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.
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