Hi Michael! Thanks for letting me visit! Home Grown was released by Dreamspinner Press on Sept 3rd, and it’s been a heck of a ride. The guys in Home Grown are from wildly different worlds and this is a story about how they learn to work through problems both of them have in their past and those twisting messes that men can make of seemingly simple situations.
The other big part of the story is their love of food. Ethan raises organic veggies for the farmers market and Peter likes the finer things in life. Tomatoes, specifically heirloom tomatoes, play an important part in the story. Both the guys are more than a little obsessed over their tomatoes.
So, heirloom tomatoes…what the heck, right? First how can a vegetable be an heirloom? Well heirloom tomatoes, or veggies in general, are ones you can save the seeds from, plant them, and next time you get the same thing. Well if you do it right, it’s a little more involved than that. Most of the seeds you buy these days are hybrids, and with them you can’t save the seed and get the same veggie. Well it’s not like a tomato becomes cabbage, but they won’t look or taste the same.
I love to garden. Particularly I like to grow vegetables. I love to eat, which probably has something to do with it too. But for people who like tomatoes, like Peter, it’s an obsession. You know that friend of yours, the one who’s fascinated with wine, or furniture or any good hobby. Well there are people like Peter who are enthusiastic about tomatoes, and a good ripe heirloom tomato is something they can’t usually find in a store. All the varieties in the book are real. You just can’t make up names like Hillbilly Potato Leaf Tomato. They range from little tiny ones to monsters as big as my hand and weighing over a pound. So it’s a fun and harmless obsession, and one Peter picked up.
One last story, the Yellow Pear tomato is a personal favorite. Not because they are just obsessively delicious, but because they have a great memory attached. My grandmother always had a huge garden, and Yellow Pear tomatoes would come up volunteer each year. But they were so small that she didn’t want to mess with them by the time it was late summer. So I could eat all I wanted. So with my little bare toes digging into the warm dirt, I would sit on the side of the garden and eat Yellow Pear tomatoes while my grandmother picked whatever was ripe that day. It’s a great memory and part of the reason the Yellow Pear shows up in the story.
~ Jon ~
Peter Stevens believes nothing tastes better than a vine-ripened tomato tended by a farmer’s hands. The craving for heirloom tomatoes leads him to his local farmers’ market and his favorite vendor, Ethan Hart. As Peter becomes a regular customer, the two find they have more in common than a love of good food. Just as Ethan begins to relax, Peter’s ex, Jay, appears and is all the things Ethan is not. A perfect storm of mistakes and poor choices, as well as Ethan’s haunted past, has him ready to admit defeat. With the guidance of friends and a goat far too smart for her own good, Ethan realizes he needs to have a tender hand and patience to grow a home for Peter.
Excerpt from Home Grown.
Ethan’s stomach fluttered, his anticipation building as he scanned the early morning farmer’s market crowd. Stop it. Peter will show up when he shows up. Ethan snapped his attention back to the present when the small gray-haired woman who ran the booth beside him tucked herself under his arm and hugged him tight.
“Morning, Maggie. How are things going?” Ethan kissed the top of her head and returned her embrace.
“Not bad, not bad. I’ve put out all the soaps. I hope everyone feels dirty today and stocks up.”
Ethan chuckled at the image of mud people gathering around Maggie’s stall. “Well, my customers can be clean. But I think business today will be good. The late season tomatoes are finally ripe, and I’ve had lots of people asking about them.”
Heat crept up Ethan’s cheeks. “Peter? I don’t know. Probably. You know he has a thing for my tomatoes.”
“Uh-huh, yeah. I might have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night. Admit it to Auntie Maggie, you have the hots for the boy, and I think he has a thing for more than your tomatoes.”
Ethan brushed off her speculation with a wave of his hand. “Maggie, you’re crazy. That man’s some kinda high-powered muckety-muck downtown. He’d never know I lived in Wisconsin if I didn’t have the best tomatoes in the market.”
Ethan studied the forming crowd, their sounds echoing through the building. “It looks like it’s getting busy, I’d better check to make sure I got everything from the truck.”
He embraced her again and trotted out the side door to his pickup. I’m not ready to talk to anyone about my feelings about Peter.
Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.
A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.