This week, I have a special guest. Professor Warrick Duvall is one of the main characters of Care, the fifth book in the White House Men series, that came out last week. Care tells the story of how Warrick fell in love with Kenn Shafer, President Shafer’s son. I’m elated that Warrick agreed to chat with me today.
Professor Duvall, thank you so much for being willing to talk to me.
My pleasure. And please, call me Warrick.
Has the informal attitude of this White House rubbed off on you?
[laughs] I suppose so. I have to say I appreciate it, though. It’s a welcome change after spending many years in the military and in academia.
Even the president told you to call him Del. How’s that working out?
I try, but it’s hard. Using titles is so ingrained for me by now. But the president’s point that it would make things easier for Kenn is the main reason why I will try it, though. Kenn doesn’t like the constant reminder that his father is the president, and I can certainly understand that.
How have things been since we last spoke for your book?
Good. really good. Being with Kenn is… It’s an amazing experience, once that I never thought I’d be a part of.
Let’s start with a rather obvious question. How could you not know you were a Daddy?
[nods] I can understand why it would seem impossible from the outside, but I genuinely didn’t. You have to understand that I’d never been in a serious relationship. Hook ups, yes, though even those had been minimal the last few years. I had never been in a position where a long term relationship seemed an option for me. Even though the military has repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, homophobia was still rampant when I served, making it hard for me to be out. I’m grateful it’s getting better now with a new generation of soldiers who care far less about who you love…or who you sleep with.
But whatever the reasons, I’d always been single, and kink had never even been on my radar. Until I met Kenn. I think our relationship just grew organically in that direction, so for me it was more of a discovery that what I wanted with Kenn and who I wanted to be for him had a name, a label. Everything clicked into place, for me and for Kenn. He’d been long aware he was submissive, but the exact way in which he wanted to express that hadn’t crystallized either. So for both of us, it was like finding out who we were, like coming home in a sense.
Some readers wondered why you asked for the president’s permission, even though Kenn is and was an adult.
Yeah, I know that others might not have made that choice. Of course I didn’t need Del’s permission and neither did Kenn. But I wanted it. First of all because the man had hired me as his son’s tutor, so for me to start a relationship with Kenn would be a gross breach of that implicit trust, and I would never do that. But the circumstances played a role as well. Kenn was vulnerable and grieving, and I wanted to make crystal clear I wasn’t taking advantage of him, wasn’t preying on him. I wanted it to be open and honest, and when I discovered I wanted to be his Daddy, that seemed like something Del should know as well. Not so much asking him for permission as, again, him knowing that it was consensual…and out of love.
Your relationship is still hidden from the public, though.
So far, yes, and Del has asked us to keep it that way…if we agreed that it was the best course of action. I know that if this leaked, it would cost him approval points and it would certainly affect his reelection campaign. It shouldn’t, but the reality is that it will. Del is already the first openly bisexual president, but to have his son not only come out as gay, but be in a relationship with his tutor who is much older, let alone the whole Daddy-boy aspect is… People would have strong opinions. I don’t want that for the president, but I don’t want to subject Kenn to that either. Once he’s reelected, we’ll reevaluate, but for now, I’m perfectly okay with this.
Aren’t you afraid someone will talk? The relationship between Milan, Asher, and Denali leaked as well.
[sighs] That was rather unfortunate, but that leak didn’t come from the White House Staff. A disgruntled coworker of Asher and Seth tipped off the press, someone whop was upset about the preferential treatment Asher and Seth received. They’re in a tough spot, the both of them.
Let’s talk about your career. You started out as a West Point candidate and now you’re a law professor. How did that happen?
Life happened. We can plan all we want, but life has a way of throwing a wrench in things. In my case, I had expected to spend a long career in the military. I worked hard to get into West Point, and my years there were the toughest time I’ve had in my life, but worth every second. But then I was injured due to an IED and that changed everything. My injuries were such that a return to active duty was not possible, not even after long revalidation. I would have never passed the physical test, what with the constant pain in my lower back and my thigh, and so I was honorably discharged. It’s gotten better since then, but the doctor who told me the news was right back then. I’m grateful for his honesty because it forced me to let go of that dream and find a new one.
A switch to going to law school doesn’t seem like a logical choice.
[laughs] I suppose not. All I knew when I was recovering was that I needed something to distract me, something to sink my teeth into so I wouldn’t go crazy. I’d always been interested in the law, so I decided to study it. And once I did, I discovered that I truly loved it.
Yet you didn’t become a lawyer.
No. I did pass the bar in Virginia, where I live, as well as in DC, and I volunteered for a law clinic for low income families for a few years, but I never became an official lawyer. Never pleaded a case in court or anything like that. I liked the theory of the law better than practicing it, and so I kept on learning more, specializing on social justice and the law.
What does the future hold for you now?
For now, I’m content tutoring Kenn, which I still do on a daily basis. The salary I receive is earned, and as muddy and complicated as it is, I do try to keep that separate from being Kenn’s boyfriend and Daddy. I can’t, of course, not entirely, but I do try. He’s an eager student and when he decides to return to college for his last year, I’m sure he’ll decide to go to law school after…and he’ll sail right through. He has a passion for the law, as well as a sharp mind. I could see him become a justice…maybe even a Supreme Court Justice.
You would have no problem with that?
No, why would I?
Because a career like that for him will affect you, will close certain doors for you.
If and when that happens, that’s a price I’d be willing to pay. I want him to fly as high as he can and wants to, and I will do whatever I can and need to to support him.
Sounds like love to me.
[smiles] You know, I’ve always been pretty good with words. But oftentimes, I fall short of finding the right ones to describe what I feel for Kenn. My love for him is so big and all-encompassing that it defies descriptions. Being Kenn’s Daddy is the single most important thing I will ever do with my life, and if I do that well and make him happy, I’ll know that my life meant something.