and part time graduate and undergraduate programs.
The Citadel of the 21st Century instills in Cadets the core values of integrity, honesty, and responsibility in a disciplined academic environment, thereby preparing its graduates to understand their obligations as citizens, and to become principled leaders in whatever their chosen field of endeavor.
Life as a Cadet at the Citadel Academy is Spartan and demanding with little time for idle pursuits. A typical day will begin at 0600 hrs (6AM) and end at 2130 hrs (9:30PM) during the winter months, and at 2230 hrs (10:30PM) when the days were longer. Academic classes and military drill and duties take up most of the day, with evenings devoted to study. Saturdays are reserved for inspections. From March 1 until December 1, there are infantry or artillery drills each day except Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturdays, in addition to room inspection, there is inspection under arms, and on Sunday attendance at church services is mandatory.
The Fourth Class System
The purpose of The Citadel’s Fourth Class system is to develop and graduate the “whole person.”
The Fourth Class System hinges on the completeness with which it matures, refines, trains, and schools the totality of a young cadet’s character. This finely balanced process provides the foundation of the “whole person” concept. During their four years as part of the Corps, cadets will develop academically, physically, militarily, and spiritually.
The Fourth Class System is both difficult and demanding. It represents an abrupt change from
the life normally experienced at home and encompasses much of the cadet’s first year. It is
administered impersonally but at the same time exhibits the individual understanding necessary for effective leadership. It requires a full measure of mental and physical preparedness and endurance. On the surface, the Fourth Class System by nature appears arbitrary. It demands prompt and unquestioning obedience to proper authority through the use of customs and regulations. However, each custom and regulation has a special purpose designed to further cadet development.
Cadets unable to meet the desired standards or who violate a regulation or custom are subject to corrective discipline. This discipline ranges from a verbal reprimand to restriction to campus and walking of punishment “tours” (afifty minute period of marching in the barracks while carrying a rifle at shoulder arms). In extreme cases, a cadet who is unable to conform to the military way of life may be brought before a suitability board to determine his/her fitness to continue at The Citadel.
Knobs report to The Citadel one week before classes begin. Some call this first week Hell Week because it's physically and mentally demanding. They receive their uniforms and rifles, have their hair shorn, report to their barracks and attend academic orientation and military training. During this time, upperclass cadets instruct knobs in the basics of military training and discipline. The knobs will undergo intense physical exercises, dropping to the floor for push-ups, sit-ups and crunches or scrambling to their feet to run. Knobs also learn how to shine shoes, polish brass, make a bed, keep their rooms in order and sweep the barracks, form for assembly, march, drill, salute and learn rifle manual basics. In addition, knobs learn to walk at a pace of 120 steps per minute and maintain good posture.
Knobs must carry out all orders from cadets without question. When addressed by an upperclass cadet, a knob can respond in only these ways: "Yes sir/ma'am." "No sir/ma'am." "No excuse sir/ma'am." "Request better judgment sir/ma'am." "Request permission to make a statement sir/ma'am."
Whenever asked (usually at meals), knobs must answer questions about the institution. These questions cover just about any topic related to The Citadel. If a knob doesn't know the answer, he or she is asked to find it and report back at the next mess.
At meals (called mess), knobs must sit upright on the first 3 inches (8 centimeters) of their chairs. They serve the upperclass cadets in their mess (mess carver). Hands aren't allowed to rest on the table, and proper etiquette is strictly enforced.
One Citadel mess tradition called "stumping the stars" refers to answering and asking questions during the knobs' mess. Another tradition comes at Thanksgiving dinner when the knobs make Thanksgiving hats of all sizes and decoration for their upperclass mentors to wear during the meal.
Knobs are very busy during that first week. What they learn and do during those days will continue throughout the knob year and become the foundation for the training they will receive throughout their time at The Citadel.
Until 2008, knobs weren't allowed to have telephones either in their rooms or cell phones. That has changed because of the campus shootings at Virginia Tech. Today, all cadets may carry cell phones. Knob aren't permitted to use their phones during the first week of military training and orientation, but they can text or e-mail family or friends.
In closing, I hope this gives you a good understanding of the discipline required to attend the Citadel and just a sneak peak into Gus and Sam’s world. The fact that they were able to find unexpected love in such a demanding environment and make it work shows the depth of their commitment. If you’ve ever been pushed to your limits, I’d like to hear about it. Please posts and each entry will be eligible for a free copy of “The Royal Street Heist.” Book one in the Bissonet & Cruz Investigations series.
Fulfilling a Legacy
Angus Conrad McRae [III - Gus
Angus Conrad McRae III, Gus to everyone but his family, checked and rechecked the required clothing spread across his bed in neat piles. He sighed, stepped back, and leaned against his desk, nervously crossing his arms over his chest. His heart started to race, a chill ran down his spine, and he felt weak in the knees. My God, this is really happening!
Tomorrow morning at 0700 hours, he was following in his father’s and his grandfather’s footsteps and reporting to the Citadel as a Knob. He looked at the piles of clothing, and the reality hit him hard. He was suddenly cold, his skin damp and clammy to the touch. Gus dropped to his desk chair, fear or anticipation or both stealing away his strength.
