Hello from Southern California, where it’s been really warm and sunny lately! A great Big thank you to The Novel Approach for letting me talk about my new release, Home The Hard Way, a romance with mystery elements set in a small town called Palladian, Oregon.
You’re going to want to follow along the whole blog tour, Here.
So I guess the question a lot of people are going to ask is, why did I set Home The Hard Way in Palladian, Oregon?
When I was about 25, my mother relocated to the town of Dallas, Oregon. At the time, Dallas was still pretty small. Parts of the city were rural. When she moved there, you only had to dial five digits to reach any phone in town.
Dallas is (in case you were wondering) the Polk County seat. It boasted the old stone courthouse and featured a movie theater that showed second run films and served stale popcorn out of massive precooked popcorn bags.
There was every denomination of church on Church Street and you could smell the tannery in the summer evenings, if the wind shifted. The appliance store had a bookshelf full of used romance novels for sale. Long after she moved to a bigger suburb of Portland, Dallas got the Costco. Everything about that city changed during the real estate boom, but I’ve never forgotten those summer days spent watching a sluggish river churn under the footbridge.
One winter, there was a particularly bad storm. Pieces of my mother’s aluminum siding actually blew off and floated down the street. The electricity went out but she had a ton of oak hardwood so we got a good fire going and kept warm by huddling in front of the fireplace.
At one point we turned on the radio, and some station was playing the old-time radio classic “Fibber McGee and Molly,” Which led us into a discussion of what it was like to grow up in Los Angeles during the war years.
We joked that we’d been “blown back in time” by the storm.
That night, I got to see a totally different side of my mother, and I’ve cherished every memory I have of that house, of that town, and of the times we spent together there.
So naturally, when I decided I wanted to write a small town story I pulled Dallas from my memory and called it Palladian. I took liberties, as all authors do, but Dallas’s bones are there, underneath the window dressing.
The real Dallas is a different city now, but I remember it fondly in a nostalgic way. I wonder if there’s still parking on the diagonal in front of the stores on Main Street. Has the dollar store replaced a fading “five and dime”? Does everyone still go to the mom-and-pop bakery in the morning for coffee and gossip? Is there still an appliance store? Or did it fold when the Costco came in?
I wonder if the storefronts are boarded up, like they are in so many small towns. I wonder if the kids are hanging around the drive-through, drinking bottomless sodas and plotting their escape…
Here’s the blurb for Home the Hard Way: Dare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.
Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.
In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.
Read more about Home The Hard Way HERE
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About the Author: Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.
If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”