Heidi Cullinan, Wilde City Press

Blue Collar, True Heart: Writing Rural And Lower Class Without Caricature – A Guest Post And Giveaway By Heidi Cullinan

When I was in high school and college, I went on a lot of tours with musical groups, and what I learned most on those trips was as soon as you left the Midwest, people assumed you were a moron. Cities were the worst—New York was beyond the beyond asinine—but pretty much everywhere we went, we had to explain that yes, we really did have toilets in Iowa. Yes, we had microwaves. Yes, we knew what Walkmans were. I imagine the young Iowans traveling today must field questions about whether or not we have Internet or cell phones. (Fact: we even have smartphones!)

In my youth I thought this was an Iowa thing, that people assumed it was the Iowa part that made me a hick, but nowadays I’m fairly convinced the real culprit is that everyone from the coasts think the Midwest is nothing but farms. When I first saw Superman Returns I was confused because after the opening credits with a 1950s truck and Clark’s mom listening to a staticky kitchen radio in her gingham best, I thought the movie was a period piece—until everone had cell phones. I turned to my husband and said, “Did we go forward in time or something?” Eventually we realized that no, Hollywood simply thinks Kansas is locked in the nostalgia-washed past.

These misconceptions are part of why I like writing about the Midwest, and blue collar Midwesterners whenever I can. Blue collar is a way of life here. Just yesterday in fact I had to drive around a huge crop sprayer on a major highway. When I go to the hospital, I always run into small town families coming “into town” to see the doctor. I grew up in one of those small towns. I know what it feels like when tiny little Ames, Iowa feels like the big city. I remember school trips heading into Minneapolis or Chicago, feeling like we were entering another world.

I like to write about small town Midwest because I know it well, and for those who don’t know it like I do, it is another world. Patty’s pawn shop exists in my world, colorful lesbians and all. You really do know everyone at the bar, and in town, and if you don’t close the blinds in your kitchen window, someone is likely to comment on it when you go to work or the grocery store. But they might text you about it too, or post on Facebook. Because while we’re quaint, we’re not in a time warp.

I write small towns and blue collar also because one of the formative books I read as I first began writing gay romance was Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men in the Rural Midwest. One read forever changed how I saw my writing and who I wrote for, because I so identified with these men who felt different yet couldn’t bring themselves to leave. Not every gay man—or straight woman, or lesbian, or any human—leaves home. Some of us stay and suffer quietly. Some of us stay and raise hell.

Those are the stories I love most, and those are the ones I’m most likely to tell. Miles and the Magic Flute has more than a little paranormal element to it, but it also has a small town heart.

Just like me.


Blurb: When unemployed Miles Larson retreats to his friend’s Minnesota pawnshop to lick his wounds, he discovers that a few notes on a magical instrument reveal an erotic fairyland where the sorrows weighing on his heart don’t exist at all.

Yet fantasy comes with a price, and soon Miles must choose a path. He can surrender his soul to the dreamlord to sustain his pleasure… or he can defeat the faerie and save the mysterious beast-man who promises love. Miles would choose love over pleasure in a heartbeat—if only to seize it he didn’t first have to acknowledge the pain inside.

Is Miles strong enough to learn that sometimes to find happiness, we must face down our sorrows?

This title has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.


About Heidi: Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at http://www.heidicullinan.com.




20 thoughts on “Blue Collar, True Heart: Writing Rural And Lower Class Without Caricature – A Guest Post And Giveaway By Heidi Cullinan

  1. Hannah B. says:

    I’ve read most of Heidi’s contemporary novels, I’d love to read one of hers featuring magic. Please count me in.


  2. Allison says:

    Thank you! I am from the Chicago suburbs so I can’t say I grew up in a small town but the misconceptions about the Midwest amaze me. Maybe one of the reasons I love your books as much as I do is because my Midwest upbringing can relate so well to who you write.


  3. Sula says:

    I have read most of Heidi’s books and I am glad that this one has been republished, which gives me a chance to read/win it, and that another of her paranormal reads (Hero) is also been republished later in the year – yay


  4. michelle rae says:

    Enjoyed the post! I’ve actually had more than one colleague ask me about cow-tipping, because that’s how we spend our Saturday nights :-) Seriously, three people, three separate occasions. Who knew there was so much interest… Thanks for the chance to win!


  5. Barbra says:

    I live in Texas and I get the same kind of stuff. Everyone thinks we all live on a ranch and own horses. Thanks for the giveaway! :-)


  6. Sarah_Madison says:

    Living in the rural South, I can sympathize with the reaction you’ve received when you leave your own stomping grounds and head to the ‘Big City’. Most people knock about 50 points off my IQ when they hear my accent. ;-) I love the premise here behind Miles and the Magic Flute–definitely checking it out!


  7. H.B. says:

    Sounds like a fun read. I haven’t read anything by this author before but this sounds like a good book to start off with.


  8. Carolyn says:

    What a terrific post, Heidi. Your home state love shines through, and I’m glad your educating us, one reader at a time. I promise I will try very hard not to associate the Midwest only with gingham. ;) Thanks for sharing with us and for the chance to win!


  9. Rita says:

    Heidi, you were the first LBGT writer I read and I loved It. Thanks so much for your writing and for including the Midwest.


  10. Good morning, everyone, and thanks so much for stopping by to enter Heidi’s Miles and the Magic Flute giveaway. The contest has ended and the winner’s been selected. The winner is

    Kim W

    Congratulations, Kim! I’ll be the one delivering your download code, so expect to hear from me soon. :)


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