Today I am so pleased to welcome Renae Kaye to Joyfully Jay. Renae has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Shearing Gun. I just finished this one and totally loved it (review coming soon). She has also brought along a copy of the book to give away. Please join me in giving Renae a big welcome!
Aussie Magic – an introduction to The Shearing Gun
The Shearing Gun is a Western Australian take on the American cowboy genre. In my home state we raise a lot of sheep, and my father was a farmer and shearer during his life, among other professions. I grew up on a small farm, so this story is rather personal to my heart. This is home for me.
The Shearing Gun follows the story of Hank – a farmer and shearer – who is firmly in the closet, because who would ever hire a gay shearer? Then he meets Elliot. Poor Doc Elliot is a transplant from the city, contracted to work in the small town of Dumbleyung for a year. He’s out of his depth living the country life. And he has a big crush on one hunky country boy in particular.
Farming and shearing can be a harsh life, and I tell the following story, not to horrify people or make them squirm, but simply to illustrate what it’s like growing up on a farm. Farming is a brutal business – because yes, at the end of the day you need to slaughter your animals to get paid. I find that country folk are very practical and straightforward, but gosh they can be the nicest people you’ve ever met.
My story about Aussie
When I was four, an uncle turned up one day with two newborn lambs. He gave them to me and my sister to bottle-rear. My sister (who was six) promptly named her pet “Baa-Lamb” while my lamb received the name “Aussie.”
Baa-Lamb sadly passed away a couple of weeks later, but Aussie grew up to be a great sturdy sheep. He was castrated, but was sadly aggressive to children. If I entered the paddock, he would put his head down and charge at me, knocking me over. But the day he charged at my father and took him off his feet, was the day Aussie’s time was up. My father refused to have an aggressive animal and told me that he was going to slaughter Aussie the next time we needed meat. I cried, “No, Daddy! That’s my pet.” But my father was adamant.
I can remember being upset, but also understanding the reasoning behind it. One sheep had to go the next time it was butchering time, and Aussie was too dangerous. But I was still upset. But then my mother, trying to placate me said, “Don’t worry. I’ll make him into a sheepskin rug for you.”
And I was happy.
About now I have horrified 9-out-of-10 readers, but that’s how it has to happen when you work the land. Yes, Dad did slaughter him, and yes, my mother did turn him into a rug for me. It graced my bedroom floor for around ten years, and I never forgot who provided the wool that I could snuggle into.
So you will find the main character of The Shearing Gun to be rather down-to-earth and no-nonsense. Hank has grown up on the land and is the type to call a spade a spade. Hank does have one problem though – he tends to use his fists when he loses his temper.
But Elliot is there to temper the fires inside. Elliot who is smart and caring, but doesn’t know a thing about the land. The men form an unlikely friendship, which blossoms into something more. But will the town accept them if their secret becomes known?
I feel sorry about horrifying my readers with my story of Aussie, so to make it up to you, I’ll tell another story from my childhood. This time from when I was seventeen.
My story about Magic
My mother had a special flock of sheep – seven ewes. The leader of this group was a beautiful old girl called Lilly. (She appears in The Shearing Gun – a little cameo role). The beta of my mum’s group was an old girl called Missy. My father referred to Missy as “the barren bitch” because in the six years we’d had her, she’d never once dropped a lamb.
I remember the day in question clearly – I’d had a university exam that afternoon, and arrived home to find no dinner cooking as usual. I looked and found my mother down the far paddock, crouching under some bushes in the fading light.
“Guess which sheep is in labour?” she whispered to me.
Four of the ewes had given birth in the previous week. “Nanny?” I guessed.
Yes – the barren bitch was about to give birth. Her first lamb. And it wasn’t going well. Sheep labour is quick. Missy’s wasn’t. We watched her for five hours, struggling to birth, until she finally dropped the lamb. It was immediately obvious she had no idea what to do with it. She sniffed it, then left it on the ground, returning to the flock. Mum picked up the lamb – a girl, a scrap of skin and bone, lying lifelessly on the freezing ground. We brought her to the house and placed her in front of the fire. She breathed, but didn’t move. I took towels and tried to clean her and massage her, the same way a mother’s tongue would stimulate life. The lamb didn’t move.
“Maybe we should try to feed her?” I suggested.
Mum looked at the scrap. “It can’t even lift its head.” But she made a bottle up for we had to try to get the lamb warm. I took the bottle and held it to the lamb’s mouth, and the moment she scented milk, a remarkable change occurred. Her head came off the floor and she latched on to that bottle as if it were oxygen. Within ten seconds, the lamb was on her feet, enthusiastically sucking down the milk until it was all gone.
I named her Magic.
She was bottle-fed around 5-6 times a day, and after each bottle I would take her down the paddock and put her with the flock (which included her mother who still rejected her). Magic would happily play with the other lambs, but a couple of hours later she would find her way to the house for the next feed. She grew up and soon learned she was a sheep, and guess what? Missy had another baby the following year.
I hope you all enjoy my novel, The Shearing Gun. It is very Aussie, and (dare I say) very Magical. I love these two characters to bits, and I’m sure you’ll laugh, cheer, sizzle and hope along with the both of them. Two hot men? A love that cannot be denied? An ending that you’ll adore? Magic.
At twenty-five, Hank owns a small parcel of land in Australia’s rural southwest where he supplements his income from the property with seasonal shearing. Hank is a “shearing gun”—an ace shearer able to shear large numbers of sheep in a single day. His own father kicked him out when his sexuality was revealed, and since no one would ever hire a gay shearer, Hank has remained firmly closeted ever since.
Elliot is the newbie doctor in town—city-born and somewhat shell-shocked from his transplant to the country. When a football injury brings Hank to Elliot’s attention, an inappropriate sexual glance and the stuttered apology afterward kickstarts their friendship. Romance and love soon blossom, but it’s hard for either of them to hope for anything permanent. As if the constant threat of being caught isn’t enough, Elliot’s contract runs out after only a year.
Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
You can find Renae in the following places:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://renaekaye.weebly.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/renae.kaye.9
- Twitter: @renaekkaye
Renae has brought a electronic copy of The Shearing Gun to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, September 25th at 11:59 pm EST.
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