Today my guest is Layla M. Weir, here to talk about her new novel release, Held for Random. Take it away, Layla!
Hi Shae! Thanks so much for having me!
My new novel Held For Ransom came out on Friday, and today I’m having an all-day release party at my Facebook and blog:
If you’re reading this, feel free to stop by, chat, enter contests, and watch me liveblog my failure to write! \o/
Okay, so: about the novel! Held For Ransom is a spinoff, of sorts, to my short story “Waiting For the Light” in last year’s Snow on the Roof anthology, although the two share little other than their setting. When I wrote “Waiting For the Light”, I had to put it somewhere, so I decided to set it in central Illinois, where I lived for four years in the early 2000s while my husband went to grad school. Held For Ransom takes place in the same area (fictional Heatherfield County, Illinois) while featuring a different cast of characters. (Certain characters from “Waiting For the Light” just might cameo, though — keep your eyes open!)
I have a longtime fondness for books, movies and TV shows about small towns populated with lovable eccentrics. I also love big ensemble casts. Now that I’ve got the cast assembled, I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time I write about Heatherfield County.
In Held For Ransom, the little town of Osmar is gearing up for their annual winter carnival when a mysterious, motorcycle-riding drifter rides into town and sweeps the carnival’s organizer, DJ Lanning, off his feet. Ransom just might have the key to saving the carnival from financial disaster, but his pretty face is hiding more than a few dark secrets. What is the tragedy in Ransom’s past that haunts him even today? While he’s busy saving the carnival, will Osmar — and DJ — end up saving him?
In today’s excerpt, DJ and Ransom flirt while Ransom finds himself being sneakily wooed … into volunteering for the Osmar winter carnival:
“So, tell me about the winter carnival,” Ransom said.
DJ looked like his train of thought had just derailed again. For an instant he looked crestfallen, then rallied. “Ah, yeah, it’s kind of a disaster. Did you actually put up the flyers?”
“I did. All over Aldona.” Ransom smiled. “What did you think I’d do, throw them in a trash can as soon as I was out of sight?”
“Well, I wasn’t sure,” DJ said defensively. “It’s hard enough finding people in town who are willing to do anything to help. Oh, everyone wants to, but they evaporate as soon as there’s actual work to be done. Mom had a knack for getting them all pointed in the right direction.” A shadow crossed his face. “Mom used to run the carnival. It was her baby.”
“Now that she’s gone, they’ve got you doing it,” Ransom said. It was a familiar story, the light-side version of his own, he supposed.
“Yes,” DJ said, a world of exhaustion in that tone.
Ransom grinned at him and hoped it looked sympathetic. It was relaxing, somehow—DJ’s world of small problems, and the way he was so bound up in them, as if they were the most important things in the world. And Ransom could help, after all. That made him warm—giddy, almost. And he made a decision. Tonight he wanted to lose himself in DJ’s light-side world. Just for a little while. He didn’t want to think about the road, or the coming snow. He didn’t want to think about the world outside at all. “Hey,” he said, and reached out to touch DJ’s lips lightly with his forefinger. He hoped he hadn’t read the signs wrong. If so, he was about to get thrown out on his ass, and he’d probably deserve it. “It’s okay.”
DJ shut up and looked baffled.
“It’s okay,” Ransom said again. “You want to know why I came back?”
“Yes,” DJ said. He still looked confused. To speak, he had to part his lips, sending a small electric charge through Ransom’s fingertip as they brushed it.
“Because you were so involved with it,” Ransom said quietly. “I wanted to help. I still do. I don’t know a small-town carnival from a hole in the wall, but it really moved me that you were so obviously invested in making it work. I want to help, I really do.”
“Well,” DJ said, and took a deep breath. “We need volunteers for the booth construction, the bake sale, if we can manage to get it pulled together in time—well, basically everything at this point. Do you know anything about advertising? Because Mom always handled that end of things—”
Ransom hushed him with the fingertip again. “Okay, I get it,” he said, laughing. “There’s a lot to do. To each according to his needs, right?”
“Did you just quote Marx?”
“I have depths,” Ransom said, grinning.
Two weeks before Christmas, the small town of Osmar is gearing up for its annual winter carnival, but the death of the event’s long-time organizer might mean the end of the festivities. Everyone is turning to her son DJ to save the carnival, but DJ can barely save himself. He’s spinning his wheels in Osmar—working part time at the gas station, living in his parents’ house, and trying to figure out what to do with his life. DJ is caught in a large, loving web of well-meaning family and friends, but they can’t fix his life for him.
Into this mess comes Ransom, a handsome mystery man on a motorcycle. Ransom is traveling around the country, making up for his past sins by doing “good deeds.” He and DJ have a one-night stand that neither can forget, but that’s just the start, because Ransom has a plan to save the carnival, and DJ has a plan to save Ransom… and possibly himself.
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5679
Layla M. Wier is a writer and artist who grew up in rural Alaska and now lives on the highway north of Fairbanks, where winters dip to 50 below zero and summers yield 24 hours of daylight. She and her husband, between the two of them, possess a useful array of survival skills for the zombie apocalypse, including gardening, blacksmithing, collecting wild plant foods, and spinning wool into yarn (which led to her first Dreamspinner Press novella, “Homespun”). When not writing, she likes reading, hiking, and spending way too much time on the Internet.
Where to find Layla:
Link to all stops on the Held for Ransom blog tour (Nov. 12-Dec. 1)