Hi guys! Today I am excited to welcome author L. Dean Pace-Frech. He is here to share with us some more about his new book, A Place to Call their Own, and has brought a great excerpt to share. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
First of all, let me thank Joyfully Jay for hosting me today. I am new author, L. Dean Pace-Frech and my debut novel, A Place to Call Their Own, was just released on July 5th.
In 2006, a co-worker shared with me that one of her bucket list goals was to write a novel. That comment awakened a desire in me that had been buried since I was in the fifth grade. After a visit to Pea Ridge National Military Park near Pea Ridge, Arkansas, my characters and their story revealed themselves to me and I started writing.
I have always loved history. 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.
A Place to Call Their Own is an underdog story. It is the story of two young gay men in 1865 who just want to find their place in the world together. This is a story after the romance, this is the “happily ever after.”
Although my characters are gay, the book is classified as LGBT fiction, and I am gay, my goal was to make the story universal. Frank and Gregory could be any couple facing parental influences, natural disasters, or societal prejudices.
My goal was never to create an allegorical story or political statement with my novel. I started out writing what I wanted to read: historical fiction with strong LGBT characters. With our current political climate and the issue of marriage equality, it’s difficult to deny that there are some thematic elements that support equal rights. I read in the mid-1990s that just being an out gay man at the time was a political statement. I think it’s hard not to be an LGBT writer right now and avoid any thematic messages about marriage equality or other civil rights issues.
As a writer, I try to create stories that are interesting to different types of people. If just one person who doesn’t understand the fight for LGBT equal rights is persuaded by my novel to be open to those discussions, then I have done my job.
Thanks for having me. You can join the discussion on social media using the hashtag #APTCTO and I will join in.
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?
Excerpt 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.
About Dean/Contact Info
With inspiration from some historical tourism sites, the love of reading, and a desire to write a novel, L. Dean Pace-Frech started crafting his debut novel, A Place to Call Their Own, in 2008. After four years of writing and polishing the manuscript, he submitted it for publication and Musa Publishing offered him a contract in early 2013.
Dean lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his partner, Thomas, and their two cats. They are involved in their church and enjoy watching movies, outdoor activities in the warmer weather and spending time together with friends and family. In addition to writing, Dean enjoys reading and patio gardening.
Prior to novels, Dean did some technical writing in his career. He has written another complete fiction manuscript and has a third manuscript outlined.