Today I am joined by Dean Pace-Frech, a brand new author of historical LGBT themed fiction whose first novel, A Place To Call Their Own, was released last Friday.
Thank you for visiting, Dean, and for answering my questions.
Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?
Dean: I have been writing for five years. I also work as an administrative assistant to eight busy doctors. I work 1 pm to 9 pm and do my writing in the morning before I go to work each day.
Elin: When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?
Dean: I knit and I tinker around with patio gardening. In A Place to Call Their Own, Frank and Gregory are farmers and Frank knits.
Elin:Can you name any author/authors, past or present, who have been a great influence on your work?
Dean: I grew up reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Young Adult category didn’t exist when I was growing up, so I graduated from those books and went on to read historical dramas like Roots, The Blue and the Gray, the Kent Family Chronicles, and the North and South Trilogy. It’s inevitable that I write historical fiction.
Elin: What are you reading? Something to be clutched to the bosom or tossed aside with force? Fiction or non-fiction?
Dean: I am reading The Absolutist by John Boyne. It was nominated for a Lammy Award. It is set in 1919 after WWI in England. My second novel, Disappear With Me, is set in Southampton, England in 1910, so it’s very close to that time in history.
Elin: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Dean: When I started writing A Place to Call Their Own, I just started writing. I knew who my characters were, their background and a bit about where they were going. In early 2012, I had been working on manuscript for four years and wanted to finish it that year. I figured out (outlined) how to the bridge the story to where I wanted it to end, and I finished the first draft in March.
Dean: So with that lesson in mind, I outlined and made some notes before I started writing my second manuscript, Disappear With Me. Even though I had a solid outline, there was still plenty of room to make changes and adjustments along the way. With the outline it only took me four months to write Disappear With Me.
I am getting ready to start a third manuscript, tentatively titled, The Higher Law. I have 110 pages of notes (this time my partner said, just write the book!).
Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them?
Dean: For the most part, my characters “appear” in my mind and reveal themselves to me pretty quickly. Sometimes they reveal bits and pieces that I don’t understand right away, but for the most part I understand who they are from the beginning.
Elin: Do you have a crisp mental picture of your characters or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?
Dean: Many times the physical appearance of the characters are based on actors. They are both physical and feeling for me.
Elin: Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?
Dean: I don’t. My first novel, A Place to Call Their Own, is the happily ever after story for Frank and Gregory. My second novel, Disappear With Me, is a lot more complicated, including the romance.
Elin: Villains – incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. What sort of villains do you prize? A moustache-twirling nightmare or … ?
Dean: In A Place to Call Their Own, the weather, the land, and society play bigger roles as the antagonists that people do. Sometime those can be more daunting for characters to overcome than other people.
Elin: What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.
Dean: I am working on polishing a manuscript titled, Disappear with Me. Set in 1910, the United Kingdom was in turmoil. King Edward died after only nine years on the throne. The social class system that upheld British society for centuries was being chipped away by social, political, and economic unrest across the Commonwealth. Amidst this backdrop, Reverend Leander Normal is accused of sodomy. After discovering his own self-worth and the meaning of unconditional love, Reverend Leander finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right and pleads not guilty to the charges. Throughout the trial, Reverend Leander’s past is revealed, including the temptations that bring the accusations against him. By the end of the trail, Reverend Leander is once again reunited with Raphael; it may be too late to rekindle any love that might remain, given the circumstances of the era and Reverend Leander’s likely sentence.
Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?
Dean: Here’s something from A Place to Call Their Own.
“You two together, or…” Mr. McAvoy asked with a puzzled look on his face.
Mrs. McAvoy raised an eyebrow, also curious about the situation.
Gregory gave Frank a nervous and mischievous look and answered, “Ah, yes, sir. We planned to each get a claim and build one house for now, help each other out.”
The answer seemed to satisfy both Mr. and Mrs. McAvoy. “That sounds like a good idea. It’d be nice to have a few neighbors around to help with things once in a while. And what I wouldn’t give to have had just one other man to help me with some of the house building and stable. You stay around here, and you’ll need a stable. Wolves and coyotes will get your livestock if you don’t.”
“How did you protect yourself before? This stuff doesn’t get built in a day.” Gregory asked.
“It takes ’em a while to figure out you’re here. And of course, it’s worse in the winter than this time of year. They haven’t been quite so bad the last few weeks, have they?” he directed to his wife.