In the solitude of his bedroom, with no prying eyes and no pretenses to keep up, he lowered his defenses and allowed himself a rare moment to doubt that he could really pull this off. Staring at his bed and shaking his head, Gus’s mind raced. This stuff is going to be my life for the next four years. He brought his hands to his face and rubbed his eyes, the same eyes from which he was so diligently trying to keep the nervous tears at bay. He chuckled anxiously to keep from crying. Well, that’s not completely true. This stuff along with grueling physical training and an impossible academics schedule—that will be my life. Determined to be strong, he got to his feet. His knees threatened to give way again, but he fought past the sensation and paced back and forth. Another realization hit him hard, and his stomach started to churn. Hell Week! I’ve got to get through Hell Week first. What if I can’t cut it? Fucking Hell Week!
From everything he’d read and the stories his father and grandfather had told him, Hell Week was going to be a nightmare. It was designed to break down the cadets and strip away every bit of their identity and individuality until everyone was equal. The Citadel attempted to destroy the cadets’ confidence, physically and mentally, based on the premise that they couldn’t start to make a leader out of their young trainees until they first broke them down to a common “nothing.”
Gus’s hands started to shake slightly. He stopped pacing, pushed a pile of clothing aside, and sat on the foot of one of his twin beds. There he rested his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. Gus rubbed his eyes again until they were about to pop out of his head.
“Stop it,” he whispered. “You’ll make it through Hell Week. You’ve been groomed for this your entire life.”
A little voice in the back of Gus’s head chimed in again. Yeah, you’ve been groomed for this, but because of that fucking accident, you’re starting a year behind everyone else and probably not near as fit.
One Saturday morning shortly after his senior year had started, Gus had been out four-wheeling on James Island with a couple of his friends when, in a very stupid move, he caught the dunes just right—or wrong, depending on how you look at it—and rolled his four-wheeler several times, finally coming to a stop with the thing on top of him. He cringed remembering the excruciating pain and the sound of his bones cracking with each violent flip. The attending police officer had said if he hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt, he might have been thrown clear, but the loosely fitting belt kept him attached to the vehicle as he thrashed with each roll.
Because of one stupid mistake, he’d spent his entire senior year in a full-body cast, often heavily sedated, and having to endure multiple surgeries to put him back together. And because of that single moment in time, he’d had to retake his senior year while suffering through grueling physical therapy in order to get back into shape and be able to attend the Citadel. The worse part was that all of his friends had already graduated high school and moved on, and the couple of friends he had who had gone on to the Citadel were already a year ahead of him.
He straightened up and squared his broad shoulders. Stop it, Gus! One year. It’s just one lousy year. Man up! You have no fucking choice. A year behind or not, you’ll do this like Dad and Grandpop did. He inhaled deeply, tried to focus on the clothing spread across the two beds, and started putting his things into duffel bags. You can do this. You can do this.
“You have to do this,” he whispered as he forced item after item into his bags. At least you sort of know what to expect.
It all came alive to him when a couple of his senior classmates, guys he was supposed to experience Hell Week with, went on to the Citadel without him. They had filled him in on every shitty detail, and unfortunately they hadn’t minced words. Their accounts sounded like his worst nightmares come true. And not only that, now they were also going to be his upperclassmen, giving him shit instead of them getting it all together.
But the grooming had started long before that. Every year from his first birthday on, his father had given him a different book about the Citadel, and as soon as he was able, he’d been expected to read each of them over and over until he’d memorized everything about the institution. In addition, he’d listened to story after story from his father and grandfather about their time at the Citadel—the camaraderie the cadets shared and the feeling of being part of something much bigger than just one man.
Gus had always been expected to follow in the footsteps of his father, and he’d always accepted that he would do it. But attending the Citadel had not been a dream of his. At least not at first.
His apprehension wasn’t because he didn’t think he could handle the exhausting physical expectations or the academic load. The real cause was something Gus had only shared with one other human being. He was gay. He’d known it since he was old enough to know what gay meant, and he also knew being gay could never be a part of Citadel life. In fact, it was an unspoken taboo, and he was scared shitless that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off.
Being gay and actually being gay were two different things to Gus. He decided almost from the day he’d accepted his sexual orientation that he would hide his sexuality in the interest of doing what was expected of him. Thus far, to his credit, he’d succeeded.
But Gus’s chest tightened painfully when he thought about what lay ahead of him. He had convinced himself that four years in the closet at the Citadel was really no different from every other day of his life. But now he had the haunting feeling he’d been blowing smoke up his own ass. It would be different. How could it not? Until then he hadn’t had to share the close confines of a barracks with another male or get naked in the showers or see other guys naked in the shower or, even worse, witness someone jerking off.
Thinking about a fellow cadet jerking off in the shower made his cock stand at attention and his blue jeans tighten uncomfortably. At his age everything made his dick jump. Two seconds of gay porn and he was shooting his load. How in the fuck was he going to get through a shitload of cadets naked in the shower?
Fucking stop it, Gus! He closed his eyes and cursed his weakness again. All he needed was a raging hard-on in the shower to get labeled or, even worse, tossed out on his ass. For the last few weeks, he’d prayed over and over that he’d get a bunkmate who was overweight, unattractive, and had acne and buckteeth. If God took pity on him, maybe—just maybe—he could pull this off.
Here’s where you can find me and “Knobs”, as well as my other stories.
Meet Scotty Cade
Scotty Cade left Corporate America and twenty-five years of Marketing and Public Relations behind to buy an Inn & Restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of over twenty years. He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but just five years ago for publication. When not at the Inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing gay romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side. Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, most of his characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there. He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy
If you’ve ever been pushed to your limits, I’d like to hear about it. Please posts and each entry will be eligible for a free copy of “The Royal Street Heist.” Book one in the Bissonet & Cruz Investigations series.