Blog Archives

To Discover Myself

Chandler Myer Author Interview

Jayne and the Average North Dakotan follows a 32-year-old gay accountant who moves to Washington, DC, to come out and discover who he really is. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

Randy’s story has some parallels to my own life. I was born in Bryan, Ohio, a very small town near the borders of Michigan and Indiana. In my later 20s, I moved to Washington, DC, ostensibly to discover myself. Randy did much the same thing, only with his mother’s encouragement. While there are many parallels between my life and the story’s premise, only one event happened to me, as described in the book.

The original short story was written just as the country experienced lockdowns due to COVID-19. I have some notable health conditions, so that period was particularly stressful. I decided to write positive stories, including likable characters, to keep me in a good frame of mind. It was important that every character had some positive attribute, even those who didn’t serve an outwardly affirming role in the story.

When I finished the short story, I couldn’t get the Jayne and Randy characters out of my head. I kept thinking of their lives before the High Heel Race. I also wondered what would happen if Jayne stayed with Randy as a mentor in his coming-out process. So, as my mind continued to explore these situations, I began to think I needed to write a book.

Most of the characters are amalgamations of people I’ve known. The longer I worked on the book, the more the characters became real to me. I quite often felt I was sitting in the room taking dictation from their conversations rather than writing them. It was an amazing experience.

The one scene that is based on my real life is Randy getting hit on by an older man at the bar. I was 27 or 28 when I went to JR’s (a Washington gay bar) for the first time. I was alone and hadn’t been there long when a man in his 50s or 60s became very friendly. I tried to leave, but he followed me to the bar down the street, and I went home early to get away. Randy handled it much better than I did!

Randy spent his life hiding who he was and now has entered a new world of acceptance. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Randy’s journey is familiar to nearly all gay men “of a certain age.” We spent our developing years with longings and attractions we heard were wrong, and we had no role models. So, we built various walls around ourselves, including religion, female friends, and studiousness, and tried to get by with as little conflict as possible. Many of us also moved to large cities to find our kind. The experience can be jarring, as it was for Randy. I thought it would be interesting to explore what would happen if a pushy drag queen fairy godmother came along to help through this difficult transition.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

This single biggest theme is self-discovery. Everyone can relate to learning about themselves regardless of the parallels to sexual orientation. The story of a man-child coming into his own in his early 30s felt like a little-explored area. Yes, it mirrored some of my own experiences, but I think it’s more common than is represented in film and literature.

I also believe very few things in life are black or white, mostly an infinite rainbow of gray shades. My desire to focus on the positive is meant to help people see the good in others. Our current society too often condemns people for a single trait or act when we should see them through a more holistic lens.

What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?

My next book is based on the real estate agent Sarah Horowitz from Jayne. She’s renamed and moved to New York, but many attributes remain the same. It’s the story of two widowed best friends who are unexpectedly ensnarled in an international crime syndicate as they near their 70th birthdays. The working title is Who Disturbs My Peace This Lovely Evening. It should be finished later this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Website

You can take the boy out of North Dakota, but only a drag queen can finish the makeover.

When Randy Larson, a 32-year-old gay accountant who’s never been outside North Dakota, moves to Washington, DC, he struggles to find his way. A six-foot, nine-inch, sensational Jayne Mansfield drag queen takes him under her colorful wing for lessons in shopping, first dates, hosting brunch, furnishing an apartment, and living in the gay community. Is Randy ready for life and love in the Nation’s Capital?

Chandler Myer’s debut novel, Jayne and the Average North Dakotan, is an unconventional coming-of-age and coming-out story filled with humor and humanity. Randy and Jayne, an odd couple with a unique relationship, will have you cheering the underdog and wishing for your own drag fairy godmother.

Jayne and the Average North Dakotan

Jayne and the Average North Dakotan by Chandler Myer tells a story of queer self-acceptance outside the stereotypical framework of young teens just figuring themselves out. Randy, our 33-year-old protagonist, has been aware of who he is from a young age. Still, between his family’s expectations and religious upbringing, he had long ago put to bed any thought of being open about his identity. That is until his dying mother pulls him aside and gives him one simple piece of advice- “Move to the city.” This starts him on a journey that will lead him to incredible new experiences as a tall, elegant drag queen named Jayne comes into his life. With Jayne’s help, Randy comes to a better understanding of love, of what it means to be a true friend, and of himself.

This coming-of-age story is packed to the brim with fun, quirky characters, each with a unique voice all their own, that are sure to stick with readers. In addition, it’s written with a degree of self-aware humor. The comedy definitely falls into a more raunchy category.

While the book is mainly comedy, and a laugh-out-loud one, it has its more heartfelt moments mixed in. I found the relationship between Jayne and Randy to be especially compelling, as for a majority of the book Jayne herself is a bit of a mystery. By the end, I felt everything had been wrapped up satisfyingly. While Jayne and the other members of the queer community Randy meets in the city had a lot of depth, some of Randy’s friends from back home came off as a bit stereotypical- a choice that felt intentional, providing readers with a jarring experience in places.

Jayne and the Average North Dakotan is a rousing coming-of-age novel with humor and heartwarming friendships. Filled with acerbically witty dialogue and insightful commentaries on gay culture, this captivating story is a must-read for anyone looking for a fun, lighthearted romp with LGBTQ+ themes.

Pages: 335 | ASIN : B0BNF61N85

Buy Now From Amazon
%d bloggers like this: