FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Gritty, heart-felt, and pastoral, Patch of Dirt delivers a fast-paced plot, Big Sky Country noir quirks, and gutsy characters. It’s a winner.”
–Lynda Durrant, author of Ariel Bradley, Spy for Benerd Washington
A thirty-year-old womanizing drifter, Joe Oliver had never been further east than Bismarck or further west than Boise. His world was the ranches and plains of Montana. Yet sometimes, he yearned for something more than day after day of backbreaking work for low wages, and night after night of sitting in a bar to drink his troubles away, find a girl, and get laid. When he met Anna, a striking redhead with somber blue eyes, a long neck, and the grace and drive to make her dream of dancing on Broadway seem possible, he forgot his father’s warnings to never get too close to anyone. When Anna broke his heart, Joe knew his life would be filled with nothing but meaningless work, whiskey, and meaningless sex. Then, he walked smack into Rita and Frank Hill—a couple with tortured pasts of their own, murky ties to the mother who’d left him when he was seven, and a secret plan.
In Patch of Dirt: A Big Sky Romance Novel (Masquerade; 2016), Richard Lutman draws readers into a twisted drama revolving around three broken souls and the people who abused or betrayed them. A 65-year-old veteran of the Vietnam War, with physical and psychological wounds, Frank Hill is the doting husband of 25-year-old Rita, a spitfire and a looker who knows what it’s like to be coveted, controlled, and consumed by men. Frank owns a nice little ranch—the kind of place Joe once dreamed about having and sharing—that, as he recently found, sits on oil. Suddenly rich, and about to get richer, Frank has the means to give Rita everything she wants—except a baby. So, he sets out to hire a stud. At first, Joe seems like the man the Hills have been looking for. No one expects Rita to have feelings for Joe—or for Joe to feel conflicted about sleeping with a woman for money. What happens before it all ends gets complicated by Rita’s possessive ex-lover and pimp, by Frank’s tormented bond with his ex-wife, and by Joe’s awakening ability to forgive one woman for rejecting him and another for abandoning him.
Vividly capturing a particular place and way of life, Patch of Dirt is a story about heartache, hard knocks, and hope. An Easterner, born in Rochester, NY, raised in Philadelphia, and did graduate work at Montana State University where he also spent time working at his cousin’s ranch, Richard Lutman is raring to talk about:
• His fascination with the wild American West, past and present, and his inspiration for the character of Joe Oliver.
• The toll of alcoholism on marriages and children—and the harsh, sobering reality behind romantic notions of strong, hard-drinking men.
• The enduring American dream of owning a “patch of dirt”—even if independent ranchers and farmers are a dying breed.
• Whether anyone can ever truly overcome the trauma of war—or the pain or shame of their past.
• His passion for writing fiction and his creative process.
RICHARD LUTMAN is a retired technical writer with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College and over 15 years of professional experience as an editor and professor. His short stories, essays, and poetry have been published in regional, national, and international publications. His previous books include the novella Iron Butterfly, which was shortlisted in the 2012 Santa Fe Writers Project.
A hard-hitting, unflinching novel, Patch of Dirt grabs readers and makes them care about flawed and troubled characters. I look forward to your response.