Hello, and thank you to Skylar for hosting me today! I’m currently in full swing on my blog tour for my novella Homespun, recently released from Dreamspinner Press. I’m also giving away a hand-knit scarf (custom knit by me for the winner of the giveaway, in their chosen colors and style) – comment on any of my blog tour posts to be entered to win! There are more details here: http://laylawier.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/scarf-giveaway/
One thing most of my fiction has in common is a rural or small-town setting, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today. It’s not that I refuse to write about the city (cities are fascinating in their own way, and some stories can only be told in a city setting) but rural life is what I know best. The biggest town I’ve lived in for more than a few weeks was Champaign, Illinois, which is not that tiny — Champaign and its sister city Urbana have about a hundred thousand people between them — but it’s very isolated in the middle of central Illinois. Champaign-Urbana sits alone in a huge expanse of cornfields, and as soon as you leave town in any direction, there’s a sudden, startling transition from urban development to rural middle-of-nowhere, where sleepy little towns drowse along railroad tracks and water towers or grain elevators are the only landmarks, visible for miles.
And that’s the big city compared to where I grew up, a tiny remote town in rural Alaska, where the mail arrived once a week by airplane and the only road connecting us to the outside world was an “ice road” that relied on frozen lakes instead of bridges!
Homespun is set in central New York state. This could hardly be farther from Alaska, where I still live — though now I’m in Fairbanks, a bit more centrally located — but I chose this location for a number of reasons. One reason, of course, is that it fitted my plot (which hinges around recent adoption of same-sex marriage). But also, I love the area. My sister lives in Ithaca, NY, so I’ve had some opportunity to explore the area, and it’s truly beautiful, with picturesque little red barns, rolling fields and apple orchards. It’s the stuff of which rural daydreams are made …
… but only in some ways. New York is a blue state overall, but rural New York is quite red. And that’s the dichotomy of rural life, the conflict I’ve lived with all my life. I love many things about life in small towns — the slow pace of life, the neighborly camaraderie, the community festivals and the farms and the nearby wilderness — but small towns can also be hidebound, stifling, bigoted and repressive.
Homespun is, I guess, my way of dealing with that conflict head-on. Sheep farmer Owen Fortescue has lived all his life in small towns. He’s a quiet small-town guy who never thought to question his world or his place in it, until sharp-tongued big-city artist Kerry Ruehling walked into Owen’s life and turned it upside down.
I figured while I was working on Homespun that I’d have readers approaching the book from two basic directions. For some readers, the rural setting and the general theme of finding home and family in a small town would be a big part of the book’s appeal. As a society, we have a particular mythology that surrounds small towns. It’s partly nostalgia (for some of us) and partly a longing for a place that never was and never can be.
But there’s another group of readers who basically agree with Kerry when it comes to small towns (and he — and you — are right!): they’re repressive, stifling, and lacking in all the basic amenities. Why would anyone choose to live there?!
I hope this book, and the eventual compromise that Owen and Kerry work out, will satisfy both kinds of readers, and I hope you’ll find your time on Owen, Kerry, and Laura’s sheep farm to be time well spent.
by Layla M. Wier
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella/104 pages
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2013
For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.
Buy at Dreamspinner Press:
Layla M. Wier is the romance pen name of artist and writer Layla Lawlor. She was born in a log cabin in rural Alaska and grew up thirty miles from towns, roads, electricity, and cars. These days, she lives in Fox, a gold-rush mining town on the highway north of Fairbanks, Alaska, with her husband, dogs, and the occasional farm animal. Their house is a log cabin in a birch and aspen forest. Wolves, moose, and foxes wander through the front yard. During the short, bright Arctic summer, Layla enjoys gardening and hiking, and in the winter, she writes, paints, and draws.
Where to find Layla:
Stops and topics on the Homespun blog tour (Sept. 16-Oct. 8):
Monday, Sept. 16: Zahra Owens (http://zahraowens.com/) – autumn
Tuesday, Sept. 17: Tali Spencer (http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com/) – sharing passions
Wednesday, Sept. 18: RELEASE DAY! Party at the Dreamspinner Press blog!
Thursday, Sept. 19: Charley Descoteaux (http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/) – location scouting in central New York
Friday, Sept. 20: Chris T. Kat (http://christikat.blogspot.com/) – interview
Monday, Sept. 23: Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House (http://purpleroseteahouse.charliecochet.com/) – doing research
Tuesday, Sept. 24: Helen Pattskyn (http://www.helenpattskyn.com/) – bisexuality in Homespun
Wednesday, Sept. 25: Garrett Leigh (http://garrettleigh.com/) – interview
Thursday, Sept. 26: Skylar Cates (https://skylarmcates.wordpress.com/) – rural life
Friday, Sept. 27: Madison Parker (http://madisonparklove.com/blog/) – interview + review
Monday, Sept. 30: Jessica Davies (http://jessicaskyedavies.blogspot.com/) – learning to spin, part 1
Tuesday, Oct. 1: Anne Barwell (http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/) – learning to spin, part 2
Thursday, Oct. 3: Michael Rupured (http://rupured.com/) – writing respectfully from outside a subculture
Friday, Oct. 4: Jana Denardo (http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com/) – invading characters’ privacy
Monday, Oct. 7: SL Huang (http://slhuang.com/) – interview
Tuesday, Oct. 8: PD Singer (http://pdsinger.com/) – central NY photo tour