“No, they calmed down. Hopefully they’ve been preying on the deer that are eating my potato plants.” answered Mrs. McAvoy. “You two want to stay for supper? I’ve got a big pot of rabbit stew on the stove.”
“It’ll be good, I promise. She’s done great cooking whatever I can find for us,” Mr. McAvoy added.
Gregory ignored the invitation. “How’s the hunting around here? You do good during the winter months?”
“Yeah, in the fall it’s the best—the animals are all fat and sassy from the summer. You can tell the bucks from the does, and you don’t have to worry about orphaning a young deer like you do now. There are plenty of rabbits and prairie chickens right now. You can find squirrels…”
“And the meadowlarks do fine, too, in a pinch,” piped in Mrs. McAvoy. “Now, what about supper?”
“We appreciate the offer, ma’am,” Frank spoke up. “But we’re just trying to find us our claims and be done with traveling. We’ve been traveling nearly six weeks now. It has been that long since we had a decent home-cooked meal, but we need to keep moving on today.”
They both remembered the last time they joined anyone for dinner. The McAvoys seemed harmless, but Frank and Gregory were both a bit shy about joining anyone else at this point.
“Yeah, we’re getting close to where we want to settle,” Gregory added. “We appreciate the offer and all, but we just want to keep moving.”
Mrs. McAvoy smiled, turned, and ran into the house with her load of laundry. Neither Frank nor Gregory knew if she was hurt because they declined the supper invitation or just needed to get back to her household chores.
“We understand that. Took us nearly six months to get here from New York, where we come from. We stayed with some relatives along the way, but the missus did appreciate it when we finally stopped here.”
“Well, we appreciate your hospitality and all your help. We should probably get going,” Frank said, glancing at Gregory.
“If you happen to end up around here, don’t be strangers. Just let us know where you’re at,” Mr. McAvoy replied.
“It’s a deal, sir,” Frank said and extended his hand.
Mr. McAvoy walked over and took it. After they were done, McAvoy stepped away from the wagon.
Gregory slapped the reins and yelled “giddyap,” and the horses sprang forward.
A frantic Mrs. McAvoy yelled from inside the house, “Wait!”
Frank grabbed Gregory’s arm to stop him. Gregory pulled back on the reins.
Mrs. McAvoy came out of the cabin with a small basket covered with flour sack cloth.
“This here isn’t much, but maybe it will allow you to rest once you stop for the night. I put two crocks of my stew in there and part of the bread I baked for our supper tonight. I don’t know why I did it, but something told me to make extra bread today.”
“We’re mighty obliged, ma’am. This will help. Now we don’t have to worry about hunting anything for our dinner. We’ll just warm this by the fire and be ready to go,” Gregory spoke up.
“Yes, ma’am. We are getting a bit worn out by this trip,” Frank said. He grinned at Gregory and said, “Hopefully, we’ll be finding our home soon.”
Both men tipped their hats once more, and Gregory got the horses going again.
Dove and Daisy lumbered along for the rest of the afternoon and into the early evening. Before they realized it, the wagon climbed a gentle, gradual grade. The early evening sun blinded them as they reached the crest of the ridge. At the top, Frank looked over his shoulder where the wagon had just been. There he saw the trail left by the wagon and horses in the prairie grass. To the west, a line of trees indicated a creek, river, or some sort of waterway. The sun drenched the entire landscape in its golden hue. He looked at Gregory, and they both knew this was their new home. They had arrived on the homestead.
“Welcome home, Frankie!” Gregory yelled at the top of his lungs.
A Place to Call Their Own
Is it possible for two Civil War veterans to find their place in the world on the Kansas Prairie?
When the War Between the States ended in 1865 many Americans emerged from the turmoil energized by their possibilities for the future. Frank Greerson and Gregory Young were no different. After battling southern rebels and preserving the Union, the two men set out to battle the Kansas Prairie and build a life together. Frank yearned for his own farm, away from his family—even at the risk of alienating them. Gregory, an only child, returned home to claim his inheritance to help finance their adventure out west.
Between the difficult work of establishing a farm on the unforgiving Kansas prairie, and the additional obstacles provided by the weather, Native Americans and wild animals, will their love and loyalty be enough to sustain them through the hardships?
Congratulations, Dean, on your first release.
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